Concrete Path around House before Adding Deck?

Hi all,

We have a single storey brick house that doesn't have anything around the majority of the exterior – it is a "gravel" type of garden bed that the previous owners foolishly threw down directly onto soil with no weed mat or plastic.

We want to pour a concrete path all around to protect the slab from moisture, reduce the potential of pests/termites getting in, and give us an easier way to walk around the exterior without having to go into the garden etc.

At some point in the future, we would also like to put a deck on the side of the house.

Can anyone weigh in on the best way to proceed with the path / deck:

1) Should we just do the path all around to keep the house a little more isolated from the elements and then where we want the deck just start the deck on top of the path, all the way up to the external walls?

2) Should we do the path all around the do the deck only up to the edge of the path (1 m or so from the house)?

3) Should we only pour the path where there wouldn't be a deck, and have the deck go all the way to the wall without any path etc underneath (I assume with some type of underlay though?

Is there a standard practice for this type of thing? Thanks very much!


  • +2

    It is a good idea to have a concrete apron around the side of your house sloping away, in fact it a warranty requirement for many new houses

    • Thanks, yeah I was quite surprised when we first saw the house. It's a 2000 build but I think they were just going as cheap as possible.

      It's a decent sized 4 bedder but they could have made it a lot nicer for 10-30k more building costs.. (eg taller ceilings, larger garage, possibly larger rooms, concrete skirt, etc.)

      I guess considering what you said, you'd recommend just doing the skirt all around and then putting the deck on top later?

  • +1

    You could just lay plain pavers were you intend to have the deck and move them later. Plain ones are cheap and would sit ok on your gravel base for now.
    With your concrete path make allowance for water to escape from under the house side of the path. A gravel channel underneath or something similar.

    • Thanks, pavers are an interesting idea

  • +1

    I think all the options sound plausible, but maybe option 1 would mean your concrete path ends up being about 200-300mm lower than your deck. If you go Option 3, you could run ag pipe in the ground to another part of your garden (the pipe must run downhill) to drain excess moisture. You could also be waterproof the side of your slab to help with slab edge dampness. Personally I would just do a nicer bit of concrete (exposed ag) or nice pavers, rather than deck to avoid future maintenance.

    • Thanks for the ideas. I think I'm leaning towards option 1, although it would be a waste of money somewhat for the concrete that ends up under the deck.

      Waterproofing the side of the slab is an interesting thought - I'll look into that.

      Yeah I think we'll do the concrete strip around 3 m wide on the topside of the house, but the other side (where we're planning to put the deck) has a relatively steep slope that wouldn't really work with pavers or concrete. I think we'll get a composite deck though to minimise maintenance.

      • +1

        Waterproofing the slab edge is only really required when your existing damp proof membrane (generally orange plastic) is inadequate. Have you noticed the edge of your slab get damp in winter after rain? If not, probably not worth it as it doesn’t alleviate soil heave which is the main issue with not having a concrete path, which makes the slab move and things crack etc. Therefore, keeping the slab perimeter dry or ways of draining excess moisture are the way to go. I still think you’re better off doing a fancy concrete patio, rather than a composite deck later on, but totally up to you.

        • Thanks, we recently had a mould inspector out and the slab seems OK above the DPC but there's definitely more than an ideal amount of moisture down one side of the house.

  • Are you on a reactive soil? (one that swells and shrinks with variation in moisture content). If so many owners use pavers for a perimeter path rather than concrete. Concrete perimeter paths installed on reactive soils can , over time, crack or move away from the walls of the house. Also in the event that you need to have an issue with drains or other services buried under the perimeter, you can easily lift up pavers to do the maintenance, and then replace.
    With concrete, a jack hammer is necessary and is a bigger job and messy.

    • Thanks, that's a good point. I'm not sure if we're on reactive soil.. Hard to tell. Is there a method for testing that you'd recommend?

      • +1

        Reactive soils are generally heavy soils ie. A high percentage of clay. Some clays are moderately reactive, and others highly reactive. (Black earths from some parts of Australia) Sandy soils are not reactive. When a building is planned for construction, the builder has to have a test done by a soils lab, to determine reactivity. Based on how reactive the soil is (Susceptibility to movement with different moisture content), the concrete foundations must be designed to cope with the movement (if any).
        My guess is that builders in your area, or local council will know how reactive the soils are in your area. You then plan any structures on the soil accordingly. Check out 'reactive soils' on Internet.

        • Great, thanks, I'll take a look