Types of Paving
When considering the type of paving to use for your patio, there are a vast number of choices. Paving can be made from all sorts of materials in all shapes and sizes. However, the most common types you will come across are as follows:
Budget to Mid Range Concrete Square Slabs
You will find these paving slabs in large quantities in most builders merchants.
Usually, in a 450mm or 600mm square, they range from 20-30mm thick and can be picked up from as little as £5/m² up to £15/m².
While looking far from authentic in profile and colour (usually in pastel greys, yellows and pinks), and lacking in strength, they are a very cheap way of creating a patio.
Quality Natural Stone Replica Slabs and Patio Kits
A lot of paving at the top end of the market demands higher prices as it aims to replicate the weathered appearance of reclaimed natural stone which is otherwise only achieved after decades of constant exposure to the elements. It is precisely this weathered appearance that is needed to maintain the charm and character of period properties.
A good example of quality replica paving would be the Olde York range from Stonecrete. Similar to Bradstone Old Town, this range of paving aims to replicate the original weathered york flagstones used in the streets of most towns and cities in the country including London.
You will notice that many quality replica paving slabs come in mixed size patio kits. This mimics the random effect of paved areas constructed over a century ago when each flagstone was hand cut and the size of the slab was dictated by what was available.
Quality Contemporary Paving
Based on the concept of clean, sharp lines and angles combined with bold, consistent colouring, modern paving offers a cutting edge and somewhat fashionable design which is perfect for the minimalist, contemporary pad. Manufacturers of modern paving will usually aim to offer extra functionality such as easy cleaning.
Natural Indian Sandstone
Freshly quarried Indian Sandstone paving has become more and more commonplace in recent years. Its naturally varying colour and profile make for an interesting patio which can work well in period and modern surroundings. This, along with the fact that it is surprisingly inexpensive to the source, makes Natural Sandstone Paving a very popular choice for a wide range of applications. It is available in a range of colours and can be bought roughly hand-cut to keep its natural appearance or sawn giving a smooth, flat surface for a more modern look. Stonecrete offers a range of quality Natural Sandstone Paving which is very competitively priced.
Choosing the best Paving for you
Any home improvement project will always be governed, to some extent, by budget. Whether you have a strict figure in mind or not, think about what the difference in price between paving ranges means to you and your property. Saving a couple of pounds per square metre may be the difference between perfect and just disappointing. However, another point to consider is that there is more to a patio than just paving. It is certainly possible to make the best of the cheapest paving by using it wisely and adding extras such as multiple levels and interesting shapes. Also, the addition of plants and accessories will often take the focus away from the paving in any case.
The appearance of your patio should be in keeping with the character of your house. It would be a shame to spend time and money creating an area of paving which, once finished, sticks out like a sore thumb. An ultra-modern, shiny work of paving art attached to a quaint nineteen twenties end-terrace would not only look out of place but would tend to cast a bad light on the small imperfections of the house which are the essence of its charm and character.
Associated Labour Costs
Always consider that certain types of paving can demand more time to lay and therefore more labour costs. Budget paving should be very simple to lay. The slabs are all identical in shape, profile and thickness and can even be laid on a bed of sand with dry sand joints.
High-end replica slabs are packed with character but because of their fettled and tapered edges, they will probably need a full bed of concrete and mortar joints in excess of 100mm. Also, if choosing a random effect or mixed-size patio kit, it can take a bit of time to plan. However, you will probably find that the end result is worth the time and effort.
Consider what the patio will primarily be used for. Smooth paving can be slippery when wet and can be even worse if situated in a dark damp area where mould can accumulate. Riven slabs do not have this problem but if you are planning to use as a dining area, you may find that your table and chairs will always wobble. Also, think about how much weight your paving will have to hold. Only the very thickest of paving slabs will tolerate vehicular use.