Clients regularly ask us about suitable paving patterns for their porcelain or natural stone patio. Discover the different options, and how they look in your paving design.

View down onto Antique Yellow limestone patio with dining table and barbecue next to planted bed and lawn
Yellow Antique Limestone laid in a triple random course paving pattern by Landscape Artisan.

How to choose a paving pattern

There are no hard and fast rules. It depends on the style you are trying to achieve.  Generally, if you want to create a traditional garden design, random patterns are the most effective. Limestone, slate and sandstone paving work well in traditional gardens and can be laid in either three or four flag patterns. 

This is not to say that these types of natural stone cannot be laid in single-sized running bond or stack bond patterns. When you are trying to create an individual outdoor space, laying stone in a different pattern can really distinguish your garden from the rest. There is plenty of scope for different paving ideas in Indian sandstone patio designs. Mint sandstone, for example, looks stunning when laid in stretcher bond pattern using 900x600 size.

Mint sandstone patio with 900x600mm in stretcher bond paving pattern
The lovely colours are allowed to star in this Mint Indian sandstone laying pattern of running bond, using 900x600mm slabs. Design by Silva Tree.

Modern paving patterns

On the other hand if you are trying to create a contemporary outdoor space it is generally accepted that using a single-sized paving slab is the best way to achieve this.  For contemporary designs, porcelain paving and sawn paving comes into their own.   

Paving pattern ideas

Running bond

A stretcher bond pattern, also known as running bond pattern. Rectangular slabs laid in staggered courses.
A running bond pattern, also known as stretcher bond pattern, is most often used with 900x600mm rectangular paving.

The diagram above shows a two-course running bond, where the joints in every other course match up. It's perfectly possible to create a three-course stretcher bond pattern, as in the image at the top of this article, where the joints on every third row match up. This maintains the continuous horizontal joint lines while adding a slightly more random feel.

The Square Stretcher Bond Pattern is a popular choice for a contemporary patio style
A stretcher bond paving pattern in square paving slabs.

More unusual is the use of a running bond pattern with square slabs. This injects energy into the choice of shape. If that feels too busy for a large space, using extra large patio slabs makes this less likely.

Large patio in Trendy Black porcelain square patio tiles laid running bond, edged with stone clad wall and lawn beyond.
Emerging Landscape Design chose running bond pattern for these 600x600mm Trendy Black porcelain tiles.

In the patio above, the choice of running bond paving pattern for the 600x600mm Trendy Black porcelain outdoor tiles adds energy to the space and complements the small size of the bricks in the stone wall cladding. Together they make a contrast with the smooth expanse of lawn beyond.

Stack bond

The square grid pattern works with any square size
The stack bond pattern, also known as chequerboard pattern,

The stack bond layout has a classic feel, creating a calm, rooted space. This can be useful for a small garden design, as it feels self-contained, not pushing out to the boundaries.

Comblanchien porcelain patio wrapped around corner of house, Wide steps up to lawn.
The stack bond paving pattern creates a calm space, especially where the paving has a very even colour. Here PWP Landscape have used Comblanchien porcelain for a crisp, modern feel.

An additional modern twist would be to choose a patio design with 800x800mm outdoor tiles. These work best in a chequerboard pattern, but create a more expansive sense of space.

The rectangle grid pattern is simple to implement when laying a patio and works with any rectangular size
Rectangular paving laid in a stack bond pattern.

Using rectangular paving slabs in a stack bond pattern is unusual, but adds more movement to the design. An additional design decision when using rectangular paving is the direction of lay.

Modern grey rectangular chair and footstool on Steel Grey porcelain 900x600mm patio tiles, laid stack bond.
The oblong shape of the Steel Grey porcelain patio tiles complements the shape of the furniture, as well as, out of view, the shape of the dark-framed windows, in this design by Dee Stewart, built by Mustard Seed Gardens.

Here, the slabs are at right angles to the house, something that gives them a dialogue with the house windows which have deep narrow frames, and creates a dynamism leading towards the rest of the garden. At the same time, it's a very modern choice that works well with the furniture and house architecture.

Random course patterns

Diagram of 3 different size pavers laid in stretcher bond laying pattern.
Using three different size pavers in a running bond pattern creates a more random feel while maintaining some orderly lines.

A wide selection of our natural stone paving comes in a choice of slab sizes. Mixing these sizes allows for a variation on running bond, with a random or repeating pattern of slabs along each course.

You can alternate courses, creating two different ones as in the approach to the front door below, or lay several different courses, as in the triple repeat at the top of this article.

Path in Graphite Grey limestone, laid in random course paving pattern, leads across front of mock Georgian house to front door.
The random course paving slab pattern in Graphite Grey limestone nicely combines a more traditional look with a modern twist, just right for this neo-Georgian house. Designed by Landscaping Solutions.

Because of slight variation in colour between batch numbers, we don't recommend mixing sizes in porcelain paving.

Project pack patterns

Diagram of laying pattern for project pack pavers in 4 sizes.
With four different sized pavers, Project packs allow for a relaxed, traditional appearance.

Project packs, available in a selection of limestone and riven Indian sandstone paving, allow you to put down a relaxed patio laying pattern which fits well into so many situations. Joint lines appear more random and tend not to lead the eye far, while creating interest and movement.

However, it is also possible to create more linear patterns with project packs, arranging the different-sized pavers in different courses, as seen in the project that heads this page.

Raj Green sandstone patio with round inset bed looks out over large lawn to distant trees.
Alexandra Gray Garden Design shows how project pack paving, here in Raj Green Indian sandstone, can give a Mondrian-esque feel to the patio.

As you can see in the above picture, there are other options to add a personal touch to patios. It's worth including setts for versatile paving detail. For an entirely different look, plank paving creates interesting path and patio options.

If you need any further information about porcelain and natural stone paving patterns, contact a member of our sales team. Or why not visit one of our showrooms, where you'll be able to view different patterns and discuss your project with our knowledgeable staff?

Post updated: August 2023