The Great Debate, deck versus patio, has long raged among homeowners who want to create a dynamic living space for relaxing, entertaining and enjoying the great outdoors.
In this home renovation guide, we tackle the debate by pitting decks against patios – specifically composite decking vs patios crafted from brick, pavers and concrete.
These are just a few of the important questions we’ll consider as we look at the pros and cons of decks and patios in head-to-head comparison.
Composite decking has been in production since the 1990s and is now a home improvement industry with sales of more than $1 billion annually! Once something of a novelty, it now presents a real and competitive alternative to natural wood decking and pressure-treated lumber.
The makeup of composite decking is 50 percent wood from sawdust, ground wood waste or recycled paper and 50 percent plastic from recycled jugs or shopping bags. It’s estimated that each foot of composite decking contains 1.5 pounds of material removed from the waste stream. Industry leader Trex claims to divert 400 million pounds of used plastic and wood per year from landfills into its products each year.
Pigments are added to produce a spectrum of colors mainly in muted tones of brown, grey, off-white, taupe etc which lends itself to a more formal, almost stately style; quite different from most patios options as you will see below. Ultraviolet inhibitors slow or prevent fading. The mixture is heated to melt the plastic and bind the entire blend, and then boards are extruded. While still hot, the boards may be embossed with texture to give them the appearance of genuine wood.
As with most building products, there are various grades available, with composite decking prices increasing with quality and style. Composite material with higher quality, premium color and texturing to look like cedar or tropical woods costs significantly more.
Composite Decking Material Cost: $4 to $10 per square foot.
Composite Decking Installation Cost: $2 per square foot for simple decks up to $10 per square foot for complex decks.
There are many reasons to consider composite decking for your project, and there are a few cautions too.
Here are the benefits of composite decking:
Here are the disadvantages of composite decking:
Take a look at these deck images to get an idea of the look you can expect to create with this kind of decking and then compare them with the patio photos below.
So, what’s it going to be for your home, a raised deck or a ground-level patio? Let’s compare a composite wood deck to the three most popular types of patios – those made with brick, pavers and concrete.
Brick patios have been popular for centuries, and they’re an attractive addition to many styles including traditional, colonial, Victorian, rustic, country, Cape Cod, Mediterranean, contemporary, modern and dozens more.
Pros of Brick Patios: Here are the pros and cons of brick patios which you can compare with what’s been said about composite decking above.
Cons of Brick Patios: There are just a few caveats when considering brick as the material for your patio
Brick Patio Material Cost: $2.50 to $4.50 per square foot.
Brick Patio Installation Cost: $3 to $11 per square foot depending on the complexity of the job, and possibly more when extensive site excavation is required.
Compare these images of brick patios with the composite deck photos above and the paver/concrete patios below.
Pavers give you plenty of options for creating just the look you want to go with your home’s design and your personal style. Most have a contemporary feel, but some look good with traditional styles.
Pros of Patio Paver Stones: Here are the reasons most often given for choosing pavers
Cons of Patio Paver Stones: Keep these potential drawbacks in mind as you plan your project
Patio Paver Material Cost: $3 to $5.50 per square foot.
Patio Paver Installation Cost: $4 to $11 per square foot depending on the complexity of the job and the experience of the installer, and prices can be even higher when extensive site excavation is required.
Take a look at these four completed patios to get a sense of what can be achieved with pavers.
Using poured concrete is a quick and easy way to produce a patio. If you want something more than basic concrete, consider stamping, staining or coloring it to create a fantastic look.
Pros of Poured Concrete Patios: Here’s what concrete offers
Cons of Poured Concrete Patios: Here is what turns off some homeowners to using concrete
Concrete Patio Material Cost: $1.25 to $2.50 per square foot.
Concrete Patio Installation Cost: $1.50 to $4 per square foot for plain concrete; up to $7 per square foot for stamping or staining.
Finally take a look at these four concrete patio photos for inspiration.
Summary: For many homeowners, choosing between a deck and a patio begins with the budget. Decks typically cost more than patios. Once you’ve decided what to spend, this information will help you choose between a deck and patio and how extensive you want your project to be.