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In search of patio perfection

Summertime and the living is easy. Time to kick back and relax on your patio, a cold glass of lemonade in your hand and a comfortable seat beneath you. 

Decorated summer patio
(Source: Adobe Stock)

But if your outdoor space is less than ideal, don’t despair. Even with pandemic-related shortages causing delays  in everything from seat cushions to lumber to appliances, there’s plenty that can be done to spruce up your outdoor space. 

For patios that are in good condition but lack pizazz, consider employing the power of paint, epoxy or even tile. Yes, tile, though there are a few things to consider for outdoor applications that you don’t need to worry about indoors.

First, you need to consider the condition of the surface that you want to tile. Concrete slabs work well if they are even and level (but with a gentle slope for drainage), have expansion joints and are free of cracks. Those same conditions apply to the process of applying paint or epoxy. 

Second, you’ll need to acknowledge that not every tile can withstand the region’s propensity to freeze and thaw. Color choice is also important as dark surfaces hold heat. 

Third, you have to think about thickness. Those 1/4-inch tiles used inside homes, won’t hold up in an outdoor environment, especially if they are going to be expected to support a heavy appliance such as a massive grill. 

Bottom line, talk with a flooring professional before embarking on an outdoor tile adventure. They’ll be happy to serve as your guide and even install the surface for you or help you find a professional who can. 

If laying tile seems a bit ambitious, consider faking it with concrete paint and a stencil. This can definitely be a do-it-yourself project but only with some solid advice from a painting expert. That means your first stop should be to a paint store, not a big box store, a paint store with local experts who know exactly what it will take to complete your job from cleaning to sealing. 

While the process is often touted as a DIY project, applying epoxy to any concrete surface is really a job best left to concrete professionals, especially if you want results that are stunning. 

According to paintingcraftsmen.com, “Epoxy floor installation requires a lot of prep work. The ground must be completely free of all solvents, grease, oil, and other debris before the epoxy paint can be applied. In many cases, you would need to invest in specialized cleaning materials and equipment.  You will also need to rent a grinding machine and grind down the concrete in order for the epoxy to properly adhere and create a smooth surface. There are many fun and satisfying DIY projects out there, but epoxy floor installation is not one of them.”

So if a colorful, durable, easy-to-clean epoxy floor is your dream, call in the pros to create it. 

In all cases, a good power washing is likely in order before any patio transformation takes place and, in some cases, may be all your outdoor surface needs. 

Once you have the floor looking good you’ll need furniture, shade and perhaps a grill or two to complete the transformation. 

Due to the February freeze in Texas and the lingering labor effects of the pandemic, resin production has been limited this spring. That has resulted in a shortage of materials with which to make outdoor fabrics for such things as comfy, weather-resistance cushions. But take heart, there was outdoor life before the dawn of such fabrics. Wicker, wood and wrought iron furniture can be a beautiful alternative that does not necessarily need cushions. One fun way to decorate a patio is to comb through the treasures at local consignment stores. In addition to furniture finds, you may discover pieces that will work well as drink carts or bars, frameworks for shades, creative plant stands and more. 

Finally, finish off your outdoor space with a new grill (ideal for Father’s Day) and let the fun begin.

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