Create the perfect patio for Michigan’s summer season

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published June 8, 2016


METRO DETROIT — With the weather warming up, now is an ideal time to focus on the outdoor extension of your home.

Whether you’re on a budget or have some cash to spare, local experts weighed in on the hottest trends and ways to spruce up patios.

Corie Conroy, president of First Impression Home Staging & Interior Design, said fire features, bright pops of color, kitchen areas, vertical gardens and furniture with clean, industrial lines are the leading patio trends of 2016.

“I think people appreciate the outdoors so much more in Michigan because our season is so limited. It’s nice to have that (outdoor) space,” Conroy said. “It’s basically an extension of your indoor space. I think it’s important that the colors outside coordinate with the colors inside.”

She said quick and affordable ways to spruce up a patio area include power-washing concrete and pavers, staining decks and wooden patio furniture, and resealing surfaces.

Adding flowers and plants in brightly colored pots is an economical way to make outdoor areas look more inviting, she said. More homeowners also are opting to use trellises for climbing plants or mounting decorative planters to walls.

Neon colors against a neutral background, like navy blue, is still a popular color scheme, she said.

“There are so many different resources (online) to order outdoor furniture,” Conroy said. “You don’t have to go to a traditional garden center to find bright, colorful furniture or a new umbrella at pretty economical prices.”

Patio furniture with a contemporary, industrial feel also is trending, she said.

“(The furniture mixes) metals, woods and other materials to create clean lines,” she said. “We’re seeing more of an eclectic mix in furniture.”

Kitchen areas; sofas over the traditional setup of table, umbrella and chairs; and fire pits are increasing in popularity, she said.

“Since Michigan weather is kind of unpredictable, if it’s a little chilly, an outdoor fire feature adds more warmth and gives people an excuse to come together and have an evening,” Conroy said. “It extends your day.”

Besides fire pits, which can either be gas-powered or wood-burning, she said some retailers now offer tables with a built-in fire in the center.

For those who enjoy entertaining, she said there are a wide variety of grills, outdoor refrigerators, bar carts, built-in bars, string lights and torch options.

John Lind, owner of MCCI Cement, cautioned homeowners against damaging their concrete when power-washing.

“Use a wider angle and spray in a wide swath, moving the wand back and forth,” Lind said. “Don’t put 2,500 psi on a focused area. What happens is it not only blasts off whatever (sealant is) on the patio, but also puts holes in the cement.”

He recommended working on small areas at a time to practice, and keeping the wand at least 18 inches away or slightly closer for stubborn places, such as moss and algae in shaded areas.

He said homeowners should use crack filler — silicone-based for smaller cracks and cement-based for larger cracks — to seal breaks in concrete after power-washing to elongate the life of a patio.

For those interested in a new patio, Lind recommended concrete over pavers because pavers shift over time.

“I (like to use stamped concrete) because you can make it look just as beautiful as pavers or any other kind of decorative surface,” he said. “Once it’s done, colored and sealed properly, it will last a couple of years.”

Although most of his clients prefer regular concrete patios, Lind said about 20 percent opt to use different release colors — such as reds, yellows and darker hues — to tint stamped concrete and create patterns. 

Other options include swirls to texture the surface of patios or a technique to give concrete patios the appearance of slate.

“Some people use crushed glass and sprinkle that in cement, or silica sand sprinkled in will give cement the same effect,” he said. “By state law, you have to put some kind of abrasive surface on a patio. You can’t make it smooth or you could slip and get hurt.”