Cost to Install A Patio & Walkway
Whether you want to update an old pathway or add a patio area to your outdoor decor, there are a lot of variables affecting your potential project costs. You may want a simple project that you can manage yourself to save on labor costs, or your plans may involve professional services in order to achieve a special look. In either case, your determination of the project costs will be based on your preparation needs, materials and labor.
National Install A Patio or Pathway Costs
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Planning Your Patio or Pathway
If your project will be a DIY endeavor, planning costs are minimal. You may want to invest in landscaping software or books for use in creating the ideal layout and computing material needs. Software can help you organize different material choices and effects. Working with a landscape architect may be more expensive, but this is advisable if your desired outcome is complex. Whether you desire a stamped and stained concrete surface or sophisticated curves in your flagstone path, a design professional could make the difference in ensuring that your project doesn't appear sloppy.
Permits may be required for some patio and walkway projects in your community, making it important to verify these issues before proceeding with any manual work. Additionally, if you live in a community governed by a homeowner's association, you may be required to submit landscaping plans for review.
How to Design A Patio
When planning the patio, start by walking around your lot and looking at the proposed patio site with a critical eye. Visit the site in the morning, at noon and in the late afternoon to see how the sun will impact the area. In some parts of the country, you may desire a lot of sun; in others, shade will be essential. Think also about how people will travel between the house and patio, what walkways are needed, and how the patio space will blend with the garden or link with a pool.
After you have refamiliarized yourself with your property, measure the approximate size of your house and lot and then make a scale drawing of your house and property. On copies of this drawing, sketch out your patio ideas. Some simple graph paper and a ruler is all you need. A scale of 1/4-inch per foot is commonly used. Don't worry if you feel you cannot draw; it's just an exercise to get your ideas down on paper. Even if you are having the patio professionally designed, the scale drawing will help you form some essential ideas.
Consider how you will use the patio: For entertaining, for a private family retreat, or a little of both? Will you use it more in the morning and thus want warm morning sun, or more in the evening? Will you have to avoid intense afternoon sun? Will you want areas for children to play? A barbecue area? Pool shower? Hot tub or spa? Gazebo? Do you want a potting shed or greenhouse as part of it? Will the patio tie into an existing deck, or will a deck be integrated into the patio? What about water and lights?
A lot of elements to consider, but all should be incorporated into the overall design from the beginning so they won't appear tacked on as an afterthought.
Also, work some curves into the patio outline to break up the monotony of straight lines. A straight patio retaining wall, for instance, can be given an exaggerated curve so it extends into the earthen slope enough to form a secluded nook. Even on flat ground, a patio can be constructed on different levels, which evoke a sense of separate—but still connected—rooms. Another way to subtly divide patios is by creating microclimates. Some areas should offer more shade while others remain open to the sky. Another area may have a little fountain while potted flowers may ring another section.
Once you have sketched a patio outline that, see how it fits beside the house and within the overall yard space. Strive to create a patio that flows in a balanced manner between house, yard, and focal points. Finally, keep the patio in human scale so people are neither overwhelmed nor hemmed in.
Labor and Tools
If you do your own project, you may need a few specialty tools to complete cement work. Trowels are needed for finishing concrete surfaces and edges. You may also need a bucket or wheelbarrow for mixing the material. When you elect to hire a masonry team of finishers or landscaping specialists, they will have the tools and expertise needed for finishing such materials appropriately.
Patio Materials for Covers, Roofs, Decking and More
Patio materials are traditionally some form of masonry or stone, such as concrete, flagstone, brick, or crushed gravel.The material costs will vary based on the size of your project. A DIY walkway with stone pavers can be completed at a much lower price than a poured walkway. Buying your cement from a home improvement store may prove economical, allowing you to do a little bit of work at a time. However, a more consistent result can be achieved by ordering a premixed load of concrete. While this may prove more expensive, it is a more reliable option for a large patio slab. Nonetheless, how all these materials are used is what makes each patio so unique.
In one form or another, this is the most widely used material in all patios. Although concrete and cement are sometimes used interchangeably, they are two different products. The most common type of cement is Portland cement. It is comprised of finely ground minerals, primarily lime mixed with silica, alumina, and gypsum. When water is added to cement, it undergoes a chemical reaction that causes the mix to harden.
Concrete is a mix of cement, sand, and rocks, which are known as aggregate. Different combinations of cement, sand and aggregate result in different types of concrete. A standard, all purpose concrete mix is 1 part cement, 2 parts sand, and 4 parts aggregate.
