This RenoCompare comparison post is written for homeowners who are deciding between installing a deck or a porch as their next outdoor hardscape project. In this report we will outline the main differences between a porch and a patio, the most popular types of porch and patio (including the best materials used for construction) and typical uses and building costs. You can also learn about any permits required for construction and how to clean and maintain your patio or porch once it’s installed. Feel free to use our quick links to zip back and forth to the content that is most useful to you.
What is a Patio | Different Types Patio | What is a Porch | Different Types of Porch | Uses | Materials | Permits | Costs | Maintenance | ROI
Unless you’re planning to do the work yourself, you’ll need to find yourself reliable and experienced hardscaping professionals to do the work. RenoCompare can help match you with qualified contractors 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?
The word patio comes from Spanish, literally meaning “court open to the sky.” This outdoor hardscape is generally located in back or side yards adjacent to a house, although they can be located farther away as a separate structure. Unlike porches or decks, patios are built directly on the ground and have only a single level.
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DIFFERENT TYPES OF PATIOS
The following are the most popular types of patio.
Pea Gravel: Pea gravel patios are a popular budget option although they do have their drawbacks. While very attractive, the small size of pea gravel can be uncomfortable and impractical, requiring continual maintenance and up keep.
Poured Concrete: Inexpensive yet durable, poured concrete is possibly the most popular type as its size and shape are only limited by your imagination and your budget! Concrete patios gain a custom look through a method called stamping that adds texture and pattern that can mimic stone. Add color to enhance the look further.
Clay Bricks: Appropriate for traditional and contemporary architecture, clay bricks can attain different, attractive geometric designs. They last a long time and can be easily replaced. Nevertheless, they are expensive, but you can cut costs and be more environmentally friendly by using reclaimed bricks.
Pavers: Another economical choice that is easy to install, pavers are made of concrete, sometimes with stamped designs that make them mimic wood, brick, or stone. Pavers interlock with one another, making them an easy DIY project.
Stone: Homeowners will find various types in this category, all providing an elegant look. Natural stone is also an eco-friendly option that will last for many years and even indefinitely. These options are more expensive as they must be quarried and transported, adding to the costs.
- Flagstone presents a classic surface, but the material is thick and heavy and readily absorbs heat in the summer. Find out more about flagstone patio costs.
- Bluestone is tough, durable, and weather resistant, coming in a variety of hues.
- Limestone is also weather-resistant, making it a good choice in harsh climates.
- Sandstone is excellent for areas around pools and water features as it has a non-skid finish.
Tile: This surface is colorful and visually appealing, letting your imagination run wild. Most patio tiles are placed on top of another surface, such as poured concrete, or are set in strategic locations for colorful accents. You’ll find a vast range of patterns and textures for your project. Tiles are also incredibly easy to clean but note that they become quite slippery when wet.
WHAT IS A PORCH?
A porch is an open structure with protection over it, protecting you from rain, sun, and other elements. You’ll usually find porches on the front side of the home, but often they will extend to the side or may even be in the back. Porches are built near entryways and can be screened or fully open. They are usually part of a home’s design and an extension of its architectural style.
Further Reading: Differences Between Deck and Porch – Cost Comparison
DIFFERENT TYPES OF PORCHES
The word porch is an umbrella term that signifies several different styles that are similar in function but have a unique look.
Portico: This type of front porch leads to a building entrance. Think of it as a roofed walkway with columns like the buildings in ancient Greece. They’re ideal for classical-looking homes.
Sunroom: Also known as garden rooms, patio rooms, or solarium, sunrooms are essentially closed porches with a bright and versatile appeal for lounging or entertaining. They’re an extension of your home with large glass or plastic panels that let in light and protect you from the elements.
Wraparound Porch: Inspired by farmhouses, these porches live up to their name as a narrow covered area that wraps around your home, usually with entrances to several rooms. They offer a lot of space for decorations like swings and plants.
Veranda: Meaning porch in Portuguese, verandas are open-air, roofed spaces usually partly enclosed by a railing. They are similar to wraparound porches in that they extend from the front of a house to its side. They are common in warm climates.
Back Porch: This space is informal when compared to the other types. Use a back porch to connect your kitchen to an outdoor garden or backyard. They’re great for relaxing or as a place to sit while watching children play.
