The Difference Between a Deck and a Patio & How to Decide

May 5, 2021
HomeOutdoor Living IdeasThe Difference Between a Deck and a Patio & How to Decide

Not sure about the difference between deck and patio? We can help. Decks and patios are both backyard features that function in a similar way: They give you and your family an outdoor living space to spend time on. Yet, there are key differences between them.

Deck

DECK is an outdoor structure built from boards, capable of supporting weight, and supported by structural elements such as joists, beams, and posts.

Patio

PATIO is a paved area directly on the ground that can be attached or detached from the house. Patios can be made of pavers, stone, concrete, or other materials.

Choosing Whether a Patio or Deck Is Right for Your Backyard

When deciding between a deck or a patio, first consider the size, shape, and layout of your backyard. Different types of backyards will influence whether a patio or a deck is a better choice.

Difference Between Deck and Patio TimberTech AZEK White Pergola with Trim Moulding Circular Patio

Backyards That Benefit From a Patio

Patios are ideal for backyards that:

  • Have flat ground. Patios require flat ground to be installed. A hilly yard will require a costly foundation.
  • Have a need for privacy. At ground-level, you can easily block neighbors’ views with tall plants or a privacy wall around the border.
Difference Between Deck and Patio TimberTech AZEK Vintage Collection English Walnut Raised Deck in Woodlands

Backyards That Benefit From a Deck

Decks are ideal for backyards that:

  • Accommodates uneven surfaces. Decks are typically installed with four posts, which allows them to be level on an uneven surface.
  • Have a view. Decks are often raised off the ground, giving them height that lends itself to great views.

Note: Decks can be detached from the house, covered, or left open, so they work with a variety of home styles and backyard sizes.

Now that you understand the basic difference between deck and patio — and which one might work best for your space — it’s time to dive a little deeper.

Factors to Consider Before Deciding Between a Deck or a Patio

The difference between deck and patio goes beyond their structure and function. You’ll need to consider each in terms of performance, value for the cost, and aesthetics before making your choice.

Performance


The difference between deck and patio performance has to do with their durability and maintenance needs.

Patio: Durability With Flaws

Patios are typically made with concrete, pavers, or brick, all of which are highly durable materials that can last for 25 years or more.

However, patios are also vulnerable to certain problems, including:

  • Cracking – Cracking often happens due to an uneven foundation and can worsen in areas with extreme weather.
  • Staining – Concrete, traditional pavers, and brick are porous materials that will soak up pigments from spilled liquids and even fallen leaves, causing unsightly discoloration.
  • Mold and mildew – Patio materials typically hold in moisture, creating the perfect environment for mold and mildew growth.
Patio Maintenance Needs

In order to keep your patio free of stains, mold, and mildew, regular cleaning with a pressure washer or garden hose is essential.

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Traditional Wood Deck: Limited Performance

Traditionally, decks are made of pressure-treated lumber, an organic material that is highly vulnerable to moisture and weathering. If properly cared for, an average deck lifespan is about 10 to 15 years, with regular maintenance work.

Wood deck showing fading and weathering

Common Problems With Traditional Wood Decks

  • Rot, mold, and mildew growth from moisture damage.
  • Fading and staining from UV rays and spilled liquids.
  • Cracking, splintering, and warping from rapid moisture penetration and evaporation.
Deck Maintenance Needs

Traditional wood decks demand maintenance nearly every year, from cleaning with harsh chemicals to sanding, staining, and sealing.

Value for the Cost


Value is about more than what you pay upfront — it’s also about long-term costs and value, including for maintenance and your home’s resale value. Discover the value difference between deck and patio to help inform your decision.

Pavers featuring TimberTech Pavers boardwalk olive resurface with dinning area

Patio: Costs & Value

Upfront Costs: Often costs less to build than a deck, thanks to a lower material costs.

Maintenance costs: Low, thanks to minimal maintenance needs.

Resale value: Low return on investment: usually less than 50%.

Difference between deck and patio value for the cost

Deck: Costs & Value

Upfront costs: Deck cost varies significantly based on several factors.

Maintenance costs: High for a wood deck, which requires costly maintenance. Comparatively much lower for a composite deck.

Resale Value: High return on investment: 60% to 80% ROI as long as the deck is in good condition.

Aesthetics


Aesthetics play an essential role in the look and feel of your outdoor living space. The aesthetic difference between deck and patio has to do with their materials.

Patio: Cold & Flat

The hardscaping materials of patios are surprisingly versatile and can be poured or arranged into almost any shape. However, keep in mind that concrete and many stones can give your backyard a cold, flat look you’ll need to get creative with (and spend a bit more on) to pretty it up.

Traditional Wood Deck: Beauty That Fades

Decks made from pressure-treated lumber may give you rich, natural wood colors and textures when first installed. But there’s a catch.

Difference between a deck and patio featuring a faded traditional wood deck

Those original wood deck colors will inevitably fade in time.

Even with routine maintenance.

A Better Choice: TimberTech® Composite Decking

Your Superior Choice: TimberTech AZEK Decking

Want the beauty of a traditional wood deck with even fewer maintenance needs than a patio? Choose TimberTech® composite decking.

Performance

Value for the Cost

Aesthetics

Discover the Best Durable Deck Material

Learn why TimberTech decking wins on cost, performance, and aesthetics.

Now that you understand the difference between deck and patio — and see the benefits of a TimberTech composite deck — it’s time to get started planning your perfect outdoor living space. Connect with a TimberTech expert or a local contractor to discuss questions, concerns, and ideas for your backyard.

Not Sure Where to Start?

Request a quote from local contractors or connect with a TimberTech expert to get expert insights & answers to your questions.

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