Skip to main content

Patio versus deck: How to know which is right for your home

The decision to choose between a deck or a patio for your outdoor space can be difficult. Patios are typically smaller and easier to maintain, while decks offer more luxurious features like built-in seating and fireplaces.

The truth, however, is that both offer you excellent choices when it comes to outdoor living. If you’re the sort of individual who spends plenty of time outside and enjoys evenings relaxing and entertaining family and friends under the stars, both options are still outstanding. But perhaps you’d like to dive a little deeper into what separates decks and patios from each other. Not everyone even realizes there are substantial differences that make them distinct. After all, both are commonly used in similar way.

However, you’ll find that patios are almost always flush with the ground while decks are raised. There are also substantial differences in how they are made and the cost to build them. Read on as we explore the differences between patios and decks to help you decide which is right for you!

Beautiful patio with stone flooring
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What differentiates decks and patios?

Patios are usually made of concrete, while decks may be raised off the ground or constructed from wood. Patios have a more traditional feel with the foundation and flooring, whereas you’ll see steps going up on most decks.

It should also be noted that patios typically don’t need railings for safety. As noted above, they’re close to being flush with the ground, but depending on where your deck is located (in particular if it has one side elevated), railings may be necessary so you can use it safely. A patio will almost always cost less than a deck, since its construction materials are less expensive and typically easier to come by.

Still, a deck is often worth the investment for its aesthetic appeal and its potential for customization. However, remember that there are also additional considerations like the need for winterization, water drainage, and fire prevention measures that all add up in terms of cost and maintenance.

Pros and cons of a patio

The main benefit is that patios offer an outdoor space without the cost and hassle of constructing a deck. For example, standard building materials include stone or stamped concrete, which are often much less expensive than bricks or wood that make up many decks.

Another benefit of patios is that there’s at much less risk of a fire because they typically have no flammable material like wood flooring or railing. You’ll also find they’re easier to maintain, since they don’t need the sort of care and attention decks do. For example, decks need winterization or water drainage measures, which can be costly. Plus, you don’t have to trouble yourself with building permits to get one made in most cases.

On the flip side, one of the only real downsides of a patio include the need for extra preparations and planning if you live in a hilly area. (Patios are often built on level ground.)

Pros and cons of a deck

Decks typically offer more space than patios do. In the case of large gatherings, decks give people room to move around and enjoy activities together like eating food or playing games.

Other benefits of owning a deck include the fact that you can generally find a design or style that works well with the architecture of your home. Because they’re raised off the ground, they also offer a better view than patios do. They’re usually built to last, and they have an element of class and luxury that most patios lack.

On the other hand, decks typically need much bigger pieces of land for them to be functional. Plus, building permits may be required depending on where you live, which means you’ll be spending extra time and money. You may even have to put up with inspections to ensure everything is built according to code.

Patio and deck maintenance

Decks built with wood flooring can be expensive to replace if it starts rotting away. The same is true of any railing your deck has. To keep your deck properly maintained and pristine, you’ll have to restain or repaint your deck regularly. Giving it a good power washing every few years is necessary to help maintain the wood’s integrity.

If that sounds like too much effort, you can opt to use a wood composite material instead of building materials made of natural wood.

Conversely, patios are super easy to maintain. They can handle much more wear and tear than a deck can. Moreover, the maintenance costs of a patio are much less than for decks too. Patios do get cracks and stains from time to time, but they’re incredibly durable and you can keep yours looking great with simple maintenance for many years.

Wooden deck overlooking backyard
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Overall—if durability is your thing, opt for a patio. If increasing curb appeal and the value of your home is a primary concern, go with building a deck. Either way, both are excellent choices if you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors entertaining guests and family.

Editors' Recommendations

Will Blesch
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Will Blesch is a copywriter, content writer, and someone passionate about anything that lets him discover more about this…
Renovating your backyard? How to decide what size deck is right for you
right size deck for you man building

The backyard deck is one of life’s simple pleasures — but building one is anything but. There are a dizzying array of options, which all vary based on how you want to use your deck, your property, your budget, and other factors. Perhaps the first question to face is one of size, and with decks, bigger is not always better. These decisions will be driven by the size of your property and the purposes you want the deck to serve. We’re here to help you find the right deck size for you and your unique specifications.

Key questions to consider
Before you start to think about the size of your deck, there are several other parts of the project to consider. These can substantially affect your options, including the size of the deck. These questions include:

Read more
Good, better, best: The best warm, stylish outdoor fire pits for your patio
best outdoor fire pits bowl

When the seasons change, the air becomes crisp, and the mercury starts to fall, certain cravings start to well up. For some it’s football, or cozy clothes, or pumpkin spice. But let’s talk a minute about fire. Nothing else has the ability to bring people together and capture attention quite the way that a cheerful flame does. If you’re not so sure, try this experiment. Set up a fire pit on your driveway and, right around sunset, fire it up. Chances are, you’ll have visitors before long. As long as it’s not the fire department or your HOA authorities, it should make for some good conversation.

Whether you’re a long time believer in the power of a fire pit and need to replace one after years of faithful service, or you’re just looking for a good reason to be outdoors in the pleasant fall evenings, we’ve got a few suggestions. You could go with an easy to use gas burner, and forgo the smoke and ash, but then you would also miss out on the smell. We believe that a little bit of seasoned hickory, oak, or maple aroma is an essential part of the deeper fire pit experience. So, we’ve assembled this list of outstanding wood-burning fire pits based on durability, ease of use, styling, and price point.

Read more
How to install a fence around your yard without breaking the bank
backyard fencing

Fencing is a staple of a good backyard, but unfortunately, it can be expensive. Add in the fact that even avid DIYer's should avoid putting one up, and it's hard to get around the high cost of fencing. However, there are a few ways you can reduce the extensive investment of fencing and specific materials to avoid if you're on a tight budget.

Below, we'll go through each step you should take to ensure you know exactly what you're getting, where it's going, how much it will cost, and if it's legal to do so. It's crucial for a big project like fencing to have everything sorted out before you start digging, so let's dive in.

Read more