Patio FlooringHow to easily cover unsightly cracked concrete
Old, cracked concrete patios can be such an eyesore and not the sort of place to enjoy relaxing with your family and friends. Maybe you’ve been discouraged from making any improvements thinking that replacing old concrete would be far too expensive. But these days, but there’s much cheaper options than digging up the whole lot and replacing it with a new patio. And that’s to simply cover the existing patio flooring surface with tiles or pavers, not using adhesives or thinset, but employing the ‘floating floor’ method.
Maybe you’ve been told you can’t lay patio tiles over a cracked surface, but the floating floor method completely eliminates this issue. There’s a few options to consider, and generally all of these can be a do-it-yourself project for those with some handyman skills and can typically be completed in less than a day.
ELEGANT & DURABLE PATIO FLOORING – PORCELAIN PAVERS
For an elegant, long-term solution to covering an existing concrete patio, porcelain patio pavers are undoubtedly the best option. Sure, they might cost a little more initially than interlocking tiles, but not only can the end result be simply stunning, but they have exceptionally low maintenance requirements and a very long lifespan. Typically these pavers are 24” x 24” but other sizes are also becoming more readily available including 18” x 36” and plank style 16” x 48”. While you can lay these pavers by the traditional tiling or paving method using thin set and grouting, (necessary for vehicular applications) by far the simplest solution is to lay them effectively as a ‘floating’ floor. This method offers the distinct advantage of avoiding the danger of the tiles cracking or lifting if they are bedded into concrete. It also means you don’t need to worry so much about existing cracks on your patio surface.
So instead of using thinset to install these porcelain patio pavers, small rubber pads are placed under each corner of the pavers. This means the base surface does not need to be absolutely flat and level, since by raising the pavers only slightly off the ground and using levelling shims, it eliminates the problem of rocking on the existing concrete surface. And since the rubber pads have inbuilt spacer tabs, you don’t need to worry about alignment issues as spacing and alignment is all taken care of automatically.
Another advantage of rubber pads is that you can make the surface of your new patio perfectly level. Normally a concrete pad will slope in at least one direction to provide adequate drainage. So to compensate for this sloping surface, you stack the rubber pads one on top of each other, increasing the height of the stack as you move down the slope. Small adjustments can be made by inserting thin rubber shims between the paver and the rubber pads.
A further advantage of rubber support pads is that they reduce noise transmission, provide some additional shock protection for the pavers, and also their good frictional properties restrict the pad and paver assembly from moving.
Porcelain pavers are available in an extremely wide range of colors including pavers that look like wood, simulated stone and other designer colors, so in most cases you can match the pavers with your existing decor or landscaping or create an entirely new patio flooring design. They are also extremely resistant to staining, are scratch resistant, fade resistant and frost resistant, so you can use them even in the most severe climates.
LAYING PATIO TILES OVER CONCRETE – INTERLOCKING DECK TILES
The quickest way to cover an existing surface is to simply lay down interlocking deck tiles although with these tiles, the surface must be relatively smooth with no large cracks and no significant height mismatch on either side of any cracks. These tiles are simply snapped in place right over the top of the existing surface – no adhesives, no nails, no screws or any other fixing devices to worry about.
The majority of interlocking tiles sold these days are constructed of hardwood with an integral plastic base. Many different hardwood species are used by different makers, but if you are looking for a long term solution, it’s always best to select tiles made with very durable hardwood species like Ipe which will last very many years. Some cheaper wood deck tiles may only last 12 months or so before you need to throw them out either because the plastic base disintegrates or the wood starts decaying. Alternatively you could consider simulated wood tiles which would not only retain their color, but are stain resistance and very low maintenance.
Either type of interlocking tile, natural wood or simulated wood offers the advantage that water drains away quickly and easily underneath the tiles via the mesh base. And they can also be easily lifted from time to time to clean out debris which may have built up underneath them.
IPE WOOD DECK TILES
Yet another alternative for covering old concrete slabs is to use structural wood deck tiles. These 24” x 24” solid wood tiles are laid over rubber support pads just like the porcelain patio pavers and raise the wood off the concrete surface to ensure good drainage and air circulation under the tiles. Ipe wood deck tiles are a great alternative if you prefer natural wood look patio flooring and want to make your existing deck perfectly level. Otherwise they have similar properties to the Ipe wood interlocking deck tiles which are generally slightly lower cost. Of course with the Ipe wood deck tiles you have ongoing maintenance as ideally you should coat the tiles every 12 months or so with a good-quality decking oil to slow the rate of fading and also prolong their life. But these solid wood patio tiles over concrete surfaces can look absolutely stunning.
So if you are considering either a new patio design or pondering how to enhance the look of your existing patio, then either of the above three solutions – porcelain patio pavers, interlocking deck tiles or Ipe wood structural tiles are certainly most worthy of consideration.