On its own, a concrete patio may feel a bit lacking, which is why a lot of homeowners utilize this extra space to make their outdoors more enjoyable. So, what can you put on top of a concrete patio?
A concrete patio is sturdy enough to withstand a variety of small and big projects. For example, you can place anything on the patio from outdoor rugs and stone pavers all the way up to above-ground pools and hot tubs.
In today’s guide, we’ll talk about all the different things that you can put on top of a concrete patio for aesthetic or practical purposes. Let’s jump right in!
Concrete surfaces can get extremely hot, especially during summer months and direct sun exposure. This happens because concrete has a dark-colored surface that absorbs sunlight and stores the excess heat inside.
As a result, on a hot summer day, the ambient temperature could be around 90 °F while the concrete surface can be as hot as 130 °F or more.
Although concrete has high weather resistance, sudden fluctuations in temperature could cause weakness and show cracks over time due to contraction and expansion.
For that reason, expansion joints are extremely necessary while pouring concrete because they give the surface enough room to expand and contract freely with the weather.
Each concrete grade has a different pressure support level and maximum weight rating. The thickness of the concrete layer also plays a major role here.
Typically, most concrete patios are made to support up to 3,000 to 3,500 pounds per square inch (PSI), provided that the thickness of the patio is around 4 to 6 inches.
In other words, each square inch on the concrete patio can support around 3,000 pounds, which is around the average weight of a car.
A simple formula to roughly estimate the total weight that a concrete patio can support is multiplying the area of the patio (in square feet) by 50.
For instance, if your concrete patio’s area is 150 square feet, it can support a total weight of around 7,500 pounds.
Adding an outdoor run on a concrete patio is an excellent idea for a variety of reasons. For starters, an outdoor run is a great way to make a concrete patio more attractive, especially if your concrete has some blemishes like stains, minor cracks, or discolorations.
You couple also it with some outdoor furniture to create an outdoor hangout. Additionally, outdoor rugs are removable and easy to clean/replace.
Switching for a new rug every now and then is an affordable yet effective makeover idea!
Moreover, outdoor rugs protect the concrete from direct sun exposure, which reduces internal pressure and extends the life of the patio.
A concrete slab can be a solid base with enough sturdiness to hold the weight of a hot tub, which usually weighs around 500 pounds but may be as heavy as 3,000 pounds when filled with water.
However, there are some considerations that you have to keep in mind before putting a hot tub on a concrete patio, including:
- The concrete patio must be built according to safety codes and has a decent thickness of at least 4 inches.
- The slab must be large enough to contain the dimensions of the hot tub with room to spare.
- There should be no large cracks or structural problems with the patio before installation
- The concrete slab must be completely level. If the slope of the patio is designed to drain away from the house, it won’t be a stable base for a hot tub.
Above-ground pools, especially inflatable and non-solid ones, are better suited for soft surfaces like grass and sand.
This protects them from puncturing upon friction with sharp surfaces. Yet, a flat concrete patio with no cracks has a smooth surface that can work as a foundation for an above-ground pool.
Adding flagstone over concrete slabs and patios is surprisingly easy and helps the patio stay level for a long time. Here’s a rough outline of the process:
- Clean the patio and ensure that it’s in good condition
- Put a layer of wet mortar directly over the concrete slab so that the layer is around 1.5 inches
- Place the flagstones as you like while maintaining small distances between the pieces
- Fill the gaps between flagstones with some mortar or color grout for aesthetics and durability
- Allow the flagstone layer to dry.
Putting stone over concrete patios is quite common. Stone improves the overall aesthetics of the concrete patio and gives your outdoor area a major makeover.
However, you must make sure that the concrete is already in good shape to support the layer of stone added on top.
Any major cracks in the concrete patio will translate into misaligned stones, which will stand out and can be a tripping hazard.
Keep in mind that adding stone to concrete patios doesn’t necessarily make the patio sturdier.
On the other hand, adding crushed stone to patios while pouring concrete can massively fortify them.
Brick pavers are a popular alternative to concrete while constructing patios, but you can also put them directly on top of concrete.
Similar to stone, you can pave the concrete slab using bricks if the patio is already in a good condition.
Yet, if you want a patio with a brick finish, it’s usually best to remove the concrete slab and pave it with bricks directly. This is because the continuous shifting of layers may cause cracks in both of them.
Wooden patios are incredibly long-lasting and add a unique rustic effect to any patio. The good news is that you don’t have to remove your concrete patio to install wood.
Instead, you can lay hardwood tiles directly over the concrete layer. The flexibility of the wood also allows it to work if the surface is not level, although it may not last very long.
Before putting wood over concrete patios, you should know that water and drainage problems can damage the wood in the long run, so you have to solve all these issues first by insulating the concrete with something like a self-leveling compound.
If your concrete slab’s surface keeps sinking or shows signs of damage over time, you can use skim-coating to resurface and restore the patio.
To use skim coating, you’ll need to create a mortar mix and add some portland cement until it reaches the proper consistency, preferably in a wheelbarrow.
Once the mixture is ready, pour it over the concrete layer evenly and push it around with a flat trowel so that the layer is around 1/4 to 1/16 across the patio, depending on your preferences.
Once you’re ready, you can use any leveling method to create a flat surface, such as brooming, or start with a self-leveling skim-coat mix.
This marks the end of today’s guide about concrete patios and what you can put on top of them. Ideally, concrete patios are quite sturdy and can be an excellent foundation for many projects.
With that being said, you must always factor in the quality of concrete used while pouring the patio because different grades of concrete have different pressure ratings.
As such, if you’re planning to build a heavy project on concrete patios like gazebos, bricks, or hot tubs, you must ensure that it can support this extra weight without cracking to stay level.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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