Design & Planning
All good projects start with a good plan.
A patio we did for the neighbors may not be the patio that is best for you. Your taste, style and ideas are incorporated with our experiences and artistic vision to create the patio which captures your desired aesthetics'.
Every job starts with an initial site assessment in which we evaluate soil conditions, elevation changes, drainage issues and other common concerns. Our goal is to provide you with the custom design that meets your individual needs and budget.
Once we understand your desires we will provide recommendations on color, shape, pattern, location and additional structure elements. A patio is a permanent structure and it is our responsibility to help you in the planning process.
With a staff of specialists, we have the ability to look at the entire area and provide you with a total vision. You may only choose to install the patio now, but with our design you will have a well thought out plan for now and the future. You would not travel to California by car with a map that takes you half way, and then purchase a map that takes you the rest of the way would you?
We can not only design and install your patio, but create a complete outdoor living area from deck accents, covered patios, and Pergolas.
Be sure your project is seen at night with outdoor lighting, that will illuminate and showcase your new outdoor patio area.
We also work with many pool and landscape companies and can incorporate a pool, hot tub, or landscape into your design as well.
We will provide you with the menu; you choose what suites your appetite.
Here are the topics that are typically discussed in an initial design meeting: designs below are an example of what you will receive after our first meeting with you.
Location of Patio
- Keep out of natural water swale.
- Is the patio location going to block access to the back yard with a truck in case you get a shed or pool in the future?
- Privacy - most people want their patio to be their retreat. Keep in mind future landscape plans that will help keep your patio private. If you extend your patio to the end of your house and put large shrubs and trees around the patio, will there be any room between your landscape bed and the property border?
- Is a pool in the future plan? If so, how far out from the house should the patio extend so there is still room for the pool?
- Do you have Bilco doors for the basement? Do you want the patio to incorporate the Bilco doors in case you ever finish the basement? If so, this will dictate your elevation height.
- Where is your well or septic tank?
- Is a hot tub in future plans? If so, allow enough room to the property border for landscape bed and privacy fence.
Elevation of Patio
- How is the slope of your yard? How high is the patio going to stick out of the ground?
- The height of the patio has a direct effect on the number of steps required.
- Do you want a raised patio? Some people like their patio out of the ground 4" so when they landscape around it the mulch or rocks are not always on the patio.
- Basement windows - the window well will often dictate the patio elevation
- Many stamp concrete contractors overlook the step design. This is a major focal point of the patio. You could have a beautiful patio, but ugly, cheap looking steps can cheapen the whole look of the project.
- How many steps do you need or want? 2-3 steps look nice. If you have more than 4' from your door to the ground we would suggest putting your patio on a foundation (concrete footer, foundation walls, patio slab on top of walls). With a foundation you can do a future roof or addition if desired.
- We only install "cantilever" style steps. This means that the tread of the step overhangs the riser of the step. This style of step requires additional forming time and special form liners, this is why most contractors will not mention them to you. Compare this style of stamped concrete steps to regular stamped concrete steps and it is like comparing a Lexus to a Yugo. Not only is this style step more attractive, but it is also much safer. The tread of the step is colored and textured to slightly accent the color of the patio (see photo). The contrast helps distinguish each step, especially in low light conditions.
- Steps can either have straight wall sides or "wrap-style". Wrap-style steps are nice if you only need 2-3 steps or less than 2' of total rise. This style step allows you to walk down anywhere. You are not limited to the front. They are called "wrap-style" because each step "wraps" around the one above it. For example, your top steps may be 6' wide, the next step 8' then third step 10'. These are especially nice if you have small children because they can not fall off the side. Often times, homeowners place potted plants on the wrap part of the steps. Also with this style, step railings are not needed. Keep in mind, not all applications are a good candidate for this. Here are a few reasons when a "wrap-style" step may not be good for you:
- There is not enough room between your door and a wall bump-out (if you have 21" of total rise from your door height to patio height and want a landing, you need a landing and 2 steps. However, you only have 16" of wall from the edge of your door to the kitchen bump out. With the "wrap-style" option you would need 24". Here is why: landing would be 6' wide, 1st step 8' wide, 2nd step 10' wide, therefore, you need 2 feet on each side of the 6" door frame, you only have 16". If you still like the idea of this style step, you have 2 options: have a landing to eliminate a step or raise the patio height up 6". If you need more than 2' of total rise from your door height to the proposed patio height we do not recommend wrap-style steps due to the massive size they will be which will take up too much patio space.
