While their purpose in life is exactly the same, outdoor decking and patios are two different constructions. So, before you start asking yourself whether a concrete patio or a wooden deck will be the best solution for your backyard, it’s important to decide with structure will best fit your needs (and taste).
And then, concrete and wood are two completely different materials, in terms of appearance, cost, maintenance, longevity, performance. And when it comes to wood decks, there’s a handful of choices among timber species. So, let us tell you a bit of all that to make your decision much easier.
Outdoor deck or patio?
Patios are flush with the ground and while concrete is a popular material, it’s not the only one. Patios may also be made with brick, flagstone, aluminum, or even glass. It can be adjacent – or not, to the house and since it’s a rather low structure – think of a platform, it doesn’t need railings.
Decks, on the other hand, are raised platforms. And so, what lies beneath the deck matters a lot for the structure’s stability and integrity. Since they are raised – often high, decks need railings, for safety purposes alone. Here the materials vary as well, although wood is the dominant option. Other choices would be PVC and composite, while the wood deck options range from pressure-treated and cedar to ipe decks, and many more in between.
The advantage & disadvantage of wood decks
Let us pinpoint first that when we talk about ipe, redwood, or cedar deck building, we are actually talking about three different constructions. The pros and cons of such structures vary based on the wood option, although the quality of the wood and the deck construction also play a vital role. With that said, let’s move on to take a look at the overall benefits of wood decks.
The main advantage of wooden decks lies on their natural beauty and warmth. Since wood varies, you can pick the style and color of your liking, when it comes to the natural grain. Wood can be stained and if you get tired of it at some point, you can always paint it.
A deck builder can make any shape of structure. The deck can be very low with only joists supporting it or really high, while it can be multi-leveled too. So, wood is versatile and the deck can have the form and design you like.
The downsides? Even treated, wood is only so much resistant to the elements. So, your decision also has to do with the wood choice and how much the deck will be exposed to the elements. It requires regular maintenance and it may warp, split and rot, but the truth is that most problems can be fixed – if caught in time. And that takes us back to the need for regular care, in which case wood decks may last for a couple (or more) decades. A last – certainly not least, consideration is the cost. Building wood decks requires more money than building concrete patios. But then again, it has to do with the structure (size, location, shape, expectations, etc.) and the deck installation cost too.
The advantage & disadvantage of concrete patios
By nature, concrete patios are much simpler structures than decks. And while it would be oversimplified to say that they are much cheaper than wood decks due to the fact that not all such structures are the same, they overall are. Concrete is a main building material – one whose main ingredients are cement and aggregates, and much cheaper than wood. So, when the prime material for a construction is low priced, you start off on the right foot.
While its low price is a good incentive, it’s not the only one. Concrete may not have the elegance of wood but it’s unique – particularly beautiful to many. You can pick the color, you can choose the style, and see it happening in no time.
The downsides? If we assume that the aesthetics is a subjective matter, concrete may crack due to the repeated contraction and expansion. And so, although it’s practically a maintenance free material, it may need some sealing and repairs over the years. Two additional disadvantages are that concrete may feel particularly warm on bare feet and it can become slippery, when wet.