Deck vs Patio: What's the Difference?
If you need some outdoor space, you might be contemplating the difference between the deck vs patio. Both of these increase square footage without breaking the bank. You can use them to gather with friends or family and simply relax. Which one is the most popular option? In 2017, almost 24% of the 780,000 single family homes that were built contained a deck. On the other hand, in 2014, nearly 100,000 homes were sold with patios. It appears that they are both popular choices with today’s homeowner. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of each option and the main differences.
Difference in MaterialsOne of the main differences you’ll find is the material used to create your outdoor space. With a deck, you’ll utilize the following options:
- Wood – this is the most natural and popular option. On the other hand, it does require more maintenance.
- Composite – this looks like wood, but often costs more.
- Plastic – requires less upkeep but costs as much as a composite.
- Aluminum – cost the most but comes with a long lifespan.
- Concrete – you’ll find this the most often, but it’s also very plain.
- Stamped concrete – requires more maintenance but adds some personality.
- Gravel – easy to install and affordable.
- Stone – higher priced but creates an upscale appearance.
- Brick Pavers – costs less than stone, but tends to look just as nice, if done properly.
- Wood – requires regular replacement but looks natural.
Overall, the patio offers more material selection than the deck. That’s good if you have a specific look you want to create.
Difference in CostsOf course, the majority of the cost is going to come from the materials you use. You still have to consider the installation expenses as well. With that said, we can still look at the national average to get an idea what it will run. Deck Cost:
- National average runs about $7,000.
- Installation works out to about $35 per square foot.
- Materials cost anywhere from $3-$25 per square foot.
- National average runs about $3,200.
- Installation works out to about $10-$20 per square foot.
- Materials cost anywhere from $1.50-$30 per square foot.
That makes the patio the winner when it comes to cost. If you need a low-budget way to create a new space, the patio might be the way to go.
Difference in Return on Investment
If you’ve been thinking about the difference between a deck vs patio, then you’ve likely considered the resale value. Will you be paid back for your efforts? It truly depends on how you look at it. Sure, the deck has a higher return on investment with averages hitting between 60-80%. With that said, they do cost more to install and take more work.
On the other hand, the patio only features a ROI of about 50% but it costs less to install. The majority of what you’ll gain from a patio is enjoyment. If the return on investment is most important, then you’ll want to go with a deck.
Advantages of a Deck
- Higher resale value
- Works well with any terrain – you can install it even when the yard isn’t level
- Offers a better view
- Customization is simple
- Comfortable when it’s hot
Disadvantages of a Deck
- Requires more maintenance
- Shorter lifespan
- You might need a permit to build
- Costs more
- Weight restrictions
Advantages of a Patio
- Less expensive
- Easy to maintain
- Offers more privacy
- Longer lifespan
- Doesn’t require any permits
Disadvantages of a Patio
- Not good on uneven terrain
- Prone to cracking
- Prone to stains
- Requires more construction if located with ground movement
Caring for Your Patio or Deck
One of the main things people think about when looking through the deck vs patio debate is what it will take to care for either. The wood deck needs year-round maintenance to retain its beauty. This might require sanding or scrubbing. If you let it go too long, you might have to paint or refinish it again. Whether you choose to refinish it or paint it, you’ll still have a good amount of work ahead of you. Both methods require that you prepare the area adequately.
This requires you to ensure there are no loose screws, boards or nails. You’ll also need to refinish or sand to take care of any peeling wood pieces that could lead to splinters. Thankfully, there are plenty of deck products on the market to help you care for your deck.
As far as a patio is concerned, you’ll find that maintenance isn’t typically as hard as with a deck. Depending on the material you choose, determines how much work you have before you.
For example, with bricks, you could easily replace them as needed. Pea gravel requires that you rake and clean it on a regular basis. Furthermore, concrete needs to be regularly cleaned to get rid of mildew and mold.
The one downside that you will face with a patio vs a deck is more debris. You’ll encounter more leaves, dirt and nearby grime just because it is sitting on the ground. This typically isn’t something that’s difficult to clean, however, as long as you stay on top of it.
What if You Can’t Choose Deck vs Patio?
There comes a time when it feels impossible to choose between the two. That’s natural and there’s a handy solution for this. By selecting a patio-deck combo you give yourself the best of both worlds. To do this, you would simply place the attached deck higher above the patio. This effective solution comes with many advantages. The main ones include the fact that you easily double your entertaining space outside and don’t have to choose between the two. Of course, there are some downsides to consider in the process. You’ll want to build your deck high enough that you allow plenty of entertaining space below. Otherwise, your patio won’t be useful. This makes it more complicated to do if you own a split-level or rambler style house.
What is Best for Your Needs? Patio vs Deck?
There are many factors to consider when you need to choose a patio vs deck. Of course, the ones we listed are the most prevalent, but they aren’t the final say in your choice. What outdoor addition is going to work best for you? It’s all going to depend on how you want to use it. If you're going to incorporate your landscaping into the overall design, you might feel better about using a patio. This helps you to create more privacy if you have flowers, shrubs and trees in your backyard.
On the other hand, homeowners that desire a view will want the deck. This is helpful if you live in a scenic area like the mountains. Building higher up allows for a wider range of what’s around you. They also are ideal for yards that aren’t level.
If you live on a hill, you’ll find that the deck can use supports built to almost any height. This saves money and time in construction. You could also add on stairs to your deck so you can access it from the yard if you prefer. Of course, this isn’t necessary, and some people prefer to have it completely enclosed. If you want to protect your yard while entertaining, you’ll find the deck is an ideal solution.
Deck vs Patio With a Pool
The patio is also a great choice if you want the space separate from your house. That’s because nothing is saying it needs to be connected. Many people with in-ground pools find that the patio is a better option. It allows them the area they need to relax and grill while swimming. As far as pools go, if you have an above ground pool, you can easily make it feel like an in-ground addition simply by building the deck out to it and around it. This creates a cozy entertaining space without spending the money on an in-ground swimming pool. Either way you look at it, deciding between a deck or a patio offers many things to think about. From the cost, materials used, level of care required and the return on investment, you have a lot to consider. Do what works for your family and your surroundings.