There are pros and cons to both outdoor living space styles.

When it comes to increasing your home's livable spaces, many people opt to expand outdoors—especially nowadays. Adding on a deck or patio, for example, can give you more places to relax, entertain, or simply sit and enjoy everything nature has to offer. But deciding between the former, which is often made from wood or wood composite, or the latter, typically composed of some type of stone, can be a tricky prospect. Here's what one expert says you absolutely need to know before you choose.

home exterior back terrace teak lounge with firepit
Credit: William Abranowicz

When to Choose a Deck

If your home sits on a piece of land with a significant slope or one that experiences a large elevation change across the property's span, Ryan Trudell, the vice president of landscape architecture at Creative Environments, says a deck may be best. "In these situations, the home can be designed with a multi-level floor plan that allows elevated walkout decks," he says. "These areas expand the indoor and outdoor living areas of the home and make the overall floor plan feel much larger. This also takes advantage of otherwise unusable sloped landscapes."

According to Trudell, your environment should also impact your decision. "In areas with more frequent rainfall and moisture, selecting wood decks can be a wise decision, considering the lower up-front cost of the raw materials and installation," he explains. "However, in desert climates, wood does not perform well and has a short lifespan. The timber will dry out and crack quickly."

When to Choose a Patio

For homeowners with flatter properties, stone or man-made patios are more popular. "Natural stone products, as well as concrete pavers, are a great solution. They are durable and come in a wide array of colors and textures," Trudell shares. "These materials range from formal interlocking patterns to natural, informal shapes." As an added bonus, these types of patios are typically installed over a compacted sand base course—a simple process that many homeowners can tackle on their own.

While most patios are made from stone or poured concrete, those aren't your only options: Trudell explains that there are a myriad of man-made iterations, like outdoor-rated porcelain tile, that can be used to craft beautiful spaces; consider Art Deco-inspired patterns or tiles with a wood-forward aesthetic to create a farmhouse look, he says. "These materials add wonderful character, but do typically come at higher installation costs."


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