All the flooring options available to transform any exterior setting.
The beautiful outdoors create the opportunity for people to connect with nature, especially when most of their time is spent indoors. Very often outdoor settings are also the first visual attractions visitors are introduced to when entering a mall, office or any other commercial building. For these reasons alone it is of paramount importance to create exterior spaces that are inspiring and innovative, and to achieve this, there are several outdoor flooring options available.
GETTING CREATIVE WITH PAVING
Concrete and brick paving are popular choices for exterior installations as they are beautiful, offer significant scope for customised creations, are quick to install and ready for use as soon as the project is complete. They allow for lots of design creativity and come in a variety of shapes and colours and can even be laid in striking patterns.
Decorative concrete is in great demand as it can recreate the look and feel of natural stone in every detail. With more decorative options than ever before, concrete patios are attracting homeowners who want an outdoor surface that offers the ultimate in design versatility.
In addition to serving as a gathering zone for lounging and entertaining, concrete patios allow homeowners to seamlessly blend interior and exterior living spaces. When enhanced by stains and integral colours, concrete patios can be colour coordinated to match a home’s exterior or landscape.
Taking into consideration that they can be used in an array of unique patterns, or recreated to look like natural stone floors, the doors of creative opportunities abound. Creating natural looks with earthy colour tones is a popular trend as well as a practical one, seeing as a more neutral palette won’t date as quickly as bolder colours or patterns. We have seen beautiful installations of decorative concrete which are made to look like Terracotta tiles, recreating that warm, natural stone look so many are after. Some have even recreated the look of natural bluestone, and considering that all shades of blue are infiltrating the tiling industry, this subtle yet modern look is something that designers should consider.
There are also beautiful installations of decorative concrete being used as walkways, which have been stamped to replicate the exact look of larger outdoor areas such as patios. Stamped concrete patios give you a vast array of decorative options that aren’t always possible with other patio materials. The patio can be poured in any shape or size to fit the space, and you can choose from many different stone and brick patterns and even wood-grained textures. Using stains, powdered pigments and antiquing agents, contractors can colour your patio to look identical to natural stone or customise the colour to complement your home and landscape. You can also set off your patio with a decorative border in a contrasting colour and pattern.
Clay brick pavements
The material of clay brick pavements has made them a popular choice as they maintain their colour consistency permanently throughout the product lifecycle and will not be affected by any form of UV light. The beauty and rich colour of clay pavers is an inherent property of clay material as colour is not added as an artificial dye or pigment during the manufacturing process.
They can be installed in a multitude of patterns, and even throughout larger areas such as driveways that often follow specific patterns. Smaller focal points can also be created by using these clay bricks, either on their own or in conjunction with other outdoor materials. A truly simple yet highly effective pattern to consider is the ever popular mosaic design. It requires a few clay bricks, or several depending on your design, be laid out it in circular positions that extend from a centre point filled with pebble stones. Each brick is then separated with several pebble stones, and as the circle grows bigger, more bricks and stones will be used and cast in position using cement. This simple design is beautiful and attracts immediate attention, and proves how mosaic inspiration can be achieved by anyone, not just the experts.
As is applicable to all outdoor flooring products, the key to designing any space is to consider the surroundings, be it a building, a garden, a pond etc., and to incorporate more than one product to achieve the desired result. For example, large, square, concrete slabs can be laid in rows next to each other, however, spaces are left between each where other products can be installed, such as artificial grass, pebble stones etc. As has been seen in several exterior layout installations, more than one product is always used, and it’s seldom that concrete slabs or brick paving will be used in isolation.
According to the 2015 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), low maintenance design and sustainability are the top trends for residential landscape projects, putting brick and permeable paving suppliers in an ideal position to address this need among consumers.
Permeable paving fell within the top 10 project types in this survey. Permeable paving blocks encourage water infiltration and prevent rain water runoff, in order to replenish our dwindling ground water reserves. Ideal for areas prone to erosion, these versatile blocks can be used for domestic, industrial and agricultural applications such as drive ways, parking areas, vehicle tracks, hardstand for trucks and machinery, attenuation ponds, embankment stabilisation to name a few.
The first step in installing a permeable driveway is deciding which design will work best for you. For example, open-cell pavers are simply concrete pavers with holes that can be filled with a pervious material. Filling the cells with vegetation can soften the entire look and add a bit of green to your site.
A beautiful installation we came across was that of a new permeable driveway built of recycled clay bricks placed on gravel. The remainder of the front yard is organised by soft lawn spaces and large Birch trees while the entrance to the home is accentuated by masses of annual flowers that frame the bluestone steps.
