When considering paving materials for a patio, walkway or pool surround, it's important to approach the project with open-mindedness and flexibility. The materials you see in a magazine may not be available in your region, or may be more expensive than you can afford. That slate you have your eye on may not be a practical or safe choice next to the in-ground spa. Pea gravel might be affordable and durable, but might not be the most comfortable or wisest way to go for a patio upon which you plan to do lots of entertaining. Before committing to a paving material, think about these important points:
1. Surface TextureHow does it feel when you walk or stand on the paving material: rough or soft?
2. SizeWhat is the size of the area to be covered? Just imagine the cost of covering a 36 x 40-foot patio in slate. Be realistic and practical.
3. DrainageWhat type of drainage would be required? Would it be simple or complex?
4. AppearanceDoes the color, texture or pattern blend in with the materials used on your house or the rest of the landscape/hardscape?
5. DurabilityIs it built to last? Will the area get lots of foot traffic, or be exposed to extremes in weather conditions or temperatures?
6. DIYHow difficult will installation be for this material and project? Do you have the do-it-yourself skills and experience to handle it, or will you need to hire a contractor?
7. TimeHow long will it take you to complete this project? Do you have a timeframe or deadline you have to work within?
8. MaintenanceHave you chosen a material that’s easy to maintain? Does it require a special polymer coat or protectant, and, if so, how often will you need to apply it? Are there spaces where weeds can grow through? If so, are you up for occasional weeding?
9. SafetyDoes the material become slippery when wet? Does it have little ridges or “potholes” that make the surface uneven and could trip someone?
10. BudgetMoney is always a big deciding factor. The materials may be what you’ve dreamed of, but are way out of line with what you can afford. Are you open-minded and willing to explore other options?