Residential uses of concrete include foundations, slabs, walkways, driveways, and retaining walls, among others. IT is relatively inexpensive and all concrete can be delivered in several different ways. For larger jobs, order it delivered in a concrete mixer truck. These trucks carry up to 10 cubic yards of concrete but will still usually deliver just a yard or two. For smaller jobs, some concrete firms rent special trailers that hold about one yard, and you haul your own. Another option is to rent an electric concrete mixer. For very small jobs, you can use sacks of ready-mix dry concrete, which you mix with water in a wheelbarrow.
To estimate how much concrete you will need for a sidewalk, wall, or slab, including hexagonal, octagonal or irregularly shaped slabs, see ImproveNet's Concrete Calculator.
A concrete slab is the standard base for many patios. Any materials mortared in place must be placed on a slab. If mortared materials are placed on flexible surfaces, such as the ground or even compacted sand, these surfaces will shift or settle and the mortar will crack.
Concrete slabs have come a long way from the ugly little slabs that were often stuck just out the back door. Today's slabs can be stained and polished to such a degree that they make beautiful indoor floors. They can also be etched, cut, painted, or finished with an exposed aggregate. Old slabs can be revitalized with etched-in colors or topped with an epoxy mix of colored stones. Acid stains react chemically with the cement in concrete to form uneven, variegated colors. Concrete can also be scored with diamond-bit blades to look like bricks or cobblestones.
A freshly poured slab can also be marked with a jointing tool to resemble the irregular outlines of flagstone. It can be sprinkled with powdered coloring agents to brighten it, or it can be painted. Complex and attractive patterns can be pressed in fresh concrete with special stamping tools that change an ordinary slab into an extraordinary one. The finished results can resemble old cobblestones, bricks, flagstone, or other materials. When color is blended into the concrete at the same time, the results can be remarkable.
Traditionally, bricks were made of clay and came in a wide variety of styles and quality. They still do, but concrete bricks are now also widely used and are generally cheaper. Used, or salvaged, clay bricks are commonly more expensive than others unless you find some being thrown away and clean them yourself. The costs are higher because of the labor involved in removing the old mortar. The value in using such bricks, however, is because a newly laid patio or walkway looks as if it has been there a century or more.
There is a dizzying array of brick types out there, such as building, clinker, common, engineered, facing, fire, floor, etc. The two main categories of bricks that homeowners need to be aware of are facing bricks and building bricks, also called common bricks. Facing bricks are made from certain clays to produce specific colors. They are also fired to give the brick a more water resistant glaze. These bricks are used specifically for the exterior and visible part of a brick wall. Common bricks are made with pit-run clay and no attempts at special colors or finishes.
Because all bricks will absorb moisture to varying degrees, choose bricks according to their ability to withstand weathering. In areas with severe winters, for instance, select bricks that absorb minimum amounts of water so they will not fracture in subfreezing temperatures. Here are three weathering classifications for bricks:
- SW (severe weathering) brick is excellent for use on ground that is frozen. It will resist absorbing water which, when frozen, could crack the brick.
- MW (moderate weathering) brick is also for use in freezing weather conditions but should not be placed on the ground where it will absorb more water.
- NW (non-weathering) brick is for moderate climates.
Bricks are bonded together with mortar, which is cement, sand, and water. Hydrated lime is often added to make the mortar more workable when mixing it. Different mixtures of mortar provide different strengths. Mortar for brick laying is divided into four primary categories:
- Type M: Suitable for general purposes and is recommended specifically for bricks that will be placed below grade or in contact with earth, such as foundations or retaining walls. It is made by mixing 1 part Portland cement, 1/4 part hydrated lime, and 3 parts sand.
- Type N: Suitable for general use and particularly for masonry above grade, particularly for exterior walls subject to exposure. It is comprised of 1 part Portland cement, 1 part hydrated lime, and 6 parts sand.
- Type O: Recommended for load bearing walls that will not be subject to freezing and thawing. It is made with 1 part Portland cement, 2 parts hydrated lime, and 9 parts sand.
- Type S: This is excellent for general-purpose use and recommended where resistance to lateral pressure, such as in a retaining wall, is needed. It is made of 1 part Portland cement, 1/2 part hydrated lime, and 4 1/2 parts sand.
Last updated on May 12, 2016
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