Decks vs. patios - when to install and what's the differenceOne of the questions we get a lot from our residential clients at GreenEarth Landscape Services is whether to install a patio or a deck. It’s a great question, because both patios and decks provide access to entertaining and relaxing in the great Florida outdoors without having to leave your home.

But there are pros and cons to each, and it’s tough to know which is the better choice. Here’s a look at some of the factors that may help you toward a decision.

Decks Vs. Patios: What’s The Difference?

What’s the difference between a patio and a deck? A patio is an outdoor flat ground covering, whereas a deck is above the ground, supported by a foundation or structure. Both can be connected to the house or separate from it. Both can include accessories, like a grill, fire pit, hot tub or built-in seating.

One of the easiest ways to figure out what’s right for you is to look at the features of each.

When To Install A Deck

There are plenty of reasons a homeowner might choose to build a deck. For instance, if your yard is sloped or uneven, it’s expensive and not always easy to level the ground for a patio — a deck might be the better choice.

If you want your outdoor living area flush with your indoor spaces, and you’d need stairs or a walkway to get to a patio, a deck might be perfect for your landscape.

And if you want options for where your outdoor space will be, decks offer plenty of flexibility: They’re raised or built slightly off the ground, and can be built as high as the roof top, or off the second floor of your house.

When To Install A Patio

Another option for homeowners looking for a sturdy outdoor living surface is patios. Patios are great if you’re looking for less maintenance. Because the foundation is usually brick, concrete, pavers or tile, occasional cleaning or weeding is all that’s needed for upkeep. Wood decks need annual power washing and may need restaining as well.

If you want a space that will last a long time, patios can also be a great choice. Patios usually last longer than decks, which generally need replacing every 15 years or so (the wood can warp, split or crack). Composite deck materials last longer, but they’re not immune to fading and sagging.

Some homeowners associations also have restrictions on deck building — in that case, a patio may be your only option.

Deck Vs. Patio Costs

Deck vs. patio costsCost will obviously be a factor in your choice, depending on the materials used and size.

A mid-range composite deck addition would run almost $14,900 in the South Atlantic region, which includes Florida, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2014 Cost Vs. Value report. A similar size wood deck addition averages $8,700. The report estimates that upon selling the house, you’d recoup 74 percent of that for the composite deck and 89 percent for the wood one.

On average, decks cost $33 per square foot to build, versus $15 per square foot for an all-brick patio, according to HouseLogic. Why the difference? Patios don’t have the costs associated with adding foundation support. But a sloped landscape, uneven ground and drainage issues could add to your patio installation costs. (Always consult a landscape design professional before you make your choice!)

Decks Vs. Patios? Get The Best Of Both Worlds

Patios versus decks sounds like an either/or split, but you don’t always have to choose one or the other! Some of GreenEarth’s clients opt to have both, with a deck leading out to a patio, or vice versa. Creating multiple levels in a yard offers visual interest — plus separate seating and entertaining areas.

If you’re considering adding a deck or patio, let the professionals at GreenEarth Landscape Services help you figure out what would work best in your yard. Call us at our Panama City Beach office at (850) 236-1959, or our Santa Rosa Beach office at (850) 267-0010 to set up an appointment. You can also fill out the online form on our website to schedule a consultation.

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