Tips for choosing the right paver for your outdoor space

An overwhelming amount of paver choices is not the worst problem to have, but we do sympathise with the plight of renovators desperately trying to sift through the options for their outdoor spaces. The good news is that taking a look at your site can offer some solid clues to help narrow down the choices.

Consider the aspect first of all – the extreme light and heat of a north-facing patio will require a different approach to a south-facing spot that never sees direct sunlight. A sun-trap requires careful consideration; choose pavers that are too light and you’ll be blinded by the glare every time you step outside, whereas pavers that are too dark are basically a recipe for burnt toes. Look for colours in the mid-range palette for a space you can use comfortably all year round. South-facing areas can be gloomy, but a sun-dodging space like this also offers the opportunity to embrace paler styles of paver, which can have an incredibly effective lightening effect.

Where the outdoor space sits in relation to the indoors is also a big factor. If it’s a patio leading directly off a living space – as is often the case in our modern, alfresco-embracing homes – you might want to choose a paver that matches or at least complements the flooring indoors. This might mean opting for a paver the same or similar to the indoor tiles for a seamless look between indoors and out, or for something different but with a linking element, such as size or tone.

When choosing a paver for an outdoor area, many of the rules of interior design apply. For example, it’s a well-known designer’s trick to choose large-format tiles in smaller spaces, like bathrooms, as minimising the amount of grout lines instantly makes a poky space feel larger. The same tricks can be applied to the outdoors – large pavers will make a small space feel bigger, as well as looking cleaner and less cluttered.

That said, bricks or smaller pavers still have their place, particularly in tricky areas with lots of curves or that require lots of cutting in, which can be not only fiddly but also expensive with a larger paver. Smaller-format pavers also add another layer of texture and interest, which might be just the ticket for an otherwise simple space. “We’ve been through a really minimalist period where everything’s been really clean and simplistic, and I think people are turning more towards texture now,” predicts landscape designer Matt Leacy of Landart.

Finally, if you can’t settle on just one brick or paver, don’t fret – you might be able to use more than one. Different styles of pavers can work well within a space; by playing with contrasting sizes and textures, you can differentiate zones within a larger area.

To see what this looks like when done well, check out the below video from our Your Outdoor Home video series, where Matt Leacy uses smaller pavers to define a barbecue area, with larger pavers in an adjacent living and dining zone, a look which works so well because of the consistent colour tones throughout the space.

Have fun and happy shopping!

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