Patio vs. Deck

The outdoor build battle extravaganza!

By Joshua Nishimoto

When daydreaming about your new and improved outdoor space that both enhances your day-to-day living environment while adding value to your home, what comes to mind? Are you hosting friends and family around a fire pit in your backyard under a starry sky, or are you sitting comfortably in a rocking chair or in a hot tub in a semi-enclosed space (away from the elements), surrounded by elevated wood platforms, stairs, railings, a grill and an awning or add-on roof overhead? If you find yourself dreaming more about the former, you might want to invest in building yourself a patio. If you’re dreaming about the latter for your space and aren’t afraid to invest your time and hard-earned cash into your build, a deck might be for you.


When contemplating this important question, one must first think about cost versus value of the build, along with the time and effort your build might take. A typical deck under 200 square feet can average between $3,000 and $14,000 depending on the complexity of the design. There is a 76 percent return on investment for a wooden deck on average, higher than all indoor home renovations. On the other hand, a typical patio build is often much less expensive but adds value to your home. A patio can also get more complicated and expensive depending on how level the ground is where you want to build.


So, still not sure if you would rather build a deck or patio? The following list of pros and cons for both types of projects may help you to decide:


The pros of adding a deck:


• Decks are popular outdoor living spaces for homeowners who enjoy hosting, grilling and relaxing. Building a deck can add a higher resale value to your home. Financially, they can be a great investment and will boost property value.


• A deck is ideal for building flat uneven terrain. They can be installed on most types of land and can add stability to your home.


• A deck is easily customizable and is comfortable in the heat, with awnings and other shading opportunities protecting you from the elements.


• Since most decks are built higher off the ground, a deck offers up the the possibility of adding better views from your home.


• You can keep some items up and away from wildlife by placing them on the deck.


Cons to building a deck:


• A deck, depending on the type and weight of material used, often requires more maintenance. Traditional decks are made of wood, and they are usually heavy. Decks can also be made from composite materials, which require less maintenance than wood decks.


• A deck built without a solid foundation can become unstable over time. If a deck built by the previous owner of your home wasn’t properly maintained, the wood may have rotted, nails may be exposed and joints may be loose.


• Building a deck can be expensive. The national average cost to install a new deck is $7,696, but the typical range is $4,160 to $11,257. Professional decking companies typically charge between $15 and $35 a square foot for an average-size deck. While price depends on the types of materials used in your build, decks are usually expensive with the average cost of $30 per square foot of high-end decking material.


• For every deck build, it’s important to water seal and protect your deck with different stains and sealers to keep your deck in pristine condition. Consider deck joist tape, a clear waterproofing wood-protecting sealant, liquid rubber, coil stock (for metal), or old motor oil to protect your joists. Decks often need to be power washed, stained and weather-sealed to be protected from the elements. This will most likely need to occur every couple of years. Decks often have short lifespans, requiring a bit more tender love and care than some are willing to provide.


• Homeowners may need a permit from the town or city, prior to building, with possible fees and a waiting period. This can be a simple or lengthy process depending on where you live.


The pros of building a patio:


• Patios are generally less expensive. Installing a patio flush to the ground can cost much less than a deck. It’s roughly $5 a square foot. Concrete is usually the least expensive option.


• Patios are much more easily maintained. While you may choose to seal your patio from the elements, it’s not necessary. Concrete, pavers, marble and stone materials are extremely durable.


• A quality patio build allows for flexibility in design, often allowing for more privacy. Proper landscaping can increase this privacy.


• Installing a patio typically does not require a building permit or inspection.


The cons of building a patio:


• Patios are not designed to be built on uneven terrain. They are better suited for flatter spaces, and the cost for creating a level foundation is very high.


• There is more of a risk of patio cracking if the ground under the concrete was not properly prepared. Cracking is also likely in areas of extreme temperatures and adverse weather.


• There is an easier chance of people slipping on a patio. In colder areas, ice can easily form on a patio’s surface and raise the risk of falling. Also, water on a patio can have the same effect.


• When a patio is exposed to harsh weather, it can be stained by nearly every element including mud, mildew and other natural environmental factors like leaves or grass. Pristine patios require some upkeep with frequent cleaning.


• Patios may require more intensive construction depending on type of land or ground movement needed, or added features like gazebos, pools or spas.


Whether you decide to build a patio or deck, make sure that it’s right for you and your home. Also, make sure to take proper precautions to ensure that your build is safe. It may be a good idea to invest in property insurance to make sure you are covered in the event of an incident.

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