Flagstone floor

This small outdoor independent patio looks good with flagstone.

The patio is arguably the most useful feature in the landscape. Patio floors support friends, family, guests, play, furniture, pets and can be the basis for building an outdoor room, a work or hobby area or place for outdoor dining. Flooring needs to look good, support traffic and fit in well with how the area will be used. Here are some patio floor ideas that should help as a guide for choosing the right material for your needs.

Start with deciding how your patio space will be used.

Then think about your budget. Be realistic. If you can afford to build the ideal surface right away, select your materials carefully. If you want a temporary patio that you can expand later you can build a strong foundation and set in a surface of temporary, less expensive material that can be replaced later. Or you might want a simple, low-cost patio floor that is utilitarian, like decomposed granite or three quarter inch gravel (both come in colors other than brown and gray if you want to add more interest).

Brick patio floor

A traditional brick patio floor blends nicely with the feel of the house.

There are two basic forms of patio flooring. One is a solid, permanent structure like poured concrete that will last for years. You can create decorative surfaces designed with textures, colors, embedded materials like stones or tumbled glass, or have them colored or stained. There are also many wood choices for patio floor decks. Wood will need regular maintenance to keep it strong outdoors.

Barbecue stone

This barbecue area integrates stone in the floor and the counters.

The other form of flooring is made of non-permanent materials; permeable paving. Permeable paving is a conglomerate of materials laid atop a fast draining base like sand or gravel. Water can penetrate between the surface materials and cracks can be set close together or filled with low-growing plants, gravel or other fill. Surface materials can be natural stone and rock (like flagstone), cast cement pavers or sculpted blocks, bricks, or even loose gravel, stone chips, wood, recycled shredded tires, decomposed granite or any other supportive material. You can create designs and patterns with the layout of your stone, gravel or wood.

The selection of flooring should be in keeping with how the patio will be used. For example, the flooring for a barbecue patio area should be something that can be easily cleaned and will be able to handle grease and spatters. Or a surface that will support furniture might be constructed so there are no gaps to catch chair or table legs.

Once you know what kind of flooring material you want to use, make sure you sketch out the design for your patio. The shape, style, color and design should blend with the overall design of your garden and your home – or any other structure near the patio. Plan how the patio will become part of the landscape. You can echo the design, patio shape or use similar materials to build retaining walls, pathways that lead to and from the patio, water featuresor planter areas.

Tile patio floor

Here’s an example of a tiled patio floor.

Once you have your patio planned out and your flooring selected you can add your patio cover and get to work creating what will probably be one of the most well-used areas of your landscape. Then your new patio will become an extension of your home’s living space.