A place to sit out and dine is on most wish lists, what’s best? Decking or a traditional patio using slabs or stone or perhaps gravel. Here are the pros and cons.
- Quite easy to install, within the scope of a competent DIYer
- Has a contemporary and natural appearance
- Pressure treated softwood will be the cheapest option
- Warm underfoot
- It can look out of place with traditional architecture and garden design
- Requires regular maintenance, even so life is limited
- Risk of splinters and slips when wet
- Can attract vermin underneath
- Hardwood although more durable is expensive and not always environmentally friendly
- PVC and composite types last longer but look unnatural
Paving Slab Pros
- Long lasting
- Low maintenance
- Heavy work, but straightforward to lay
Paving Slab Cons
- Harsh appearance (concrete), cheaper types can look cheap!
- Require thorough site preparation
- Looks great, choice of colours and tones, even better when wet
- Natural and blends well with most house and garden designs
- Imported sandstone is competitively priced
- Requires thorough site preparation and careful laying, beyond many DIYers
- Good quality stone is expensive
- Susceptibility to lichen invasion
- Requires occasional cleaning
- Easy to lay by most DIYers
- Wide choice of gravels to choose from
- Low price
- Fits in with most house and garden styles
- Uneven surface so not so nice to walk on
- Gravel, particularly if small gets everywhere
- Needs occasional raking and topping up
Other points to consider
Size, decide what you want to do. It’s an outside room, it needs space for the furniture and room to circulate. Too small and it will look cramped, but if too large it may dominate your garden.
Location, not all of us have south facing gardens, with sun all day. Consider 2-3 separate areas getting the sun at different times. Sometimes a shaded area for dining is preferable. If possible try to have access by paths.
Lighting, if you plan to dine at night, it’s worth installing power cables before the patio, use a qualified electrician.