- First step. We always recommend having your first step out of your door as a step down, not at the same level as your indoor floor. Typically this step has a larger tread (24") so you can comfortably step out of your door without being on the edge of the step. Also, having this first step as a step down and not flush with your interior floor will save you patio space (requires one less step).
- Step shape. Curved or squared off? Contrast looks nice. If you have a curved patio, square steps look best. If you have a square patio, curved steps look nice. An important factor is the "cantilever-style" look. With this look, the square step create the look that there is a piece of slate mortared on top of the step.
Steps Overview: Don't discount the steps, they are often overlooked and not talked about with other contractors. A nice set of steps will take longer to do than the entire patio. Whether you use our service or another contractor, make sure the steps are a topic, you will be happy in the long run.
When talking about this topic it is so important to not only think about your immediate needs but also your future needs. It will cost much less now for the extra 100 sq. ft. then a year or two down the road for a small 100 sq. ft. add-on.
- What is your budget?
- Is this patio going to be proportionate with the size of your house?
- How many children do you have? Or want? Kids and toys take up a lot of space.
- Do you entertain a lot? Is one table that sits 6 people enough? Or do you need to put two tables on your patio?
- If any, how much space will the steps take up?
- When you pull out the chairs from the table are they going to be off the edge?
- Do you have plans for a hot tub? If so, where and how big?
- Is a hammock a consideration? If so, they can take up quite a bit of space.
- Do you ever plan to convert a living room window into another doorway that leads to the patio?
- Is a pool in the future? If so, keep an eye on the depth of the patio.
- Do the kids still have enough room for a swing set or a game of football?
- Are you going to have lounge chairs? If so, how many? They take up a lot of space.
- Do you plan on putting up a pergola, retractable awning or roof for a shaded area? If so, where would be the best spot for that area? You may not want the covered area directly outside the door because you like the sunlight in your house to keep things bright.
- What are your township's rules and regulations about property lines, non-pervious ground, etc..
Pattern & Color
Surprisingly, this is usually the easiest decision. Our coloring method is unique from any other contractor. With Finishing Edge, Inc., you choose what you want the base color to be: Tan or Gray. This is the first color, we will call the "base color". This becomes one of the shades of the final product. This color is the canvas of the artwork (your patio). Adly, this is where the coloring process stops with most other stamped concrete contractors. Here at Finishing Edge it is just the beginning of the coloring process. If you selected earth tones (most popular) we will then broadcast other earth tone shades to the slab just after the concrete has been poured. Broadcast colors provide better surface wear, and doubles your surface strength compared to regular concrete.
The hardest decision when it comes to your patio is often which pattern to choose. If you are having trouble choosing a pattern we recommend that you consider the size of the patio first to help minimize the number of choices. If you are having a large patio installed, often times putting a smaller pattern, such as a cobblestone, is too busy looking for some. Also, if your house is small brick, we would recommend a slate pattern instead of a small cobblestone. It is also a good idea to think about what type of patio furniture you will be putting on your patio. Some patterns, such as our slates, have a less aggressive texture to the tops and have less impression lines so they will have less areas where a chair or table may wobble. Often customers ask us, "Will I see the control joints that are cut into my patio?" This is a good question. We do have two patterns that you will NOT see the control joints. These are Keystone and Texture Skin.
Here are a few helpful hints when it comes to picking a pattern or color:
- Never try to match to real the thing. For example, if you have a red brick house, don't pick a red brick pattern. You will never get an exact match. Gray slate looks great with real red brick.
- Stick with earth-tone colors so after a year you are not tired of looking at it.
- Is this pattern too small for the area? Is it too busy? Or is this pattern too large for this small area?
- How deep are the impressions? Chairs, tables..will they wobble?
- If, in the future, I want to make a walkway from my back patio to the front of my house, will this color/pattern look good out front also?
Other Features of Your Outdoor Space
Now that we have went over the "nuts and bolts" of your project (the patio area), let's convert your project from patio to your outdoor retreat. Let's take it from "nice" to "wow". The following are a list of popular options to consider that will take your project to the next level:
Design Overview: We pride ourselves on finding the correct patio for your needs. There is a lot more involved in a stamped concrete patio than just giving you a price. Hopefully the above outline will help you in the thought process.
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