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 the husband wants a deck and the wife wants a patio. Or neither really has any idea what to take into consideration.
So what should you consider when planning your outdoor living space? Here are five basic things that hopefully will make your decision a bit easier.
1. Grades and Elevation.
Often times this is the one factor that may make your decision for you. What is the elevation of your back door? If it’s almost directly at grade, in otherwords 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 harming the trees.
Nearly everybody will tell you that decks typically require more maintenance, and for the most part this is true. Of course a lot of this depends on the type of 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 get pressure-washed on an annual basis as well.
Patios typically require less maintenance, but to say they are maintenenace-free would also be a stretch. Mortared flagstone surfaces will need to be repointed at some point, paver stones are prone to some minor weed growth and most likely will need to be re-swept with sand every few years. And while sealing a hardscaping surface isn’t always entirely necessary, if you do choose to seal the patio it will need resealing every few years to maintain the sealed appearance.
3. Other Features.
Considering a firepit? If so, a wood deck might not be the way to go, for somewhat obvious reasons. Or a hot tub? While decks can be built to hold the weight of a filled hot tub, it 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 typically sized hot tub.
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 requires 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. And the million-dollar category – Cost.
Not that either is going to cost you a million dollars (that’d be one huge living space!). To be honest, the costs are pretty similar, with a range depending on materials. I’ve seen a fair amount of information resources 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 – a 16x20 deck on one site may cost nearly twice as much as the same size deck 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.
Unless an excessive amount of excavation is needed, or an excessive amount of re-grading is required to form a level space, patios tend to be much more consistently priced from one site to the next.
When it comes to composite decking, the prices typically start to become more expensive 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 items, local building codes may also come into play as to what is or isn’t allowed. Most deck construction will require a permit, and with environmental concerns really starting to become a factor, many municipalities are also requiring stormwater management plans in conjunction with hardscaping installation.
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 considerations may apply to your site and not others. Or maybe there are additional things that haven’t been brought up in this article.
For a free consultation on how to best increase your outdoor space, please feel free to give us a call. We’d love