Should I Build a Deck or a Patio?

In New Jersey, outdoor living space is more popular than ever! Patios and decks in particular add value to homes and improve quality of life for homeowners. Although people use the words patio and deck interchangeably, these structures are very different. Both are intended to last for years, so it’s important to carefully consider your options and what works best for you and your lifestyle.

Before you can decide which type of outdoor living space is right for your home, consider the differences between each type of structure. Aesthetic differences, structural differences and even differences in durability can make an impact on whether a deck or patio is right for you. Here's what you need to know.

Comparing Patios and Decks

In the simplest of terms, decks are floating platforms extended off the rear of the house. Although decks can be built close to the ground, they are not in direct contact with the ground. Because they are elevated, decks typically include railings that act as a boundary and prevent falls. Typically, decks extend off a lower-level room like the kitchen or family room. Most are constructed from wood or composite materials.

A patio is an outdoor platform set directly on the ground. In the past, patios required a flat surface for installation, but today, retaining walls and multi-level systems give homeowners more options. A patio may be built directly against a home or can be installed in a separate area of the backyard. A patio may be constructed from a concrete base, pavers, tile, or stone.

[Related: Worth the Splurge: What to Include in Your Custom Home]

Considerations for Decks

For the majority of new construction projects, homeowners prefer a deck instead of a patio. Decks have been a mainstay in backyards for years, and many new homeowners envision themselves entertaining on a traditional wooden deck. People with decks must take into consideration three important factors when trying to decide if a deck is right for them: appearance, cost and maintenance.

Appearance

Nothing is more attractive to home buyers than the look of a wooden deck. Even composite decking, which lacks the warmth of real wood, has considerable charm when compared with a concrete patio.

Homeowners who want the look of wood but the easy maintenance of composite decking have an option: replace the composite railing with a wooden railing. A wooden railing catches the attention of guests and buyers. Its natural beauty draws the eye and creates the overall impression that the entire deck has been made from natural wood. A part-wood/part composite decking option has less maintenance than a totally wooden deck, with all the beauty.

Cost

Generally speaking, most decks can be very costly to build, especially when using composite materials. While some types of wood (like pressure treated lumber) can be cheaper, many decks are more costly to construct than patios. In addition, because wooden decks require regular maintenance, their costs are ongoing. A person must pay to refinish their wooden deck every three to five years.

Maintenance

Wooden decks require a lot of maintenance to extend their lifespan. Every few years, they must be stained or sealed. Seasonally, you may need to power wash your deck as well. Wooden decks that are not properly maintained will only last for a maximum of seven years.

Wooden decks can be maintained by homeowners. If you want to save money on contractor costs to refinish your wooden deck, sand it and re-seal it yourself every two to five years.

How can you tell if your deck needs to be refinished? Spray it with water. If the water beads up on the surface of the deck without soaking into the wood, then your deck does not need to be refinished. If the water soaks into the wood, this is a sign that your deck needs to be resealed.

Maintenance is only required if your deck is made of real wood. If your deck is made of composite, it needs no refinishing.

Shorter Lifespan

Decks don't last as long as patios; or at least, wooden decks don't. Regarding composite decks, these structures can last a very long time. A standard composite deck can last for decades, if the composite is high quality.

Advantages of a Patio

Most patios are more affordable than most decks. They're also senior-friendly for people who want to age in place. Because a patio is made from a single slab of concrete or a collection of pavers on the ground, most patios have few or no steps involved. This makes patios easier for people with disabilities and physical limitations to navigate. Of course, there are more reasons to install a patio in your back yard. Here's what you need to know.

Durability

Patios are said to have a longer lifespan than decks with little to no annual maintenance required. Homeowners who want to keep their deck looking its best for the time to come can do so by sweeping the concrete.

Sometimes leaves can create stains on the surface of the patio. You can avoid this by regularly removing debris from the patio's surface. In addition, some patios can be sealed. By sealing your patio, you prevent water from soaking into your concrete, which can in turn prevent it from becoming cracked or stained.

Sealing concrete is a good DIY project for some homeowners, but those who have physical limitations or who just don't want to take the time to seal their own concrete can hire a contractor.

Customization

Patios offer a high degree of customization. Patios can be made with pavers, bluestone, granite, travertine, or stamped concrete and more. Patios are also a safer choice if you’d like to include structures like a firepit, an outdoor kitchen with built-in grills, or a hot tub as it can accommodate more weight.

Easy to Shape

One of the reasons that patio is easy to customize is that it can be put together into any shape desired. Pavers can be assembled into a geometric form or a fluid organic shape, depending on the needs of the homeowner.

Terrain Limitations

Patios need flat terrain. If the terrain is graded, homeowners have the option to install a deck, or install a retaining wall to fill in the missing soil and flatten the ground. This can increase the cost of the patio, which may make a deck start to look more attractive.

Contact Your Contractor in New Jersey

Outdoor Living trends change from year to year. What doesn’t change is the desire to create beautiful outdoor spaces for entertaining, relaxing, and spending time with friends and family. To install a deck or patio in your yard, contact GTG Builders LLC for a consultation.

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