Thinking of embarking on a new patio project? Paving can be a real game changer for your garden, but with so many options available which one should you choose, and most importantly, what will work best for your requirements?
With these questions (and more) in mind, we’ve created an ultimate guide to buying paving, covering everything from style, materials, size, thickness, affordability, and trends. Read on to find out more…
Before you even start thinking about the style and materials of your paving, it's important to consider the location of your outdoor space. Where will your paving be situated? Will it be in your driveway, or back garden? Will it be a pathway or a patio? The location will determine the size and style of your paving, as well as the materials that are suitable for your environment.
For example, if your outdoor space is exposed to a lot of sunlight, you'll want to choose a material that won't get too hot, so lighter colours may be preferable. Be careful not to choose colours that are too bright as it may hurt your eyes to look at when the sun shines! A wide choice of products would be suitable, but perhaps avoid dark colours of porcelain or slate. Similarly, if your garden faces North and doesn't see the sunshine, you'll want to use a paving material that doesn't attract algae such as light colours of sandstone, and in a colour that brightens the area up, so a light coloured porcelain paving would be a good option.
Once you've considered the location of your outdoor space, it's time to think about style. There are a variety of paving styles to choose from, ranging from clean cut slabs to mosaic patterned paving.
The easiest way to decide what kind of paving you should use for your outdoor space is by looking at the way your home is designed.
If you have a contemporary style home, then you have numerous material options available to you, including sawn sandstone paving, slate paving or porcelain paving. Homeowners with more simple, elegant homes can also get away by choosing different colours, patterns, or more ‘out there’ designs as contrasting features, such as mosaic style patterned paving that has the appearance of a permanent rug. Similarly, using a section of timber style porcelain paving creates a intereting textured look.
Conversely, if you have a traditional style home, then using paving with a naturally riven surface such as sandstone and slate paving will complementary your home to make your outdoor space blend in with your property.
Colour choices can be guided by aspects of your home, for example roof tiles colour, brickwork colour in addition to colours and tones used inside your home that continue seamlessly into the garden.
That being said, don’t be afraid to embrace and experiment with different styles that you like – to make it work for your property all you need to do is think about the materials you are using and how they will fit in with the whole picture, and choose colours and styles accordingly!
In terms of different styles of paving, you have a broad selection to choose from, but the basic principles are much the same: paving slabs, cobble setts, block paving and then feature options. Each of these options are available in a choice of materials that give a variation to the finished appearance.
When shopping for new paving slabs, it's easy to concentrate on the material and design of them so that they complement our home. With this in mind, choosing the material is one of the biggest decision for homeowners to make, and there is plenty of choice on the market.
Porcelain paving is manmade, very hardwearing, and due to its low porosity, less prone to staining and algae than other paving materials making it the perfect low-maintenance paving solution! Porcelain always creates a stylisk look – it is a durable material for using in family gardens and on pathways, and comes in a wide range of colours from lightest cream and white through to dark sultry black tones and styles which often replicate a natural finish. Porcelain paving is not only a patio paving choice, it is also available in special ranges specifically made for driveway use for homeowners preferring the visual impact of a large paving slab on their driveway as against a small block.
Offering wide-ranging benefits with overall durability, scratch & abrasion-resistant qualities complementing great cosmetic appeal, porcelain is arguably one of the hottest paving materials right now.
Top porcelain paving product recommendations
Natural stone – including sandstone, limestone, slate and granite:
Natural stone paving – made from natural materials such as sandstone, limestone, slate and granite – provides a traditional, authentic look and feel, coming in all different shades and textures. No individual slab is the same with a variety of natural charcteristics, and the colours can also appear differently in varying lighting and weather conditions.
The beauty of natural sandstone is its colour variety with some ranges exhibiting a broad range of colours and other ranges showing less colour variation and just a subtle blend of shades. Sandstone is a versatile material that can be used in its economically priced, natural handsplit riven finish for most garden settings, whilst it is also available in a tumbled, aged finish for older period homes, in addition to sawn, flat surfaced finishes for more modern and contemporary styled homes. The colour options range from light ivory, through to warm browns and pinks through to light and dark grey options, so there is sure to be a sandstone paving product that suits every garden.
Top sandstone paving product recommendations
Limestone is a sedimentary stone that is a good investment to make in your garden. It offers low absorption to water, so is practical for British weather as it is resistant to salgae growth during the colder and wetter months of the year. Limestone is a strong and durable stone, and a unique characteristic about limestone is that it’s naturally slip resistant. There is a select range of colours available for limestone paving, which means there is something for everyone, whether you have a traditional or modern style house. Choose from warm buttermilk tones, mid greys or dark velvety black that gradually lightens in sunlight to a mid grey colour. As with all natural stone products, other complementary shades may appear within the stone that form part of the characteristics of a natural material.
Top limestone paving product recommendations
Nothing says contemporary quite like granite paving! This is going to add a modern style to your outdoor space, as well as give you the strong and durable surface that you need for a hardworking patio. Everyone loves the elegant flat surfaced look of granite paving – it has become a popular choice of natural stone for its great colours and texture. It is slip-resistant and low maintenance, and comes in a choice of flecked colours including silver grey, mid grey, black, pink and yellow - all with contrasting flecks of silver.
Top granite paving product recommendations
Slate paving is a popular choice for outdoor spaces due to its durability and natural beauty. It is a type of natural stone that everyone can recognise with its distinctive colours (such as dark blues, greys and blacks) and it can create a beautiful modern patio that will complement a contemporary style home. Slate is also resistant to weathering and is relatively low-maintenance, making it a practical choice for areas that experience harsh weather conditions. Overall, slate paving is a great option for those who want a long-lasting, beautiful outdoor space.
