Color and Tone Considerations When Choosing Hardscapes

When selecting hardscapes, it’s important to spend some time considering the options. Belgard hardscapes are warrantied to last the life of the home, which means your new outdoor living space will become an extension of the home itself.

Hardscape Color Options

Belgard pavers and retaining walls are manufactured at multiple facilities across the nation using local natural materials and aggregates. Because of this, the exact colors available will vary by region, so it’s best to ask your contractor or dealer to show you samples. That way, you can get a better idea of the exact color palette and see how the colors look when paired with the exterior of your home and any permanent structures or existing outdoor living features, such as a pool.

Cool Versus Warm Colors

In general, cool colors are considered to be calming and include blues, greens, and deep purples. Whereas, warm colors are associated with excitement and energy and include reds, oranges, yellows and browns. Neutral colors (like beige and gray), can lean to either warm or cool, depending upon the color blend. In terms of hardscape selection, the choice to go with warm or cool color blends is typically a personal preference; however, you should choose a color scheme that is complementary to that of existing structures.

Fun with Paver Colors and Patterns

You can also take advantage of color options to create interesting and unique paver designs, like laying out pavers to create the look of a faux rug or integrating bold color choices to create intricate designs. Belgard also has a variety of Porcelain Paver options that emulate the look of wood and other natural materials.

Tone Considerations

Tone refers to the darkness or lightness of a color. Again, choosing lighter or darker tones are mostly a matter of personal preference; however, there are some additional considerations. Darker tones can make a space seem smaller or more cozy, and lighter tones can make a space seem more open and bright. Another consideration when choosing hardscapes is that lighter tones will reflect more of the light and absorb less heat, whereas darker tones (especially really deep tones) will absorb more light and heat.

Continuing the Design Beyond the Hardscapes

After the hardscapes have been installed, you’ll need to continue making color choices in terms of furniture, area rugs, cushions, throws, light fixtures, umbrellas, accessories and landscaping. Keep in mind that bigger spaces allow for bolder design choices, and bold colors and patterns are becoming increasingly popular. According to the leading interior and exterior design experts at Pantone, popular color choices this season will be oranges, pinks, golds and rich floral hues. Although it’s often wise to use bright colors sparingly indoors, outdoor settings can handle more color without feeling cramped. Even if the majority of your outdoor design is muted or monochromatic, adding a few accents of turquoise, mango, lime or some other bright, cheerful color will make a statement and brighten your outdoor space. Pantone is also predicting a resurgence of black and white designs, as well as an increase in unexpected color combination and pixilated, digitized patterns for fabrics and rugs.

Design scheme examples

Red pillows and pink flowers add pops of color to complement the warm color scheme of the Urbana Stone® and Bergerac® pavers.
The cool muted color scheme softens the look of the Castle Manor™ seat wall and Weston Stone® fire pit to create a relaxing environment.
Vibrant cool tones and patterns contrast with the warm hues of the Lafitt® pavers and Brighton Elements fireplace to create an eclectic design.

The Importance of Texture in Outdoor Design

In our current culture of creating outdoor spaces that mimic indoor rooms, it’s helpful to apply interior design concepts to outdoor design, and texture plays an important role. Texture adds contrast and balance to a design by visually creating a perceived sense of touch. Interior designers often add textural elements to a design to add visual weight or “pop” to a room. Sometimes when you’re trying to convert an outdoor space into an “outdoor room”, you may have the furniture and accessories, but it just feels incomplete. Chances are, you’re missing textural elements needed to make the room pop.

Texture can be added to an outdoor design in a number of subtle and not-so-subtle ways. An obvious place to begin is with hardscapes, which can literally serve at the foundation of your design. The video above illustrates how pavers with natural textures can be used to create dynamic visual interest. Belgard offers a number of paver styles that emulate the look of natural stone to provide an organic textural element. Some examples include the cut slate look of Mega-Lafitt®, the natural flagstone appearance of Mega-Arbel®, and the hand-cobbled look of Bergerac®. Each of these paver styles provide the textural look and feel of natural stone without the price tag.

