A concrete or cement patio is a single poured concrete surface. It offers a very strong, smooth, level surface. It can be colored or stamped with a design, and even treated in order to mimic any number of other materials. Concrete is also fireproof and durable. It will, however, expand and contract with temperature.

Concrete can crack if water penetrates the surface over time, and it becomes very hot in bright sunlight. If cracks are not immediately repaired, the damage continues. Cracking can result from extreme heating suddenly followed by a cool/cold rain, from shifting of the underlying ground, standing water, or damage from a heavy object. The material costs about $1.25 per square foot or $4.00 per square foot professionally installed.

Flagstones are another option, as are stone pavers. Flagstones can be difficult and time-consuming to install properly. The ground must be carefully prepared and leveled, the stones must be evenly spaced and the spaces correctly filled for stability.

Stone pavers are somewhat easier to install, and can be purchased in a variety of natural and synthetic materials, colors, patterns and finishes. Although they generally do not crack, flagstones and pavers will need to be adjusted if the underlying ground shifts. Most pavers do not crack, but many will chip or break on corners.