Top slate paving product recommendations
Yorkstone paving is a much-loved and famous material that is known for its timeless appeal. This is a type of sandstone that comes from quarries in Yorkshire and customers love it for its colours and texture. As well as looking stunning, it is durable enough for constant foot traffic and use, so this material will complement traditional style homes and add value to your property. It's an expensive option however and often, a similar look can be achieved using sandstone which is much more reasonably priced.
Top yorkstone paving product recommendations
If you are looking for a strong and durable surface to create your patio then concrete paving is going to give you the robustness that you need. With a selection of products styles ranging in price from economically priced utility paving through to stylish modern options, concrete paving looks good in any style of garden. Concrete paving also requires little maintenance and is easy to install in your garden, however don't assume that concrete paving offers the best value as although many years ago, concrete was the go to choice for a reasonably priced patio, these days natural stone and porcelain products are often more competitively priced.
Top concrete paving product recommendations
Block paving looks great as a driveway stone. Pave your driveway, a pathway or a courtyard with block paving for a hardwearing and attractive solution. Choose from traditional concrete options or a natural stone option such as sandstone, granite or limestone block paving.
Top block paving product recommendations
Clay and brick
Clay and brick pavers create an attractive and hardwearing surface for your patio, strong enough to withstand constant foot traffic and heavy furniture. This is a great choice for traditional style homes and smooth clay bricks look fabulous in a modern contemporary style home and garden. The majority of ranges of bricks are also suitable as a driveway stone as well. Low maintenance available in a selection of rich earthy blends, clay offers a unique and stylish option for your home and garden.
Top clay/brick pavers product recommendations
For something a bit different, small natural cobbles are another great choice for smaller areas, such as driveways or small yards. They are also a perfect option for edging a patio, lawn or planting beds. Cobble setts are available as rustic handsplit styles in addition to sawn options for a more formal appearance. Choose from sandstone, limestone, granite and porcelain to suit your requirements.
Top cobbles product recommendations
When it comes to paving, (the right) size matters! The size of your patio area should be in proportion to your garden – larger slabs will look better in larger areas, and smaller slabs will look better in smaller areas such as driveways or courtyards.
If you're creating a pathway, you'll want to choose smaller paving stones that can be easily manoeuvered. If you're creating a patio, you might want to choose larger paving stones that will cover more ground. Smaller stones such as cobble sets are better for forming curves, whereas large format paving slabs are great for creating a clean, modern appearance.
As well as the size of the slabs, it is also important to consider the thickness of paving slabs so that they are practical and the right choice for your outdoor space. It is all about considering what the paving will be used for.
When you are creating a patio, it is ideal to have paving in excess of 15mm to be suitable for outdoor use. Some natural stone is a variable thickness such as 15-22mm whereas other products might have a calibrated thickness of say 22mm. The variable thickness paving can take slightly longer to install as more adjustment might be necessary when levelling the stone, but it's usually better value than calibrated stone. With calibrated paving, it will still have a slight variation as part of the tolerance in dimensions, however this will not be all that significant. For driveway use, some stone such as sandstone paving slabs can be 25-35mm or thicker. Ensure it is laid on 150mm sub-base and a wet mortar bed, ideally 100mm. If the stone is 50mm or thicker, it can usually be laid on 150mm sub-base and a sand bed.
With porcelain paving, this is usually 16mm up to 20mm in thickness. There is little difference in performance between the two, however the thinner options are better priced.
Concrete paving has to be thicker to offer the correct strength - concrete is actually quite a weak material and it is the extra thickness that gives it the strength. This is usually 32mm upwards.
Most block paving products are 50mm for domestic driveways, 60mm for uprated domestic use and 80mm for commercial driveways.
Everyone has different budgets for their renovations, so of course affordability is another key consideration when choosing the right paving for your home. The cost of your paving will depend on the material, size, and thickness that you choose. Natural riven sandstone is one of the most cost effective options and porcelain paving in a limited selection of sizes such as 600x600 is also a good choice. More unusual finishes such as sawn or sandblasted (stippled surface) natural stones will cost more due to the extra machining costs and similarly, porcelain in large format sizes will also be a costlier option.
There are tonnes of paving trends this year, here’s a few of our favourites:
Effective use of paving slabs can help zone garden spaces into distinct areas and create a distinct sense of space. Consider using linear planks or wood style options to create different areas of the garden with distinctively different vibes.
2. Centrepiece paving
Create an inviting ‘outdoor rug’ centrepiece effect with mosaic patterned paving, perfect for seating and al fresco dining. This could also be a circular or square pattern in the centre of your patio or as a standalone seating area or a pathway leading to a specific area of your garden.
3. Large format paving
Clean cut slabs create a contemporary look whilst also evoking timeless elegance. These are large, smooth slabs of paving that give your outdoor space a clean, sophisticated look. Choose extra large paving slabs to create this look.
4. Fun mosaic style paving
Mosaic patterned paving is a great choice for those who want to add a pop of color or a unique design to their outdoor space. This style uses small, coloured tiles or stones to create intricate patterns or designs.
5. Concrete and wood style paving
If you love the look of wood but want a more durable, low-maintenance option, wood style paving is a great choice. This style uses concrete or porcelain tiles that mimic the look of wood, without the upkeep.
We hope this guide answers some of the questions you may have about paving. We would love to hear your ideas!