Best Patio Surface Alternatives

Several patio surface alternatives exist to choose from. However, with many alternatives comes indecisiveness. Therefore you may probably wonder what the best alternative for your patio surface would be.

The best alternatives for your patio surface can be clay bricks, gravel, tiles, pavers, or cut stones. Whichever one you choose, your patio can be attached to your house or detached from it. However, the best alternative depends on your budget, the patio surface material(s), and the area it will be installed. 

Here, are some of the most common patio surface materials that you can use for your project.

What is the most common patio surface material?.

The most common patio surface material is concrete; with an average life expectancy of between 30 and 50 years.

Not only is concrete common for its durability but also its affordability. For instance, the average cost for constructing a square foot patio using concrete ranges between $6 and $13.

The other thing about concrete is that it is optimizable. In other words, you can mold concrete to attain desired shapes, colors, and even texture

Nevertheless, concrete is highly susceptible to weather elements. If you use concrete, the constant freezing and thawing cycles can lead to cracks and the weakening of your patio.

To avoid losing the curb appeal of your patio, consider sealing the concrete surface with paint.

Concrete patios are easy to maintain. So, as long as you maintain yours properly, you will use it for several years.

If the concrete does not appeal to your landscaping desires, or if you just want to inject some ingenuity into your patio, alternatives abound.

Patio Surface Alternatives

Several alternatives to patio surfaces exist that you can choose from. But when choosing the best alternative, consider your budget, the duration it would take,  the space you have, and the purpose for which the patio is intended.

A small area, for example, will require few patios constructing resources, little budget, and will probably mean you have to do it yourself. However, complicated alternatives require expert consultations and input.

Here we will discuss some patio surface alternatives for your home including clay bricks, gravel, tiles, and patio pavers.

Clay Bricks

Clay bricks are essential alternatives to concrete If you want an old-fashioned look for your patio. It gives your patio a classic ancient feel.

In addition, clay bricks can be arranged to give various patio patterns. Not only do you need to go with the usual square or rectangular patios. With clay bricks, you can achieve other artistic shapes like triangles, circles, ovals, etc.

Compared to concrete, clay bricks may be relatively expensive. Their installation will also consume a significant part of your budget. Right now, you will need between $14 and $20 to install a square foot of patio using clay bricks. 

However, you can opt for reclaimed bricks to cut the cost. These are also environmentally friendly and are recommended if you must go for clay bricks.

You can use mortar to bind together the clay bricks for your patio. However, if you are on a budget, then the mortar is not necessary. A bed of sand will still hold your clay brick patio into position.

As a patio surface alternative, clay bricks need a professional to help with the installation process. Otherwise, leveling the bricks and giving them shape will be time-consuming and cumbersome.

However, if you want that old-fashioned look and ancient feel for your patio, then we recommend that you use clay bricks.


You can also use gravel as a surface material for your patio. Like cement, gravel is cheap, but with pristine characteristics that you may not find from other alternatives.

The average cost for a square foot of gravel is around $6 and $10. Despite being cost-effective, gravel comes in various shapes, colors, and sizes. Thus, you will not miss the right gravel to match the hue of your property.

Unlike concrete, gravel allows for adequate drainage. After a storm, the large grains of gravel will not retain water on the surface of your patio. Because of that characteristic, gravel is a great choice for decorating water points.

Furthermore, round-shaped gravel can be a joy to walk on when barefooted. However, sharp ones can be very painful to your bare feet. That’s why we recommended that you use gravel alongside other patio surface materials.

For example, you may leave spaces between pavers and level them using gravel to give your patio a relaxed feel.

If you can construct a fireplace at the center of this patio and set it up with vegetation, your patio will be a nice place for an evening coffee with friends and loved ones.

The major flipside to gravel as a patio surface material is maintenance. Over time, gravel may be washed away by wind and other factors. Thus it may sink, disappear, or lose its former glory.

However, if gravel sounds like the best patio surface material for you, go ahead and get yourself some for that project. It will still give you and your loved ones the best landscape experience in your compound for several years.


Tiles are a fantastic alternative too. They are cost-effective and will cost you anywhere between $7.50 and $10 per square foot.

With thousands of colors and textures, tiles can be optimized to fit the needs of your patio. You will always find the right tiles to define your patio and give it the theme of your choice.

For example, green to brown tiles are suitable for tropical, desert, and french patio themes.

Furthermore, if you want something pleasant to walk on and simple to clean, tiles are the best patio surface alternative. Therefore, installing tiles on your patio will save you a significant amount of time in the future.

However, there are risks to using tiles as your patio surface material. Given that a patio is an outdoor feature, that means tiles will occasionally get wet. Rain and humidity can be trapped on tile surfaces and render your patio unwalkable.

That way, tiles can pose great danger to children, visitors, and even to yourself. Nevertheless, tile factories are now making textured tiles that one can walk on even after rains. So you can try these to prevent falling and injuries on your patio.

The bottom line is, you must give critical consideration to tile texture if you choose it for your patio. However, if you have some vertical surfaces on your patio, the texture of the tile may not be so essential.

Instead, vertical surfaces can use smooth tiles with crisp displays to improve the theme and enhance the feel of your patio. Whether you choose Japanese, Modern, or Tuscan themes, here is where to enhance them with tiles.

What is important to note, however, is that installing tiles means incurring other costs such as those for installing concrete slabs at the base of the tiles. But if you are looking for general aesthetics, we recommend tiles for your patio.


Patio pavers are the best patio surface materials. Experts say that pavers can last for more than 80 years. But that comes at a cost of between $13 and $20 per square foot, which can be very expensive but worth the investment.

Patio pavers interlock with one another, making their installation pretty manageable. This is the kind of patio project you can do by yourself to create the backyard of your dreams.

Additional activities here involve digging out and leveling the ground before laying down the patio pavers. However, we do not recommend that you lay down the pavers on dirt.

For best performance and durability of your patio, lay patio pavers on compacted sand. Also, choose from a variety of patio pavers. Some resemble cut stone, and others replicate wooden looks, allowing you significant choices for your patio.

Pavers are versatile and using them in your patio will mean you can host large events on your patio without damaging it. The pavers will bring fun to your backyard and provide colorful themes for reading and resting.

If your budget allows for patio pavers, don’t even think twice. Go for it. If you need patio pavers but are low on budget, you can still save for the project and implement it at a later date.

What is the cheapest patio surface material?

The cheapest patio surface material is gravel, which will cost you between $6 and $10 per square foot. Gravel is not only cheap, but it also has pristine characteristics that lack from other patio surface alternatives.

For example, it is the most suitable material for applying a natural feel and essence to water points near your patio. You can use it as the base of your pond or for other aquatic habitats in your backyard.

It is not always true that patios will have a uniform and solid surface. You can use gravel for your patio.

The table below shows a summary of the alternative patio surface materials and their costs of installation per square foot.

Patio Surface MaterialAverage Cost Per Square Foot
Clay Bricks$14-$20
Cut Stones/ Stone Tile$12.58
Patio Pavers$13-$20
Tiles$7 – $10


Similar Posts