Getting Into Hardscaping

On a level site where the interior floor is close to grade, a patio is often a better and less-costly option than a low-elevation deck.

Extending an existing concrete patio is a straightforward project. The footings for the columns for the deck above were poured before the patio was put in; this way the load is transferred below the patio. Note that the tops of the footings are lower than the bottom of the new slab.

When a concrete slab has been extended, a thin concrete coating can be used to visually tie the old and new slabs together. The coating shown here has been stamped and colored to look like natural stone.

Expansion joints are more or less visible on stamped concrete, depending on the pattern. On this faux flagstone, they are obvious, but not as disruptive as they would be on a smaller pattern.

This concrete patio was stamped with a large random pattern. The expansion joints contribute to the illusion that the patio is made up of large slabs of slate.

A walkway built with natural stone or concrete pavers can be used to complement most styles of porches and decks.

The author prefers to set flagstone patios and walkways in mortar over a concrete slab rather than over a sand or crushed-stone base. This method requires more attention to drainage details, because water can’t seep through the joints between the stones.

When a porch or overhead structure is involved, the author elevates the patio’s outer edge 4 to 8 inches above the ground, with enough slope to shed water. This minimizes ground splatter from rain, keeps lawn-mower wheels from rolling across the patio and tracking it up, and provides a defined edge for a weed whacker.

The rebar reinforcement in a patio extension must be pegged to the old slab to prevent differential settling.

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