Fabulous and Functional Outdoor Flooring for your Custom Home
Without a doubt, every aspect and element of a home is encompassed in the overall investment, and the exterior surroundings are no exception. ‘Curb appeal’ starts at the road and continues up the driveway, walkways, and patios. These hardscaped elements should enhance the overall style of the home and are also an opportunity to display a little glimpse of one’s personal flair through outdoor flooring.
Much like many of the elements within a home, a home owner should want to ensure that they take the time to create an outdoor design and select materials that they will love for an extended period of time. But… a homeowner’s decisions will need to consider not only aesthetics but function.
How will Mother Nature and family lifestyle affect the integrity or function of material choices? That’s a factor in the decision making. After all, the four seasons of weather in Niagara can be challenging to say the least. From the rainy springs, extreme summer sun, rain again, and then the freezing winter weather and thaw cycle again, exposed outdoor surfaces can be compromised.
As long as coordinating colours, patterns and textures are chosen it is possible to incorporate different materials for different areas of a property. In fact, if done right, the mixture of patterns, textures and colours could just bring a property right to the top of the “WOW” scale. The choices and changes of materials outdoor flooring however will need to consider function and longevity.
When choosing hardscape outdoor flooring materials, one might want to consider:
- Appearance: Colours or lack thereof, patterns, textures, etc.
- Durability: Can it resist weathering in all four seasons -- what about ice and salt or other chemicals, will it fade with the sun, will it flake or crack with use or ground movement, etc.? Will it move and need to be relayed at some point?
- Versatility – What shapes can it accommodate; is it pre-formed or pourable, what restrictions does it have?
- Ease of Maintenance: What is required to maintain the integrity or appearance over time?
- Cost effectiveness: Budget, longevity vs cost, maintenance costs, etc.
Concrete: A man-made material that can be coloured, engraved, and shaped, therefore highly versatile for design.
- Standard concrete
- Stamped concrete - stamps pressed into the finishing concrete – stamps can be different shapes and textures to make concrete look like stone, slate, tile, flagstone, brick, or wood, etc.
- Coloured concrete - adding a colour to concrete
- Exposed Aggregate - where the coloured aggregate within the concrete is exposed by removing the surface layer of concrete.
- Engraved Concrete - cutting into concrete to create a design or pattern
- Stained Concrete - A translucent colour added to new or old concrete that can intensify the appearance of blemishes and marks in the concrete -adding colour and character.
- Stenciled Concrete – A cement based coloured hardener when applied can create appearances just similar to stamped concrete without the same level of texture that a stamp makes.
- Pavers/paving stones – stone, tile or brick-like pieces of concrete in a variety of colours
Flagstone: Describes natural stones cut in a flat formation. Flagstone can be irregularly shaped for a natural look or cut in geometric blocks for a more formal look. Flagstone can be made of the following:
- Sandstone - most popular in golds, reds or browns– not as durable as granite or slate.
- Bluestone - glue-grey colour – usually denser than sandstone.
- Limestone - most popular in dark-gray, blue-gray, cream/tan colours. More even in colour than sandstone or granite.
- Granite - a full range of colour selections, very strong – also pricey
- Slate - most popular in blue-grays, muted coppery reds, and silver/grey shades - usually an uneven surface to some extent.
- Quartzite - wide range of colours, routine maintenance needed.
Designs for patios, walkways, or driveways can be simple or intricate. Decorative bands, colour, textures, patterns, shapes, logo’s, designs etc. are all part of the many choices that can be considered. Concrete can be more uniform (especially for walking or dining areas) and cheaper to install than flagstone options, but it may not always achieve the desired look for the homeowner. Will sealant be needed and will it be slippery when wet? Considerations to winter ice and the impact of salt or chemical applications to the surface (to make it less slippery), or areas prone to settle or heavy more than others will dictate what materials can be used where.
There are a variety of benefits and drawbacks for any material choice. Therefore, it is important for a homeowner to consider the function of their space with outdoor flooring and how that function and Mother Nature will impact their material selection.
The limitations come with one’s own imagination, choice of suitable material for a specific area, and of course, budget.
If you are planning to custom renovation or seeking a custom Niagara home builder, contact Vanderzalm Construction Inc. at (905)562-4463 or (905)684-5823. We look forward to hearing from you.