Homeowners are often split between choosing a deck or patio for their outdoor space. A deck or a patio allows you to utilize your backyard for outdoor cooking or entertaining guests. Choosing between a deck and a patio depends on your preferences, budget, and lifestyle needs.
What Is a Deck?
A deck is an elevated structure attached or freestanding to allow users to enjoy views and extend living space. Decks comprise one or many levels made of wood, composite, or vinyl surfaces. Joists, beams, or posts support the structure. Since they’re above-ground structures, they have railings for safety.
Types of Decks
There are different outdoor deck options to suit your space and needs. Here are the most common types of decks to consider:
- Ground-Level Decks – Ground-level decks sit one to two feet above the ground and don’t feature a support system or foundation. Ground-level decks are a good option if you have a flat and level area in your yard. They create simple, low-maintenance outdoor spaces.
- Floating or Detached Decks – Floating decks sit several feet off the ground using concrete deck blocks or piers as a foundation. They’re referred to as “floating” since they aren’t attached to the house or other structures Floating/detached decks are ideal for uneven or sloping terrains. They also have stairs and railings for access and safety.
- Rooftop Decks – Rooftop decks are popular in urban areas as they fit limited outdoor spaces. They’re built on a flat roof to add outdoor living space to a small apartment or condo.
- Multi-level Decks – Multi-level decks feature different levels with stairs or steps connecting each level. They add visual interest to your outdoor space and create separate areas for entertaining and relaxing.
Pros and Cons of a Deck
- Offers a higher ROI
- Ideal for homes on sloped or uneven terrain
- Decks absorb less heat than patios
- Expensive to install and maintain
- Safety concerns in homes with kids and pets
What Is a Patio?
A patio is a Spanish term for an open space installed on the ground, adjoining, or detached from a house. Patios are versatile and adapt to various outdoor spaces.
The most common materials for building patios include pavers, concrete, stone, tile, pebbles, brick, gravel, and rock. Most patios are set on a concrete slab, sand, or pebble base. They don’t need safety railings as they’re built at or around ground level.
Pros and Cons of a Patio
- Easy to install as a DIY project
- Less installation and maintenance costs
- You don’t need permits
- Have a low resale value
- Restricted to level surfaces
Deck vs. Patio: Key Differences to Consider
The upfront costs of constructing a patio are less due to lower material costs. You’ll incur minimal costs in labor as it’s less complex and easy to DIY.
Decks, however, are subject to higher labor and building costs. Consider excavation costs and permit charges when building on an uneven surface. These costs vary depending on the state you live in.
Patios offer fewer customization options in contrast to decks. You can stain, paint, or add a lattice or railings to improve the design of your deck.
Decks make a provision for built-in features such as seating, planters, and storage. Edging or string lighting for a dazzling night may suffice to customize your patio.
Wooden decks are prone to moisture damage, fading, and insect infestations. They require regular cleaning, staining, and sealing. The wood type, climate, and foot traffic determine the maintenance intervals.
Composite and PVC decks have low maintenance requirements. You should clean them with detergent and water to remove dirt and debris. Concrete patios need sealing every two to three years to protect against staining, cracking, and weather damage.
Paver and natural stone patios need regular cleaning and sealing to prevent fading, staining, and weed growth. Pressure washing and a polymeric sand joint stabilizer help keep pavers and stones pristine.
Homeowner associations enforce regulations on homeowners looking to build decks. Decks also need professional installation and permits from local building authorities. You can opt to install a patio if you have solid DIY skills.
Constructing a patio doesn’t require a building permit or inspection from authorities. Professional installation is necessary if your patio design is complex or features a retaining wall.
The longevity of a deck or patio depends on the materials used and the quality of installation. It also depends on the level of maintenance and your area’s weather conditions.
With proper maintenance, wood decks last 10-15 years, while composite and PVC decks last 25-30 years. Composite and PVC decks last longer due to their high resistance to moisture, insects, and fading.
Concrete patios are durable and resist elements, lasting up to 30 years with proper maintenance. Paver and natural stone patios are also durable and easy to repair. They last 20-25 years or more with proper care.
The suitable material for a deck or patio depends on your style, budget, and maintenance preferences. Wood is popular for decks due to its natural appearance and feel. Common wood types for decks include cedar, redwood, and pressure-treated pine.
Composite decks made of wood fibers and recycled plastic are a low-maintenance alternative to wood. They’re resistant to moisture, fading, and insects. Composite is available in various colors and styles but is more expensive than wood.
PVC decking comprises 100% plastic, making it more resistant to moisture, fading, and insects than composite and wood. Being of a higher quality makes it more expensive.
Concrete is a durable and affordable material for patios. You can create various patio styles and designs with concrete through stamping, staining, or texturing. You should, however, perform regular sealing and maintenance on the concrete to prevent cracking and staining.
The most common materials in paver patios include concrete, clay, or natural stone. You can arrange them in various patterns and designs. They’re also durable and easy to repair if damaged.
Natural stones such as slate, limestone, or bluestone create a unique and natural look for patios. In contrast, they’re more expensive than concrete or pavers.
Time to Build
The time to build a deck or patio depends on the size and complexity of the project. It also depends on the materials used and the availability of contractors and materials.
A deck may take a few weeks to months to complete. Constructing a deck requires obtaining permits, site preparation, and installation of footings or piers. The final touches of a decking project involve building the frame and installing the decking and railing.
The time to build a patio ranges from a few days to weeks, depending on the size and materials used. The process involves site preparation, laying the base, and installing the pavers or concrete. The last touches for building a patio include edging and sealing.
When planning to build a deck or patio, you should also consider the weather and customization degree.
When choosing between a deck and a patio, consider how you plan to use the outdoor living space.
Decks are ideal for outdoor entertaining, dining, and relaxing. They offer a platform for hosting parties or barbecues since they have more space for seating and socializing. Building it next to a swimming pool or hot tub provides a space for lounging and enjoying the water.
Choose a patio over a deck to enjoy outdoor cooking and dining. Building a patio with a built-in grill or an outdoor kitchen is also easier. If you have children or pets, a patio is safer as it’s at ground level and eliminates the risk of falling from a raised deck.
The terrain and slope of your yard influence the choice between a deck and a patio. Decks are ideal for yards with uneven or sloping terrain. You can build it on posts or piers to create a level surface.
Multi-level decks create distinct dining, entertaining, and relaxing areas in steep slopes, or multiple-level yards. Patios are best for yards with level terrain, as they need a flat surface for proper installation.
Decks and patios add value to your property. According to the National Realtor Association, decks add more value to your property than patios. You’ll recoup 60-80% return on investment (ROI) when selling a home with a deck and 50% for a home with a patio.
Both structures enhance a property’s curb appeal. They’re a selling point in warmer climates where outdoor living is essential.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ
Should you choose a deck or patio if you live in a hot region?
Decks absorb and retain less heat than patios. They’re ideal for homes in hot climates. The structure’s location also influences outdoor setup choices. For example, wood is unsuitable for areas with extensive direct summer heat.
Which building laws are applicable when building a deck?
Your project must adhere to deck building codes for safety and compliance. The rules depend on the jurisdiction though there are universal regulations. They include stairs, railings and joists, and framing codes.
Should you choose a deck or patio for a rental property?
Patios need less maintenance than decks, making them more appealing for rental properties without on-site maintenance. Patios don’t need much space for construction, which is ideal for rental properties with limited space.