10 patio paving ideas to make the most of outdoor space

Create your ideal garden room with some clever paving ideas

Gone are the days of grey, uneven slabs with moss growing between them, now as with the rest of the home, we all want beautiful patio paving ideas – something sleek and sophisticated to reflect our personalities and the many styles of paving out there.

The right design could transform your garden to give you more space to entertain, enjoy time with the family and make the summer last longer. Inviting friends and family around becomes a pleasure if you have somewhere relaxing to sit. And there is no reason you can’t enjoy your new space into the colder months too with the addition of a fire pit, throws and a patio heater.

Small patio ideas are just as important and can transform your outside space, creating an outdoor room you didn’t know you had.

Patio paving ideas to inspire

Patios are easy to look after and could add value to your home, check out our looks below to see if there is a style to suit you or view these patio ideas.

1. Make it seamless from indoors to out

patio area with sofa and potted plants

Fashion Stone from £45 m2

(Image credit: RAK)

Make your outdoor space feel like part of the main house by using the same paving throughout. It not only gives you a seamless look, it will open up to make both spaces feel bigger. The added benefit of not having a threshold means there is less risk of a trip hazard.

This natural stone look is hardwearing porcelain. In a linked space like this, think about your furniture choices and colour scheme, so the whole area blends together for a cohesive look.

‘How we use our outside space has changed dramatically in recent years.’ Says Abbas Youssefi, Director of Porcelain Superstore. ‘The garden has become an extension of the home, an exterior living space used for entertaining and unwinding. So creating a space that looks – and feels – part of the home has never been more important.’

2. Mix slabs and gravel

patio area with sofa and table

Light Mist Porcelain Pavers, from £60 m2

(Image credit: Quorn)

If you don’t like the look of a large expanse of paving, mix it up with areas of gravel, not only will it give the space a different look, it will help with drainage too.

For a truly Mediterranean look choose white gravel and cream paving. Here large slabs create a stylish dining and seating area with more slabs used as ‘stepping stones’ around the flower beds and to create a path.

Choose colours that work well together, in this instance, the grey sofas, grey dining chairs and parasol with a white and metal dining table. As gravel is cheaper than pavers, this idea works as a cheap patio paving idea too.

3. Create a design statement

patio area with dining table and porcelain tiles

(Image credit: Tile Mountain)

Paving slabs don’t have to be plain. Create your own unique design by teaming a decorative slab like these petal design pavers with plain ones to make a feature of different areas such as this dining area.

The same petal design has been used on the step to add to the overall look and make it stand out, which has the added benefit of making it less likely that people will trip up. This would work well as a small patio idea too.

Buy now: Hardblue Grey Decor Porcelain Tiles, £39.99 per m2, Tile Mountain 

4. Create a decking effect

patio area with wooden sofa and wooden effect slabs

(Image credit: Tile Mountain)

Due to the technological advances and versatility of porcelain, it’s possible to have different looks rather than just plain square pavers, such as these wood-effect plank tiles which will give you a wooden deck effect but without the maintenance. It’s a good choice if you want a warmer look, if the garden is north-facing for example, and an ideal small patio idea.

Porcelain tiles are also resistant to water and staining, so no more labour-intensive pressure washing every spring.

‘With recent advances in technology, porcelain is now available in a huge range of textures, colours and sizes.’ Says Jo Oliver, Director of Stone & Ceramic Warehouse.  ‘Porcelain is the perfect material for outside as it is virtually maintenance-free. It doesn’t fade in the sun or grow moss, and is anti-slip.'

Buy now: Nebraska Oak Wood Effect Outdoor Slabs, £41.95 per m2, Tile Mountain

5. Go for traditional cobbles

patio area with dining table and wooden couch

Limestone flags, from £98.40

(Image credit: Mandarin Stone)

If you have an older, more traditional home, why not try classic cobblestones? These limestone cobbles are natural stone, so each one is different.

Here they have been blended with limestone flags to give a patchwork effect. It’s a great contrast to the main house and has an individual, classic look. It would be perfect for a courtyard too.

