For decades, poured concrete was the go-to material for the backyard patio. Today there are a variety of options available to create hard-scaping around your property, and many of them are DIY-friendly. Is concrete still king? This tried-and-true mixture of sand and cement is still the favorite choice for many homeowners, but several factors should be weighed before making the final decision. The style of your home, your budget, usage and environment are all points to consider. Knowing the pros and cons of concrete may help you make the right decision.
Durability -- Pro
Though it can crack and chip, as a whole poured concrete is highly durable and will last for decades. Unlike natural stone, brick or pavers, a concrete slab won't shift, and the addition of rebar will make a large pour even stronger. One negative to consider is that dyes in decorative concrete can fade with time. While the structure will remain strong, the finish may need occasional restoration.
Maintenance and Repair -- Con
Day-to-day maintenance of concrete is simple: sweep, hose, done. But repairs are the reason it scores a place in the con column. In areas that experience extreme high or low temperatures, concrete is prone to cracking. Cracks can be costly and difficult to repair, sometimes requiring a major portion of the patio to be torn up and poured again. Matching decorative concrete after a repair can be frustrating and expensive and continuity may be impossible to achieve.
Design -- Pro
The versatility of concrete allows for any shape or size of a patio. The number of colors, dyes and stamps available means there is literally a limitless number of design options. You can easily create a custom patio that perfectly matches or complements the color scheme of your home or garden.
Safety -- Con
Concrete can be slippery when it gets wet, so it may not be the best choice in areas where frequent rain or heavy morning and evening mists occur. Adding aggregate to the mixture or choosing a texturized design will minimize the concern. If cracks or chips go unrepaired they can pose a serious trip hazard.
Cost and Installation -- Pro
Though it may not be ideal for inexperienced DIYers, decorative concrete is faster and easier to install than any other type of material. Even if you hire professionals, the ease of installation is one reason why concrete is more economical than other materials.
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