7 Best Alternatives to Paving a Patio

Patios are excellent spots for relaxation and entertainment. Having one in your backyard can noticeably improve the aesthetics of your home and the value of your property.

Patios are dynamic in design. Different individuals try and look for personalized concepts that highlight aspects of their personality (and complement other facets of their homes)

Paving a patio is sometimes deemed as an expensive, time-consuming venture. Some homeowners are looking for new ideas/ alternatives that are cheaper, durable, and provide similar aesthetics to pavers while compromising on price.

Is there a cheaper alternative to pavers?

Some cheaper alternatives are viable substitutes for pavers. Pavers are generally more expensive than other surfaces in part because of their elaborate manufacturing process.

Typically, the average cost of a paver varies from around $5 to $15 per square foot. Variable costs make the price much higher when considering factors such as labor and miscellaneous costs (such as spreading sand, etc.)  On the contrary, a concrete block of similar dimensions’ averages about $3 to $5 per square foot. (Although the price varies greatly depending on the area).

Moreover, installation and maintenance incur further expenses that contribute substantially to the overall cost of your project.

It is also vital to measure long term benefits of a paver compared to the alternatives. Pavers can withstand ground movement better than some options (and are much easier to repair when necessary).

Pavers are an excellent choice for patio construction. The only downside to using pavers resides in the high start-up costs and the availability of viable alternatives that can accomplish a similar purpose.

Best Alternatives to Paving a Patio

You can opt for different alternatives when paving a patio. Pavers have high durability, resale value and provide a positive aesthetic effect on your home. However, the high start-up and installation costs can discourage some people from choosing paving block materials for their patio.

Here are some of the best alternatives to paving a patio

 1. Wooden Deck Construction

A wooden deck is a lovely addition to your backyard patio. Using wood provides a unique finish, natural touch, and beautiful aesthetics that greatly complements most spaces.

Decking is an excellent way to provide extra space to your balcony or outdoor backyard while minimizing the total space utilized. Although some designs might have slightly higher costs than paved patios, the overall effect is substantially more appealing, styling, and authentic.

The average installation cost depends heavily on the aggregate cost of materials, labor charges, and other miscellaneous expenses. Wood types vary in pricing (which makes it difficult to formulate a definite figure. However, most agree that the average installation cost ranges from $25 per square foot, although the estimate may also reflect the material cost.

Pros

  • Choose from many designs.
  • Beautiful aesthetics that seamlessly complement your living space.
  • Makes effective use of a small area

Cons

  • Wooden floors require regular maintenance to remain attractive.
  • Cost can be significantly higher than other alternatives.

Wooden decks constructions can provide a durable alternative to using paving blocks on your patio. The average lifespan of a wooden deck is about 10-15 years (although it can last for longer with proper maintenance).

2. Gravel

Gravel is an ideal alternative to paving stones on your patio. Using gravel flooring is highly cost-effective and an excellent choice for people looking to fix an outdoor patio while on a budget.

The average cost of laying gravel on a patio ranges from $8 to $10 per square foot. Price variations may occur depending on the type of gravel, labor costs, and additional miscellaneous costs.

Gravel is remarkably easy to maintain, where, unlike other materials, a gravel patio can withstand adverse changes in weather. A popular design includes incorporating a firepit on one side of your backyard. You can also add other aesthetics to improve the uniqueness of your patio.

Pros

  • Provides for a very durable product
  • Easy to install with minimal expertise needed
  • Budget-friendly
  • Low maintenance

Cons

  • Gravel might not be compatible with some furniture pieces.
  • Improper installation can easily cause problems in the future.

The average lifespan of a gravel patio is about 5 to 12 years without the need to repair or refresh the gravel base.

3. Clay Brick

Clay bricks are an excellent alternative to using paving blocks on your patio. The products add a touch of elegance to any living space and can significantly increase the value of your home.

Clay brick installation can range from $3 to $10 per square foot (although costs might be significantly higher after including variable costs like labor). The installation process is somewhat similar to paving blocks with only slight observable differences.

Pros

  • Stunningly elegant and appealing finish.
  • Alternative to the use of paving materials.
  • Highly durable product.

Cons

  • Clay bricks lack the tensile strength of other materials – for example, paver blocks.
  • The soil in bricks makes them vulnerable to mold growth and cracking.

The average lifespan of clay brick patios is remarkable. Sun-dried bricks can last up to 30 years without the need for repair.

4. Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic tiles are an ideal alternative for paving an outdoor patio. Tiles have elaborate patterns that create a unique finish to any outdoor space.

The average installation cost ranges from $7 to $14 per square foot. With the added benefits of affordability, accessibility, and reliability, tiles are highly durable products. The various tile finishes make them incredibly versatile.

Pros

  • Highly durable products.
  • Easy to install on most surfaces.
  • Can withstand adverse weather conditions.

Cons

  • Prone to cracking/chipping from impact.

Ceramic tiles have an exceptional lifespan that averages 20+ years on proper installation and maintenance.

5. Flagstones/Cut stones

Flagstones create a beautiful, rugged design that can be ideal for an outdoor patio. The products comprise mainly of specially cut rock providing a firm surface that can last lengthy durations.

The average price of installing flagstones per square foot is between $2 and $3. However, variable costs (such as labor) may significantly increase the price to about $15 to $21 per square foot.

Pros

  • An eye-catching finish for your patio
  • Natural rock is highly durable.
  • Plenty of color options that make the design very appealing.

Cons

  • High labor costs may discourage some people.
  • The surface can become dangerously slippery when wet.

Flagstone is a highly durable product that can last for a considerable time. The average lifespan of flagstone is about 10-15 years. After that, the stone might require repair and other aspects of maintenance.

6. Concrete Slabs

Concrete is an ideal alternative for your patio. The material provides a cost-effective option that can easily fit within most people’s budgetary confinements.

The average installation cost for a concrete slab depends on the price of materials and subsequent labor costs. Most concrete slabs range from $1 to $3 per square foot (with additional labor costs averaging $3 to $10 per square foot).

Pros

  • Readily available in most areas
  • A cost-effective alternative to pavers.
  • A highly durable product with an extensive lifespan

Cons

  • Hazardous in the event of slipping

The average lifespan of a concrete patio ranges from 30 years to about 50 years with proper maintenance.

7. Vinyl flooring

A vinyl floor patio provides a unique finish to your yard. Vinyl floors are an increasingly popular alternative to other paving options owing to their ease of installation, cost, and wide range of options. 

Installation costs vary depending on the cost of vinyl and subsequent labor costs in your area. Most specialists charge from $1.50 to $6 per square foot; the material expenses range from $1.50 to $10 per square foot.

Pros

  • Moderate cost puts it within reach for most people.
  • Highly durable product
  • Flexible and easy to install.
  • Numerous choice options for consumers.

Cons

  • Susceptible to damage from the sun’s UV radiation.

Vinyl floor covers can last for a considerable time. The average lifespan of vinyl floor covers ranges from 30 years to 50 years with proper maintenance.

What is the cheapest material for a patio?

Prices may vary depending on the material used on your patio. Concrete is by far the cheapest and most popular material used in patio construction. Although other materials might have slightly higher pricing, the price goes significantly higher after factoring in variable costs in your project.

Here is a table that details the different materials and their price comparisons.

Type of MaterialPrice of material ($)/Square Ft.
Concrete           1-3
Wood           4 -10
Clay Bricks           3-10
Ceramic Tiles           2-4
Flagstones           2-3
Vinyl Flooring           1.5-10

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