Concrete has been given new life in the last 10-15 years. It has become a viable aesthetic, especially in contemporary and urban designs. Nature gives concrete its appeal—the qualities of durability and convenience. Artistry gives it flair—simplicity, gracefulness and the freedom of a blank canvas. All these attributes come together in a concrete patio.
A Concrete Patio: Nature and Art
Concrete is a medium that has a natural beauty not unlike that of granite, marble, and quartz. In fact, some artists have called it “liquid stone.” This flexibility, this liquidity, frees up the design potential, allowing you to create a surface like no other. Architects, builders and artists now use concrete for furniture, kitchen countertops, even interior walls (the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is a beautiful example). In other words, concrete is no longer an ugly duckling material. It has come into its own in this 21st century—for monumental buildings, home interiors, urban landscaping, pool deck design and works of art, just to name a few examples.
Concrete is especially suited for a patio design because it gives you the ability to create any dimension—straight edge, right angle, curved wall, round island. You can make it smooth, thus highlighting its cool grace. Perhaps you want to stain or color it, stamp or polish it. Or you can express yourself with decorative inlays such as glass, stone or marble. Let your imagination be your guide.
A Concrete Patio: Customize
When using concrete as your base material, the key word is “customize”—whether you’re talking about custom mixes, custom designs or custom patterns.
Custom mixes give you the opportunity to match any pre-existing choices with your chosen concrete surface. You can bring in examples of your colors and textures—textiles, wallpaper samples, or magazine pictures—that can be used to formulate a color that you have your heart set on.
Custom designs may include outdoor kitchens, an element of your home landscape design that has recently exploded in popularity. You might also consider mantles over outdoor fireplaces, sinks, benches, shelving or a one-of-a-kind piece of furniture, all examples of items that can be built with a custom design using concrete.
Custom patterns can be created by using concrete insets to replicate a picture or pattern. For an extra visual appeal, this flooring pattern can then be replicated on a concrete countertop, ledge or built-in table.
A Concrete Patio: It’s Green!
“Green” as it is used in the ecology movement refers to the use of sustainable materials to create healthier and more resource-efficient environments. Concrete fits superbly into this concept. It is a natural mixture of cement, water and aggregates. Its products are low maintenance and produce little to no waste. It is tough and durable, thus can withstand years of outdoor use without having to be replaced. Use it freely in your “green” green garden design.
A Concrete Patio: Fitting It In
A landscape drainage system is a necessary component of any hardscape project in Houston, given our famous, and infamous, torrential downpours. It determines whether you have a usable hard surface or a patio that got turned into a small pond. A professional landscape designer or landscape architect can design patio drains—often, French drains or decorative drains—in a way so that they blend seamlessly into the overall look. Drainage contractors can help as well.
Exterior Worlds, established in 1987, specializes in high-end landscape design and services for the greater Houston area, including fine neighborhoods such as River Oaks, Tanglewood, the Memorial Villages, West University, and Bellaire. You can reach them at 713-827-2255 or on the web at www.exteriorworlds.com.