Ground Cover

Outdoor spaces are an important part of residential planning. When done well, they tend to draw people into the fresh air as well as add value to a home.

The environment–hot and dry, wet and shady–will determine the appropriate type of decking. Photo Courtesy of Patrick Beasley

One important aspect of these spaces is the choice of flooring. When considering the options, there are several items to be addressed:

  • What is the intended use?
  • Who will be using the flooring?
  • What is the slope and/or grade of the site?
  • Should ADA accessibility be considered?
  • What is the budget?
  • What are the surrounding materials and environment?

Asking these questions will help determine what materials are appropriate.

Some of the most commonly used options for outdoor flooring are:

  • Paving materials
  • Decking
  • Gravel
  • Stone.

In this article, the pros and cons of these materials will be explored as well as other factors to consider when selecting the appropriate flooring.

Paving Materials

Typically, there are two types of paving materials:

  • Pavers
  • Continuous or solid surfaces.

Pavers can be manufactured from concrete, clay, granite, and other materials. Paving materials are a great solution to outdoor flooring needs when conditions are right, and they are installed correctly.

For instance, clay has been used for centuries because it is abundantly available in many markets, and offers a classic appearance and pattern choice.

Other benefits are that clay typically does not fade in the sun, the pattern choices are desirable, the material choices are often available locally, and there are many skilled installers.

On the other hand, clay may not hold up well under heavy vehicular traffic, it can be difficult to match older brick, and it offers fewer colors and patterns than other paving materials.

Meanwhile, concrete pavers are a more recent product and have become widely used and respected for their versatility.

Your choice of flooring can impact the feel of your landscape design. Photo Courtesy of Patrick Beasley

These pavers offer unlimited choice of color, texture, pattern, style, and shape, and provide a long-lasting solution for flooring.

Concrete ensures a durable product that can withstand everything from foot traffic to heavy machinery and trucks. This permeable paving also offers solutions for storm-water management and environmental sensitivity.

All pavers offer many options with great versatility in color, pattern, and texture, as well as size. Be sure to consider options such as sealing and joint material.

Be creative with the design of space with color, pattern, and texture, and play off the architecture of the residence to extend the vertical spaces and patterns onto the hardscape surface.

Decking

Decking is a widely used and versatile option with many choices, including wood type, color, stain, and composite materials.

As Americans, we are blessed to live in a country full of wood resources, including both natural forests and planted “crops” of trees. Woodworking is a common trade and skill, from local father-son carpenters to larger contractors and home builders.

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