In the backyard of many older homes sits an under-used concrete patio. It has little visual appeal. In a word, it’s boring. You can bring your Madison WI home’s backyard patio into the 21st century by adding hardscape features like walls, fire pits and dedicated cooking space – outdoor kitchens.
Concrete is the standard paving material for builder-installed patio areas even today. Just because you have a patio of poured concrete doesn’t mean it has to be dull. It’s time to rethink the basic surface and how it’s framed as an outdoor living space. You can create an all-new look with simple additions and professional touches. After a summer staying close to home you understand the need to expand your outdoor living area and make it more family-friendly, right?
You have several options:
- Take out the old concrete and start over – an expensive process that’s more complicated than you probably know.
- Give your existing concrete slab a makeover – including a “face lift” to add color and interest not to mention mending cracks or blemishes.
- Adding to the area to make it more usable and inviting to family and friends.
- If you don’t have a patio, you can add on of concrete, pavers or both.
There are times when removing existing concrete is the best option. If it is cracked, damaged or heaving from the area’s annual freeze/thaw for example. If that’s the case you’ll have to break up what’s there and haul it away. An expensive and demanding undertaking. Not a Do-it-yourself project.
Reinvent Your Concrete Patio
Unless there’s structural damage it’s better to work with what you have than tear it out and start over. A poured patio can be refurbished and the surroundings redesigned to accommodate your lifestyle.
Existing poured patios are likely candidates for one or several refinishing techniques, including:
- Colored stains – Modern staining techniques replace the old, drab gray with an array of colors and/or textures. They work into the existing surface, adhering to the original concrete. A word of warning: because stains penetrate the concrete’s surface they can weaken it so a protective sealant must be added over the stain.
- Add distinctive patterns – plain concrete slabs can be scored to cut unique patterns into the surface. Patterns create a field of “visual rhythm” and interest. Popular patterns include diamonds, repeated grids and multiple lines. The shallow cuts, when don properly, also enhance drainage and make the surface less slippery.
- Add a layer of pavers – install stone pavers on top of a concrete layer is OK as long as increasing the height of the patio doesn’t create a problem with drainage or a safety hazard. Instead of a sand base, concrete pavers bond to the concrete with mortar. Adding a paver layer makes an appealing new floor but take care around steps, stairs and doorways insuring everything is at an appropriate height.
Hardscape Features Add Definition, ‘Sizzle’
You want your rejuvenated patio space to welcome family and friends. To be more than just a flat square with a different covering, right?
Depending upon the “lay of the land” in your backyard, there’s a hardscape element that’s just right. Hardscape, compared to landscape, is exactly what it sounds like – design elements made of something hard. Concrete poured into patios, walks and driveways is hardscape. Natural stone and paver walks, walls, custom kitchens and fire pits are all hardscape, too. Think of it this way: if it includes plants, it’s landscape; if it is or looks like rocks, bricks or cement, it’s hardscape.
An ideal way to define your backyard patio space into an outdoor room is with a wall. A great poet once said: “walls make good neighbors.” In the backyard they make great dividers to keep play areas separated from rest and relaxation. What does a wall do? Consider:
- Defines the space – create rooms where there weren’t any.
- Separates functional areas in the yard.
- Frames views of the surroundings – and opening in a low wall focuses the eye on what’s beyond (your rose garden, backyard pond or great view of the Madison skyline, perhaps.
- Provides additional casual seating – a wall capped with large pavers is an ideal place for guests to sit and chat.
If you don’t want, or need a wall to define your outdoor spaces, there’s a way to combine poured concrete and pavers. You can have your existing concrete patio cut into a curved shape and stained for added interest. Then, have a precast paver edge installed. The poured portion provides the majority of the space with the pavers providing a distinctive edge. The combination teamed with creative plantings provides a powerful, yet subtle definition. You create a new space with simple additions.
Patio Features For Your Lifestyle
Do you wish you could use your patio more? You can enhance your patio’s usefulness with a few additional popular choices:
- An outdoor kitchen – everywhere you look in popular media you’ll find references to creating an “outdoor kitchen.” What is an outdoor kitchen? It’s anything from the recreation of your indoor facilities (grill instead of stove, but often refrigerator and even a pizza oven or wine cooler) to a simple location to make your grill look “built-in.” If you cook out a lot, or would like to, creating a kitchen as part of the space makes sense. It organizes your tools and accessories, making meal creation easier and more fun. Some type of area designated for cooking is the No. 1 priority for most patio installations. Running a close second is a seating area for relaxing and serving food and drink.
- Outdoor lighting – when it gets dark do you move the party inside? There are many kinds of outdoor lighting options that can increase the value of your patio. Subtle pathway or stairway lights make moving around pleasant and safe. A truly hot trend is stringing unique strands of overhead lights above the patio, lighting it all. Adding lights changes the mood, too. Modern lighting runs from a piercing white of LED to a calming amber glow of “old-fashioned” bulbs. Create the mood you want from bright to dim.
- Overhead structures – a pergola or privacy screen/wall create shade in daylight and atmosphere at night – in addition to perfect anchors for overhead lights. People enjoy nooks and cozy escape spots for relaxation and conversation. An overhead shade sail is also popular. Anything that provides shade from afternoon sunshine is an asset in Wisconsin, right?
Rely Upon A Concrete Patio Pro
If you have a patio of poured concrete that needs new energy or want to expand on your overall outdoor living. Consulting a patio professional is a wise choice. There are many examples of why turning to a pro is safer than taking on a DIY project. Consider one of the more common ones:
- A fire pits is great on chilly evenings. However, in Dane County and other nearby areas strict regulations apply to where a fire pit can be located – for most it’s no nearer than 17 feet to any structure. A professional knows the regulations, where and how to get permits, and has the experience to do it right the first time.
Your outdoor living space and kitchen can be simple or dramatic. Your vision and lifestyle set the stage. When it’s time to give your outdoor living area a new look, call Marvin Martinez at Martin’s Brick Pavers at 608-630-8855. Or email him at www.marvinsbrickpavers.com. Marvin’s experienced crews provide professional installation of poured concrete and hardscapes of all kinds. Take advantage of his years of experience and craftsmanship to renovate and create the perfect concrete patio for your Madison WI home.