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What to Choose When Extending Your Living Space

Are you thinking about extending your living space by using more of your front or back yards?  No doubt that adding living space will require additional patio for dining or other recreational use.  What are my choices you may be asking yourself…well, please allow me to assist here and give you numerous options. We’ll touch upon what materials we can use, the differences in cost, longevity & maintenance.  The two most popular “flatwork” options are concrete or travertine pavers and flagstone.  There are of course others like: exposed aggregate & stamped or stained concrete, Saltillo & other tiles, Canterra and acrylic coatings to name the most popular.  These half dozen options represent about 95 percent of what people are using for patio extensions.  We’ll concentrate on the three most popular.

Concrete pavers are one of the most popular flatwork options.  First of all, the word “paver” is the generic term for that type of material.  There are dozens of companies throughout Arizona and the United States that manufacture their own brand of paver.  Here in the valley, there are companies like: Belgard, Arizona Block, Phoenix Pavers, Acker Stone, Pavestone (sold at Home Depot) & Artistic Pavers just to name a handful of the most popular.  These are pressed concrete products done at a factory and shipped to suppliers by the palette; However, the new “IT” material are Travertine pavers. Both products come in a variety of colors and there are different sizes and patterns. The cost of pavers in my opinion is the best overall value and typically ranges anywhere from $8 to $10 per square foot for concrete pavers and $13 to $16 for Travertine pavers depending on how much you are installing and the type of paver you choose, since there are few cost differences in material.  The sub-base (or what is under the paver) is compacted using a material called ABC and then a layer of sand ranging from 3’4” to 1 ½ inches deep is applied, graded, and set.  The edge of your patio known as the border or soldier course is set with mortar to keep the main area from falling apart on itself.  Polymeric sand is applied to the finished patio by brooming and watering which helps it set up nicely for heavy traffic. There is an additive in the sand which acts more like a grout than sand.  A good paver with the proper installation should last 15 to 20 years with little difficulty. Negatives…hot under foot and patio has to be periodically re-sanded when rain washes some of it away.

Flagstone was popular years ago, but not so much now.  It comes in a variety of colors, can be mortar or sand set, saw cut (clean look) or snap cut (a more rustic look). More than 90 percent of the flagstone we use is quarried right here in northern Arizona in a place called Ashfork.  Flagstone is commonly used for BBQ counters, wall & pillar caps, and step stones to name a few other uses.  Flagstone costs between $14 & $16 per square foot, depending on the type of flagstone chosen, and cleans up nicely with a strong hose or power washer. Flagstone is not a DIY project.  It takes a true artisan to work and lay the stone for a professional look. Negatives…warm under foot and grout joints have a tendency to “spider crack” away from the stone while the patio settles. Joints may have to be re-grouted once or twice during its’ life span and lasts 15 – 20 years.

Concrete products give you a wide variety of looks. There are broom & salt finishes…you can add color or use an exposed aggregate (small rocks in the concrete mix) and you can stain existing concrete yourself for about $2 per square foot with products found at any home improvement center.  You can stamp concrete (during the install) with a variety of patterns and colors or use an acrylic topping to create a variety of different looks.  Acrylic finishes get applied over existing or new concrete and of course the most popular is the standard “kool deck” finish around our pools.  There are acrylic coatings that can mimic old stone like a Tuscan look, flagstone, or saltillo tile to name a few.  Standard grey concrete is about $8 per square foot depending on quantity installed.  If you already have concrete and just want to spruce it up, coatings range between $6 & $8 per square foot depending on the pattern chosen.  If you are starting from scratch and need to pour concrete and then add the coating, your starting cost will be at least $14 per square foot and can be as high as $16 per square foot. That’s why pavers are my flatwork recommendation when possible because you can’t beat the price point and overall beauty. Negatives…costly if you don’t already have concrete, and it also has a tendency to crack with our expansive soils here in the valley. Lastly…not easily repaired if it does.

If you have any questions on patio extensions or are looking for a quality landscape contractor for your yard makeover, please contact for a complimentary consultation. We offer a free landscape design on an approved budget! Remember…when it comes time to designing & building great landscape, it all starts with a master plan.

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