Patios are versatile outdoor areas perfect for socializing and entertaining friends. So it makes sense to want to expand it while keeping the costs as low as possible. So let’s look at a few easy and cheap methods to extend your patio and make it even warmer and more welcoming than before.
You can extend your patio in a few ways, such as pallet wood, pebbles, some gavel, paving, or even concrete squares. These are all very cheap materials that you can find at your local home depot. Depending on the scale of the project, these are the most cost-effective methods that can be used to extend a patio.
Before you look at the methods in detail, there are a few important things I must mention.
For making sure you get the job done as cheaply as possible, double-check the measurements of square footage for the intended extension of the patio.
Calculating the square feet of the area is like taking the width and multiplying it by the length. e.g. 9 feet x 9 feet = 81 square feet, so you will then ask for gravel to cover an area of 81 feet.
If you choose gravel or pebbles, don’t forget to buy enough to make a 3-inch layer more.
Making sure of these figures will help you buy the correct amount of materials you need and nothing more. It also makes it easier to compare the prices with your budget. This way you can buy a bit more of the material if you make a mistake or just want extra for the future to potentially repair damages.
If you have more time than money, this, in my opinion, is one of the most cost-effective methods to use, but it can also be one of the most time-consuming. I say this because once you’ve bought the pallets, you still need to take them apart one by one.
This can be time-consuming because it is not something that can be rushed. Pallet wood is normally made out of pine, which is very soft, so one of the best ways to take them apart is to soak the pallet in water for a couple of hours. This will make the wood more flexible and less likely to break.
All the extra work of taking them apart and removing nails is the trade-off for getting them for cheap or free. You’ll spend a lot more on buying timber specifically for the job.
Pallet wood is easy to find online for sale and in some cases even for free and just needs to be collected. Just add some varnish to the top of the patio to protect it from weathering. You can use wax to protect the patio underneath instead of varnish to save on costs. Spray-painting is also an option and can last a couple of years before needing any maintenance.
- Low cost (sometimes free).
- Can be stained to the preferred color.
- Easy to maintain, extend, modify, etc.
- Takes time to prepare the wood.
- Can get rot if not properly finished with wax or varnish.
Most people use gravel to extend their patios because it’s very easy to do. You simply spread the gravel with a rake on the area where you’re extending your patio with.
While this sounds easy enough, one thing to keep in mind is weeds might grow in between the gravel. To keep this at bay, lay a plastic sheet over the extended section after leveling the surface and before laying the gravel down. This will block out any sunlight and prevent anything from growing through the gravel.
You don’t need any bonding materials like cement. That’s why gravel is a very cheap method because you don’t need any bonding material for it.
The plastic sheet along with the gravel can be found at your local home depot. Comparing the prices will be up to you.
- Quick and easy to install.
- This is the cheapest out of all the methods.
- You will need to add gravel every year or two depending on how often you use the patio (maintenance).
- Can’t walk barefoot on gravel.
- Sometimes you might battle placing a table and chair flat on gravel.
Pebbles are another cheap option similar to gravel but better for a couple of reasons. You can walk on them without hurting your feet and they look neater to me as well. They are available in a few different colors: red, white, and black, so you can make beautiful patterns by mixing them. Similar to gravel, this method is very cheap due to you not needing to buy any bonding materials.
I prefer these over the gravel because I like to walk barefoot while I’m enjoying my patio. The pebbles have smoother surfaces compared to gravel, so I enjoy them more. Laying the pebbles is a very easy job, assuming that you have already prepared the surface that you want to extend your patio with.
Don’t forget a thick plastic sheet to prevent weeds and grass from growing through.
- It is easy to install.
- There are a variety of colors available.
- They are barefoot friendly.
- It is easily available.
- High maintenance (weeds, replacing plastic sheets).
- A fair amount of preparation for the area.
Small concrete squares can be placed in different patterns around the current patio, whether a concrete or wooden one.
Concrete squares are a cheap option because you can cover a decent amount of area with only a hand full of squares because they‘re so big and you can place them strategically to cover a large area. Some people grow grass in between concrete blocks in a chessboard pattern, decreasing the number of materials you’ll need to buy.
There are two options for the cost of these concrete squares. Either you can make them yourself by buying a bag of ready-mix concrete to mold the square, or you can buy them pre-made.
You can find them in different sizes and textures, so if you want to get creative with your extension, these might be an option for you.
- Not a lot of preparation is needed.
- Don’t need much to cover a big area.
- Low maintenance.
- It is one of the more expensive options in terms of initial capital.
- You might need professionals to compact the ground and lay the blocks perfectly flat.
If you have the know-how on how to lay bricks, this could be the method for you. It is definitely one of my favorite ways of extending a patio, as it requires no maintenance. If you don’t know how to do this type of project, I suggest you hire a professional company to do it for you.
The ground needs to be compacted or you’ll land up redoing the extension because of uneven parts on the surface. That’s why the preparation work before laying your bricks is a very crucial part of the project.
There are a few types of bricks to pick from, but ultimately, this will depend on the budget for your project.
- Clay brick
- Ash brick
- Red brick
- Grey brick
If you are planning to do it yourself, shop around to compare prices, of course, home depot will have what you need, but you may find better prices from paving or brick companies. Brick companies locally and online.
- Paving provides a flat surface for tables and chairs.
- They come in a variety of colors and shapes.
- There’s hardly any maintenance required. (when installed correctly)
- Bricks last many years before degrading.
- The paving method requires more time to prepare because the surface needs to be perfectly flat before laying the bricks.
- Bricks are permanent, so you can’t change the location if you want to.
- Bricks can crack or chip over time and replacing them individually can be difficult.
For Elevated Patios
For elevated patios, there aren’t a lot of cheap ways to extend them. My suggestion is to go for the wood or brick options.
With wood, you can make use of pallets or simply buy the cheapest lumber that your local depot offers.
But with spending just a few minutes online, you will find people that disassemble the pallets and remove all the nails before selling them in bundles. So you won’t have to spend all your time on that, but they won’t be as cheap as raw pallets.
Either way, pallet wood is the cheapest way to extend an elevated patio. Pallets already have a good amount of height and when you stack them, you’ll probably only need two or three layers.
If you choose bricks, you’ll have to lay a proper foundation, and buy cement, sand, and stone to bond everything together. Not to mention paying for the labor to get the job done.
The amount of free time you have and your budget will determine the option that will suit you best. You can also combine two or more of the options if there is a specific look that you want to achieve. Like adding a layer of pebble around the perimeter of a paved patio.
All the methods above have pros and cons. Some need more prep work and others need more capital. Whether you choose gravel, pebbles, concrete squares, or pallet wood, all of them can last many years if installed correctly.
If you choose the gravel or pebbles to extend your patio, you can also dig a few inches into the ground to lay them in so that they don’t scatter all over the yard as easily. Another option is to lay a perimeter of bricks around it.
Usually, these types of jobs can be done in different parts. So don’t rush things, shop around for the materials before accepting the first price you see. You might just walk into the next store running a sale on exactly the materials you require for your project.
Are you planning a second-floor patio? Here’s an article with some advice on that.