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Patio or Deck: What's the Difference?



Oftentimes homeowners use these terms interchangeably, but there are differences between the two. A patio refers to an outdoor space placed directly on the ground. This area may be connected to the house or constructed in a separate part of the yard. Patios often have concrete bases, but some homeowners use stone, tile, pavers, brick or other materials to create the foundation. In most cases patios do not have a rail; they may or may not be covered. Today’s patios might feature party goodies like fire pits, built in barbecues, and sitting areas, making them the perfect relaxation or socialization space.

Decks, on the other hand, are typically constructed of wood or vinyl. Though they can be built near the ground, they are not placed directly on the ground and feature some type of support system to hold up the addition. Decks may be built off of the lower floor of a home, such as the living room or kitchen, or they might be added to an upper level room or even on a rooftop setting. Decks are typically enclosed with some type of railing and often offer the homeowner excellent views of their surroundings.  


Location of the addition (on the ground without supports, above ground, on the house with a door already leading out or in an area in which a door addition must be made)
Size of the addition
Features, such as a built in barbecue, railings, seating, supports

Which Is Best For Your Needs?


Aside from cost, you’ll want to determine which outdoor addition works best for the purpose for which you hope to use it. Do you want to incorporate the landscaping into the overall design? If so, a patio might work best, as it can be surrounded by trees, shrubs and flowers. Do you want the area to be considered a space separate from the main house? Again, a patio works best here because the foundation can be placed away from the house. Patios also work well for homeowners who have in ground pools and want a space around the area in which to gather, cook out, or relax.

Homeowners interested in spotlighting a view might opt for a deck, since they can be built off of the ground and offer a wider visual range. Decks also work well for those with yards that are not level or that are built on a hill, since the supports can be cut to any height. Also, since decks must have stairs if the homeowner is interested in getting to the yard from the addition, those who want to keep the entertaining on the porch rather than in the yard may opt for this type of addition.

Whichever way you choose to go, both decks and patios offer a positive ROI and unlimited possibilities for entertaining, socializing, or simply relaxing in an outdoor space.