For those summer days and nights when you’re expecting people to visit, it’s worth considering a few options to extend your patio. It’s not always feasible to use concrete and you may only want a short-term solution. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to extend your patio and we’ve got 5 methods offering a variety of cost options.
The five best ways to extend your patio without using concrete include using gravel or river stone, laying a deck, using paving stones, or laying patio mats or AstroTurf. Some options cost as little as $50 for a temporary extension, while more expensive options can cost in the thousands.
Before starting any serious work, it’s important to consider all of your options first. Measure the area first, and see what works best for you. It’s also important to estimate all of the costs beforehand so you don’t go over budget. In this article we will go over the costs, benefits, and outcomes of each type of extension. This will help you to make a more informed decision.
1. Gravel or river rock
While it’s not the most glamorous of floor covering, gravel can work particularly well when you’re looking for a cost-effective way to extend a patio without using concrete.
Gravel is available in a range of shapes, colors, and sizes. Many modern gardens use gravel sections to define paths and patio spaces. Pea gravel is a small pea-shaped gravel that’s available in a wide range of colors and is by far one of the most economical materials for extending a patio.
Choosing the right gravel for patio extensions
Your local landscaping store will likely have plenty to choose from so it’s important to consider a few things first when it comes to gravel. For patios and paths, pea gravel is best. It is around ⅜ of an inch in diameter and rounded with no sharp edges. It feels good under your feet and doesn’t clump as much as other gravel varieties.
River rock is also an attractive option for a patio extension. The stones are a little larger and come in multiple colors, but they offer a smooth stone to walk on comfortably. River stones are also easy to place the patio furniture on without being uneven.
Do I need to lay a base layer before covering it with gravel?
You’ll need to ensure you have a fairly firm and compacted base layer before applying gravel to any area. Laying a base is simply the process of blending a crushed stone with stone dust and then compacting it. It’s not too technical, but can be physically tough work to do. It takes around 2-3 hours to lay and compact a 200 square foot area.
How much gravel do you need?
Aim for a gravel depth of between 2-4 inches deep. To calculate how much gravel you need, first, calculate your square footage of the patio extension, then divide it by 0.35 to work out how much gravel you’ll need in cubic feet.
You can order gravel in yards, cubic feet, or by the ton from your local landscaping supply store. Smaller stores may also offer gravel in 50lb bags which covers 0.5 cubic feet per bag.
Gravel and river rock costs
As mentioned earlier, pea gravel is the best for patio extension and costs around $35-$50 per cubic yard for plain pea gravel. Colored pea gravel costs a little more.
River rock comes in different grades and the cheapest you’ll find is around $100 per ton. Smaller, more colorful river rocks will be more expensive and you can expect to pay up to $800 for the most appealing rocks.
Other more coarse gravel is available cheaper but it does not feel as good underfoot.
2. Install a Deck
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to extend your patio without using concrete then installing a deck can be a great way to go. Decks are a great way to cover worn out or damaged patio surfaces and experienced carpenters can usually complete a 200 square foot deck in a weekend.
Decks are durable, can withstand high foot traffic, and do not require concrete foundations in many cases. You’ll still need to apply some form of foundation, but this can be driven posts or a compacted base with some heavy paving slabs on top.
One important thing to consider is that decks will raise the overall height of your patio by 2-3 inches or more. Take this into consideration, especially if your existing patio meets the door thresholds of a home.
There are several decking material options available, in a range of colors, finishes, materials, and costs. The most common decking material is wood, with pressure-treated wood or cedar. These types of decking require regular maintenance and should be oiled once a year to preserve the life of the wood.
There are also plenty of composite decking materials available. Plastic, PVC, recycled composite rubber, and polyvinyl decking are all great options. They’re often cheaper than hardwood decking materials and require little to no maintenance annually.
This will depend on the surface area of your proposed decking extension. You’ll also need to factor in the cost of laying a non-concrete foundation to support the decking.
Here’s a chart that’s useful for estimating decking costs based on a few of the most popular decking materials:
|Material||Cost (Per Square Foot)|
|Pressure-treated wood (pine)||$4-10|
|Cedar (standard plank width of 4-6 inches)||$10-20|
|PVC decking planks (4-6 inches wide)||$4-6|
3. Paving stones
While it’s a good idea to lay or extend a patio on good foundations, laying a concrete slab is not always necessary. Depending on your soil type and drainage, laying a well-compacted base of gravel and stone dust is ideal for the base layers before paving.