Retaining wall block can also be used to add both dimension and texture to outdoor design. Functionally, retaining walls can be used to convert a sloped yard into usable terraced outdoor living spaces. In terms of design, retaining wall block can be used to build garden walls, planter boxes, built-in seating, fire features, and more — all of which add both texture and dimension to a room. In terms of textural style, the retaining wall finish can have a tumbled stone appearance like Weston Stone®, a chiseled finish like Tandem® Wall, or a rough-hewn finish like Anchor Diamond® 9D.

Another design tactic is to use smooth hardscapes (like many styles of Mirage® Porcelain Pavers) to provide a sleek contemporary backdrop, then add in pops of texture to balance the design. Examples could include incorporating natural stones, wicker, heavy linen fabrics, or textured decorative accessories like pottery or lanterns. Another way to balance texture is with landscaping choices like layered gardens, fringy plants, or textured planters.

Project Profile:
Heated Permeable Pavers

In colder climates, it’s not uncommon for driveways, walkways or patios to be installed with either a heated pavement system or a permeable pavement system to help control ice buildup. This homeowner, however, chose to combine the two systems into one to create the ultimate ice-management pavement system.

The heated permeable paver driveway immediately melts and drains snow and ice. A heating coil is hidden beneath Belgard Eco-Dublin® permeable pavers, which are laid at a 45-degree angle to the house to add visual interest to the elegant design. Decorative poured concrete curbing coordinates with the charcoal paver accents and sits atop edge restraints, adding both stability and a finished look to the pavement system. Matching curbing also lines the landscape beds throughout the property.

Benefits of a Combined Heated/Permeable Pavement System

With a heated pavement system, snow and ice melt immediately to prevent accumulation, but if the surface is not graded properly, or if the pavement settles or degrades over time, there can be pooling or other issues. In comparison, a permeable system allows melting snow to drain into the joints and down into the subsurface rather than remaining on the surface and refreezing into ice. Typically, a plow clears the bulk of the snow, ice melt is applied, and the water goes away. However, with a combined heated permeable pavement system, no plowing or ice melt is needed. All snow or freezing rain that hits the surface melts and drains immediately. Plus, concrete pavers are more durable than poured concrete or asphalt, ensuring increased longevity of a properly working system. After two winters, the homeowners report that the system is performing beautifully, with no water or snow accumulation whatsoever.

How Does It Work?

Heating cables are laid out in the bedding layer, beneath the pavers. Two heat/moisture sensors, each about the size of a tennis ball, are installed in the pavement to automatically turn the heating cables on when there is both precipitation and a below-freezing temperature. When the system is on, it takes a lot of electricity to heat the 4,300 SF drive and walkway, necessitating the addition of a 400-amp pedestal to operate the system. However, because the sensors require both moisture and freezing temperatures, the system is rarely on.

A layer of sand prevents the pavers from having direct contact with the heating cable, which is laid out in the bedding layer. With direct contact, potential movement by the pavers over time could wear through the cable’s protective coating and short out the entire installation. This is especially important in a vehicular application.

Installing the System

Although, the system was planned to include only 18” of excavation, abnormal site conditions required 36” of excavation. A variable base of aggregate was then installed – 27” of #2 stone, 4” of #57, and 2” of #9. A heating cable was installed within the #9 stone layer. In order to maximize the amount of heat transferred from the heating cable to the pavers, the stone separating the cable and pavers needs as much contact with both as possible. Crushed stone with fines transfers the most heat, but doesn’t drain, so it isn’t used in a permeable installation. Instead, the heating cable manufacturer, Warmzone Radiant, recommended smaller drainage stone (#9) because it has more contact with the cable and transfers more heat than larger stone. A layer of sand was then installed over the aggregate to create a cushion between the heating cable and the pavers. This was done to prevent potential paver movement from wearing through the cable’s protective coating over time, which could short out the entire system. The crew also took extra care during the handling and installation of the cable to safeguard the protective coating and ensure long-term functionality of the system.

walkway
A heated permeable paver walkway coordinates with the driveway to create a dramatic entrance to the front of the home. The heated Eco-Dublin pavers provide a safe environment for guests and eliminate the need for snow shoveling and deicing agents.

2014 HNA Project Award Winner – Residential Concrete Permeable Pavers

Design/build Contractor: Grindstone Hardscapes, Josh & Kristen Graczyk, Owners
Location: Grand Island, Nebraska

 

Take a Virtual Tour of the Southern Living 2016 Idea House

Belgard is proud to adorn the outdoor living spaces of the 50th anniversary edition of the Southern Living Idea House. As the official hardscape sponsor, we are honored to be a part of Southern Living’s legacy of bringing new design ideas to the marketplace.

