Deck vs. Patio: Which One is Right for You?

If there are any positive points that have resulted from the COVID Pandemic we are all experiencing this year, and likely into next year; it is the fact that many families had the opportunity to spend more time together at home; or as many of our clients did, heading up to their cottages.

People found that they could still find enjoyment in the spring, summer, and now heading into the fall time; isolating with their close family and friends included in their bubble. It did not stop people from enjoying a swim on a hot summer day or cocktails and a barbeque in their yard.

On those occasions, we all felt hopeful and we’re living in the moment. To that end, the carpentry division at ARR® experienced a considerable volume of requests for decks in yards and on flat rooftops, and our masonry division (ARM) received many requests for patios and walkways; particularly for garden areas.

For some people considering such work, the debate is deck versus patio.

In some instances, people completed a combination of both, as they served to maximize the enjoyment of their outdoor living spaces.

In Ontario, we have six months where we can depend on the weather to permit extended use of our outdoor real estate. By Investing in a well-done deck or patio, it most certainly adds value to a home in addition to the enjoyment benefits.

Related Content: Choosing Deck Materials for Your Deck

A trend we are seeing is the creation of outdoor office space, as many people have transitioned to working from home. It would appear the work from home trend will continue as we head into the new year.

When designing a deck or a patio, the occupants must first think of how they will intend to use the space. If outdoor dining and lounging will be primary activities, the main theme of the space needs to have particular design considerations like views to the yard, gardens, and accessibility to the kitchen or barbeque area.

It is important to respect the architecture of the home when planning the design; while an ultra modern deck may look stunning as a finished result, it may look odd against the backdrop of a tudor style home as an example. The idea is to make the patio or deck appear as if it flows from the interior space of the home.

If a family member is having the desire for an outdoor yoga space; perhaps the incorporation of privacy screening or a cabana shed are design elements that should be included in the build.

Common on two storey homes is to have a raised deck constructed to service the upper floor of the home, with a patio installed at ground level. Transitional decks can be constructed between the two levels to create interest by having a defined space such as for a hot tub.

Traditional patios are often thought of as a ground-level pad, but it is possible to terrace patios at varied elevations, particularly when attempting to delineate spaces for specific purposes. In a similar fashion; a constructed wood deck can be designed in the same way to provide defined outdoor living spaces.

From a maintenance point of view; one may favour a stone patio slightly over a deck, from the perspective of having to complete staining; but there can be a distinct cost advantage when comparing decking construction versus stone construction. With wood decking, one can achieve typically more for the money spent. There are certain exceptions depending on how elaborate the design is, and the species of wood or synthetic decking that is selected.

Installing a stone or paver patio involves excavating the site to install a root barrier and aggregates before the final installation of the pavers. In addition; installing conduit and wiring for electrical services can be an element if outdoor power is required for the patio.

Decks constructed of lumber typically require the digging and concrete pouring of piers to support the deck structure.

In both instances; whether a patio or deck construction, a permit is required and one must call for service locates below ground, before any work can begin in earnest.

Also necessary are drawings to obtain permits, and so the contractor can quote to a particular required specification. In most instances, a qualified contractor can work with the client to demonstrate design concepts, help select finish details, and finally settle on a specific design and get the permit process in action.

As a result; it is advised that people who are planning a deck or patio installation should contact their vendor in advance of the season to get the ball rolling. This provides many advantages.

For instance, building departments are historically less busy in the offseason which means delays to obtain planning permission can be reduced. Also, trade vendors become instantly busy once the season begins in earnest, and schedules for construction can become delayed due to weather and demand.

In other words, plan and book your project in the colder months so one can enjoy the upcoming warm season. This year’s circumstances precipitated a frenzy of buying as consumers wanted to maximize the use of their outdoor space and renovations in general.

As a result of delays from suppliers due to shipping considerations, and extra heavy demand for lumber and building products generally during this time; having the extra time in planning months also allows for materials to be procured in advance of the expected project start time.

It is important to consider that good contractor that stands behind their work are busy and in demand.

The fact is that good contractors get booked up well in advance these days. In cottage country; it can take over a year from client approval to get a deck or a dock built, let alone a more complex contracting project.

Spaces, where children may play in association with a deck build, are commonly requested elements.

Incorporating a playhouse beneath a raised deck gives kids their own space away from the grownups, but allows Mom, Dad and Caregiver the opportunity to keep them safely contained to do games, art, and other creative pursuits. What kid doesn’t want a playhouse?

A well-constructed deck should provide a minimum of twenty years of relatively maintenance free service.  By waterproofing the framework of the deck, it is possible to extend the life of a deck to thirty years. Doing so involves applying waterproof tapes over the top of the supporting rafters and ledger boards.

Related Content: How to Build a Simple Deck?

By comparison, a stone patio can last for decades if it is set in concrete. Paver walkways and patios will last twenty years on average, and longer if not exposed to salt or corrosive chemicals. When pavers are laid in aggregate, there is a possibility of shifting due to expansion and contraction, and certain brick pavers can deteriorate over time. One maintenance consideration with patios can be weeds if a proper root barrier is not incorporated into the initial construction.

The possibilities are literally endless. One of the elements that add considerable value to the home is when a deck and or patio design appears better or different than the average.

This can be achieved by incorporating different species of wood, or synthetic decking materials, incorporating lighting to enhance mood and accentuate features of the deck or patio, water features, etc. Think earth, wind, fire, and water as elements that soothe, create interest, and elevate the structure beyond the average.

Whether one chooses a patio a deck or both, it will represent an investment that can add ten percent value to a home (assuming it is attractive and well done). It represents an investment that will typically pay one back almost dollar for dollar spent.

Roof decks have long been a popular retrofit project for urban dwellers that may have limited backyard space. Income properties that have outdoor roof deck /terraces command higher rent and can serve to help protect the flat roof beneath.

Before investing in a rooftop deck, it is important to insure that the structure beneath can support the weight of the new deck structure, the weight of occupants, and snow load. It is also very important that the waterproofing element is in new condition before undertaking such work.

Because such work is completed at heights, it is important to hire an experienced professional who can build the roof deck to building code compliance standards. It is also a design consideration to incorporate proper drainage of the flat roof beneath.

To learn more about rooftop decks, backyard decks and patios, visit: or view us on Youtube™.