Decks vs. Patios: How to Choose the Right Outdoor Space for You
Enhancing your outdoor space with a new deck or new patio is the perfect way to add beauty, enjoyment, and value to your home. These additions not only revamp the look of your outdoor living space in a big way, but they provide the perfect setting to do everything from relaxing in the sun to entertaining friends and family.
However, the terms “patio” and “deck” being used synonymously over the years has led to some confusion about what each one is and what they offer. So, what are the differences between a deck and a patio? And which one is better?
Continue reading below for everything you need to know when considering a deck vs. patio for your next home improvement project. We cover the pros, cons, costs, return on investment (ROI), and everything in between.
What is the Difference Between a Deck and a Patio?
The main difference between a deck and a patio is their relation to the ground. A deck is raised, where a patio is at (or around) ground level. Two additional factors that every homeowner should consider are the difference in material and cost.
Wood or composite materials are go-to’s for decks. In contrast, concrete pavers, bricks, and stone slabs are common materials for patios. Each material offers a unique look and has its own pros and cons. For example, concrete is more durable than wood, but it can look industrial and unwelcoming if not accessorized well.
Patios not only cost less to build initially, but durable materials like stamped concrete and stone also mean fewer maintenance costs. The cost per square foot of a patio ranges from $15-$50, whereas a deck is approximately $25-$55. Keep in mind that costs will vary depending on which materials you choose, the size of the build, and who is building it.
What’s the ROI for a Deck vs. Patio?
According to the 2021 Cost Vs. Value Report by Remodeling Magazine, a wood deck and composite deck cost on average $16,766 and $22,426, respectively, with their resale value approximating 62% – 66%.
The Remodeling Impact Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) cites a deck ROI being even higher—80% on a 14 x 18-foot wood deck attached to a house with a ledger. From the same report, a 16 x 18-foot concrete paver patio set over a compacted gravel and sand base garnered a 69% ROI.
What are the Pros and Cons of Decks and Patios?
Beyond where they sit in relation to the ground, their strengths and shortcomings are what sets decks and patios apart. Here are the pros and cons that every homeowner should consider when deciding between these two hardscaping projects.
Which One is Suitable for Your Home? 3 Questions to Ask Yourself
- What features do you want in your outdoor space?
Beyond your budget, what you want to do in your outdoor space should be a driving factor behind your decision. For example, if you are going to roast marshmallows and relax by a cozy fire, a patio made from a material like concrete or stone is ideal for a fire pit. Are you tired of all the clutter in your backyard? The space underneath a deck is something that ground-level patios lack, and it is fantastic for stashing away everything from landscaping supplies to kids’ toys.
Speaking of kids, you will want to consider them too. Patios are fun when it comes to having a family cookout or creating chalk art, but the railings of a deck provide a corralled space that makes it easy to keep an eye on your little ones.
- How do you want your yard to look and feel?
Think about how you want your outdoor space to look and how you want it to feel. These factors will help you decide which patio and deck designs are suitable for you.
For example, a poured concrete patio may be the golden ticket if you’re going for an addition with a sleek and modern feel. However, if you are going for something that emanates warmth and coziness, then nothing beats the earthy feel that a wood deck provides. Is a wood deck not an option? Try outfitting a patio or deck with a wood pergola.
- How much do you want to spend on maintenance?
The reality is that both patios and decks require regular maintenance. Therefore, you need to be honest with yourself about how much time and money you are willing to spend after the initial build.
Patios made from stone or concrete are durable and low maintenance but will still require a hose down or pressure washing to maintain their finish. Weed removal between a paver patio’s cracks may also be required.
When it comes to decks, composite decking is revered for being low maintenance. However, it will still need a semi-annual deck cleaning with a composite deck cleaner, soap, and water.
Finally, wood requires the most maintenance as it is a natural material prone to degradation over time due to natural elements like moisture and UV. A wood deck will need to be refinished every few years, and eventually, some boards will have to be replaced. When building a wooden deck, it is highly suggested that you safeguard against future maintenance by choosing quality decking material, finding reputable builders, and waterproofing it. Installing a system like Trex RainEscape can help divert water away from the deck—helping protect the wood from mildew, warping, splintering, and other issues caused by moisture.
When it comes to home renovations, it is well worth looking beyond your home’s walls. A well-curated outdoor living space with a deck or patio will not only make you more prone to venture outside, but it can add some major enjoyment and value to your home. And once you find which is best for you, you can craft the outdoor space that you and your home deserve!