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Does a Concrete Patio Need Footings?

Concrete patios are a cheap and easy way of adding more space to your house. Most houses usually have a built outdoor space separating the house from either the lawn or the backyard.

Since concrete is usually such a heavy-duty material and a patio is built directly on the ground, the question now is if you need footings for a concrete patio.

A concrete patio does not require concrete footings. Footings are usually used as a structural component to support the building’s loads and distribute them to the ground. Since a patio is relatively light and does not have a structure on top, you do not need to excavate and have footings built to support it.

In this article, we’ll be going over everything that you need to know about concrete patios, from how they are constructed, type of finishes, maintenance, and more. Read on if you already have a concrete patio or if you plan on adding one to your house.

Do I need a concrete patio?

To assess if you need a concrete patio and if it’s the right outdoor space for your home, you first have to assess how much you are willing to spend and the type of activities that you plan on doing outdoors.

If you find yourself needing more extra space for leisure activities, then a patio is definitely the cheapest option for adding extra space in any lot.

A patio is especially important if you live in an area that experiences a lot of rainfall throughout the year, since the ground will be most likely wet a lot or if you like to do outdoor activities. Patios covered by a simple, lightweight roof overhead can still allow you to do outdoor activities even when it’s raining.

What’s the difference between patio, deck, and terrace?

There are many outdoor built spaces and landscaping interventions that could be added to a home to brighten up the outdoor environment surrounding the house.

To know which one is best for your home will depend on your budget, how essential the space will be for your outdoor activities, and the current set up of your outdoor environment outside of your house.

  1. The main difference between a patio and a deck is that a deck is an elevated outdoor space, usually with a crawl space underneath. Decks can also have their own roof but are usually supported solely by the deck and not by the house’s structural system.
  1. The main difference between a patio and a veranda is that a terrace has a roof, usually with components that are structurally attached to the building.

Simply put, the patio is the simplest built outdoor space that you can add to your home, although it won’t provide as many opportunities for activity as compared to other outdoor built spaces. Its affordability and ease of construction make up for it.

How are concrete patios built?

Concrete patios are simple to build. The purpose of a patio is to pave an area in an outdoor environment.

With this said, here is a simple guide on how to construct a concrete patio:

  1. Excavate the path or the total area that you want to have paved with concrete near your house. The excavation should be shallow and even as much as possible.
  2. Framing should then be applied on the sides to make sure that the concrete goes into the proper shape as soon as it dries. Rebar is then added within the frame.
  3. Concrete is then poured into the framing.

    Note: This article will not discuss how concrete should be mixed, applied, treated, etc. You can refer to other articles such as this one for more information on that.
  4. Once the concrete has set, you can now apply finishes to construct the patio.

Do you need rebar for a concrete patio?

No, you do not need rebar for a concrete patio, considering how thin and how light the forces are on the concrete. However, it is still highly recommended that you install rebar to prevent the concrete from forming cracks and provide that extra bit of reinforcement. This is good in case you need to do activities that are more heavy-duty on your patio.

Maintenance for a concrete patio

Like anything that is directly outside, your patio will be subjected to the elements and will weather no matter what you do.

Of course, there are many finishes and techniques in the industry that you can apply to your patio during and after its construction to increase its durability and reduce the effects of weathering.

Since a concrete patio is such a simple built space, most likely, you will only need to wash your patio as needed. Use a high power hose, and depending on the finish, you may need to do some scrubbing.

Finishes and designs for a concrete patio

There are countless ways to add finishes on top of a finished concrete patio. You wouldn’t want bare concrete to be your patio. The good news is that with a patio, you can add anything on top of it.

The best finish will depend on what you prioritize. You can either go for functionality or aesthetics, which also depends on how you plan on using the space.

What determines if you need footings or not?

It is the structural load of the horizontal component that determines if you need footings or not. Footings and columns serve the same purpose: to take a distribute load from a horizontal plane (like a patio or the slab above a column) and redistribute it to another horizontal plane (either the ground or the slab below the column).

Usually, footings are used when the horizontal plane (floor) covers a large surface area. If the floor was left unsupported, what would happen is that it would sink unevenly or keep on shifting from place to place.

In case you’re wondering why roads don’t have footings or anything of that sort, roads are constructed by reinforcing the soil underneath, and they also have a “footing” designed for them.

Roads are designed to redistribute the forces from the weight of the cars sideways, at an angle towards the ground. Civil engineers do this by redesigning the environment beside the road with a slope. In a more urban context, these would be your sidewalks.

Does a wooden patio need footings?

Wooden patios are very different compared to concrete. Wooden components are made out of multiple pieces, while concrete components are usually poured into a monolithic piece.

It’s important you remember this difference because it entails that wooden patios will need footings for them to be usable. Sticking wood directly onto the ground for your patio and expecting it to last is not exactly the best idea.

First and foremost, wood is a fragile material compared to concrete. Wood’s properties make it more susceptible to harm than other materials, and the number of loads it can carry pales in comparison to steel or concrete.

The benefit of wood, compared to these other materials, is light-duty it is to work with. Ever notice that most DIY projects usually use wood as a material?

The footings for a wooden patio can either be through repeated joists throughout the patio’s planned floor area or can be actual wooden footings buried into the ground.

Conclusion

Concrete patios are a cheap and easy way to add more space for activity within your lot. Patios, in general, lighten up and beautify the outdoor environment around any house.

Adding outdoor spaces will require extra maintenance and should be specific to the needs of the owners.

Jordan Harris

From the earliest age I can remember, I was planning and building things, and there was no question that Architecture was the right career fit for me. With more than 20 years of experience in the industry, I am absolutely thrilled and privileged to share my knowledge and experience with everyone through this blog.

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