What Is The Difference Between A Balcony And A Roof Terrace?

June 7, 2023 Author: Jamie


$2,900 to $7,832

(depending on size and materials)


$2,400 – $5,600

(160-square-foot balcony)


Terrace with wooden decking


  • Adds to building aesthetics
  • Great views
  • Additional space to grow plants


  • Design is often lengthy
  • Cost may be prohibitive
  • Waterproofing may be necessary

$2,900 to $7,832

(depending on size and materials)

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Balcony with blue chairs


  • Lots of privacy
  • Great views
  • Place for live plants


  • Usually narrow and cramped
  • Can be expensive to build
  • Safety concerns

$2,400 – $5,600

(160-square-foot balcony installed)

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Get free estimates from deck and porch contractors in your city.

If you’re unsure what the difference is between a terrace and a balcony, then this RenoCompare comparison post is for you. In this report, we define each and outline the main differences between a terrace and a balcony, as well as discuss relative size, location, and construction. We also discuss design ideas and the best uses for your terrace or balcony. You can use our quick links to zip back and forth to the content that is most useful to you.

What is a TerraceWhat is a Balcony | Main Differences | Size | Location | Construction | UsesStyles | Privacy

Building a terrace or balcony will require the services of a professional. 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.

Related Reading: Balcony Vs. Patio


A terrace is a paved or tiled outdoor space often found on the roofs of buildings. When not located on the roof, terraces are slightly raised areas. Most are pretty large as they are used as social spaces, especially in apartments or large commercial buildings in urban areas.


A balcony is an external platform attached to a building protected by a railing or a low wall. Generally, they are long and narrow and only access from limited areas inside a building. You’ll find balconies on the second floor or higher on houses or larger structures.


Terraces and balconies are often mistaken for one another, but they are quite different. A terrace is a raised stand-alone structure. They can be at ground level or as a large raised area on the side of the building on a second floor or higher and encompass many variations. They are always open spaces, whereas balconies must have an enclosure to protect occupants from falling.

Because of their smaller size, balconies are usually used as an extension of the living space for the room to which they are attached. Use them for many purposes, including small relaxation areas, small gardens with potted or hanging plants, or an alfresco dining/cooking spot. Balconies are always attached to a building.


Balconies are almost always rectangular, with the length being greater than the depth. The width is usually half or less of the length. Typical sizes for balconies are eight, ten, or 12 feet long with a width of four or five feet. You can decrease the depth to a minimum of 1.5 or two feet for standing balconies. The decision to construct a balcony vs a terrace usually depends on how much space you need.

For terraces, size depends on use and location. When on a rooftop, the square footage of the flat rooftop limits the maximum size, but you can also construct one that is smaller. The minimum usable size of a terrace is approximately 7′ x 13′. This size can accommodate about four to six people with a small table, chairs, shelves, and even a sofa. The minimal size for parties, dances, and other social events is about 8′ x 24′.


Some people believe that the placement of balconies and terraces significantly affects the energy of a residence. The correct placement of either can enhance the flow of positive energies and ensure extra ventilation and sunlight. You’ll find energy experts who only recommend construction on either the north, east or northeast side of a building, claiming that a south or west location will result in negative energy. If you’re not concerned about that aspect, think of usage. If you want to grow potted plants or a garden on your balcony or terrace, placing them on the southwestern side of your building is best to take advantage of sunlight.

East and west placement allows you to view sunrises and sunsets, while a northern placement is ideal when you want to enjoy the outdoors in locales with strong heat and abundant sunshine.


When deciding to build a terrace vs a balcony, you’ll find that terraces can encompass many different construction materials as compared to balconies. Wood, brick, or metal are popular choices for most framed terraces. Wood harmonizes with the environment and emphasizes decorative style. Hardwoods are the best option, especially oak and teak. When choosing your materials, consider the purpose of the terrace. Other possibilities include glass, polycarbonate, PVC, and brick, with the last choice ideal for traditional looks.

Balconies take more time in the planning stages because of design considerations. Designers must consider dead, imposed, and wind loads when choosing materials and supports. Balconies also require balustrades or guardrails in addition to flooring. Typical restraint materials include metal, concrete, and glass. You’ll also want to ensure that no matter the type of material selected for the guardrails, the design should not allow occupants like children to easily climb the structure and risk falling to the ground below.


Contemporary terraces serve many purposes. In urban areas, they can be used as roof gardens. Roof terraces are also popular as places to install pools or jacuzzis for relaxation. Of course, you can also use terraces for entertainment as party or dining spaces.

Classical balconies were places to stand for a few moments to enjoy the outdoors. Today, they serve to extend the living space of the room to which they are attached, with a range of uses from relaxation to mini dining areas.


The style and aesthetics you incorporate into your terrace give it a decided vibe. Consider the following when determining your design for your terrace:

  • Modern – Comfort and simplicity with high-quality functional design
  • Traditional – Pastel colors combined with stone and wood
  • Colonial – Lush green spaces with wooden furniture and other natural elements
  • Beach – Thematic imagery, using blues, greens, and sand to harmonize with the landscape

Balcony aesthetic can also run the gamut. Try these:

  • Set up a bar area
  • Create a mood with special lighting
  • Maximize privacy with hanging textiles
  • Create a park-like atmosphere with hanging and vining plants


As terraces are primarily open spaces, you won’t find much privacy here unless you build your terrace with cozy alcoves. When it comes to a hidden retreat, the difference between balcony and terrace is clear. Balconies are the decided winners as you can construct privacy walls on the side to minimize who can see your actions. However, you should remember that occupants in buildings directly across from your balcony will be able to see what you are doing.


Jamie Sandford - Owner and Lead Editor at RenoCompareJamie Sandford is the Chief Editor at RenoCompare (find out more). Jamie has been involved in construction for over 30 years. Straight out of college, Jamie worked with construction crews for the television, film and theatre industries for over 12 years. In his thirties, he turned his attention to DIY decorating and construction, working on many house renovations and remodels. During this time he started to specialize in home flooring and in 2013 he launched the Home Flooring Pros website. Two years later he launched RenoCompare.

“I’ve seen interior design, remodeling, and construction from both sides of the street, contractors on one side and homeowners on the other. My aim is to close the gap between the professionals and the consumers and make it easier for both sides to work smoothly and effectively side by side. At RenoCompare we want to save you time and money by giving you the information you need as simply and as quickly as possible!”

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