Top Mistakes People Make When Planning a Patio

Paving slabs are one of our most popular items in the lead up to summer, with people preparing their gardens for the coming months.

Tim Boughton, Patio and Paving Expert

Whether you’re looking to create a space that is sophisticated and stylish for entertaining, a dining area for the whole family or a relaxing platform to sunbathe on, a patio is a great addition to any garden. We’ve already published guides on preparation, laying your patio, patio decoration as well as tips on cleaning and maintenance so in this post, we’re going to go through the top mistakes people make when planning and laying a patio to help you avoid them! We spoke to our patio and paving expert, Tim Boughton (pictured left), from our Trowbridge branch.

Tim has built up a wealth of knowledge through working closely with our customers and suppliers, as well as visiting sites and endless discussions with landscapers throughout the 11 years he has spent with Bradfords.

Not Seeing Your Slabs in Person…

Before you can start making any plans for your patio, you need to choose which patio slabs you’ll be using. There is a huge range available to select from and there are a number of things to consider when you’re trying to come to a decision. Some of this will come down to personal preference, and Tim has stressed the importance of seeing your slabs in person before making any final selections. Getting a sample or ordering one small slab to take home will give you some indication of whether the style you’ve chosen will suit your home and garden and create the look you’re going for. In the branch there are even mortar samples available so that you can see what the finished product will look like and get an idea of what colour you need to choose for the slabs you have picked out.

Considering colour…

Truslate Paving Slabs

Image: Stonemarket Truslate Paving Slabs

Tim tells us that another great way to see slabs up close and personal before you make any decisions is by asking around to see if any of your friends, family or neighbours have used any of the slabs on your shortlist in their own gardens. The benefit of doing this is that you’ll also get to see what the fade is like. “When choosing a natural stone people need to be aware that there can be vast colour changes,” Tim says as he talks about an issue he had when some black limestone faded to a very light colour – which wasn’t what his customer was looking for when he picked the slabs which were incredibly dark when they were initially laid. A lot of products will change in colour when exposed to sunlight and rain, so bearing this in mind when making your choice in patio slab is hugely important.

Thinking about the environment…

Marketstone Sahara Paving Slabs

Image: Stonemarket Marketstone Paving Slabs

All of the Stonemarket and Marshall slabs stocked by Bradfords both online and in branches is sustainably and responsibly sourced, which is fantastic, but this isn’t what Tim had in mind when he told us people need to take a close look at their environment! “I learnt only last week from a customer who is paving an area that backs onto an area with lots of trees how beneficial vitrified paving can be. It’s basically a porcelain slab so none of the berry juice that’s dropping from the trees will be absorbed or stain the paving slabs they’ve chosen which is great.” 
Porosity is something else to consider as it can mean the difference between needing to apply a paving seal and being able to rely on the natural strength of a slab. The more porous a slab is, the more susceptible it becomes to water and frost which ultimately makes it more likely to crack or break. Stonemarket have produced testing kits to show the porosity of paving slabs and most of our branches have these available if you’d like to test a slab or sample you have to compare with any of our products, just give your local branch a call here.

Ordering too many slabs…

Stonemarket Patio Paving Design Generator

Image: Stonemarket's Paving Generator

The important thing when it comes to laying your own patio is preparation. Tim says that using a patio design programme, like the ones we use in our branches, from either Stonemarket or Marshalls is a great place to start but, “should only ever be used as a guide,” we’re warned. They will both tell you how many slabs and in which sizes you’ll need, but both layout generators will add in extra slabs around the edges where smaller sizes can be used or one paving slab can be cut to cover two parts. By printing out the suggested design, you’ll get a clearer view of what’s needed. Of course, ordering too many slabs isn’t the end of the world and not having enough can be just as much of an issue…

Not ordering enough slabs…

Ordering the wrong number of slabs either way can be an inconvenience at best; buying too few slabs unfortunately can’t always be fixed by just ordering the extra ones you need, as Tim found out. “I bought the Millstone last year and got half way through my project. Millstone hadn’t changed in 20 years. I start and they’ve changed them.” Faced with a two tone patio, Tim has decided to add in some decorative stones to break up the two colours, providing a stylish solution to his conundrum.

There are so many things to consider when you’re planning your patio, and planning really is the most important part. Make sure you have everything you need when you begin and also that you have enough time to do it in can sometimes be the hardest bit. If you need any help or advice, please get in touch with your local branch here who will endeavour to assist you as much as possible.

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