This year’s home is a charming raised cottage nestled in the Birmingham community of Mt Laurel, Alabama. With wrap-around porches and a wooded lot, this home exemplifies southern living, as is appropriate for the 50th anniversary showcase. Take a virtual walk with us through the welcoming outdoor living spaces of this lovely home.

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Picturesque natural stone and Mega-Lafitt™ paver walkways lead from the street to the raised wrap-around porch on the front of the home. The use of natural stone creates a rustic look, as though the entrance to the home was cut directly into the natural landscape. The natural slate look of the Mega-Lafitt™ landings adds a touch of elegance.

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southern-living-walkway2An Old York™ paver driveway installed with a traditional herringbone pattern connects with a Mega-Lafitt™ walkway that leads to a welcoming rear entrance. The driveway and walkway are both trimmed with contrasting tones of Lafitt™ pavers. The Lafitt™ border serves a dual purpose of adding visual interest and tying the overall hardscape design together. The french doors of the entrance are accented with coordinating sidelights. Elegant planter boxes are filled with a variety of colorful and whimsical annuals that help maintain a casual look.

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The deep and welcoming side porch leads from the interior living room to a delightful Mega-Lafit™ paver patio that serves both as a dining terrace and an outdoor living room. A wood-burning Weston Stone® fire pit acts as a visual anchor for the outdoor design which provides ample sitting room and multiple conversation zones.

southern-living-fire-pit

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A striped party cabana adds a festive look to the terrace and creates a cozy spot for private conversation or an escape from the elements. Cabana design elements coordinate with the outdoor living room, dining area and porch to create a cohesive design.

party-cabana2

Interesting in learning more about the Southern Living 2016 Idea House?

all images of the southern living design home provided courtesy of time, inc.

Protecting Pavers from Debris

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Belgard pavers are designed to last the life of your home. However, like any decorative exterior surface, they are subject to the effects of use, weather and time if not properly maintained. It’s that time of year when patios, walkways and driveways are constantly filled with falling leaves and pine needles — all of which can stain pavers that are not properly sealed.

Even if your pavers were sealed when originally installed, sealant will wear over time. To keep them looking beautiful, it is important to reseal pavers every three to five years. If pavers no longer repel water, or begin to look dull or stained, it’s probably time to clean and reseal them. There are likely a number of contractors in your area who offer this service. To search for a local contractor click here.

For those interested in cleaning and sealing their own pavers, it’s a three-step process.

Step 1: Stain Removal. Remove any stains from the surface using a specialized cleaning product for the particular stain. For example rust, paint, red wine, and grease will each have different chemical properties. Best results will be achieved when using a specialized cleaner for the particular stain. Techniseal offers a high-quality line of concrete paver stain removal products and can be found at various dealers, including Ace Hardware stores.

Step 2: General Surface Cleaning. Once stains have been removed, prep the entire surface to be sealed by removing all efflorescence and ground-in dirt with a paver cleaner. Spray cleaner onto pavers, scrub with a push broom, then rinse with a hose. Allow at least 24 hours for pavers to fully dry.

Step 3: Sealing. Choose between a matte finish, semi-gloss or wet-look sealant, depending on your preference. Before you begin, make sure that sprinklers are turned off, pavers are completely dry, and rain is not forecast for the next 24 hours. Be sure to read the entire product directions and test a small area first. Also note that it is not advised to seal pavers when sustained temperatures are below 50°F (10°C). If all conditions are favorable, apply the product in small sections at a time. For best results, spray on sealant with a sprayer, then use a roller to evenly coat and remove excess. Most sealants will need a second coat. Drying time will vary.

For more information, watch this video:

Outdoor Living Trends in New Home Construction

For over a decade, the gradual trend has been for homeowners to transform the formerly open backyards of existing homes into definable “outdoor living” spaces. In new home construction, however, this phenomenon has grown exponentially in more recent years to the point that outdoor living has becoming a standard feature at just about any price level. Although upgraded outdoor living spaces are more common at higher price levels, new construction home buyers at all levels want to know that they’ll be able to live in and enjoy their outdoor spaces. According to builders, realtors and landscape architects, some definable trends have emerged as being “highly desirable” to potential buyers.