Buy now: Ballanstone Tumbled Outdoor Limestone Cobbles, from £119 per m2, Mandarin Stone

6. Adopt the latest trend

patio area with green chairs and porcelain tiles

(Image credit: Mandarin Stone)

Terrazzo has been big news recently on floors, walls and even accessories. It’s a great small patio idea as it has small chips of colour that work well in a more compact space and will add more interest than a plain tile.

Buy now: Jagger Mid Grey Terrazzo-effect Outdoor Porcelain, from £58.80 per m2, Mandarin Stone 

7. Enhance a country garden

garden area with hanging chair and potted plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

Natural sandstone is a classic paving idea for patios and paths and works well for traditional and country gardens. Sandstone comes in a variety of sizes and colours, so you can choose whatever pattern you wish, and comes with either a smooth or distressed finish.

As a natural stone it is durable, and cream or yellow sandstone will add a warm, honey colour that will blend perfectly with relaxed planting.

garden area with white sofa and limestone paving

(Image credit: Future PLC/Brent Darby)

Limestone paving is a great choice for any style of house, it’s light grey tone suits most properties and again, as a natural stone it is hard-wearing and will look good for many years to come. Using the same stone as stepping stones on the lawn leads you towards the house, through the arch and links the two areas seamlessly.

9. Start with the design

garden area with table and chairs

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd)

Make the paving the start of your design. This contemporary patio is all about the hard surfaces. They create the paving, are used on top of the raised beds, and for a raised breakfast area too.

A cool grey and white colour scheme gives the space a contemporary feel, further enhanced by the sculptural planting. The water feature with a split face cladding is a lovely focal point.

10. Add character with a rustic finish

garden area with wooden table and flower pots

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Tim Young)

If you want a rustic look, then these small distressed tiles are ideal. They are similar to traditional Norfolk clay pammets and would work really well as a small patio idea or as a cheap patio paving idea. The neutral colour means they would suit lots of schemes, it’s the perfect English country look.

What can I use instead of a slab for a patio?

‘There are two main types of tiles that are suitable for outdoor patio use. The first are natural stone tiles such as granite, limestone and slate, these are aesthetically pleasing but will require sealing when installed and can be costly. ‘ says Colin Lincoln-Evans, Buyer at Tile Mountain. ‘The second are porcelain tiles which are available in a wide choice of sizes, shapes and finishes, including some that replicate the look of natural stone, wood and even cobbles, and come in less traditional shapes such as planks with a wood effect finish. Porcelain tiles do not require sealing, but should be between 18-20mm in thickness and have an anti-slip rating of between R9 and R12.

What is the cheapest way to pave a garden?

'If you are thinking of tiling your patio, remember that it needs to be durable and be able to withstand all weather conditions. You want to make sure that it will last you for years to come and you only want to do it once.’ says Kamila Swiatecka, Brand Manager at Tile Giant.

‘20mm outdoor porcelain has very good slip resistance, doesn’t fade, is frost proof and is algae and moss resistant, unlike natural paving or timber decking, which can be very difficult to maintain and keep in top tip condition.'

'To keep costs down, consider the installation. Laying your tiles as stepping stones on grass or gravel is a good DIY solution, saving you money. However, If you opt for a fully tiled patio, we recommend using a professional, but consider a raised pedestal system as it will allow you to take your patio with you if you move. It’s also a good option if you are renting.’

Lastly, make sure to keep your patio in tip-top condition to help it look its best. Using one of the best patio cleaners on the market, or a pressure washer, will help your patio to stay free from build-up of grime, algae, or moss.

Alison Davidson

Alison Davidson has been working as an interiors and lifestyle journalist for over 30 years. She has been Homes and Gardens Editor of Woman & Home magazine and Interiors Editor of House Beautiful magazine, she has also freelanced and worked for most of the interiors magazines at one time or another. She is currently embracing the move to digital using the same knowledge and expertise to produce high quality features.