9+ Tips for Designing a Great Paver Patio from an Installer

A well-planned and properly installed paver patio can be a fantastic addition to your home’s outdoor living space and a bonafide lifestyle upgrade! Assuming you’ve already weighed your options and decided to go with pavers, congratulations! I believe your paver patio will be a good investment. As a guy who has installed many patios over the years, here are some things I encourage you to consider as you dream and plan your perfect paver patio.

Questions to Get Started

How will you use the patio? Really think about that. Here are some initial questions to consider: Who will be using the patio, for what, and how often? What kind of furniture will be on it? Almost always there is at least a table and chairs in the plan, and usually a grill for cooking. How big is the table? What shape is it? How many chairs? Is the grill mobile or stationary? You definitely want to be sure the patio dimensions are big enough to accommodate the intended usage, so that everyone and everything fits without feeling cramped and there’s room to move around. The idea here is measure twice, build once. It should be noted here that we are regularly hired to expand (not reduce) patios. Also keep in mind that the location of doors, steps, air conditioning units, utility boxes, exhaust vents, water faucets, window wells and the like, all affect the patio layout.

Visualize Your Dream Patio

Early on in the planning process it’s a great idea to physically set out your patio furniture in the space you’re designating for it. Some people absolutely need this step for visualization, and anyone can benefit from it. If you don’t have the furniture yet, try using other props to represent the real furniture. While you’re playing with the size and layout, imagine doing your thing, whatever that is, on the new patio.

Let’s assume for illustration purposes that you like grilling. Imagine carrying your pork steaks and barbecue sauce out to the grill. Where is the grill? Is it easy to get to from the kitchen or wherever you’ll be coming from? Weaving through a maze of tables and chairs (possibly occupied by humans) with raw meat or hot pans in hand is not ideal, but neither is melting the siding off your house, so location of the grill is important.

This principle applies to all the patio elements. Patios range from small and simple to expansive and elaborate, and in all cases the two main ideas presented thus far apply: you want ample space for the intended use, and you want that space sensibly arranged and appointed.

One more note before we get into the aesthetics of your patio. There are many, many options these days as to what can spring up on and around your patio, from the simplicity of a small table with two chairs up to elaborate outdoor kitchens with fireplaces, pizza ovens, electric appliances, wet bars, entertainment centers, and ceiling fans hanging from overhead structures. The point I want to make here is that sitting walls, accent lighting, fire pits, planter boxes, built in benches, and potted plants add charm and enjoyment to your patio, and should be considered in your plans.

Choose Your Style

Now about the style. One of the advantages of pavers is their design versatility. There are countless combinations of size, shape, texture, color and pattern achievable with pavers. The style of the patio will probably be influenced by the architecture of the house to which it belongs, but imagination and personal taste are the real drivers. If you have a flare for design this is the fun piece, while others may find this part daunting.

The good news is, there are people who enjoy figuring all this out, are good at it, and are available to help; in other words, we can help you! Either way, I suggest that you:

  1. Look at pictures. Go online, pick up some product brochures from a material yard, or look at your contractor’s portfolio. This is a good way to start identifying things you tend to like or dislike. For inspiration, check out our Pinterest!

  2. Ask questions. Survey your friends, family, and neighbors about their patios. Find out what they like, don’t like, and what they would consider changing. You can also ask your contractor.  

  3. Bring samples. Pavers are made of sturdy concrete and are not all that fun to lug around, but once you’ve narrowed down your choices it’s worthwhile to see the actual paver on location - pictures never quite capture the essence like the real thing.

  4. Don’t feel like it has to match. Color matching (as in trying to exact match the pavers to the house for example) isn’t always possible or the best alternative. For one thing, too much of one color can be too much! Consider a color that contrasts or compliments the surroundings. Blended paver colors are great for tying in various elements!

  5. Keep it balanced. Generally speaking big pavers look better in big spaces and vice versa, so try to keep things in proportion. When utilizing a variety of materials, incorporate something to tie it all together.

  6. Border it, or don’t. Outlining one or more sides of your patio with a paver running in a different direction, or one of contrasting color, size or shape can create effects of various appeal, so experiment with different ideas.

  7. Find your vibe. Identify the feeling you want from this patio with words that seem to fit, try these on: clean, modern, contemporary, formal, casual, simple, stimulating, decorative, inviting, warm, established. A descriptive word or two can lead you to the style, texture and pattern that suit your taste.

  8. Establish you budget. Not only is establishing and sticking to your budget good financial advice, it also helps with decision making. If the dollars aren’t available now to incorporate everything you want at once, consider staging the work in phases.

  9. Make it yours to enjoy. In other words, make it private and pretty. Landscaping around your patio can provide attractive “soft” privacy screening, adds color and warmth to your space.

At some point in this process, there will probably be a drawing of the patio-to-be. I’ve worked with landscape designers, architects, engineers, artists, and soccer moms. Let me tell you, your drawing does not have to be generated with CAD software to relay the pertinent information, although it can be. The idea here is that be it a blueprint or a simple pencil rendering on notebook paper, drawing the patio helps you envision it and makes communicating your vision to others much easier. So, my final suggestion for anyone considering a paver patio in their future is to grab a pencil and paper or your touch-screen laptop and start doodling.

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