Patio flooring ideas are where the magic happens. The bold pattern, the unexpected material, the design twist that enhances your outdoor space. Yet not one that many of us spend enough time on – aesthetically speaking – when planning our patio design.
On a practical level, the weather conditions where you live should be considered when choosing patio flooring, as patios and some tile finishes can be incredibly slippery when soaked in rain. If you have a small backyard garden, you may want your patio to feel like an extension of your living space. In this case, matching your interior floor with that of the exterior can be a very effective way of emphasizing the visual link.
You may be hoping to use landscaping to zone your outdoor space, where the combination of contrasting and complementary materials can help. In a generously sized project, designer Lucy Wilcox used Cedec to create a Mediterranean-inspired dining space at the foot of the garden. “It’s an excellent material, which is reminiscent of the fine gravel found in European squares. It can work very well as part of a softer approach to hard landscaping,” she explains.
If you’re looking for something bolder or more colorful, tiles should be at the top of your list. There are a plethora of outdoor tile designs to choose from these days, whether you opt for subtle terracotta tones or more vibrant hues and graphic patterns. “Cement tiles are ideal for outdoor use,” says Ruth Webber, artistic director of Bert & May. “Once properly sealed, these tiles are weather resistant and very durable, making them ideal for patio flooring. Their chalky finish looks great in all kinds of outdoor spaces, and the patterned designs are a great way to create a focal point in your garden, helping to brighten up even the dullest of days.
Patio Flooring Ideas
1. Look to nature for texture and pattern
“The river provided a strong source of inspiration for the development of this project, informing key features and intricate details,” says landscaper and landscape architect James Aldridge of this backyard on the banks of the River Thames in London.
The space is divided into two distinct levels: the first is a polished concrete terraced garden that cantilevered over an ornamental pool, which has Corten steel spouts that fill the garden with the sweet sounds moving water.
“The lower terrace is paved with sturdy granite cobbles in four shades of gray, the design of which is inspired by the river and echoes its silvery lines and undulations,” says James.
2. Use a focal point to define your flooring
“Like interior spaces, exterior spaces need focal points and definition to feel comfortable,” says Stephen Eich, Urban Studio Director at Hollander Design Landscape Architects.
“Here, the herringbone pattern of the paving defines the roof garden in the same way as an outdoor rug, but is a much more practical choice due to the high winds blowing over this exposed roof.” For this reason, the flooring was as important as the need for exterior shade.
To create this effect, Hollander Designed laid alternating shades of Antarctic granite in a chevron pattern, choosing to keep the materials muted to accent the colorful contemporary furniture and blue metal pergola.
3. Make a statement with geometry
This penthouse was designed by Kitesgrove, who used materials to create a playful interplay between indoors and outdoors, including the cube-patterned marble floor tiles. The outdoor lounges are the work of Cameron Gardens, which has given each of the three terraces a unique atmosphere.
“The east terrace is the focal point of the apartment and is immediately visible upon entering the house,” says Tor Cameron. “It’s an eye-catching space, where dramatic planters with tall trees and pretty seasonal plants sit alongside an array of reclaimed pots, complementing the cube-style tri-colour tiling. The result is a delicious blend of textures and tones.
4. Create a smooth transition
If you want your outdoor space to feel more like an extension of your interior, consider using the same material for your living space and patio.
“Porcelain tiles are a great option for this, as they are available in a range of shades, sizes and finishes, and are both beautiful and durable,” says Louisa Morgan, Creative Director of Mandarin Stone. “We offer many porcelain tile options in the same finish but different thicknesses, making them suitable for indoor and outdoor use.”
Mandarin Stone’s ‘Industry Sand’ shade is pictured here, stretching from the dining area to the patio and through the built-in wall planter.
5. Create a vacation vibe with an elevated deck
“The best gardens are those that make people happy and comfortable,” says Australian landscape designer Adam Robinson, who created a resort-style outdoor space for this refurbished Victorian terrace in Sydney. “Every garden needs a destination point for gathering, lounging and chatting, and this one is perched above the pool to soak up the sun,” Adam says of this welcoming nook, which includes a light wood deck and a screen of tropical greenery. ‘
Dwarf date palms provide a sense of enclosure, while generous U-shaped seating creates the perfect spot for entertaining around the fire pit and a little hideaway for the family to relax.
6. Break up the paving with a leafy groundcover
This San Francisco backyard, located at the edge of a rocky slope on Tank Hill, features strong architectural plans and a rugged palette of wood, basalt, and limestone.
“Monumental basalt-clad retaining walls hold back the hillside and create a dynamic frame for the garden,” says James Lord, founder/partner of landscape architecture studio Surfacedesign Inc, who designed a limestone fire pit to anchor the terrace.
Here, the creeping ground cover both softens and enhances the graphic lines of the flagstone floor. “The woodland-inspired planting blends into the limestone paving, bringing the garden even closer to the home,” says James.
7. Be inspired by Mediterranean gardens
In this project, landscape designer Lucy Wilcox wanted to find a softer material for the dining area at the end of the garden, to counterbalance the Yorkstone paving used for the patio and walkways.
“Cedec was a great fit for this area,” Lucy says of the fine golden gravel that covers the floor of this Mediterranean-inspired space. “This part of the garden has a wilder feel to it, so a softer approach to hard landscaping worked really well. It looks particularly effective when combined with the trained trees on the roof, which create a natural shaded canopy.
8. Introduce color with encaustic tiles
When gardener Cali Rand was hired to redesign this outdoor space, the goal was to create a relaxed, beautiful and unique garden that suited the family’s lifestyle.
“Clients love the color blue, which was used throughout the house, so it was natural to carry it over to the patio,” Cali says of the blue and white patio, created using Alalpardo tiles by Bert & May. , arranged in a zig-zag.
“Their color and size really matched the design and feel of the surface, which is so natural,” adds Cali. “I love that they are handmade and I knew they would age beautifully.”
9. Add instant warmth with terracotta tones
As part of this renovation, architects Bradley Van Der Straeten have completely revamped a once dark and drab basement, connecting it to a redesigned outdoor garden.
Here, warm-toned brick pavers, laid in a herringbone pattern, meet hexagonal tiles in terracotta hues that run the length of the basement. “Colours, materials and traditional features intertwine to create a warm, friendly atmosphere that draws inspiration from the client’s Spanish upbringing,” says firm co-founder Ewald Van Der Straeten.
Can we have a colored checkerboard terrace?
Because outdoor tiles aren’t that advanced, they come in all sorts of shapes and colors. That means yes, it is now possible to extend the ever-popular colorful checkerboard flooring to the patio.
“I had the ability to juxtapose traditional architecture with my kind of modernity,” interior designer and stylist Athena Calderone says of her 1900s Brooklyn brownstone, which she breathed new life into with her blend characteristic of old and new.
For the terrace, Athena wanted to create a checkerboard floor reminiscent of a traditional French chateau, so sourced blue-gray marble and sandy-hued travertine from New Jersey stone company Sandy Neck Traders. Vintage finds — like an 18th-century pendant lamp, ’50s Matégot chairs, and an art deco table — round out the aesthetic.
“Find the joy of chasing pieces you’re passionate about,” she says, referencing her own design approach.