Our latest RenoCompare comparison post is concerned with the differences between a patio and a balcony. We’re going to give you the definition of each and highlight the main features of each. If you’re planning to build a patio or a balcony then read on to learn the best materials to use, there permits you’ll need and how much you’re likely to pay. Finally we cover post installation information including maintenance, saftey, bugs and resale value. Feel free to use our quick links to zip back and forth to the content that is most useful to you.
If you’re interested in hiring professional contractors to carry out construction, RenoCompare can help match you with qualified builders in your local area. After you’ve read through this post click here for free, no obligation quotes and quality home improvement services.
WHAT IS A PATIO?
A patio is an outdoor paved surface that leads you into one of your home’s entrances, although it is not part of the building’s structure. Surfaces used include poured concrete slabs, concrete pavers, and stones like pea gravel. Bricks or tiles are also sometimes used. As patios are frequently uncovered, they must have sturdy construction to withstand the elements.
WHAT IS A BALCONY?
A balcony is a platform on a building’s exterior that projects from its outer wall, usually enclosed by a railing, a balustrade, or some other barrier to protect people from falling. They are generally small in area and constructed at least one floor above ground level. Balconies are linked to a specific room in a residence and are often found on condominiums, town homes, and apartments. Sometimes they overlook patios.
WHAT ABOUT A PATIO BALCONY?
If deciding between a patio or balcony is too much, why not combine the best of both worlds and construct a covered patio with a balcony? Building a covered patio works well in areas that experience high temperatures and blazing sunshine in the summer. But the advantages go beyond protection from heat.
A patio balcony can protect you from rain, allowing you to use your outdoor space when raindrops begin to fall. It also creates a living room-like feel that makes your patio more like an extension of your house. With this construction, the balcony can act as more of a private space for relaxation, while the covered patio can host meals and guests.
Note that the balcony doesn’t have to cover the entire patio. By only covering part of it, you’ll extend the illusion of a seamless indoor/outdoor space.
PATIO VS BALCONY PRIMARY USES
Both extend the living space of a home but in different ways. The main difference between patio and balcony debate is size. Patios are larger and often used for eating and entertaining. Depending on its size, you may find multiple seating areas, a dedicated dining space, an outdoor kitchen, potted plants, and similar amenities. They are meant to be used by a lot of people.
For balconies, size is at a premium, which usually restricts their usage. They are often longer than they are wide and can only accommodate a handful of people at a time. Balconies can provide a leisure area for the occupants of condos and town homes who do not have a backyard, allowing them to enjoy sunlight and fresh air without leaving their residences. Homeowners also use balconies as al fresco cooking and dining areas, although balcony size restricts the dimension and number of tables and chairs, plus outdoor grills.
Different types of patio materials: The material used for the patio surface defines its look and shape. Concrete is the most versatile in terms of design, as you can install the patio in virtually any shape. It’s also the least expensive option, even though it is highly durable. Adding a color or stamping the surface can dress up the look. Adding accent tiles can also heighten the aesthetic. Concrete pavers are another inexpensive option and come in a variety of colors and shapes. Natural stone is an environmentally friendly option that will hold its color better than concrete. Clay bricks are another popular choice as they offer a distinctive aesthetic that complements traditional and contemporary architecture. Cheapest of all is a pea gravel patio but be sure to consider the pros and cons.
All patios require excavation of at least eight inches of dirt and some leveling of the space. Next comes a base layer of sand and gravel. Depending on the type of material, the installation may also require edging to keep the patio in place. A weed barrier laid over the top of the sand and gravel base is also a good idea to keep weeds from eventually popping up through cracks.
Choosing balcony materials is more complicated than choosing patio materials, as the balcony will attach to your building. Balconies consist of two main parts–the deck and the balustrade or barrier. Popular deck materials include wood, wood composite, vinyl, and cement. The balustrade defines your balcony’s look, with choices including wood, metal, and even glass. The material you choose for your balustrade is crucial because it must match the exterior of your home.
