When you have a landscaping project, you often want to have a patio or a deck to use as a multi-purpose living space. To properly plan your landscaping, you’ll need to know which one you’d rather have. This decision will completely change the look and practicality of your outdoor yard.
The difference between a patio and a deck
Even though the two terms are regularly interchanged, they don’t mean the same thing! Indeed, a deck is a structure raised above the ground, supported by concrete pillars or screwed piles. It is often made of poured concrete, wood, composites, etc. A patio is a structure that is at ground level with several levels if necessary. It can also be built using several materials.
Deck or patio: which one to choose?
Both the deck and the patio have pros and cons. To help you choose, a landscape architect is your best ally! They will guide you into creating the perfect outdoor area according to your needs, tastes and activities. A landscaping professional will give you the best advices:
1. Put practicality as a top priority
When choosing between a ground-level patio or an elevated deck, the first thing to consider is how you will use this space and the way your home is set up on your property. First, see where people will access the new living area from the house. Next, consider what other space, inside or outside, it will be linked to and how the access will be used. For example, if you move very frequently between the house and the new space, a deck might be more convenient because you won’t have to use steps to use it. If you have a swimming pool, outdoor kitchen, a gazebo or any other recreational areas on your property which are not directly linked to the house, a patio might be a better choice for you
2. Think about the cost and lifespan of the construction
The cost of a deck and a patio are quite similar. Since most quality cladding materials can be used on both types of constructions, it’s the structures that support it that will change. In the case of a deck, you will need to provide concrete pillars or screw piles. You will also need a structure to accommodate the finishing materials. For ground decks, it’s mandatory to provide a good granular base that is adequately compacted to support the covering materials. Considering the lifespan of both structures, it’s obvious that the ground patio is the winner. Since raised deck structures are often made of wood, they will eventually need to be rebuilt. The patio on the ground can be moved, especially if the base is not adequately built. It can always be replaced without it appearing to be damaged.
3. Explore different patio or deck designs
Although nowadays it’s possible to build patios and decks with the same design criterias, some features lend themselves better to one or the other. For example, if you wish to have a patio on the ground floor that is at ground level, but that wouldn’t fit on your house, it is still possible to do so, but it will probably require modifications to the residence. Also, if you wish to have a raised deck that is not linked to the residence, you will have to plan the structural elements accordingly to stabilize the deck so that it does not move under your feet when you walk on it.
There are also certain materials, such as wood, that should not be installed on the ground. Unless a structure and drainage are provided accordingly to prevent premature decay of the structure, wood is prohibited. Furthermore, even if it is possible to install a natural stone covering on a raised deck structure by reinforcing it, make sure to choose a stone that will be calibrated (all of the same thickness) with a finish other than natural (sawn, flamed, sandblasted, etc.).
4. Think of the panoramic view
When planning your deck or patio, you must take into account the constraints and potentials of the environment. You will then be able to make the most of the pros and reduce the cons. If your neighbours have a view of your backyard, a patio on the ground will offer you more privacy. On the other hand, if you decide to go for a raised deck for its practicality, you may need to think about incorporating privacy panels into your project. Finally, if your lot offers a breathtaking view and you want to enjoy it, you can build a ground patio that will last longer and still have level access to it.
In short, although many aspects of ground patios and raised decks are similar, choose the construction that best suits your needs and the layout you wish to create. A landscaping professional will be able to help you make these decisions.
Before you start building your patio or deck, consult our practical guide on the 7 steps to a successful project.