Flooring is quite literally the groundwork for any room, indoors or out, so it makes sense to consider your options carefully. We’ve compiled a guide to four popular flooring solutions, to help you find the right match for both your space and your pocket.
Laying gravel or pebbles is a quick, effective and inexpensive D.I.Y. solution. “It suits cottages, firepit areas and works well around stepping stones, yet it’s not for everyone,” says landscape designer Ben Wilson of Garden Constructions (gardenconstructions.com.au). The biggest drawback is weeds. To reduce their impact, Ben suggests hiring a compactor to form a robust base, then laying down a weed mat, topping with gravel at least 70mm deep.
A border will help contain gravel and prevent it spreading into garden beds. Stone borders offer a natural look, while metal or plastic garden edging is more subtle; plastic is also good if you want to create curved areas or pathways. Opt for colours that complement the surroundings.
Paving is versatile: it’s available in a broad range of prices, colours and patterns, and it lends itself to countless looks and applications, from pool edging and pathways to furnished alfresco areas, says landscaper Mark Browning (markbrowning.com.au). “Porcelain pavers are durable and can replicate most natural stone looks – you just need to ensure they have a textured finish to prevent slippage,” he says. Colour is also a key consideration. “Dark pavers tend to hold more heat, while light tones can be glary in sunny areas, so take your outdoor aspect and shade coverage into account,” adds Mark.
While experienced D.I.Y .ers might be able to take on small paving jobs, Ben recommends leaving larger installations like pool surrounds, big alfresco areas and driveways to the professionals. “Laying paving is physically demanding and without the right foundations it won’t stand the test of time.”
Tip: Delineate alfresco zones with different flooring surfaces – pavers are a practical choice for cooking and eating areas.
Timber decks are synonymous with entertaining and, with the ability to set your deck at almost any height, it can create a seamless indoor-outdoor flow. Although decking may be expensive, a big benefit is there’s no need to level the ground below, says Mark, who recommends a minimum clearance of 400mm off the ground to guard against damp. Timber decking requires refinishing every two to three years to keep it looking its best.
Concrete gives you plenty of bang for your buck, says Ben, who recommends engaging a professional contractor. “Ask to see their previous work, discuss what the best option is for your space and what’s required in terms of formwork and ‘boxing up’, which can add to the cost,” he says.
Plain concrete is the most budget-friendly, but styles range from burnished, finely trowelled and broom treatments, to acid-etched non-slip ‘pavilion finish’. Plus, “the range of colours is almost unlimited,” adds Mark. The downside? “Concrete can wear over time and is susceptible to cracking, which is hard to repair,” says Ben. For the more budget conscious, concrete pavers are practical options that come in a variety of styles.
To prepare for your new flooring, take a look at our guide on how to deep clean outdoor pavers, concrete, tiles and decking.
Photo Credit: Alejandro Sosa 3D, John Downs, Belinda Merrie and Getty Images