TREND WATCH: Porcelain Paver Project Ideas

Since coming onto the scene just a few short years ago, outdoor porcelain pavers are quickly becoming the hottest new thing in outdoor living design. Homeowners are falling in love with the contemporary style, durability, stain-resistance and ability to mirror indoor design trends to create indoor-outdoor flow. Used on their own or as part of a mixed materials design, porcelain pavers can be used in a variety of ways. Check out the slideshows below for some inspiration on incorporating the new porcelain trend in your outdoor spaces.

Instagramable Patios and Outdoor Living Rooms

Porcelain pavers offer an excellent medium for creating sleek monochromatic looks. And with endless interpretations of stone and wood, you can also create a design with the aesthetic of natural stone or wooden planks without the fading, chipping or splintering.

  • Quartziti Pavers and Wall Veneer
  • NaMe Patio Porch Pavers
  • Noon Patio Pavers
  • Quartzi Pavers and Bordeaux™ Fireplace
  • Rail Patio Pavers
  • Stones Pavers and Bordeaux™ Fireplace
  • Stones Pavers Patio Porch
  • Verona™ Patio Pavers

Not Your Grandma’s Porch

Whether you call it creating curb envy or curb appeal, an elegant porch is a great way to set your home apart from the neighbors. For rear porches, porcelain has also proven to be a game-changer in creating seamless indoor/outdoor transitions. Porcelain pavers mirror indoor flooring design trends and often have coordinating indoor tiles and porcelain wall veneers to create a flawlessly coordinated look.

  • Noon Proch Pavers
  • Quartziti Porch Pavers
  • Stones Porch Pavers
  • Quartziti Porch Patio Pavers

Creative Transitions

Transitioning from one outdoor space to the next might involve some steps or walkways. Porcelain pavers are excellent for creating steps that accentuate a cohesive outdoor living design. You can also use them to create unique walkways, either alone or to add contrasting visual interest to a concrete paver design.

  • Noon Pavers (walkway) Mega-Arbel® pavers (patio)
  • Noon Paver Steps
  • Noon Pavers (walkway) Ardesie Pavers (stepping stones)
  • Quatziti Paver Steps PoolScape
  • Rail Pavers
  • Quartziti Step Pavers

The True Joy of Cooking Outside

Outdoor kitchens give a backyard that extra umph of livability. And this is where porcelain building materials really shine. Due to its composition and finish, porcelain pavers will not stain. Whether it is mud, oil, pizza sauce or even red wine, simply wipe it off and gone! Porcelain pavers also coordinate quite nicely with other building materials.  

  • Verona™ Outdoor Kitchen Pavers
  • Noon Outdoor Kitchen Pavers
  • Ardesie Kitchen Pavers
  • Quartziti Kitchen Pavers

Water and Fire Features that Sizzle

Fire and water make every outdoor design better. There’s just something about adding those natural elements that instantly make the space cozier. And with an extremely high compressive strength and an ultra-low water absorption rate, porcelain has a highly impenetrable surface. This includes mold and mildew, making it an excellent medium for creative water features. It can also take the heat. You couldn’t do an in-ground fire pit with a wooden deck. That would be crazy. But with wood-grain porcelain…you betcha.

  • Nau Pavers Fire Pit
  • Quartziti Pavers Water Feature
  • Noon Pavers Fire Pit Patio
  • Sundeck Pavers
  • Noon Built In Fire Pit Pavers
  • Quartziti Pavers

Spa-Worthy Poolscapes

Maintenance free and slip resistant, a porcelain poolscape is a modern take on the age-old favorite backyard addition. Porcelain pavers can be used to create sleek ultra-contemporary looks or be mixed with other materials for eye-catching inlaid designs. Porcelain is also an excellent medium for creating a stepping stone pool deck, which is a growing trend in pool deck and patio design.

  • Officine Pavers
  • Stones Pavers (accents) Lafitt® Rustic Slab (pool deck)
  • Quartziti Pavers
  • Rail Poolscape Pavers
  • Quartziti Pavers
  • Stones 2.0 Pavers
  • Quartziti Pavers

Check out how these ideas might look in your backyard with our Hardscape Project Visualizer! To find a contractor near you, visit our Contractor Locator tool.

