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Patios make a summer spash


Whether you want a cozy spot for morning coffee or a span large enough to host a crowd, patios are a great way to extend outdoor living spaces.

Dennis Gehman, owner of Gehman Design Remodeling, Inc. in Harleysville, Montgomery County, said pavers remain a popular patio request among his customers and prospects.

“We’re seeing far more interest in patios and pavers. If you’re a step or two out the back door, patios may make more sense than putting on a deck,” Gehman said.

“Because manufacturers come out with new sizes, shapes and colors on pavers the world is your oyster,” he said.

Concrete or pavers

Pavers still edge out poured concrete patios among clients though newer finishing techniques like stamped concrete are expanding the appeal of this cost-effective and low-maintenance option, Gehman said.

One of the challenges of a poured concrete patio is the additional construction preparation needed to avoid the slab cracking, he said.

“Pavers have a natural separation between them” making a paver patio more forgiving when it comes to any slight movements, such as ground freeze-and-thaw cycles in our area, Gehman said.

Mirroring tile used indoors, newer paver sizes are also trending larger so there are fewer joints.

“And bluestone — whether it’s natural or a man-made product — is popular. We’re also seeing a lot of bare concrete paver styles, and it looks really elegant as a patio,” Gehman said.

Concrete paver products are factory manufactured under controlled conditions, so the outcome is more uniform than a poured concrete patio, according to Gehman.

“More and more people want those outdoor living spaces, which is great. People are really enjoying that time spent outside,” he said.

Some patio projects will include a roof, a wall for a fireplace or outdoor kitchen setup spaces.

“Open patios may have a pergola for shade or a tree,” Gehman said.

Half walls

Half walls are a popular way to surround patios as is including a fire pit area in the design.

“On a patio you can do that. On one or two sides of the fire pit area people like to have the half walls for seating, and it defines the area,” Gehman noted.

Walls can be straight or curved and provide lots of design options.

Half walls or retaining walls can be a great way to add seating and cozy up or contain a patio space — especially if it’s large. Also known as retaining walls, these can be made of natural or man-made materials.

From creating planting areas, framing a patio, crafting an entrance or entry point or encircling a fire pit, think of various ways a half or retaining wall might add to your patio revision or new patio project.

Architectural Digest — — suggests considering mixing materials and taking the surround areas into account when planning a half wall. Look for style and materials clues and cues in the landscape and keep scale, size and proportion in mind to create a harmonious landscaping scene.

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