When most people approach us about increasing their outdoor living space, they typically have a rough idea of what they’re looking for. Sometimes it’s installing a new deck off the rear kitchen door or replacing patio pavers throughout their yard. In some cases, our clients have a very detailed layout envisioned, and it’s really just a matter of providing them with an estimate of our services and costs to get their project started.

But there are other times when people know they want to increase their outdoor living space, but really have no idea of what direction they want to pursue. Maybe one person wants a deck and the other envisions a patio. Or neither of them really has any idea what needs to be considered before a decision about adding outdoor space is made. For today’s post, we are offering some considerations to help those homeowners who unsure of what direction they’d like to go.

Deck or Patio? 5 basic things that you need to consider

1. The Grade and Elevation of Your Outdoor Space.
This may be the one factor that makes the decision for you. What is the elevation of your back door? If it’s almost directly at grade, (there is just a single step out the door to the yard), then there may not be enough room to construct the deck and leave room for the necessary framing and supports. In this case, a patio would be the way to go.

Conversely, if your yard has a significant slope that doesn’t provide a large level area, then a deck is the way to go. Decks also allow you to build over tree roots, providing the opportunity to build around trees without actually harming them.

2. Maintenance and Upkeep.
Nearly everybody will tell you that decks typically require more maintenance, and for the most part, this is true. Of course, a lot depends on the materials used to build the deck and the environment where the deck is built. But in general, most wood decks require some annual maintenance in the form of water sealing at the very least. And while composite materials are marketed as being maintenance-free, they are still prone to moss and mildew growth and most likely will need to be pressure-washed on an annual basis as well.

Patios typically require less maintenance, but most are not maintenance-free. Mortared flagstone surfaces will need to be repointed sometime in the future, and paver stones are prone to some minor weed growth and most likely will need to be re-swept with sand every few years. In addition, while sealing a patio surface isn’t always entirely necessary, if you do choose to seal it, you will need to reseal it every few years to maintain its appearance.

3. Incorporating Additional Features.
Are you thinking of adding a firepit to your outdoor space? If so, a wood deck might not be the way to go, for somewhat obvious reasons. What about a spa? While decks can be built to hold the weight of a filled spa, that scenario certainly requires a lot more framing to accommodate the extra load. Most patio surfaces, if installed correctly with the adequate base preparation, can handle the weight of a normal- to jumbo-sized spa.

4. Design Preferences and Personal Taste.
Basic deck construction tends to be more linear in its make-up, while it is much easier to incorporate curves in a grade-level patio. That’s not to say curves can’t be incorporated into a deck, but it certainly involves a bit more engineering and added costs.

And while this may seem like a basic idea, if you’re a person who likes the look and feel of wood, then a deck may make more sense for you. If you’re a person who likes the look and feel of stone, then a patio is probably the way to go.

5. The Bottom Line – Cost.
To be honest, the costs are pretty similar, with a range depending on the materials and scope of the project. There’s a fair amount of information resources online that tend to say decks are a bit more expensive than patios. But in reading further, you’ll see that these articles are usually comparing a deck to a plain concrete patio. Once you compare a flagstone or paver stone patio to a deck, the costs become much more in line with one another.

Decks tend to have a much wider range in costs – for example, a 16’x20’ deck on one site may cost nearly twice as much on another site, based on how high above grade the structure is built, the engineering necessary for the deck to carry the load, and the slope on which the deck is being built.

On the other hand, patios tend to be much more consistently priced from one site to the next unless an excessive amount of excavation is needed, or an extensive amount of re-grading is required to form a level space.

When it comes to composite decking, the prices typically start higher than their patio counterparts. Not only are composites roughly about twice the price of wood, they also require much more framing due to the flexible nature of the materials.

In addition to these five considerations, local building codes may also come into play as to what is or isn’t allowed. Most deck construction projects will require a permit, and with environmental concerns being a factor, many municipalities are also requiring storm-water management plans in conjunction with hard-scaping installation such as the construction of a patio.

These are just a few of the things to take into consideration when planning your project. Ultimately, every project and every site is different and unique. Perhaps some of these factors may apply to your site and not to others. If you’re looking to have an outdoor space added to your home and are still not sure which option would be best for your needs and your budget, contact the professionals at MDV Remodeling for a fast, free estimate. Our unique TruYouDesign™ design process can help you plan a deck or patio that is tailored to your needs, wants, and budget!