Deck vs. Patio: 4 Ways to Choose

Meet your backyard match. Find out if a deck or patio if best for you.

When the air is crisp and the sun is shining just right, you'll want to be able to lounge outdoors. Both a deck and a patio can give you that relaxing spot you desire, but which one should you choose? In the great debate of deck versus patio, we're here to tell you there's no clear winner—decks and patios both provide an outdoor oasis, no matter the season. However, one option may be better for you and your home than the other.  Here's how you can choose which backyard upgrade to go for.

Consider the Cost

First things first—before choosing between a deck or patio, you'll want to be sure your budget can take on the new addition. A small, simple deck may cost around $1,800, while a high-end deck with extra features like lighting, seating, or landscaping, can rack up to about $16,000. Similarly, a basic patio that doesn't require flattening your land or other additional costs is about $800, and a luxurious patio with a fire pit or pergola may cost up to $10,000.

It's important to keep in mind that the pricing of your deck or patio is mainly reliant on your choice of material, size, and additional features that you choose to have installed. For decks, wood and composite decking cost around the same amount. If you're looking for a more luxurious wood material for the deck, such as ipe or tigerwood, this can nearly double or triple the price. Keep in mind that decks made of wood will require a staining treatment at least once every other year, which can add to your total budget. When choosing a patio material, be aware that concrete and pavers fall in the mid-range price, while pea gravel is a less expensive alternative that can be used for budget-friendly patios. For a luxurious look, flagstone is the priciest option of them all.

Enhance Your Backyard

Pick Your Deck or Patio Purpose

No matter the season, you'll want your outdoor area to work for you and your family. Prefer to be grilling up hot dogs and burgers under the cool shade of a pergola? Or want to unwind in the hot tub under the stars after a long day? Or better yet, both? We've all imagined our ideal backyard setup, which is why it's important to take into consideration your favorite hobbies and personal preferences before deciding on a deck or patio.

A perched view above your lawn is ideal for those with a stunning backyard, or for those who simply want a lifted view of the open backyard. In this case, if you want a lookout access on a second story, or add an elevated backyard space, a deck is the definite choice. However, keep in mind that with a deck, you're not going to get as much privacy . A patio is optimal for creating a private space since it's on the ground. It's also typically easier to incorporate a patio into your landscaping, with privacy shrubs and trees.

If your heart's set on having a hot tub or an outdoor kitchen, or big outdoor feature, that will factor into whether you build a deck or patio. For these heavier additions, the patio prevails. Since it's level with the ground, it has much better natural support, while a deck generally relies on wood or composite structuring. That's not to say that there haven't been second-story hot tubs or outdoor kitchens; but they're a bigger project to install, and potentially more expensive.

Create a Backyard Paradise

Think About the Terrain

While hills and ridges surrounding your home can make for a beautiful setting, they can also be a pain to work with when building a dream outdoor space. Fortunately, decks are a good option when it comes to handling rough terrain. They are usually built well above the ground with supportive beams, which can be measured and adjusted to match the landscape of your home.

Patios aren't as ideal for rugged landscapes, but they are a great choice for backyards with little to no hills. Since patios require a flat surface to be built on, some excavation and flattening of your yard may be required if your yard isn't totally flat to begin with. While it's possible to build a tiered patio, or to pay someone to level out an area to build a traditional patio, it will likely cost more than a deck due to this extra construction.

Choose Your Preferred Upkeep

When it comes to home chores, are you on top of it, or do you prefer the low-maintenance option? Taking care of your patio or deck calls for its own specific set of maintenance guidelines. Decks can require an annual wash and sealing to protect the material, while patios can go without a seal and withstand years of wear and tear depending on the material. Keep in mind that although patios are low maintenance in some areas, they still require an occasional cleaning to clear away leaves, dirt, mold, or algae.

If you're thinking of choosing a deck, be aware that rotting and molding can occur with the addition, especially if the deck is made completely out of wood. Regular cleaning and inspection of the deck material can prevent this debris from taking over and creating an unpleasant appearance. Similarly, if a patio seems like the installation for you, know that patios will need a routine cleaning. Some patio materials, such as concrete, can be susceptible to chipping or cracking over time, requiring a repair or resurfacing job.

Better Homes and Gardens Tip: Not too keen on the idea of maintaining an all-wood deck? Consider mixing different materials, like wire or metal, into your deck's railing to cut down on the amount of wood the deck has.

Keep Your Deck and Patio Looking Fresh


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