Exterior Deck, Patio & Porch

10 Ways to Dress Up a Drab Concrete Patio

Whether you are creating a new patio or dressing up an existing one, these great ideas are both attractive and practical.
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Beautiful, Versatile Concrete


Concrete is a low-cost, versatile patio material that can be molded to suit a huge variety of designs. It can be clean and linear, or it can be curved and casual. It is relatively inexpensive and extremely hard-wearing. Unlike wooden decks, it can withstand the seasons with little care.

Today’s homeowner has almost limitless possibilities when it comes to creative concrete patio ideas. Not only is there a tremendous choice of concrete pavers, framing and pouring methods make it possible to realize almost any structural element. Once the patio is in place, it can be accessorized to suit any taste.

Shade and Shelter


A concrete patio makes a secure base for a pergola or gazebo. These can provide shade from summer sun or shelter from inclement weather, allowing you to extend the use of the garden into the fall or, with the addition of a patio heater, perhaps into winter. The range of sizes and styles, from free-standing wooden to aluminum- or steel-framed models (available at Wayfair) means there’s something for just about any outdoor space.

Make an Impression


The concrete itself can be much more decorative than just a plain gray slab. A wide variety of concrete stamps are available to impress the surface, from those that mimic stone or block patterns to leaves and fossils. You can also buy texture rollers. For a truly personalized area, you could add the family’s handprints or footprints.

Existing concrete can also be colored, bringing life back to a tired area. There are more than 20 colors available, so you’ll find few limits on the potential for stained concrete patio ideas.

Cool, Clear Water


There’s something about having water in a garden that adds a sense of coolness and tranquility. So why not add it to your concrete patio? All kinds of pools and water features can be incorporated at the construction stage. Alternatively, a free-standing fountain or waterfall can be added later. These vary from formal ornamentation to cascading rock formations (available at Amazon). Subtle lighting can be included so the water feature looks just as cool and clear at night.

Relax and Enjoy the View


Concrete slab patio ideas fall into two categories: Those where the patio is installed next to the house and can be accessed by simply stepping outside the back door, and a stand-alone area, often within a lawn. It will be reached by some form of path—perhaps made from the same slabs as the patio. These areas provide the opportunity to ‘borrow’ the surrounding view, be that flower borders or the natural landscape beyond. Being away from the house often gives a more open feel, closer to nature. With many different styles of concrete slab available, it can blend into the surroundings, rather than clashing with them.

Food for Thought


When the weather is pleasant, few things are better than eating outdoors with family and friends. Simple concrete patio design ideas provide a safe and stable place for a barbecue. At the other end of the spectrum, it is possible to create lavish outdoor dining areas that offer protection should the weather change, and allow the enthusiastic home chef free rein to impress guests with their culinary skills. Concrete can also be used for worktops, giving visual coherence to the setting.

Related: 9 Ideas for a Beautiful Brick Patio

Oriental Calm


Oriental gardens have long been admired for the sense of calm they provide. The clean lines it’s possible to achieve with concrete make it an ideal material for this kind of meditative space, which natural beauty can enhance. Bamboo is popular, of course. Tall grasses can whisper gently in the breeze. Japanese maples can be kept relatively small and look especially beautiful in the fall. A simple water feature, or perhaps a buddha (available at Home Depot) would add an appropriate accent.

Focus on Furnishing


Patio furniture has considerable visual impact, and can also affect atmosphere. The choices are vast. Wicker designs have long been popular, looking light and airy while offering plenty of support and with styles ranging from colonial to contemporary. Wooden seating can offer an informal, picnic-style appearance. A swing seat is another perennial favorite, as is a hammock. If there isn’t a suitable structure to hang the hammock, a sturdy stand can be purchased.

Related: ​​Tough Choice, Easy DIY: 2 Projects to Rescue a Worn-Out Patio

Form and Function


Expansive linear designs made popular in the 1960s by French architect Le Corbusier and American Frank Lloyd Wright are once again fashionable, which can be quite stunning if a large area is available. Yet concrete can suit every taste. The ability to pour it into molds of practically any shape, and to inter-mix pavers, blockwork, gravel, or planters, gives concrete an almost endless versatility. Concrete is also functional and easy to live with. Apart from periodic cleaning (using a pressure washer, because concrete is tough enough to withstand the blast) there is virtually no maintenance.

Bringing the Outdoors, Indoors


A concrete patio makes an ideal extension to your normal living space. It requires minimal groundwork compared to the foundations necessary for the main house, yet it can support a variety of structures. Once the framework is erected, mesh can be used to keep bugs out. Fabric curtains or roller blinds can protect occupants from chill breezes. Luxurious glass curtain walls could also be installed. They fold out of the way in summer but can be closed in winter, allowing the space to be used all year round.

Cozy Corner


Many of today’s urban homes have modest outdoor spaces, but there are still plenty of concrete patio ideas for small backyards that are both appealing and practical. Wire-framed or cast aluminum furniture (available from Amazon) is relatively compact, inexpensive, and can sit outside all year, ideal for breakfast or evening drinks. A folding umbrella adds shade where needed, and takes up little space indoors during the winter. Potted plants are easy to manage. An herb planter is an aromatic choice that will be handy for the cooking enthusiast.

Related: 20 Tiny Backyards We Love