Outdoor Transformations: Project Ideas for Overlaying Concrete with Pavers

Nothing makes a home look more dated than a tired-looking concrete slab. Stains, cracks, mold and discolorations detract from curb appeal and ambiance. But the time and expense of removing a concrete slab keeps most homeowners from replacing it. So, they try pressure-washing — which can help, but can really only do so much to improve the look. Or, they try expensive resurfacing only to find out too late that it will only last a couple of years before chipping or peeling. The better, more permanent solution: overlay concrete with thin pavers. The transformation is incredible, and Belgard pavers are guaranteed to last the life of your home.

Boost Curb Appeal

Pavers add an upscale look to a home’s exterior, significantly boosting the curb appeal of walkways and driveways. As long as the concrete slab is still sound, it can be overlaid with pavers. DriBond™ Advanced Dry Mudset is an excellent product to facilitate this type of overlay, as it installs like sand, filling in all of the cracks and seams. Once the pavers are laid in place, water is sprayed over the pavers to activate the DriBond, which then hardens and sets like concrete to bond the pavers to the original slab.

Porch and Patio Makeovers

Cross section of this project showing the overlay.

For raised homes, basement patios or concrete porches, a paver overlay will dramatically improve the look and functionality of your space. Keep in mind that the overlay will increase the elevation of the slab, so it is best to choose a paver with the appropriate thickness to avoid having to grind down the transitions. For some situations, you may need to install a french drain along the transition to avoid drainage issues.

Bring New Life to a Walkway or Entrance

Goodbye, cracks and stains! Hello, beautiful pavers. Another benefit to a paver overlay is that it allows for an expansion of the paved area without making the addition look like an afterthought.

Rehab a Pool Deck

A dated pool can become somewhat of an eyesore and can even detract from the property value. Give a concrete pool deck an eye-catching facelift with a paver overlay. The results will have you and all of your friends wanted to spend every day by your pool.

Overlay Paver Styles

Unless you specifically want to increase the elevation of your slab with an 80mm paver, the best choice for an overlay is a thinner paver. Belgard offers multiple styles in thicknesses that vary from 20mm to 60mm that work very well for overlay projects.

PORCELAIN PAVERS

Porcelain Pavers are an excellent option for concrete overlay projects. They have the lowest profile (20mm), offer a upscale contemporary look and are highly resistant to stains, frost, mold and fading. And with the concrete base, they can even be used for a driveway.

LOW-PROFILE CONCRETE OVERLAY PAVERS

Belgard offers a line of low-profile pavers specifically designed for overlay projects. These 30mm pavers offer a cost-effective way to bring new life to tired concrete living areas.

SLAB PAVERS

Slab pavers also make an excellent overlay option. They provide a larger format for more contemporary looks and a typical thickness of 50mm, which provides excellent stability and strength to overlay concrete and then expand the outdoor living space out further to build a fire pit or outdoor kitchen.

Watch a dated and crumbling pool deck get transformed into a backyard oasis with slab pavers.

PLANK PAVERS

Those looking for a contemporary plank design can also overlay a concrete surface with one of Belgard’s 60mm plank pavers.

To find a contractor who can help you with your overlay project, visit our contractor locator.

5 Tips for Designing a Patio around a Fire Pit

A fire pit instantly becomes the spot where everyone wants to gather. If you’re planning on adding this must-have element to your backyard, these tips will help you create a welcoming outdoor living space with a fire pit as a focal point.

Location, location, location.

brick paver fire pit patio design ideas

Unless you’re going for a contemporary symmetrical look or you’re working with a lot of space, don’t place the fire pit in the center of the patio, but offset to one side. You can balance the design with other heavy elements, such as an arbor, tree, water feature or outdoor bar. You will also want to pay attention to the wind patterns in your yard to place the fire pit in the location that will most likely draw any smoke away from the center. This is particularly important with a wood-burning fire pit. It’s also wise to investigate whether there are any regulations in your neighborhood or municipality regarding fire feature placement. It should be easily accessible, but not too close to the home. A good rule of thumb, especially with wood-burning pits, is to place the pit ten feet or more from any structure.

