Paving Your Way

Choosing the pavement that is right for your home improvement project

Choosing the pavement that is right for your home improvement project

As the weather warms, San Diegans can finally emerge from hibernation and start planning their exterior home improvement projects. As most Southern California homeowners realize, the exterior of a home can easily provide a valuable space for entertaining almost year-round. Whether you are looking to enhance your property value or simply finalize your plans for that new patio, first brush up on the proper paving materials that can turn your project into your home’s crowning achievement.

According to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association, America is currently experiencing a growth Path - Slate Detail of the “outdoor living phenomena.” What better way to celebrate San Diego’s beautiful climate than by creating a true outdoor living room on your property? The Pool and Spa Institute notes that backyards are becoming lavish extensions of the home. With more homeowners spending additional time and money to design a complete outdoor retreat, intricate paved patios now draw the eye from the back door to the pool while creating a striking base for furnished seating areas, fountains and spas, and even full-service outdoor kitchens.

When planning any project that includes pavement, there are quite a few elements to take into consideration. First, think about the space the pavement will occupy. Will it be used as a large backyard patio, sweeping circular driveway, or just a quaint garden path?

For larger paving projects, concrete is a vastly popular option because of its versatility, durability, andPavement Design economical cost. Regular concrete, with its uninterrupted flat surface, needs virtually zero maintenance and is easily cleaned. For a driveway that is not only functional but also increases your home’s aesthetic, dress up your poured concrete by adding a dash of color. From sand to charcoal, light grey to crimson, the color possibilities of concrete are virtually endless.

Poured concrete becomes a permanent part of your landscape design, so for a more unfixed paving option choose to work with concrete slabs. Concrete slabs are a paving innovation, allowing a homeowner much more control over the versatility of their design. These pre-poured pieces can become movable parts of your landscape design, or can still be mortared in place to create a lasting fixture of your home.

For those who do not fancy the rudimentary and somewhat unfinished look of flat concrete, there are many professional paving companies now offering concrete that can be patterned to resemble stone, slate, and even brick. This method, called stamping, can be used to create dramatic poolscapes, luxurious driveways, and inviting patios. According to the Concrete Network, “Concrete provides the perfect canvas for creating an economical replica of more expensive materials” while still maintaining a exceptionally natural look.

Nice DrivewayIf you want your driveway to send an eco-friendly message, instead install a grass-concrete combination called “turf slab.” This material combines the tough surface of a concrete slab with the pleasing look of a lawn. Because turf slabs are usually aligned in regular rows without proper jointing, this form of paving is not intended to take the weight of a heavy vehicle for a long period of time. It also requires regular maintenance as this is truly a live part of your landscape design.

For smaller paving projects, such as walkways and paths, use concrete pavers. Also called paving stones, these pieces can perfectly interlock to form a striking patterned surface. Pavers are manufactured in various textures and colors, and can be easily removed or re-installed depending on the homeowner’s whim. For smaller permanent installations, you can also use decorated tiles or cement with a colored finish. Especially for those who like do-it-yourself projects, you should choose pavement based on your particular skill set, budget, and time constraints.

Most homeowners want to keep cost low on home improvement projects, but they also view upgrading the exterior of their home as an investment. Creating the look of an authentic stone or slate patio using stamped concrete is certainly economical. However if maintaining the authenticity of the end result is the primary goal, there is a wide variety of quality materials available. For example, crushed stone or pebbles can lend a beachy, informal feel to an outdoor space, while brick and stone will give your home a sophisticated air.

Bricks provide a variety of flooring patterns and can be used to pave almost any space. Brick provides immense versatility and is especially attractive when complimenting a matching home façade or when usedPayvment to embellish English garden landscaping. Brick wears well in almost all weather conditions, and its color is permanent. It can also be loosely laid to encourage small plant, moss, and grass growth which will lend an organic feel to the exterior of your home.

Stone is another classic paving option which can be also be laid in precut slabs or blocks. Stone is a general term that encompasses many substrates, so the color of the stone you use will depend on the type you choose for your paving project. Slate is one commonly used paving stone that ranges from greenish purple to gray or black. Travertine is also a popular paving stone, especially useful for patios and garden paths. This stone is commonly available in pre-cut sizes for when the homeowner desires a worn look and feel for their flooring project.

Most stone pieces can be cut into uniform shapes or split to create pieces with unique variable edges. One note when working with stone: all stones are naturally porous substrates, so they can stain easily. Therefore stone paving is best used on smaller paths and covered terraces versus large, open-air paving projects.

Now that warmer weather has descended on San Diego, get outdoors and start planning an exterior home improvement project. By using the appropriate pavement, your outdoor living room, garden path, or even driveway can become a beautiful extension of your distinctive home design.

By Kelly Cochran
San Diego Premier Vol 11 May 2007

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