Design Hack: Covering an Ugly Concrete Patio

What to do with an ugly concrete patio? I have two go-to solutions that check a lot of boxes on our clients (and our) wish list.

A Brooklyn backyard with wooden tile covering. Design by Staghorn NYC.
A Brooklyn backyard with wooden tile covering. Design by Staghorn NYC.

I've always had a love/hate relationship with concrete. There are times when industrial or Brutalist-inspired architecture looks picture perfect thanks to a giant expanse of concrete floor, walls, or support pylons. Concrete planters tend to have a contemporary coolness about them as well - even if they don't tend to hold up well over time. But few things sour the excitement of a new backyard at your new house than an old, or worse, incorrectly poured concrete patio. Jagged, weedy-infested cracks, mysterious stains, and iceberg-like chunks rising against the strain of underground tree roots just begging to be tripped over, or at least have a toe stumped on. Unfortunately, getting rid of them can prove as unpleasant (in addition to expensive) as enduring them. 


So what to do with an ugly concrete patio? I have two go-to solutions that check a lot of boxes on our clients (and our) wish list. 


Option 1 ($ - DIY friendly)

If a quick, cheap and easy fix is what's right for you, I recommend checking out Ikea's outdoor decking tile system. These permeable wood tiles easily lock in place together for a fast and effective veneer that's permeable (i.e., allows drainage!). If you have a good electric saw, you can cut these tiles to fit funky shapes and corners for an extra customized look. 


Ikea decking tiles backyard garden patio
Wooden decking tiles from Ikea were a budget-friendly option for this space.

Pros: 

- Affordable and readily available 

- Quick and easy to install

- Neutral style that can fit in with most outdoor spaces

- Allows for ample drainage

- Modular design allows for easy access to concrete pad, maintenance, etc. 


Cons:

- Limited styles, colors, and sizes

- Limited durability - Underside lock mechanisms are plastic and breakable 

- Does not fix issues with the slope or uneven pavement

- You can feel a bit of flex/bounce when walking on the tiles sometimes 

- Leaf debris can be hard to clean out


Option 2 ($$$ - professional installation highly recommended)

My second recommendation - while more expensive - is very effective, extremely convenient and long-lasting. Bonus points for being attractive, and having the most color/texture options. This option involves going with either a porcelain paver + pedestal system, or hardwood decking pavers + pedestal system. In a nutshell, a new patio or decking surface is laid down and secured in place with a pedestal system, which rests directly on top of your concrete patio. We're big fans of Bison Innovative Products and Archatrak.  

A NYC rooftop garden with porcelain pavers on a pedestal system from Archatrak.
A NYC rooftop garden with porcelain pavers on a pedestal system from Archatrak. Design by Staghorn NYC.
Porcelain pavers on a pedestal system combine well with other stone details like this backyard in Manhattan. Design by Staghorn NYC.
Porcelain pavers on a pedestal system combine well with other stone details like this backyard in Manhattan. Design by Staghorn NYC.

Pros: 

- Long-lasting

- Durable

- Low-Maintenance 

- Attractive options in a variety of styles

- Corrects issues with slope and level of existing patio 

- Allows for ample drainage

- Modular design allows for easy access to concrete pad, maintenance, etc. 


Cons:

- Expensive

- Requires professional installation (you need someone who owns a tile saw and knows how to use it well)



Got questions or other ideas for hiding ugly patios? Give us a shout in the comments!