Laying a well-compacted stone base instead of concrete allows for the patio extension to be removed later if required. It also avoids the expense of concreting a slab, which can be costly.
Choose the right paving stones
If you’re planning to go down this route, then choosing the right paving is essential. Large flat paving slabs or stones are also recommended for a few reasons. Larger slabs distribute the load of foot traffic and furniture items more evenly over the base layer, compared to smaller stones or pavers.
Secondly, the flatter the stone the better. Flat paving stones and slabs will also be easier to lay and prevent movement of the material over time.
Cost of laying a base layer and paving stones
Base materials (gravel and crushed stone) cost between $4-6 per square foot, and you can easily do it yourself. If you’re looking to have someone lay the base for you, expect to pay around $5-10 per square foot.
Pavers can cost anywhere between $10-50 per square foot depending on the size and material of the paving stones you choose. Budget paving options are plentiful, and can be easily sourced at your local home or garden store. Depending on the size (and weight) of the paving stones, some will be easier to lay than others. Larger or heavy stones will require two people.
How long does it take to lay the base and paving stones?
Obviously, this all depends on how big your patio extension is going to be. If you’re inexperienced with laying a base layer and paving stones, then it’s best to book a professional to do the work.
A professional who installs a proper well-compacted base and lays a basic paver pattern should be able to install 200 square feet per day. If they need to lay a base and marry a pattern to existing pavers on a patio, expect it to take longer.
4. Patio mats
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to extend your patio without using concrete then patio mats are worth considering. They are cheap, plentiful and available in a range of sizes, thicknesses, colors, textures and materials. Patio mats aren’t really a long-term solution and will wear with time, but they’re a great option if you’re looking to extend your patio area for summer.
Patio mats are made from weather-resistant synthetic materials and can be laid on pretty much any surface. They do require some base preparation, so using a crushed stone and stone dust mix and compacting the area before laying a patio mat is recommended. If you have a lawn area, patio mats can be easily laid over the top and removed as required so as not to kill the lawn below.
Patio mat costs
Any local homeware store will have plenty of patio mats to choose from, with prices varying. A basic patio mat measuring around 5 x 8 feet costs under $50. Larger mats or mats made with more durable materials will cost anywhere between $300-400.
5. Artificial turf (AstroTurf)
Another option is to use artificial turf (often referred to as AstroTurf) to extend your patio. Astroturf is made from nylon or polypropylene that is cut to resemble the individual blades of grass. The grass blades are usually stitched into synthetic matting that’s made with recycled rubber.
Artificial turf is bright green like grass and comes in a roll. It is around 8-16 feet wide and can be any length up to around 100 feet. This is a great option when you’re looking to extend your existing patio without laying any concrete slab or foundations.
Preparation before laying artificial turf
Much like patio mats, AstroTurf does not require much base preparation, and is a great short-term solution when you want a little extra space. For the best results, you should lay a compacted gravel base, made using crushed stone and stone dust.
Artificial turf costs
First, it’s advisable to lay a compacted and levelled base. This costs between $4-6 per square foot to lay it yourself. Hiring a plate compactor from any local hardware store costs around $30 per day.
Astroturf costs vary depending on the quality and thickness of the turf, and costs anywhere between $6 to $19 per square foot.
There are plenty of great and affordable ways to extend your patio without using concrete. Some offer a more long-term solution with a little more work. Laying a deck can also help hide unsightly surfaces on old patios, while giving more room for outdoor entertaining.
If you’re looking to extend your patio, then using patio mats or artificial turf are both great options.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the cheapest way to extend a patio without using concrete?
The cheapest way to extend a patio without using concrete is to use patio mats. These are quick and easy to install and can cost under $50.
What’s the most durable and long-term alternative to extend a patio without using concrete?
The most durable option is to lay paving stones with a well compacted base. This should allow for years of general use and require little to no maintenance annually.
What’s the fastest method to extend a patio without concrete?
Consider using artificial turf or patio mats for when you want a quick fix. Both options can be laid in under a day and can be easily removed and stored when not required.