Of course, gravel is the cheapest material to construct a patio. Gravel is readily available in almost all parts of the world and is easy to install. Just dig out the base foundation and lay the base rocks and you are ready to lay the top layer of gravel. It is also cheap to maintain. Whereby you only need a garden rake to pull the gravel into the patio space and a roller to make the layer compact.
However, if you are not careful, a gravel patio can be the most expensive type of patio. For example, if you combine gravel with concrete it can be the most expensive patio. So you must consider some factors so that you come up with a cheap gravel patio. Below are factors to consider so that you come up with the best and cheap gravel patio.
Factors to Consider for the Best and Cheap Gravel Patio
- Method and place of using the gravel
Before you make a gravel patio, you must consider where you want the gravel patio and how to use the gravel. For example, it will be expensive if you construct a gravel patio in a swampy place because the swamp will consume more gravel to make the base stable. So be careful with the place you want to construct your gravel patio.
A ground that is already flat is the best because there are no extra charges of leveling the ground. You also have to decide on the method of using the gravel. Do you want it loose or compact together? Loose gravel is cheaper than compact gravel on the patio. The compact gravel has the extra cost of hiring a roller. However, loose gravel has high maintenance costs.
- Size of gravel
Patio gravel can either be small, medium, or large. The price increases as you move from large to small. Accountants incorporate the extra cost of breaking the gravel into smaller particles making the small gravel expensive. If you want a cheap gravel patio then use the medium and large gravel.
- Wheel traffic
Decide if your patio will be receiving regular wheel traffic. Ask yourself if wheelchairs, wheelbarrows, and strollers will be using your patio. The gravel for such a patio should be large enough not to get stuck on the wheels. And compact enough not to roll under the feet. A wheel traffic patio must have a border barrier to lock the gravel particles in place.
The base must be well compacted or else the top gravel layer will sink due to the weight of the wheels. Some people make it expensive by mixing gravel with concrete but this is not necessary if you have a well-compacted base.
- Color of gravel
Some colors of gravel are more expensive than others. The most common and cheap color of gravel is black and grey. But the brown, golden, and white gravel are hard to find and very expensive. If you want a cheap gravel patio consider using black and grey gravel. Also, try to match the color with your outdoor space or with your patio furniture.
- Gravel alone or with pavers
According to research done by economists, the cost of using gravel alone is almost the same as the cost of both gravel and pavers. Of course, pavers are more expensive than gravel but one paver can cover a huge space-saving on the gravel. So, in the end, the cost is almost the same.
But homeowners recommend mixing gravel and pavers if you want an elegant and durable patio. Try and mix the colors of gravel and pavers to bring out a beautiful look. Gravel alone on the patio is also good and cheap but you must compact both the base and the top layer.
How dry do you want your patio? Here the type and size of gravel come into consideration. Small gravels that are below half an inch do not drain well water like the huge gravel. Small gravel holds water and can make your patio wet after the rain. If you want a dry patio use medium and huge gravel which allow water to pass through.
Some types of gravel like the decomposed granite can absorb water and sometimes interlock it. So if you want a dry patio use pea gravel or drain rock that allows water to pass through it. A dry patio is expensive to construct but cheap to maintain. A wet patio is cheap to construct but it will be expensive in the long run to maintain it.
Is Gravel Patio Cost-Effective?
A gravel patio is cheap to install and maintain. To install, you only need to lay a good base and compact it then add the top layer of gravel. It is an easy procedure that anybody can do saving on the labor cost. Compare it to wood and concrete that require professional skills to handle.
It is easy and cheap to maintain because you do not need to wash it with expensive chemicals and soap. You only need to rake the gravel into place and sweep dry leaves and branches. It does not also require regular repair like the metallic and wooden patios.
Gravel patios do not add you the cost of painting like the wooden, metallic, and concrete patios. Painting is something expensive on the patio. Other patio materials require repainting to maintain elegance. But gravel comes with a natural color that does not fade over many years.
No more weed control costs like the grass and sand patios. The gravel patio has a weed control membrane just after the base layer. This membrane prevents weeds from below to grow up to the surface. Hence there is no extra cost of cutting unwanted plants on your patio.
A patio can be made of many materials such as gravel, concrete, wood, metal, sand, and grass. Out of all these, the cheapest material to purchase, transport, install and maintain is gravel. Gravel does not have extra costs like the painting cost, weed cutting cost, and cleaning cost. It is easy to install and you can install it yourself saving on the labor cost of installation.