Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Stamped concrete patio reveal

A big part of our Summer of Spending Money has involved the addition of a patio to our backyard underneath our deck. The goals behind this project were basically three-fold:

1) Come up with a solution so that half of our backyard is no longer a mud pit.

2) Increase our usable outdoor living space.

3) Provide a safe outdoor space in which Baby Awesomerod can play.

The third item wasn't even on the list when we first began investigating this project in the spring, because at that point Baby Awesomerod was not in the picture.

Here's what our backyard looked like at the start of the summer...


As we started exploring our options, we had to make one crucial early decision between two options: stamped concrete or paver patio? We got estimates from several different companies. Three of the companies install only paver patios. The fourth company, and the one we wound up choosing, installs only stamped concrete patios.

Before we settled on our decision, though, we investigated the pros and cons of both options.

Pros of a paver patio:
1) It's the more popular choice in terms of aesthetics, as stamped concrete is still relatively new to most homeowners; therefore, paver patios might have higher Bang for Your Buck when it comes to resale.

2) If an individual paver is damaged, it can be easily replaced.

Cons of the paver patio:
1) Weeds and other grasses can creep up between the pavers, meaning that weeding would probably be a frequent part of paver patio upkeep.

2) The sand between the pavers erodes and needs to be reapplied with some frequency.

Pros of the stamped concrete patio:
1) It's the cheaper option. Our stamped concrete costs came in at half the cost of paver patio estimates we received.

2) Stamped concrete offers tremendous aesthetic flexibility, as the possible design and color combinations are virtually endless.

This is the design and color palette we chose:


Cons of the stamped concrete patio:
1) If the patio cracks, the only way to repair it is to replace the entire patio (alternatively, you could suck it up and live with the crack).

2) The patio needs to be resealed every 3-5 years. This can be done by the company that installed the patio, but it can also be easily accomplished by the less-than-handy homeowner (thumbs point to us).

When all is said and done, each option involves maintenance requirements. Ultimately, though, the stamped concrete requires less maintenance, and it costs so much less than paver patios. The big con for the stamped concrete patio is the possibility of cracks, but because our patio sits underneath our deck we hope that it will be more protected from the elements. Time will tell.

We found our stamped concrete patio company, Creteman Concrete, thanks to a recommendation from our neighbors Joe and Laura. We liked the look of their patio, and we were pleased to see the stamped concrete estimate coming in at approximately $3,000 for our approximately 250 square foot patio. We also appreciated the fact that this company had the best plan for working with our slightly difficult backyard. Despite our yard's small size, there is a steep horizontal incline running from one end of the yard to the other. The change in elevation is a solid few feet, meaning that the paver patio companies were all going to build a wall to make the patio level, which would more than double the price of our patio. Creteman Concrete was able to take dirt from one end of the yard to the other to help make it more level. Additionally, it's easier to get the concrete built up level than it is to construct a level paver patio frame.

Our finished space!


The downsides to the installation process were three fold. First of all, you may recall we had to have our AC detached from our house while the patio was being installed. This was all, of course, happening during a particularly hot time of the summer. Second of all, it rained on the day our patio was supposed to be sealed. We were prepared for this possibility because Joe and Laura went through some similar rain delays during their installation, but I don't think I was physically prepared for an additional day with no AC. Thirdly, all the work we did last fall to get grass to grow in the backyard is now officially lost. During installation our remaining grass got torn up and there are now plenty of muddy patches once again. So, we'll be reseeding again before the frost sets in this fall. Still, if this is the worst part of the experience, I'll take it, because now we have an awesome backyard space.

Sad little patches of grass

The completion of the patio project corresponded beautifully with end-of-season outdoor furniture sales. Although this is the Summer of Spending Money and we're just about spent out, we decided that it made the most sense to go ahead and buy the half-priced furniture now so that we can enjoy the patio this fall and into next spring instead of waiting until the spring to find full-price furniture. We had little difficulty finding what we were looking for. We went with the Martha Stewart Charlottetown wicker collection on sale at Home Depot and bought the loveseat, two arm chairs and a coffee table. Interestingly enough, we found better prices in the store than we did on Home Depot's website, the one exception being the loveseat, which was only available online by the time we were ready to make the purchase.

This new patio fulfills all our requirements for increasing our living space while also providing a solution to the mud pit dilemma we've been battling as long as we've lived in this house. Now not only does way less mud get tracked into our house, but no mud splashes on the siding when it rains. I was hosing down our siding on an almost weekly basis, and it was getting to be ridiculous. You may also notice in the above photo that you can actually see the window looking into our downstairs. Finally! We have light in the lower level of our house. Getting rid of that shed made me quite happy.

When next spring rolls around, provided we have the energy and the funds (which will hang in the balance until we adjust to life with Baby Awesomerod) we plan to add some hanging plants as well as some larger potted plants to line the section of the patio that has the steeper step into the backyard (see the lefthand side of the patio pictures). For now, though, this space will be a great place to enjoy as the weather turns cooler. I would definitely recommend stamped concrete patios and Creteman Concrete to anyone considering this option!

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