Is It Cheaper to Build a Deck or Patio?

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    Want to enhance your outdoor space, but don’t know how? A great way to start is by understanding the difference between a deck and a patio. It’s also important to learn about factors relevant to each such as costs, differences, returns, advantages and disadvantages, or both. Then, deciding which is best for your home!

    The main difference between a deck and patio

    The main difference between decks and patios is that decks are structures elevated from the ground, while patios rest directly on the ground.  Since decks and patios are not the same structure, their cost to build varies. These two structures also vary in price, materials used, sustainability, and more! 

    Deck and Patio Materials

    One important element that determines the price in either a deck or patio is the material used to build it. Decks mostly are built out of wood which is the most popular and natural-looking material. However, wood demands the most maintenance out of any other material. However, there are some deck maintenance tips to keep your deck looking brand new

    Composite Decking Material

    Composite decks, on the other hand, are made to look like wood but can cost more. However, they are designed for maximum durability, which resist fading, staining and the toughest weather. Decks built with plastic cost just as much as composite decks, but last longer and require way less maintenance. Finally, aluminum decks are the most expensive ones, but have the longest lifespan. Why choose composite decking over wood? Find out in that article!

    Patio Materials

    Moving on to patios, concrete patios are the most prevalent and the cheapest material used today. However, some people find it a little plain. Stamped concrete adds a little personality, but requires more maintenance. The most affordable and easy to install material to build a patio is gravel. 

    If you want more of a high-end appearance, either stone or flagstone can be used, but it’s more expensive. However, brick paver patios are cheaper than stone and could look just as nice. Finally, wood patios look the most natural and traditional, but may need regular replacement. As you can see, patios have a bigger material selection, than the materials needed to build a deck

    Costs Estimates (Averages) of Building a Deck or Patio

    The overall cost to build either of these structures depends mainly on its size and materials used. On average, decks cost around $7,000 to build and around $35 per square foot for installation. 

    Also, the materials for decks cost around $3 – $25 per square foot. On average, patios cost about $3,200 to build and around $10 – $20 per square foot to install. Then, the materials cost close to $1.50 – $30 per square foot. As shown, it’s cheaper and easier to build a patio. The cheapest material to build a patio with is concrete. 

    (Wondering how thick does a concrete slab need to be for a patio? Check out that article to find out!)

    Since building a patio or a deck is considered a home improvement, it has the potential to increase your resale value. Which is the better investment? Let’s see. Decks are more costly to install, but have a higher return on investment at around 60-80%. Patios cost less to install, but have a return on investment at around 50%. So, the best overall investment would be to build a deck.

    DIY Deck and Patio Building

    Some people who don’t want to pay installation costs consider building it themselves. DIY building of patios or decks both have their pros and cons. A good thing about building your own deck is obviously saving money on installation costs. However, you need the right experience, tools, knowledge, and patience it takes to build a quality deck. Not to mention, it takes a good amount of your personal time. 

    If you decide to build your own patio, it might be a good idea if you use a simple material like gravel. However, all patio materials are quite heavy, take time and knowledge to build, and it would be hard to tell if you installed your patio properly. Nonetheless, if you do decide to build either yourself, it’s more reasonable to build a patio rather than a deck. 

    Weatherproofing your deck or patio

    Another factor to consider when deciding between a deck or patio is weatherproofing. Any outdoor structure needs to be weather-resistance for it to last. Decks and patios would require some sort of waterproofing, sealing, and coating in order for its surface to be protected from the weather. 

    Weatherproofing with decks is less of a hassle because since they’re composed of more expensive materials, they might just need recurring cleaning. However, wood decks might require sealing and waterproofing every couple of years and sealing alone is expensive. 

    On the other hand, materials that make up patios do not need as much treatment for weatherproofing, except cleaning and coating. However, if the material gets too wet constantly, it may crack and need resurfacing. Overall, it’s easier to protect patios from weather than it is decks. 

    Other Items to Consider When Building a Deck or Patio

    When deciding between a deck or patio, it’s also important to keep in mind where you live. Your overall landscape and the climate of your region does have an impact on what option is best for you. A good aspect about decks is that they don’t rely on a specific ground environment to support the structure. 

    However, materials may need more maintenance in exceptionally dry or humid climates. Moving on to patios, their materials can keep their appearance and condition, even in very hot or very cold places. Although, patios are harder to protect from ground moisture or flooding. Therefore, the most adaptable choice would be to build a deck when it comes to landscape and climate conditions.

    Deck and Patio Sustainability

    Another factor to consider when making your choice is sustainability. Ecological home improvements help reduce waste and save energy consumption. Pertaining to decks, composite units use a small amount of wood and don’t require harmful chemical treatments. 

    Unfortunately, materials that look good often come from careless sourcing methods. Regarding patios, if they’re composed of brick or stone, they might last decades longer. Sadly, materials like concrete have high carbon emissions. This shows that the most sustainable option would be to build a deck.

    Size and Placement of your Deck and Patio

    A different factor to consider is the size and placement of your deck or patio. A good thing about floating decks is that they can be installed almost anywhere. You can build a deck on water features or uneven surfaces. However, decks need to be an adequate size to support weight. On the other hand, patios can be built in any size, but you need to make sure that the land is graded appropriately before installing to avoid flooding your house. When it comes to size and placement, patios are the best choice.

    Privacy of Your Deck and Patio Space

    It’s also quite important to consider privacy when you’re thinking about building an outdoor space. To keep a deck private, you can install a screen anywhere and it would look natural. If you want to make your patio a little more private, you can build an enclosure for privacy and year-round comfort. However, they’re somewhat expensive and defenseless against moisture damage. Hence, the most affordable and accessible feature for privacy would be to choose a deck.

    Maintenance Costs of Your Deck and Patio

    Another factor to consider when choosing between decks or patios is the cost for maintenance, cleaning, and repairs. Decks built of certain materials only need the occasional spraying or refinishing. Although, repairing a deck costs about $1,500 each time. Patio are usually built of materials that require less maintenance over the lifespan of the patio. The problem with low-maintenance is that some people ignore long-term problems with the structure, which in the long-run it’s expensive to fix. That is why patios are the easiest structure to manage.

    In Conclusion

    So, is it cheaper to build a deck or patio? Patios are cheaper to build since they’re composed of simple material. However, decks are a better home investment and more sustainable. Overall, both decks and patios have their pros and cons. It ultimately depends on what you’re specifically looking for to make the best decision for your home. If you can’t decide between the two, you can always build both!

    Justin Wylie

    Justin Wylie, owner of All Pro Decks & Patios is a Deckorators® Certified Pro Elite located in the San Antonio Hill Country area. He specializes in building decks, patios, patio covers, pergolas, concrete slabs, fireplaces and more while providing quality and service for his customers.

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