The type of balcony you choose will also affect its construction. Floating decks that attach directly to the building are more complicated to construct than those with supports underneath the floor, making the balcony appear more like a deck. Traditional balconies may be secured by a base that extends out from the building, bolted onto the exterior, or secured to the structure by a cantilever method.
ARE PERMITS NECESSARY?
Patio: Many areas don’t require permits, but each state and municipality differ. The larger the patio, the more likely you’ll need one. If the patio will attach to the home or if it has a covering, you will almost certainly need one. Always check with your municipality.
Balcony: As these structures are part of your home, you will need a permit. If you have a professional construct the balcony, the contractor must have a business license. Click here for quotes from approved professionals.
Patio: The average cost to build a patio is $3,725, but of course, the size and materials used can increase the final bill. For a professionally installed patio, expect to pay between $3,000 and $13,000, with labor costs running at about $65 per hour. If you do the job yourself, you may spend as little as $800.
Balcony: True balconies with floating decks are much more expensive because of the labor involved in attaching the structure to the building. They can run $20,000 to $70,000, but if you don’t mind exterior supports underneath, you’ll spend half that amount and even less. Square foot costs for materials and labor run $15 to $90, depending on your chosen amenities.
Compare Other Patio and Balcony Costs from Trusted Resources:
HomeAdvisor: Balcony Cost – $600 – $2,400
LawnStarter: Patio Cost – $2,363 – $5,909
MAINTENANCE AND CLEANING
Patios need little maintenance. Concrete patios are the easiest of all as they need only occasional sweeping and cleaning with water and mild detergent. Although poured and stamped concrete are the most durable surfaces, they are prone to cracking in climates with large temperature changes, so you may eventually have to replace the slabs. Sealing patio surfaces every three to five years will also reduce maintenance. Sealing brick patios is an excellent idea as moss tends to grow on this surface and requires scrubbing with bleach to remove it. Stone is the most maintenance-free, requiring no special care unless the surface becomes stained.
Balcony cleaning is similar. However, because balconies are higher, a significant amount of dirt and grime can accumulate, so you’ll need to clean them more frequently. Start with sweeping, followed by vacuuming in corners. Most balcony floors don’t need any special cleaner, although if you have wood or a manufactured wood surface, check with the manufacturer for recommendations. Cleaning every few years with a power washer is also recommended. Inspect your balcony annually to look for loose connections and ensure the structure is sound.
Patios are generally safe, but surfaces like natural stone and poured concrete can become slippery when excessive water is present, along with snow or ice. As your patio ages, look for uneven surfaces that can cause people to trip and fall and replace them as necessary.
Balcony: These structures are inherently more dangerous because of their height above the ground. When designing your space, make sure that balustrades are high and secure enough so that children and pets can’t climb or jump over them and tumble to the ground. Regular inspections will also ensure the safety of all visitors to prevent them from falling due to loose connections.
Patio: Ants, by far, are the most destructive pests. Paver patios are the most susceptible. Once they breach the surface between your pavers, they create tunnels underneath that damage the integrity of the joints and provide an opportunity for weeds and moss to grow. They can also affect brick patios. Spray or bait ant hills as soon as you see them. Burrowing pests, like mice, chipmunks, and moles, can do the same, so take steps to remove them, too.
Balcony: You may not think balconies have pest problems, but they can. Balconies provide an ideal environment for food and shelter. Spiders, mites, ants, flies, silverfish, and more, will find gaps in your walls and crawl out onto the balcony. If you keep potted plants, you may have problems with aphids or other insects that feed on your chosen plants. Identify your pest and use the appropriate extermination method.
BALCONY VS PATIO RESALE VALUE
Properties with outdoor space, whether a patio or balcony, add value to your property. The square footage of either outdoor space will add a value equal to 25% to 50% of the typical square foot price for the interior. Learn more about recent property trends and values at HomeLight.