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Popular patio surfaces for your home

by Meghann Finn Sepulveda on Mar 6, 2015

When it’s time to select a patio surface, you’re in for a treat — that’s because there’s a wealth of materials, colors, patterns and sizes available to complement your backyard and create a unique, beautiful and inviting outdoor living space. Here’s just a sampling of some of the most popular patio surfacing choices used here in Arizona.



Travertine pavers are very popular and widely used among homeowners because of the thickness and durability this surfacing solution provides. Travertine is an ideal material to use, especially in Arizona, because of the stone’s natural ability to resist heat, prevent slips and absorb water.


“The color of travertine is much lighter which reflects the sun and creates a cool surface,” Waters said. “It’s an authentic material that is true to the earth, making a patio very beautiful and functional even after many years.”


Available in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes, homeowners can choose a pattern that best suits their taste. Cost ranges from $5 to $15 per square-foot.



Brick, slate and stone pavers are a great way to create contrast.


“We see a lot of people using brick pavers as an accent in the decking, both to break up large areas of the deck and also to create more interest in the overall deck design,” said Dan Waters, owner of Creative Environments, a landscape company based in Tempe.


Pavers can be configured into many shapes and designs can be curved to soften a space and eliminate straight lines.



Concrete is the most popular patio material used in the country, according to a survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders in 2012. Usually considered a standard feature in a new-build, concrete is an affordable and low-maintenance option.


However, experts offer some caveats about concrete staining.


“We’ve experienced a lot of color inconsistencies in concrete staining,” Waters, of Creative Environments, said. “The darker color also retains heat and can be very hot to the touch.”


Decorative elements

Many homeowners are now considering container gardening as a way to add a splash of color to their backyard. Just be sure to consult with experts at a landscaping company or nursery prior to installation if potted plants or flowers will be incorporated into your patio design, since over time, water can stain a surface.


To avoid that problem, Christine Fortman, owner of Berridge Nurseries in Phoenix, said that most people want their container gardening to include irrigation so that all the wires and tubing are hidden to allow water to drain properly without flowing onto the patio.


In addition to container gardening, fountains and water features, along with statues and benches, add style and warmth to a patio, while stepping-stones can break up a space and can lead to a private seating or lounge area that is perfect for enjoying a cup of coffee or reading a book, Fortman said.


How hot is your patio surface?

To determine the temperature of outdoor patio surfaces, Rosie Romero, host of the local radio show “Rosie on the House”, tested a variety of surfaces in the late afternoon on
a 112-degree Arizona day. Using an infrared thermal imaging gun, he measured the effects of the sun on the following patio surfaces:

  • Green lawn: 102 degrees
  • Gray troweled concrete: 128 degrees
  • Travertine: 136 degrees
  • Flagstone, depending on the color: 144–152 degrees (the lighter the color, the cooler the temperature)
  • Saltillo tile: 145 degrees
  • Concrete pavers: 146 degrees
  • Trex composite decking: 150–175 degrees, depending on the color
  • Natural redwood decking: 154 degrees
  • Native Arizona soil: 156 degrees
  • Slate: 163 degrees
  • Black asphalt street: 176 degrees 


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