Make room for everyone.

stone paver fire pit patio design ideas

Once the fire is lit, people will tend to gather around it. In terms of space, you will want to plan for seating that will allow for both group settings or cozy, intimate one-on-one time. A fire pit itself is rarely larger than four or five feet across. The patio space around it should be an additional four to six feet on all sides. Seat walls are a great way to both visually define the space and allow for lots of seating. But don’t enclose the space completely with walls. It’s nice to leave room for chairs, standing and foot traffic. Also think ahead to how you plan to decorate. For example, if you’re choosing low-slung seating such as Adirondack chairs, realize that they will take up extra real estate and plan accordingly.

Create conversation zones.

patio fire pit design ideas

It’s highly unlikely that people will sit around the fire pit to eat on a regular basis. You will want a separate dining space for that. Plus, for better entertaining, it’s a great idea create multiple conversation zones around the patio where separate groups can gather for more intimate conversation. Some people will feel comfortable picking a spot where they can stay all evening, while the social butterflies will flit from zone to zone engaging in multiple conversations throughout the night.

Gas or wood? Why not both.

patio paver fire pit design ideas

Some people prefer gas — fewer code restrictions on placement, no ashes to contend with, no smoke, no wood to buy or chop. Other’s prefer wood — earthy smell, more robust flames, more warmth, more traditional campfire aesthetic. For those who enjoy the pros of both scenarios and live in a community that doesn’t restrict wood-burning features, consider a hybrid fire pit that allows for both gas and wood. The gas can be used as a starter and can even be hooked up to a smart system, which makes it easier to get the party going. Plus, the fire doesn’t have to go out when you run out of wood.

Soften the space.

brick paver patio fire pit design

To make your space comfy and cozy, soften the space with pillows, throws, decorative accessories and organic design elements. Landscaping or a water feature behind seating adds wonderful dimensional texture to the design and adds a sense of privacy. Decorative elements add personality to the space and help create an outdoor living room aesthetic. Pillows and throws soften the space both visually and physically, also allowing you to tie in with the colors used elsewhere on your patio to make the overall design more cohesive. You can also use paver patterns to create a faux rug paver design.

. . .

Smart Irrigation Tips for Eco-Friendly Gardens

Benefits of Smart Irrigation Eco-friendly Garden
Water-harvesting Eco-Dublin® permeable paver system.

Across the nation, people in the irrigation industry have been celebrating July as “Smart Irrigation Month” and showcasing various technologies that improve the efficiency of outdoor water usage. According to the EPA, the average family uses 320 gallons of water per day, about 30 percent of which is outdoors. It is estimated that as much as half of that water used outdoors is wasted due to inefficient irrigation.

Indeed, even this blogger has vivid memories of growing up in a home with lush outdoor gardens that were constantly being watered by my mother, who simply moved hoses around all day (or instructed me and my siblings to do it). “Time to move the hoses,” was a constant call from one side of the house to the other. In the hot Louisiana climate, this was a near-daily occurrence throughout the majority of the year. Many of our neighbors had similar habits. Practices like this are likely what drove the industry to find a better way.

Benefits of Smart Irrigation

Smart irrigation techniques not only protect the community water supply, but offer multiple additional benefits to individuals. First of all, depending upon your municipality and water source, reducing your water usage can have a major affect on your utility bill. You can also improve the look of your yard by watering at the right times — not to mention the added convenience of automation.

Do-It-Yourself Smart Irrigation Techniques

Here are some simple ideas on improving your home irrigation.

  • Break your yard into zones that have different irrigation needs due to shade, slope or sun exposure.
  • Make sure the water is always aimed at the plants — never a driveway, walkway, building or deck.
  • Water in the early morning and/or late evening, when the most water will be absorbed without evaporating.
  • Water plants more often for shorter periods of time, which will allow the soil to better absorb the water.
  • Adjust water times and amounts to seasonal conditions.

Smart Irrigation Technology

Smart Irrigation Technology
A permeable paver system can be outfitted with water-harvesting technology for irrigation or interactive fountains.

The official term “smart irrigation” typically relates to underground sprinkler systems that incorporate computerized technologies like soil moisture sensors, rain sensors, fertilizer injectors, programmable timers and smartphone apps. However, there are multiple other technologies on the market today that can improve both efficiency and ecological responsibility.