Indoor tiles go outdoors
Technological advancements have continued to give rise to ceramic or porcelain tiles that not only look like wood, but feel like it too. 3D and high definition technology has enabled the creation of grain lines, and varying shades that mimic every detail of wood.,Today these details can be embedded along with an array of colour selections to suit every desirable taste and setting, even outdoors. There are also several different tile ranges that have either traditional hand-scraped textures, full glossy options, or those made to look like distressed wood.
Porcelain in particular is highly resistant to water, reducing the likelihood of stains developing. Consequently, the low absorption of porcelain tiles makes them ideal for outdoor installations in cold climates since they can be confidently used outdoors without worries of cracks developing due to freezing. They also respond well in high-traffic areas and are considered low-maintenance, keeping their appearance for years. These tiles are a popular choice for outdoor projects such as patios, pathways, balconies and terraces.
Ceramic tiles are equally attractive and also available in various colours, styles and designs while performing equally well outdoors as indoors. However, ceramic tiles are not as durable as porcelain and are subject to breakages, especially in high-traffic areas. As such, they may require more re-sealing in the space of a year to maintain their structure and fortify against wear and tear.
Natural look tiles such as stone and concrete will continue to be highly sought after for their practical benefits outdoors. This year may see people more willing to take a risk using patterned or structured finishes to create a visual impact contrasting beautifully with traditional façade mediums. The use of larger slabs will also continue to grow in popularity, which is particularly appealing outdoors.
A tile trends to take note of is the brick effect tiles, using a wider 10mm grout joint to mimic the bricks and mortar look. When it comes to laying tiles, chevron patterns are also in trend, which is easy to recreate by laying metro tiles in a herringbone pattern. Linear patterns are also making a comeback this year, and you use these tiles to create linear patterns or those that already feature them.
Tiles are ideal when seeking to expand the indoors outdoors, creating a seamless transition from one area to another. We have noticed in projects trying to achieve this, that the indoor tiles will have a higher gloss content, whereas those installed outdoors appear to be more matt. Whether this is for functional purposes or aesthetics alone, it does create a subtle distinction between the two spaces without distracting from the natural flow between the interior and exterior.
Wood and Composite Decking
Both wood and composite decking are available in a variety of shapes and sizes that can be either painted, stained or left to weather naturally. Composite manufacturers offer a variety of colour choices, many of which also emulate the look of traditional timber or exotic hardwood.
However, many still long for the natural warmth and beauty that real wood decking provides. As such, the choice between composite and wood decking is dependent on individual choice and specification.
Some popular trends when it comes to decking include multi-level decks, which are different from multi-storey decks that typically feature two separate entertaining areas. Multi-level decks allow those on the main deck to easily interact from the different levels while still incorporating a unique design.
Within the composite market, many are also turning to two-toned decking board colours. The increase in composite deck’s popularity also comes with a new design: curved decks. These allow deck builders to create custom curves by heating up the board until it’s almost like a ‘noodle’, and when it cools down it maintains its rigid form.
Even though outdoor lighting has always been important, many are moving from installing the lights around the deck using tiki torches and other temporary solutions to installing permanent lighting on the decking itself. Several people are interested in accent lighting drawing attention to posts of the deck, as aesthetics play a key role.
The numerous benefits of artificial grass have opened the door to a wide range of design options. Artificial turf is gaining significant interest in the flooring industry and has been used as the primary choice for several sports stadium fields, outdoor play areas, or outside commercial buildings that provide retail and office space.
Artificial grass can easily be matched and blended with different elements in the garden and one of the most popular pairing is warm-toned wooden decking mixed with the lush, deep greens of artificial grass. It also makes an ideal covering for decking which has become worn, weathered or become slippery over time. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but also durable, non-slip and weatherproof requiring minimal maintenance to thrive.
Artificial grass can also be used to contrast and compliment an area of decking by laying an artificial grass rug underneath decking furniture to provide a warm, soft area to rest your feet. One could also create a bright green artificial grass path straight through a large area of decking to break-up areas of brown.
10 Installation Ideas
1. As noted in the concrete section above, one can ideally incorporate artificial turf between concrete slabs to create interesting design layouts and break any monotonous installations. It can also be used between natural stone. For example, incorporate slate squares between strips of artificial turf to liven up a rustic look without much maintenance.
2. If children toss sand out of the sandbox in public play area, getting it back in is much easier with artificial turf surrounding the play area than real grass. Provided it doesn’t rain, the excess sand can be swept or blown back in without it sticking to potentially wet soil.
3. What makes artificial grass so ideal is that it can be used to create several focal points outdoors, and doesn’t necessarily have to be used in large sections of sheeting only. Other outdoor products can be used in conjunction with the artificial grass to further accentuate these focal points.
