Patio in cold wet climate. Advice?

I'd like to put a patio in at the back of our house. I don't know how long we'll be here (could be 5 years, could be 30), so economy is a big factor.
I know somewhat is involved in preparing the surface, soI won't skimp on that, but what is the most economical surfacing? I am worried about a solid concrete slab as they crack like crazy in our cold , (-40 winters sometimes) wet (especially in winter) climate. The freeze/thaw problem is really the biggest factor. Some advice I have read suggests a concrete pad that is sawed in sections ro relieve the pressure. Others say large concrete pavers are best.
What is good advice for an economical patio that can withstand a vicious freeze/thaw climate.
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Big pavers 2.5x2.5 are cheap and quick if you dont mind the look.
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Go to www.consumerreports.com, pay the few bucks needed to subscribe for a month, and read their review on decking materials. It's a good one.

long
solid
sometimes)
pavers
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long
solid
sometimes)
pavers
Properly poured concrete won't be a problem. IOW, Thick. At least 3-4 inches, with a <deep> gravel layer under with good drainage, troweled-in (not sawn) grooves to choose where the cracks happen, proper curing, and <never> use salt on it. Make sure it slopes away from house, of course. If your yard moves around when it frosts, maybe even monolithic footers as part of the pour (think upside down bowl). Find a guy that will do it pretty much like a commercial sidewalk. Just because I'm old-fashioned, I'd also recommend wire fabric in the pour, and that black squishy stuff at any joints where it abuts house or other slabs. It'll cost a little more than paver blocks, but properly done, it will outlast the house next to it. Concrete is cheap, it is the skilled labor that expensive, either doing the pour or telling the unskilled labor how to do the site prep.
aem sends....
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<< What is good advice for an economical patio that can withstand a vicious freeze/thaw climate >>
One common recipe for durable concrete pads starts with a well drained site (like an upside down bowl). Prepare this with mechanical tamping, four to six inches of bank run gravel (unwashed, big rocks removed) and more tamping. Put up the forms (2 x 8's) plumb, square and level, fill with pea gravel to allow for 4" of concrete, then a layer of plastic sheet, 4 x 4 10 ga. wire reinforcement and you should be good to go. Insist on a high strength concrete (5 1/2 bag or better) and if you want top of the line, fiber filled. Do it right and it will probably oulast all of us. If your project involves any unusal size at all, get a crew of finishers on board. As a practical metter, you wouldn't want to struggle with more than yard of concrete by yourself. HTH
Joe
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We are considering the same thing. In Upstate NY we get freezing cold winters, wet springs & falls and sometimes blistering summers.
Anyone around us who went the stamped concrete way has had a crack develop in the first 5 years (just after their warranty expired). Others who have used concrete pavers (Belgard, Navastone) which the proper base has had little problems other than some weeds. Those people spray Round Up a few times a year & it's done.
Our lean is towards the paver option. You may also want to consider natural stone that does well in your area - if you like that look. Our's is Bluestone. It can be more costly if your paying someone to install as it's not consistent in thickness as a manufactured paver which results in more time. Time = Money for an installer. If you're doing it yourself, then perhaps not an issue.

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sometimes)
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