Patio PaversHow to easily cover unsightly cracked concrete
Old, cracked concrete patios can be such an eyesore and not the sort of place to enjoy relaxing with your family and friends. Now you may think that replacing old concrete would be far too expensive, but there’s much cheaper options than digging up the whole lot and replacing with a new patio.
Simply covering the existing surface with patio pavers can be a much cheaper option. But you may have been told that you can’t lay patio tiles over a cracked surface or you might think that employing a contractor to lay and then grout the tiles would be very expensive. But even that’s not necessarily true. There’s a couple of options you can consider, both of which can be essentially a do-it-yourself project which can be typically completed in less than a day.
Interlocking Deck Tiles
The quickest way to cover an existing surface is to simply lay down interlocking deck tiles. Providing the surface is relatively smooth, doesn’t have large cracks which have a height mismatch on either side of the cracks, then you just snap the modular tiles in place right over the top of the existing surface – no adhesives, no nails no screws or any other fixing devices to worry about. The majority of interlocking tiles sold these days are constructed of hardwood with an integral plastic base. Many different hardwood species are used by different makers, but if you are looking for a long term solution, it’s always best to select tiles made with very durable hardwood species like Ipe which will last very many years. Some cheaper wood deck tiles may only last 12 months or so before you need to throw them out either because the plastic base disintegrates or the wood starts decaying.
Alternatively you could consider interlocking composite wood deck tiles, slate deck tiles, granite deck tiles or ceramic deck tiles, depending on the specific patio design you are aiming for. One of the big advantage of interlocking deck tiles, apart from the speed and ease of installation, is that any water drains away quickly and easily underneath the tiles via the mesh base. And they can be easily lifted up from time to time to clean away any debris which may collect underneath them.
Porcelain Patio Pavers
For more elegant, long-term solution for covering an existing concrete patio, porcelain patio pavers are undoubtably the best option. Sure, they might cost a little more initially than interlocking tiles, but not only can the end result be simply stunning, but they have exceptionally low maintenance requirements and a very long lifespan. Typically these pavers are 24” x 24” but other sizes are also becoming more readily available including 18” x 36” and plank style 16” x 48”. Whilst you can indeed lay these pavers by the traditional tiling or paving method using thin set and grouting, by far the simplest solution is to lay them effectively as a ‘floating’ floor over the existing surface. This has the distinct advantage in that it avoids the danger of the tiles cracking again if they are bedded into concrete, and it means that you don’t need to worry so much about existing cracks on your patio surface. So instead of using thinset to lay these patio pavers, you use small rubber pads placed under each corner of the pavers. This means the base surface does not need to be absolutely flat and level, since by raising the pavers only slightly off the ground, it eliminates the problem of them rocking on the existing concrete surface. And since the rubber pads have spacer tabs built into the pads, you don’t need to worry about alignment issues as these are all taken care of automatically. The other advantage of using rubber pads to lay the patio pavers is that you then have the potential of making the top surface of your new patio perfectly level.
Normally a concrete deck will slope in at least one direction to provide adequate drainage. So to compensate for this sloping surface, you stack the rubber pads one on top of each other, to compensate for the downward slope across any surface. Small adjustments can be made by inserting thin rubber shims between the paver and the rubber pads. A further advantage of the rubber pads is that they tend to reduce noise transmission, they provide some additional shock protection for the patio pavers, and also their good frictional properties restrict the pad and paver assembly from moving.
Porcelain pavers are available in an extremely wide range of colors including pavers that look like wood, simulated stone and other designer colors, so in most cases you can match the pavers with your existing decor or landscaping or create an entirely new patio design. They also extremely resistant to staining, are scratch resistant, fade resistant and frost resistant, so you can use them even in the most severe climates.
Ipe wood Deck tiles
Yet another alternative is to use structural wood deck tiles. These are typically 24” x 24” solid wood tiles which like the porcelain patio pavers, are laid over rubber support pads to raise the wood from the concrete surface and ensure good drainage under the tiles. Ipe wood deck tiles are a great alternative if you prefer a natural wood look and want to make your existing deck perfectly level. Otherwise they have similar properties to the Ipe wood interlocking deck tiles which are generally slightly lower cost. Of course with the Ipe wood deck tiles you have ongoing maintenance as ideally you should coat the tiles with a good-quality decking oil every 12 months or so which can slow down the rate at which they fade to a silvery gray and also prolong their life. But resurfacing existing concrete with these tiles can look absolutely stunning.
So if you are considering either a new patio design or pondering how to enhance the look of your existing patio, then either of the above three solutions – porcelain patio pavers, interlocking deck tiles or Ipe wood structural tiles are certainly most worthy of consideration.