A cooking or food preparation area is always of importance. While it is acceptable to carry food from the kitchen to the outdoors, many people opt to have a grilling area, built in or freestanding, fireplace or fire pit. Your outdoor table and chairs may be custom made, purchased at a store or a combination of the two in order to achieve the design elements you require. An excellent way to define the eating space is with a large outdoor area rug. This will help to formalize the space and give it a bit more polish than a plain table and chairs outside.
The most common surface for a patio are paving slabs. There are many different types of paving slab with a wide range of price tags. Steer clear of concrete slabs - they are often more expensive than natural stone, will fade over time and always end up looking fake. Indian Sandstone has dominated the paving slab market for years as it is cheap, natural, widely available and looks good. Cheaper Indian Sandstone is not always the bargain it appears as it is thinner, or poorer quality and more porous causing leaching of the minerals in the mortar onto the top surface of the stone. There are some inexpensive granite slabs currently available that make a wonderful surface only slightly more expensive than Indian Sandstone. The more expensive options are Travertine, York stone, Basalt, and Marble. Polished concrete makes a wonderful contemporary surface for the patio. Resin bound gravel is not only great for driveways, but makes an excellent contribution to the patio paving when combined with other materials for textural contrast.
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