Find more porch ideas and options on our dedicated Screened Porch page.
If you have neither and are undecided on porch vs patio, consider how you will use the space. Will it be a place to cook and entertain, or do you want to relax and lounge? What about your climate? Is it hot or frequently rainy? Consider the amount of space you have and your budget too.
Patios make the perfect outdoor entertainment area, with large ones divided into several regions, including an outdoor kitchen, dedicated dining area, bench seating for conversation, etc. They’re also generally less expensive, depending on size and options. In a hot, sunny climate, you may want to add a roof to shield your family and guests from the blazing sun.
Porches are pricey; there is no getting around it. But if you want a covered place to relax, a place where you can hang plants or just enjoy life, this option is for you. If you want to stay close to the house to soak us some fresh air and relax, then the patio vs porch conundrum is evident. The porch is the way to go.
Further Reading: Thanksgiving Front Porch Decoration Ideas
Patios: When it comes to patios, carefully consider the type of material you want to install with regard to your climate. Poured concrete, and even concrete pavers, can repeatedly crack if you live in an area with dramatic temperature swings. This can lead to frequent replacement. Note that natural stone and tile can be slippery in wet, snowy, and cold weather.
Porches: If you select a porch made of wood, it will have a significantly shorter lifespan than one made of engineered wood or other materials such as vinyl. When using wood, choose decay-resistant redwood or cedar and have the wood sealed. Check the manufacturer’s recommendation about when to replace failing floorboards and supports before you demolish the entire structure and buy a new one. Wood will also need frequent replacement, especially if unsealed, as well as frequent painting or staining.
Patio: You don’t always need a patio to construct a patio, but some municipalities are quirky regarding this requirement. It’s always a good idea to check with the officials in the town where you live.
Porch: Most municipalities will require the homeowner to get a permit no matter who is doing the work. Do yourself a favor and just ask before you start the work.
Patio: Generally, a patio costs much less than a porch. However, you can expect the price to increase dramatically if you decide to put in fancy features like fountains and other hardscapes, built-in outdoor kitchens, and the like. Costs can range from $800 to $13,000, with labor costs averaging about $65 per hour. However, you may install one for as little as $800 if you do the job yourself.
Porch: The average porch costs about $4,600 to build, with size, enclosures, and other additional elements critical factors that increase the cost. More elaborate porches can cost up to $21,000 to build.
Patio: Most patios simply need sweeping and a light scrubbing every few months to remove dirt. In extreme climates, you’ll need to replace cracked pavers, concrete, or bricks every few years. Natural stone rarely needs maintenance beyond periodic cleaning.
Porch: For minimal maintenance following construction, choose materials made of recycled plastics or treated wood to minimize maintenance. Traditional hardwoods rot within a few years, requiring replacement and painting of the affected areas.
A new patio has more potential to increase the resale value of your home as it is not attached to your home’s structure. Porches are considered more of a part of your home, so they don’t have a high return on investment if you add one after buying your home. If the difference between patio and porch comes down to resale, go with a patio, as it will add a value equal to 25% to 50% of the typical square foot price for the interior of your home. The value of your porch will be inherent in the time you spend enjoying it.
Can you use a patio heater in a screened porch?
Typically freestanding tall gas patio heaters are not suitable for indoor or enclosed areas like a porch as they need a lot of overhead clearance and ventilation. An electric patio heater or smaller indoor propane gas heaters are better options.
What’s the difference between and patio and a porch?
A patio is generally located in the backyard adjacent to a house. A porch is an open, covered structure usually on the front side of the home. If you want to sit out in the open go with a patio, if you prefer to feel sheltered choose a porch.
Do patios increase property taxes?
Installing a patio is unlikely to increase the property taxes you pay unless a) the patio is of a size that increases the square footage of your house or b) the cost of installing the patio is higher than $5000
Is a patio cover a good investment?
If you like the idea of having an enclosed patio or covered patio (a bit like a detached porch) then a patio cover can be a great idea. This is especially true in wet or extremely hot climates when a covered patio will protect you and your patio from the elements.
Do patios require permits?
Hardly ever, but please check with your local HOA if you have one. Cover patios will need a permit as you’ll be building a structure. Finding out if you need a permit is often as simple as visiting your local municipal website.