Indoor/Outdoor Convergence: For several years, the trend has been to create outdoor living areas that mimic indoor living. This has evolved in a way that with many new home designs, there is no distinct separation between the indoor and outdoor spaces, but more of a fluid separation between the two areas. These types of designs might incorporate floor-to-ceiling retractable glass walls, stackable doors or floor materials that contribute to that sense of flow. For example, Belgard Porcelain Pavers were designed for outdoor use, but coordinate with a line of interior porcelain tile, which allows for the same flooring aesthetic to be used both inside and outside of the home.

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Multiple floor-to-ceiling glass doors and Ardesie porcelain pavers make this porch feel like a continuation of the home’s interior living spaces.

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Fully Functioning Kitchens: Although this trend is more typically seen in higher priced homes, smaller homes are jumping on the outdoor kitchen bandwagon, even if on a smaller scale — like with a simple built-in grill. But for mid-level homes and above, buyers want an outdoor kitchen with all the conveniences of an indoor kitchen, and then some. In luxury homes, the outdoor kitchen often costs more than the indoor kitchen, with amenities that incorporate everything from dishwashers to brick ovens. In many cases, the outdoor kitchen also functions as an outdoor bar and includes items like roll-top beverage coolers, kegerators and wine refrigerators.

This well-appointed outdoor kitchen and bar includes seating, outdoor refrigerator, kegerator, Bristol Brick Oven, built-in grill, sink and storage.
This well-appointed outdoor kitchen and bar includes seating, outdoor refrigerator, kegerator, Bristol Brick Oven, built-in grill, sink and storage.

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Integrated Audio/Visual and Lighting: New homes of every price range are incorporating outdoor televisions and sound systems, even if on the smaller scale of an outdoor-rated bluetooth speaker system. Mid-level homes and above are taking the trend to the next level with outdoor sound systems that are integrated with the interior of the home so that the same music can be played inside the home as outside, which follows the indoor/outdoor convergence trend. With the rapid advance of smart phone technology, this can be taken to an even higher level with systems that can operate off of a mobile app to control every electronic aspect of the outdoor living space, including TVs, sound systems, lighting, fire features and pool equipment.

Every electronic aspect of this outdoor living area is controlled by the homeowner's mobile app, including the fan, lighting, TV and the gas starter on the fireplace.
Every electronic aspect of this outdoor living area is controlled by the homeowner’s mobile app, including the fan, lighting, TV and the gas starter on the fireplace.

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Intimate Outdoor Spaces: Home buyers are interested in having a relaxing outdoor living area where they can socialize and unwind, creating a trend towards more cozy seating areas, often incorporating a fireplace or fire pit. Some experts relate this trend to the fact that there’s typically a TV in every room of the house, so a cozy outdoor space away from a TV can be a place to escape. Unlike expansive outdoor kitchen spaces, which may be limited to luxury homes, an “outdoor retreat” can be created on a smaller budget and appeals to buyers at all levels. In fact, a cozy outdoor space can easily be created by adding a freestanding wall or two. With the help of a few staged furnishing, potential buyers can get a feel for how they would live in the outdoor space.

The Bristol Fireplace serves as focal point for this intimate gathering spot.
The Bristol Fireplace serves as focal point for this intimate gathering spot. This same sense of intimacy can also be created with the use of a freestanding wall, which can help define the space and create the illusion of an interior room.

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Sustainable Design: According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, this year’s top trends in landscape design include both rainwater harvesting and the use of permeable pavers. Although a standard permeable paver installation simply allows water to filter through the paver joints into the ground below, a permeable paver system can be designed to also harvest and recycle rainwater, converging these two trends into one and allowing the reclaimed water to be used for garden irrigation and other uses. Current top landscape trends also include native plants and low-maintenance landscaping.

A permeable paver system, like this Subterra Stone® patio, can be designed to include a collection cistern and a pump to harvest water for reuse with water features, irrigation or other greywater uses.
A permeable paver system, like this Subterra Stone® patio, can be designed to include a collection cistern and a pump to harvest water for reuse with water features, irrigation or other greywater uses.