How to Design With Patio Pavers

Determining Budget and Function Precedes Aesthetic Concerns

Image of bluestone paver patio.
The color of the bluestone pavers on this patio is picked up by the chairs chosen to furnish it. David Beaulieu

Designing with patio pavers can be intimidating if you do not have a lot of experience, although such work is fun and rewarding once you arm yourself with sufficient information. With so many pavers to choose from, you might be wondering where in the world to begin. To get off on the right foot, answer these three questions:

  • How much can I spend to design with patio pavers? -- The first step is to make a budget. Before you start shopping for materials and thinking about how beautiful your new patio will look (you can also build walkways with patio pavers), determine how much money you can spend on the project. There are a lot of different types of pavers out there. Knowing exactly how much money you have available to spend before you begin will help you narrow your choices. It will also keep you from falling in love with a product and a paver design that you can't afford. Once you have created a budget, you are ready to answer the next question.
  • Why am I doing this? -- This is not meant to be a philosophical question but, rather, a practical one. When designing with pavers, before you choose a product, you need to determine what function it will perform. Does your paver design include a walkway? Is it the main entrance to your home? Will you have any visitors that have difficulty with mobility? In this situation, you would want to stay away from rougher, more natural products like cobblestone pavers. You would want a walkway that was very smooth and accessible. Concrete pavers, with their uniform shapes and sizes, might be a good option in this scenario, or a smooth stone paver, like bluestone pavers. Choose a building material that fits your particular needs.
  • What will it look like? -- Now that you have got the nuts and bolts covered, it is time to get creative with your paver design and consider aesthetics. With the myriad of products from which to choose, it can be difficult to settle on one. By determining how much money you can spend, and the function the product will be required to perform, you have already made life easier for yourself by narrowing down the field. As long as you meet the first two requirements, your paver design can include any paver you desire.

    Tips for Choosing the Right Material for Your Paver Design:

    • Browse around for ideas: Look in books and magazines for inspiration. Check out your neighbor's and see what they have done. Keep an eye on the backgrounds in movies. What kind of pavers are those lovers strolling down? Are those concrete pavers or paving bricks at that café?
    • Do not be afraid to mix it up: No one said you could only choose one product. When designing with pavers, do not be afraid to mix materials. Some professional masons, in fact, pride themselves on mixing paving bricks and bluestone pavers for patios. Cobblestone can make great edging for your concrete paver walkway. If you look online or in your local newspaper's classifieds section, you might be able to find some leftover stone pavers for sale from one person and some old brick pavers for sale in another location. Buy them both and see what you can make with the two. Get creative with your paver design.
    • Most importantly, make it for yourself: Create a paver design that you love, not one that you think is cool or trendy. When planning, remember that you are the one that will be living with this paver design, so think less about impressing your neighbors and more about creating something that you will want to look at everyday.

    Types of Pavers, Installation Choices

    You may not think of this fact when installing patio pavers (unless you are prone to daydreaming), but when you lay down these solid materials to create flat surfaces upon which to entertain, walk or drive, you are following in the footsteps of the ancients.

    The Romans built their roads with stone pavers because the smoother, more durable surface made travel easier. Today, we pave our roads with asphalt and concrete, saving stone work for such areas as the patios around our houses.

    Below, we'll touch briefly on the different kinds of patio pavers and how to install patio pavers. Please follow any of the links for more in-depth information on these topics.

    Before installing patio pavers, you will have to sift through the multitude of types from which to choose. They vary in size, shape, color, texture, cost, and ease of installation. Whatever project you are undertaking, from entertaining areas to pool decks, there is at least one kind suitable for your project.

    The most common types come in concrete, brick and stone materials, and they can be used to build, for example:

    Although there are many kinds available, the techniques for installing patio pavers of all types are quite similar. For those that are dry-laid, that is, installed without mortar, the process generally consists of installing a base of crushed stone and a setting bed of sand or stone dust. For some projects, you may want to install your stone or brick pavers with mortar. These need to be installed over a solid concrete slab

    More Paver Design Tips:

    • Draw it out before you begin: Even a simple sketch will help you visualize the final product.
    • Take measurements carefully prior to buying supplies: Before you start shopping, know exactly how many you need. Patio pavers are usually sold by the square foot, so measure the length and width (in feet) of your paver design project and multiply them together. Add 5% to 10% to make sure that you have plenty to work with.