The Versatility of Concrete

The Versatility of Concrete

Of all the materials available to build patios, concrete is probably the most traditional yet versatile choice. It’s smooth, clean, can be formed into curvilinear or geometric shapes, and, with the addition of tints, can become anything other than the classic light gray.

Other perks: it offers permanence, durability, and is fairly inexpensive―even more so if you do it yourself​―provided you know what you’re doing and are good at it. For beginning do-it-yourselfers, it’s not easy work, nor is it a one-person job, so if you aren’t sure you can tackle a concrete patio project on your own, it would be best to hire a contractor.

You can’t go wrong with pouring a simple concrete slab, but if you want to add textures or a pattern, certain techniques can be applied during the curing process. One of the easiest ways to add texture is to apply a stiff broom over the drying concrete once in each direction, which will give the surface some “tooth” and keep it from becoming slippery when wet.

Let’s take a look at 12 stunning and diverse outdoor patios made of concrete.

Small Hillside Patio

Small Hillside Patio

A terrace-style patio is a wise choice for this hillside home. Although the outdoor area is small, it makes good use of what space is available. Textured concrete is clean and simple, which goes with the modern aesthetic of the home and is not busy-looking. Built-in low benches take care of seating, instead of cluttering up the area with extra furniture, making the space all about the view.

Modern Dining Patio

Modern Dining Patio

The light concrete used for this modern home’s patio is also repeated on the patio cover/overhead structure, which provides shade for outdoor dining.

Concrete and Steel

Concrete and Steel

An urban lot with a spectacular view of downtown Los Angeles subtly repeats materials used on skyscrapers with the large square concrete blocks evenly spaced to form a flat surface for an uninterrupted view. A tight ground cover is planted between and among the smooth, basic concrete blocks.

A Patio Inspired By Colors of the Desert

A Patio Inspired By Colors of the Desert

Bright colors influenced by desert plants are a trademark of landscape architect Steve Martino’s projects in the Phoenix, Arizona, area. Surfaces like concrete walls and floors might be blue, red, yellow, purple or green that change slightly by the sun or shadows cast during a certain time of day. Besides providing shelter, Martino uses things like shade sails over a patio to altar surface colors and light.

Curvilinear Patio

Curvilinear Patio

A freeform in-ground swimming pool calls for a patio surface to repeat its shape, hugging curves while providing a practical yet attractive transition from the water to the yard and vice versa. While adding a stylish element to the hardscape, the planter also acts as a safety barrier to discourage what would be an enticing jumping-off point for swimmers and keeps outdoor diners from getting splashed.

The concrete patio was poured as separate slabs, allowing the builder to work with the contours of the pool and the limited space between the house and the pool. It’s a smart, well-thought-out design for a small space.

Mixed Surfaces

Mixed Surfaces

Besides giving you the best of both worlds, using two different surfaces in a small yard breaks things up and actually gives you lots to experience in a limited space. Take a look: there are differences in texture, color, and pattern. Using a rich, warm wood decking material in the middle of smooth concrete makes each surface more noticeable and appreciated.

Indoor/Outdoor Living

Indoor - Outdoor Living

The mid-20th-century concept of designing a seamless transition from indoors to outdoors is one that has persisted ​and always looks modern. The design makes the most sense with one-story houses, allowing occupants to walk out of a sliding glass or French doors and into a yard with little effort and move back and forth with ease. For a smooth, level transition, nothing beats concrete, especially if the material and color indoors and out are the same or at least appear to be.​

Triangular Patio

Triangular Patio

Sometimes, rectangular and square aren’t the only forms that work with the design of a structure. This triangular shaped concrete patio repeats the angle of the roof and makes a striking hardscape element against the red bark mulch in the yard.

Patio Roof Garden

Patio Roof Garden

A cool gray concrete patio surrounded by a patch of lawn, planters, and walls of privacy shrubs and trees reflects the colors of the urban landscape while creating a quiet escape.

Small Japanese Style Patio

Small Japanese Style Patio

A solution for a small space: go vertical. Literally, the sky’s the limit. by raising the concrete patio on a platform with surrounding “steps”, this area gains extra room for seating, potted plants, or simply left alone. A dark wooden fence and manicured bamboo in a planter add privacy and that sense of a vertical garden.

Although it isn’t large, a smooth concrete platform like this could accommodate seating and a small table or cushions for meditation and relaxation.

Concrete Patio Play Space

Concrete Patio Play Space

If you have children, a flat yard of concrete may be more versatile than a lawn, especially if you live in an area affected by drought. While a basketball court and all sorts of outdoor equipment can be added, sometimes it’s best just to let the kids decide what to do with the space. They actually love big, open spaces upon which to draw things with chalk, play games, or spend time on their ride-on toys. While smooth is good, make sure there is enough texture on the concrete surface to prevent slipping when it gets wet.

Textured Concrete Near a Pool

Textured Concrete Near a Pool

A simple concrete patio is a good solution near a pool, especially since it has a non-slip texture. Slabs are separated by strips of wood, which is attractive and practical when pouring the concrete.

Plan ahead with your project: concrete takes about a month to completely harden. Most of its strength is developed within the first week. It must be kept moist and covered during the curing process. Spray-on products are available to quicken curing, but it still takes time

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