Throughout my years in the decking business, I’ve seen many beautiful decks and spectacular patios. I have also seen decks and patios beautifully integrated. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the share of new homes with patios has increased by 52% during the past decade.
So, which one is better? Some homeowners prefer decks, while others like patios. Let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of each.
Decks: Pros and Cons
There is nothing like lounging on a deck. Primarily, decks are made of wood or composite materials. Wooden decks do require more maintenance than composite decks. Let’s delve into both types of decking and their pluses and minuses.
The pros of a wood deck:
- Wood decks look natural and will add value to your house.
- You have many material choices, like pressure-treated pine, ipê, or bamboo.
- If desired, you can paint your wood deck to your liking and complement your house.
The cons of a wood deck:
- Although natural wood is an appealing option, there is more upkeep. It needs to be sealed and protected against the elements.
- The maintenance costs may be higher with a wood deck – as you must be wary of wood rot and decay.
- Besides upkeep, the return on investment might be lower than with a composite deck.
Composite decking, like Trex, is the main alternative to wood in deck building. Besides being on the more expensive side, let’s check out the advantages and disadvantages it has.
The pros of a composite deck:
- It’s long-lasting, durable, and sustainable.
- Trex composite decking boards come in many colors so that you can choose the aesthetic.
- This type of decking is relatively low maintenance. You only need to clean it annually.
- With proper care, composite decks last longer than wood.
- It is not subject to warping the way wood can bend from harsh weather.
The cons of a composite deck:
- The main disadvantage of choosing a composite deck is that it costs more per square foot.
- To some, it may not look as natural as wood does. The newer iterations of Trex decking material have a very natural appearance.
- Although the surface boards are composite, the foundation underneath your deck is still wood.
Composite decking is the most durable and sustainable option, but it is a matter of personal preference. With proper care, both of these types of decking can last a long time, and a deck is a worthwhile investment towards your house’s resale value.
Patios: Pros and Cons
Patios are usually built at ground level. Although I have seen some patios slightly raised, they are usually no more than a foot off the ground. It is essential to note the patios can be made of several different materials – stone, brick, or pavers.
Let’s see what building materials go into patios. There are several mediums worth mentioning – and all have their pros and cons. Researching this will help guide your ultimate decision.
- Bricks, like brick pavers, are designed to be walked upon.
- Patio pavers are often made of flagstone or concrete.
- Natural stone is also an option and integrates well with a natural look.
- Concrete slab-type patio surface is another option.
These are just four types of patio materials. There are other materials available. A patio offers the flexibility of design in addition to its functionality. You can install a patio any time of year, with autumn usually the optimum season.
The pros of a patio:
- Generally, the lifespan of a patio can be much longer than a deck’s. Especially if it’s taken care of properly.
- You can customize a patio by specifying its size, purpose, and material.
- Fire pits and hot tubs typically do better on a patio.
The cons of a patio are:
- Patios are not elevated like a deck could be. (You may not get quite the same views!)
- Patios can crumble and fall into disrepair if not regularly maintained.
- Although a lot of preparation goes into building a deck, remember planning for a patio can also be rigorous. If you are doing a DIY patio project, getting the ground tamped and ready can be daunting.
Something else about patios is that there is some flexibility and freedom of design when you can choose your patio pattern. A deck can be a cleaner, sharper, and more angled approach; with patio construction, you can let your creativity soar.
Deck vs. Pavers: Cost Comparison
The upfront cost of a deck is usually more than that of a patio. Lots of homeowners choose to build their own patios. Bearing these two concepts in mind, it’s important to consider the whole deck process versus a patio from beginning to end.
Also, consider any hardscaping you may want to install, like pathways or steps. Adding stone steps is an attractive way to blend the fun and functionality of your backyard oasis.
Before planning your patio or conceiving your deck design, it’s important to check out building codes and any permits, if needed. More than likely, a deck build will require a building permit. Additionally, securing a deck in place is one of the key factors in devising where and how you will build your new deck. And, a key point: remember to contact Miss Utility before digging.
Building a deck will likely be more expensive, depending on the materials you choose for your deck. Composite decks cost more than wood decks, but they will ultimately add the most value to your house. Furthermore, composite decks will last longer than wood – but not as long as a patio.
Patios also could be constructed with a retaining wall. Retaining walls will help with drainage and keep the soil from flowerbeds at bay. Whether you build a patio or deck, you can incorporate an outdoor kitchen. This is another expense if you use your outdoor living space for eating and entertaining.
Maintenance Comparison for Pavers vs. Decking
We touched upon this before, but there is something else to factor into your decision: deck maintenance compared to patio upkeep. Patios are easier to maintain and clean with a power washer, but you need to tend to them routinely. Composite decks need a yearly cleaning, and make sure to inspect the underside. Examine your joists and fasteners for signs of corrosion.
Wood decks require the most maintenance. The main places you need to check are the surface boards, the ledger board, railings, the support structure underneath, and the hardware. Make sure your wood is in top shape while keeping an eye out for any water damage. A good cleaning and sealant are necessary. You could opt to stain or paint your wooden deck, too.
Choosing the Right Fit for Your Home
After looking over the good points and evaluating some of the challenges with both decks and patios, make your decision carefully. Decks and patios are beautiful home improvement features, especially if they’re well thought out and built correctly.
Both structures are great for enjoying nature, relaxing in the sun (or shade), and tending to your garden – even if it’s a few potted plants. Take into consideration your type of home, landscaping design, outdoor lifestyle, and what you would like to get out of it. This way, your decision will be a sound one!