  • Water-Harvesting Permeable Paver Systems – Providing multiple ecological benefits, permeable pavers reduce flooding and pooling, filter rainwater to reduce pollution and can be outfitted with an underground cistern to capture and reuse rainwater. Some municipalities offer tax incentives or rebates for installing these types of permeable paver driveways or paver patios.
  • Rain Barrels – Many municipalities offer tax incentives or even offer free rain barrel programs. These barrels capture the water from your gutter downspouts for you to reuse for irrigation. Many big box stores, like Lowe’s and Walmart, offer a wide variety of barrels to choose from.
  • Solar-Powered Sprinkler Timers – Reduce both water and electricity usage by using renewal solar power to irrigate your gardens. These systems are available from numerous retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s.

5 Fiery Ideas for Building Your Outdoor Cooking Station

Kitchens are definitely one of the hottest trends in outdoor living design, and the centerpiece of any outdoor kitchen is the cooking station. Whether you have a gourmet outdoor kitchen, a modest grill island, or you’re planning to build something in the future, we have some fiery ideas for outfitting your outdoor cooking station to improve the functionality of your space.

1. Lots and Lots of Prep Space 

Outdoor Kitchen Ideas Prep Space

Any home chef needs room to breathe if he or she is to succeed in making their culinary masterpieces. Regarding outdoor kitchens, this is no different. With an expansive prep space at hand, your kitchen is optimized for efficiency at any and all stages of cooking. You can never have too much countertop space, which will keep you from having to run back and forth inside during meal prep. Plus, countertops can also function as serving tables and bar-style dining areas once the meal is ready. If you’re working with a grill island, or you simply don’t have the square footage for more countertops, considering using a rolling cart that you can move when not in use.

2. A Spot for Every Cook in the Kitchen

Indoor Outdoor Kitchen Ideas

A summer pool party can easily bring in upwards of 25+ people. The guest list always seems to grow somehow. No matter how many guests show up, it helps to have multiple cooking surfaces in addition to the standard built-in outdoor grill. Plus, although charcoal enthusiasts will swear the flavor is superior (this blogger agrees), you simply don’t always have the time to wait for the coals to be “perfect” and sometimes just need to be able to turn on the gas and get to grilling. And if you talk to anyone who has a griddle or a brick oven in their outdoor kitchen, be prepared for a lengthy conversation on how they don’t know how they ever lived without it. Other popular cooking surfaces include ceramic kamodo-style grills and gas burners for large pots or frying.

3. Throw Some Shade

Outdoor Living Space Terrace

Unless you live somewhere where it rarely rains and the temperature is always mild (a.k.a. California), you’re going to need your cooking station to be covered. It gets HOT standing in front of a grill. And no one wants to hold an umbrella while flipping burgers. Keep in mind that shaded areas do not have to take away from the beauty of your patio entertainment area but can become a design element in itself. This can be accomplished with an earthy pergola, a farmhouse-inspired pavilion or a colorful canopy. For a more natural aesthetic, consider integrating some flowering vines, ivies or other climbing plants. To add a festive atmosphere, you can never go wrong with edison-style string lights.

4. Be that Person with the Outdoor Brick Oven 

Outdoor Brick Oven Ideas

Yes, we’ve already mentioned brick ovens, but they are so worth mentioning again. There are two prominent benefits of cooking in a wood-burning brick oven versus a traditional oven: the better dispersion of temperature and the additional level of flavor. And there are more options than you might think. Belgard offers a full line that range from mobile and countertop brick ovens to gorgeous stone-clad brick oven kits for a custom built-in look. Aside from the swagger that accompanies having one, a brick oven presents numerous cooking opportunities for amazing wood-fired meals. Even though an outdoor brick oven is often referred to as an outdoor pizza oven, it is not just for cooking pizza. Here are a few brick oven recipes to get the creative juices flowing!

5. Seating for Your Audience… (umm, guests)

Outdoor Seating
HGTV® Dream Home 2019. Photo credit: HGTV. Used with permission.

