If you’re trying to decide between constructing a patio or deck, consider factors like potential costs, maintenance, and overall appearance. Patios tend to have lower upfront construction costs, while decks are usually more expensive but tend to offer a higher return on investment. If you choose a deck over a patio, expect to spend more time on maintenance, too.
Few things are better than having a backyard oasis where you and your favorite people can hang out—and adding a deck or patio to that space can take it to the next level.
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What’s the difference between a patio and a deck?
While they seem similar, a deck and a patio have key differences—mainly in how they are built.
A deck is a roofless, raised platform that’s usually attached to a house, while a patio is a paved area built directly into the ground.
A raised deck will almost always be surrounded by a railing for safety reasons, but since patios are constructed at ground level, they can either be open or walled off, depending on your preference.
Another major difference between patios and decks is the materials used. Patios can be constructed with a variety of materials, like concrete, stone, tile, and pavers, and they’re usually set on a base of concrete, gravel, or sand. Decks, on the other hand, are most commonly constructed with wood or wood composite materials.
Since decks are raised structures, they require supportive elements like beams and posts, so to end up with a deck that’s structurally sound, it’s usually best to leave construction to a professional. Patio construction tends to be more DIY-friendly, but you might still need a professional’s help for surface leveling and concrete work.
So, which one is best for your home: a deck or patio? Read on to see how factors like cost, appearance, maintenance requirements, and more can differ between the two.
Patio vs. deck: which is better?
Whether a patio or deck installation is the better option for you will depend on what factors are most important to you. Take a look at how decks and patios compare across the following categories.
Deck vs. patio: Cost
Building a deck is usually significantly more expensive than building a patio. That said, it depends on the size of the space you’re creating, what kinds of materials you’re using, and whether you’ll be hiring help or taking care of the job yourself.
HomeGuide, a concrete patio could cost $4 to $12 per square foot while using stone pavers could cost $10 to $17 per square foot. For a 10-foot by 12-foot space, you could spend $480 to $2,040 on patio construction.
deck installationcould cost $15 to $30 per square foot or $1,800 to $3,600 for 120 square feet of space.
Deck vs. patio: Installation process
As long as you don’t have to deal with complications like uneven terrain, patios are typically easier to install and much more DIY-friendly. If you do have to take care of some corrective land grading, however—or if you’ll be working with concrete—it’s probably a good idea to hire a professional to build your patio.
Building a deck, on the other hand, is a little more intensive since it requires constructing a stable frame and can adequately support a certain amount of weight. So if you want a safe deck, it’s usually better left to a professional. Depending on where you live, it’s also possible you’ll have to acquire certain permits to install your deck.
Deck vs. patio: Maintenance and cleaning
Decks are usually constructed with wood, which makes them vulnerable to water and insect damage. As such, they’ll require regular care and cleaning if you want them to last as long as possible. That includes periodic power washing and restaining, as well as swapping out rotting boards as needed.
Patios are typically more low-maintenance than decks. That said, you should expect to do an occasional powerwash and potentially weeding between stones as time goes on.
Deck vs. patio: Durability
Even with the most dedicated maintenance, traditional wood decks often tend to last just 10 to 20 years, but using more durable and pest-resistant composite wood or PVC decking could extend that to 25 to 30 years or more. That said, if you’re considering the latter, expect higher material costs.
A raised deck will additionally have weight restrictions depending on its size, while a patio won’t.
On the other hand, a stone patio could last almost indefinitely. If you install a concrete patio, you might have to repair or reseal cracks that form as time goes on, especially if you live in a climate that’ll expose it to freeze-thaw cycles between winter and summer. Generally speaking, you could likely expect a concrete patio to last 30 to 50 years, if not longer.
Deck vs. patio: Resale value (ROI)
If you’re planning to sell your home, you may be concerned about a home improvement project’s potential return on investment (ROI). While patios usually have lower upfront construction costs, decks more significantly increase a home’s value and tend to offer a higher ROI.
The ROI on any home improvement or outdoor structure will vary, but patios can commonly fetch an ROI of about 50% while a well-constructed deck could have an ROI of about 75%.
Generally, keeping costs low on a patio can help you maximize your ROI, and ensuring your deck is structurally sound and properly maintained will usually help you get the best return.
Deck vs. Patio: Aesthetic appeal
If you’re going to spend all that money on a patio or deck installation, you’re going to want to like how your finished product looks.
Whether patios or decks look better is pretty subjective, but with the right amount of planning and a proper installation, either one can yield stunning results.
Patio vs. deck: pros and cons
Ready for a recap? Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the pros and cons of patios and decks for cost, longevity, resale value, and more:
Higher construction and material costs
Usually less expensive to install
May require permits before you can install
Can last 10-30+ years, depending on materials and maintenance
Can last 30 years to indefinitely, depending on materials and maintenance
More maintenance requirements, including restaining and replacing parts over time
Fewer maintenance requirements
Virtually no weight restrictions
More ideal option for unlevel surfaces
Most ideal for level surfaces
Raised structure can offer better views
Less flammable, making them more ideal for grills or fire pits
Higher average ROI
Lower average ROI
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Is it better to build a patio or deck?
Whether a patio or deck is better depends on what factors are most important to you, like costs, appearances, maintenance requirements, and more.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive project, patio construction projects tend to be lower in cost and more DIY-friendly. If you don’t mind the extra maintenance needs and are hoping for a better ROI, you might prefer a deck installation.
Does home insurance cover patios and decks?
It depends on your coverage. If your deck is attached to your home, it could be protected by your primary dwelling coverage. If you constructed your deck after your home insurance policy was finalized, you’ll likely have to contact your provider to inform them of the new structure and how it changes your policy.
It’s also possible that decks or patios could be covered under additional structures coverage or personal property coverage, but you’ll want to check with your insurance provider to be sure.