Adding a patio to one's home can be a rewarding investment. With reasonably low starting prices, it can also be a relatively inexpensive home improvement project that can boost a home's value and make it more attractive to potential buyers. Before going too far, however, there are several types of patio to consider, and patio installation prices can vary quite a bit from one type to another.
A simple concrete patio is the most basic and inexpensive option. Rates can vary depending on the local market and the difficulty involved, but $5 per square foot is usually a safe estimate. Companies sometimes increase this rate on smaller jobs to make it worth their time and effort, but rarely will the price rise above $7.50 per square foot. Keep in mind that a contractor must first level the ground and do a lot of prep work, further increasing the cost. If you're willing to put in the work involved, doing this prep work yourself can save a lot of money.
Then again, if you're willing to put in that much work, you may be willing to lower your patio price by purchasing a do-it-yourself concrete or brick patio kit. These can be significantly cheaper than having a patio professionally installed--sometimes in the $500 range--but demand confidence in one's own ability to get it done properly. If you or a family member are the handyman type, a do-it-yourself patio is the cheapest option by far.
Stamped Concrete Patios
The next step up the patio price ladder is a stamped concrete patio. These are similar to concrete slab patios, but are embedded with a pattern to make them look more like natural stone. The results can be a big step up from a basic concrete patio, with the stamped effect giving them a much more luxurious appearance.
Because they're also made of concrete, stamped concrete patios generally share the same installation costs as their basic slab counterparts. A stamped patio with a single, simple pattern and a solid color will generally cost anywhere from $8-$12 per square foot. For more elaborate designs involving multiple patters and colors, the price can increase to the $20 per square foot range.
Concrete Paver Patios
One of the more desirable and expensive options is a paver patio. These consist of a lower layer of smooth concrete, followed by a middle layer of a special type of sand, and the top, visible layer of paved brick, tile, or concrete designed to look like natural stone. There are all sorts of paver patio types to choose from, allowing you a lot of freedom to choose the look and feel you want your patio to have. Though paver patios can be made without the concrete foundation at a lower price, they may sink and shift with time; only by laying the concrete base can the patio's stability and longevity be ensured.
Concrete paver patios tend to be the most expensive of the three listed patio types, with prices in the $10-$20 per square foot range. At the same time, they can be some of the most beautiful patios money can buy. If money is not an issue, a concrete paver patio can be a beautiful addition to any home.
Because patio costs can vary by a factor of ten or more, there are options for just about every budget. In the end, it comes down to what the individual wants for his or her patio. Is there only a basic need? If so, a simple concrete slab is probably the way to go, and with a do-it-yourself kit, you can avoid those hefty patio installation prices. If a slightly more decorative and luxurious patio is desired, stamped concrete or concrete pavers can get the job done for a marginally higher cost. Regardless of what type of patio you choose, should the time come to resell your home, you'll find that patio costs can increase the value of your home by a similar amount. In that case, it may be better to think of them as an investment for the future, much like any other home improvement project.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go relax on the patio.