When the warm weather comes it’s great to get outdoors with a cool drink, but people are concerned about UV rays these days. And it can get hot! A covered patio seems like the perfect solution. Here are some hot tips to help you build a patio cover and on outdoor patio designs that will have you chillin’ on those sizzlin’ hot summer days.
How to build a patio and choosing outdoor patio designs
1. The first question is, how do you want to use your patio? For some people the patio is where they unwind after a long day. For others it’s the weekend getaway location – kind of like a retreat. For others the patio is a place where they host extravagant dinners or hold exotic parties – a taste of the backyard Sultan. Differing uses will benefit from different outdoor patio designs.
2. When you research the many outdoor patio design options, it becomes quickly apparent that there are probably as many plans and designs as there are ideas – from throwing up a tarp, building a screened patio or enclosing a porch. That realization may not help you refine your search, but it does open you up to the countless possibilities available. If you’re willing to do the work and invest the effort the possibilities are almost endless. The key to success is identifying your own needs. The best outdoor patio design is one that accurately reflects your own lifestyle.
3. If you opt for hiring a professional, make sure that your plans are clear when explaining what you want (you may want to look at the post on hiring contractors). What is obvious to you may not be self evident in sketches. Put everything in writing so there’ll be no misunderstandings and disappointment later.
4. If you have more formal enclosed patio ideas in mind, be aware that while those pictures of elaborate patios look great online and in the magazines, the more elaborate it is, the harder it is to change or redo if along the way you realize it isn’t coming out as you had anticipated.
5. If you decide to go it on your own, with an fast and easy outdoor patio design, here are the important steps to keep in mind when you build a patio:
- Rake the area smooth. If you’re building the patio over a lawn area, have no delusions, you must kill the grass. Laying out black plastic garbage bags over the area will do the trick. During the week the garbage bags retain the heat and kill the grass. Leave the plastic in place.
- Create an outline of your intended patio space. Rocks will work well for this.
- Use pea gravel to fill in the enclosed areas. A depth of 2 inches should work. Be sure that the gravel is evenly spread. Use the broad side of a rake to tamp the down gravel. To be sure, you might want to check it with a carpenter’s level.
- Dig a hole 18 inches deep and 10 inches in diameter at the corners of the patio area.
- Fill the holes with 6 inches of pea gravel. Tamp down the pea gravel.
- Hammer in a 6-inch nail, an inch deep, into each side of the all four of the support posts for the patio cover. They should be 4 inches from the bottom. The nails will protrude about 5 inches out and help anchor the post in the cement.
- Yes, you’ll need cement. And now is when you mix it. You’ll need six cubic feet. Place a wood post in the first hole. Fill the hole with cement. You’ll need some extra hands to hold the wood post upright and level. Stick some stakes into the ground next to the cement-filled hole. Angle them toward the post to hold it in place. The stakes will be removed later. Follow the same procedure for all four posts.
- The stakes should help, but you’ll still have to keep a constant to make sure they posts don’t lean. The cement will be unforgiving.
- Wait for the cement to dry. This will take at least 48 hours.
- Tie ropes crosswise between the posts. This “X” provides the necessary support for your patio cover and prevents it from dipping in the middle. For a simple design a standard tarp will do the trick for a cover.
- Tie a rope to each corner of the tarp as if you were tying a ribbon around a ponytail. Leave a length of rope on each side of the “ponytail” hanging free. Lift the tarp up and over the rope forming the “X.” Tie each corner of the tarp to one of the beams using the two lengths of rope on each corner of the tarp.
And there you have it: how to build a patio cover…and indeed build a patio. Cocktails anyone?