Asphalt isn't just plain old blacktop any more -- it serves as a versatile design choice for driveways and patios that can assume many shapes and colors. When used on a patio, asphalt can take on the appearance of pricier outdoor paving materials such as brick or stone. Asphalt is also a durable option that lasts 10 to 30 years or more with regular sealing and proper upkeep.
A Rainbow of Colors
You can brighten up your patio by pouring a colored asphalt. Although the term asphalt is often synonymous with blacktop, it's also available in a variety of colors such as chocolate brown, smokey gray, brown brick, pale terracotta, slate green, pure white and red rose. Those colors may fade in spots after a few years due to foot traffic, but the color can be inexpensively restored by replacing the worn section of the patio.
Like concrete, asphalt can be stamped to resemble anything from natural stone to different sizes and shapes of brick. To do this, contractors buy or create a template of the desired pattern. The pattern is then pressed into fresh or reheated asphalt while it's still warm. In most cases, a polymer coating is then applied to maintain the three-dimensional look.
If you like the appearance of black asphalt but want to add some decorative detail to your patio, consider adding a border of pavers or bricks. The border can be set in place, and asphalt of any color can be poured in between to achieve the look you desire.
Adding a practical feature -- such as an outdoor fireplace or pit -- to your asphalt patio can convert your patio into an outdoor room. Before the asphalt is poured, a fireplace or pit designed of brick or stone can be set in place. Asphalt is then poured around it, creating a design element that will make your patio pop.