Preparing dishes in the kitchen is a visually stimulating affair. With you home chefs out there putting on shows, why not give your audience a front row seat? Bar seating or built-in seating near the cooking station creates a cozy atmosphere to enhance the outdoor cooking experience. An additional bonus to constructing permanent seating is that you won’t have to fuss at your kids for leaning too far back on the chairs. With no chair legs to break, rust or unravel, the only things you’ll need to change out each season are the throw pillows.

. . .

The Latest Trends in Water Features

Water is a soothing natural element that can add comfort and ambience to any outdoor space. Whether it’s a pond, fountain, waterfall or bubbling rock, water features continue to be a popular design element for outdoor living spaces. As this practice continues to evolve, technology and contemporary design preferences are definitely influencing the trends.

Water Feature Technology Trends

Smart Features

More and more homes are becoming integrated with smart-home technology, and this is making its way into outdoor living spaces. One of the hottest trends is to incorporate “smart” technology into water features so that homeowners can use a smartphone app, Alexa or Google Home device to turn the feature on or off.

Solar Technology

Utilizing solar technology for a water feature offers multiple benefits. Not only does it eliminate the ongoing costs of electricity to power the water feature pump, but also eliminates the need to run electrical utilities to the water feature. This is especially helpful when installing a water feature to an existing outdoor living space. Retrofitting an existing space with electrical wiring can be a costly endeavor.

Water Feature Lighting

Water Feature with Lighting Technology

Adding lighting to a water feature enhances the ambiance and also allows the feature to be viewed at night. For ponds and brook-like features, it’s popular to include lighting under the water or shining towards the water. For features that include a waterfall, incorporating an LED light into the waterfall itself adds an ethereal quality. It’s also popular to affix low voltage hardscape lighting to exterior walls of water features.

Water Feature Design Trends

Interactive Fountains

Interactive fountains are not only beautiful, they are a great family-friendly patio design element. These types of water features can either be designed with a water-recycling permeable paver system, or by adding a drain system to standard pavers.

Fire & Water

There’s just something primal about juxtaposing the natural elements of fire and water that appeals to humans at an instinctual level. As the fire pit and outdoor fireplace trends continues to grow, so does the trend to incorporate a nearby water feature.

  • Weston Stone® Wall Outdoor Hardscapes
  • Highland Stone and Weston Stone® Wall with Water Fall Feature
  • Bristol™ Series Fireplace and Celtik Wall Fireplace and Water Feature
  • Belgard Elements™ Fireplace and Water Element
  • Brighton™ Series Fireplace and Waterfall Feature

Pondless Waterfalls

A pondless waterfall is simply a recirculating waterfall or stream without the presence of a pond. The water typically disappears into a basin or a bed of gravel to recirculate into the water feature. Trends in this style of water feature range from natural stone streams to wall fountains and contemporary stand-alone structures.

  • Allan Block® Outdoor Waterfall Feature
  • Celtik Wall® Landscape Waterfall Feature
  • Mega-Bergerac® Pavers Brick Waterfall Element
  • Tandem® Wall with Water Feature
  • Weston Stone® Outdoor Patio Waterfall

Poolscape Water Features

Modern pool design trends center on incorporating the pool as part of a cohesive design element with the surrounding outdoor living spaces. The pool itself is not just a place to swim, but an active part of the overall design. A great way to achieve this is to add a water feature that flows into the pool.

  • Dublin Cobble® pool deck
  • Lafitt® Rustic Slab pool deck
  • Mega-Bergerac® pool deck
  • Melville™ paver pool deck and Tandem® Wall Waterfall and Pool
  • Porcelain Paver pool deck
  • Urbana® Stone pool deck
  • Weston Stone™ column water feature
  • Cambridge Cobble® pool deck

Artistic Water Features

Many of today’s homeowners gravitate towards water features that act as a focal point of a design, like an interactive piece of modern art that makes a statement. That statement can be bold or simple, often reflecting the personality of the homeowner. Designs of this type add an element of zen to an outdoor space and can range from water walls to urn fountains and bubbling rocks.

  • Aqua Bric® permeable paver patio
  • Mega-Arbel® patio water fountain
  • Tandem® Modular Grid Water Fountain
  • Weston Stone® Water Fountain Outdoor