4. No boundaries exist, which is why non-linear designs are so popular with this product. Any desired shape and sized can be created and used, such as playful patterns or more modern layouts.
5. Those needing a large strip of artificial turf may as well give it a practical purpose, such as bocce ball to putting greens to large chess boards.
6. Consider creating a railroad pattern with concrete pavers and artificial grass, and soften the entire look by choosing wood patio furniture as opposed to metal.
7. Add more depth to an otherwise small outside area by incorporating a checker design, mixing large square shapes of artificial grass with either large tiles or slabs.
8. Artificial grass can also be beautifully mixed with other lush greenery, making it even more difficult to distinguish between what’s real and what isn’t. In this case a living wall would also add to the natural look and feel of such a setting.
9. Liven up an area of turf by adding a colour contrast, be it in the choice of furnishings, or other greenery such as plants or trees.
10. For buildings with outdoor rooftops, artificial grass in combination with modern container plantings is the perfect solution for adding an unexpected pop of greenery to an outdoor living area.
Rubber flooring has enabled a world of possibility in terms of creative designs and layouts and can incorporate patterns, corporate logos and colour changes across the floor. Rubber flooring for exterior use in South Africa’s climate will often be treated in order to withstand UV rays and prevent it from yellowing.
An exciting consideration for exterior use is rubber pavers and tiles. They are the perfect alternative to standard tile and stone for outdoor decks, pools, patios and playgrounds. They are also available in varying thicknesses and are cooler and more slip-resistant when wet.
Rubber pavers come in exciting designs, colours, and patterns, making them highly ideal for custom projects. You can select from herringbone, stack bond, circle, basket weave, runner bond, and interlocking dog bone patterns, depending on specific design taste and needs. Additionally, you can also pick from terracotta, black, brown, red, green, and beige colour options while shape variations include dog bone square, rectangle, hexagonal, and Z-patterns.
Their functional properties, such as the fact that they improve safety, are durable and sturdy, reduce noise, are hygienic and easy to maintain, to name just a few, make them an appealing option for outdoor installations.
Stone and seamless quartz paving
Stone and resin can be combined together to create a beautiful alternative paving system to traditional concrete. These systems are known as polyurethane encapsulated stone floors that create or transform and exterior floor to be long-lasting, weather-resistant and visually appealing.
A two-part Polyurethane is mixed on site and combined with alluvial quartz stone and trowelled over an existing surface to create a dazzling, seamless Polyurethane stone floor resembling a quartz carpet. These seamless quartz floors are considered ideal for patios, pool decks and outdoor spaces because they are stain-resistant, UV stable and extremely durable.
They are available in unlimited colour combinations and offer multiple design opportunities, which enable specifiers to instil subtle trends while still ensuring that it matches the surrounding environment. Combining seamless quartz paving with other outdoor products is an option, however, what makes quartz paving so unique is that it adds a sense of style and elegance to any given space, whether used in conjunction with other products or as is. Furthermore, quartz flooring can connect the indoors with the outdoors if both areas and settings have this product installed, creating a feeling of natural flow and connectivity to ensure a truly seamless experience.
Car Park Decking
Durability is key when looking to determine the success of a car park’s decking, as it will have to withstand heavy wear and tear on a daily basis. These installations are exposed to vehicles, heavy machinery and equipment, not to mention other unforeseen events such as oil spills. However, aesthetics in combination with performance is what will ultimately determine the success of any installation.
The type of deck coating materials used are primarily dependent on where in the parking facility it will be installed e.g. on a multi-level or underground, and the conditions that the material will most likely be subjected to on a regular basis. The type of product chosen should also enhance visual appearance, dull-up car park environments effectively and prevent water entry into any car parking structure. Furthermore, the type of slab design, visual appearance, line markings, parking bays etc. should also be considered before deciding on a specific coating and/or product.
All of these outdoor flooring options can achieve beautiful and timeless designs, especially when used in conjunction with each other. Even though it is usually not advisable to follow bold trends as they do have a tendency to date a lot sooner, they can still be used to inspire more subtle designs and layouts. However, the ongoing trend of recreating all things natural has given rise to beautiful and lasting outdoor design possibilities making use of each of the above flooring products, which in turn has resulted in a world of options when it comes to achieving an attractive and functional exterior space.
Acknowledgement and thanks go to the following for the information contained in this article: http://www.paversearch.com; www.nomow.co.uk; www.sadecor.co.za; www.houzz.com; www.housebeautiful.com; www.londontile.co.uk; http://www.carlislehomes.com.au and www.installitdirect.com.