Patio vs Deck: 17 pros and cons

Patio vs Deck- 17 pros and cons by landscape design build company Nest Outdoors of Bedford NH

Written by Wayne Lamarre · Last Updated February 12th, 2023


Ready for that long overdue backyard transformation? Looking to add some outdoor happiness in the form of better outdoor living but tired of debating between a patio and a deck? Look no further – this article about patio vs. deck: 17 pros and cons are here to help! 

We'll outline the key differences between patios and decks, so you can learn the potential benefits (and drawbacks) of each and decide which option is best for your home. 

Key takeaways from this landscape design article from Nest Outdoors:

  1. How flat or sloped your backyard is may help you decide what the best choice for you is.
  2. Decks are usually more expensive than patios.
  3. Permitting and permeability issues play a role in choosing.
  4. Patios are hard to beat for durability.
  5. Decks may give you a better return on investment when you sell. 
  6. Both help you experience better outdoor living.

Let's start with a simple definition of terms:


PATIO [ pat-ee-oh, pah-tee-oh ] noun

An area, usually paved, adjoining a house and used as an area for outdoor lounging, dining, etc.
Definition by


DECK [ dek ] noun

An open, unroofed porch or platform extending from a house or other building.

Definition by


We'll now expand on these definitions with patio vs deck 17 pros and cons, most likely the only comparative list you'll ever need to decide what is best for your backyard.

The Nest Outdoors list of Patio vs Deck pros and cons

The pros of a patio

1. Better connection to the landscape

Landscape design by Nest Outdoors featuring a custom stone patio with a sitting wall and landscape lighting

Because they are generally built "on grade," in other words, right on the ground, patios have the advantage of sitting right down in the landscape. This can offer a better connection to the natural surroundings. Patios are easily designed and built to integrate naturally with the surrounding landscape. A stronger connection to nature can bring a pleasant feeling to being on a patio surrounded by things like natural stone and native plantings. By comparison, decks can sometimes feel disconnected from the surrounding landscape, especially if made from synthetic materials. 

2. Lower cost

Patios can often be a cost-effective alternative to a deck. Many materials you can choose for a patio come with a lower price tag than popular decking options. And if site conditions are favorable (easy access, level ground), overall construction costs can be minimized. These factors can, in many cases, place the price per square foot for a patio significantly lower than a deck. 

3. Easier to install

Patios may be easier to install than decks because they don't need to be attached to the house, so you can have more options on where to place them in your backyard. In some cases, for example, in simpler designs utilizing basic pavers, a patio can be relatively easier to install than a deck. 

4. Versatility in design/shape

Patios can vary significantly in their design and size, and they can be circular, rectilinear, or contain curves of all types. Their versatility is generally more flexible than a deck because they are separate from and not bound by the architecture of your home. They can be designed to incorporate features such as fire pits, outdoor kitchens, and water features in more natural ways than many decks. 

5. Can be built with natural stone 

Full color bluestone patio designed and installed by Nest Outdoors

Building a patio with natural stone can give a patio a real advantage over a deck in many contexts. Stone is an organic earth product that is long-lasting, low-maintenance, and an aesthetically pleasing material option. Natural stone patios can work beautifully with rustic garden designs or in modern, contemporary settings. Stones give the feel of solid, strength, and durability that is difficult to match with a synthetic product. 

6. Low maintenance

Patios are typically constructed using concrete pavers, clay pavers, or stone, which are more solid, rugged, and require less maintenance than wood commonly used for decks. Whatever you choose for your patio will be less likely they'll be damaged by extreme weather conditions, temperature changes, and water damage. Unlike wood decks, they don't require regular staining or sealing to maintain their appearance.

7. More privacy

In many backyards, a patio will offer more privacy because they sit lower in elevation on most properties compared to a deck. The lowered sightline can more easily block neighbors' or passersby's views. Enhancing privacy further with taller plants and shrubs or a fence or specially designed privacy screen can often be easier with a patio than a deck. Greater privacy can give you and your guests elevated feelings of safety, comfort, and ease. 

8. Safe and accessible

A patio can be safer and more accessible for a wider range of people because they are typically built closer to the ground, often on the same level as the lawn, making it easier for people to step on and off. This is especially helpful for little ones or anyone with mobility issues. Decks, on the other hand, are often elevated, making them more challenging to access, especially for older individuals or those with disabilities. 

9. Durability

Patios are made of solid hardscape materials like stone and concrete, which are highly durable and capable of withstanding exposure to the elements over very long periods of time. Common patio materials, such as concrete pavers, clay brick, or natural stone, are strong and long-lasting and are generally unaffected by exposure to the elements such as rain, snow, wind, and sunlight. This makes patios a durable and low-maintenance option for outdoor living spaces. 

10. No permit is needed in most areas 

Most towns don't require permits to build a patio, which gives more design freedom and fewer obstacles or delays during construction. However, permits for patios may be needed in cities where the percentage of impervious surfaces (Roofs, driveways, walkways, patios, etc.) on a single property is a concern. Too high a percentage of impervious surfaces inhibits stormwater infiltration in the ground.

Note 1: Permitting ensures proper construction, so hiring an experienced patio installer who understands how to build to accepted industry standards is crucial.  

Note 2: Patios can be designed with methods that allow proper water infiltration. Contact us if you think drainage or permeability is an issue in your backyard. 

Patio concept with hot tub and soutdor sauna from Nest Outdoors

It's satisfying to build a patio knowing a family will use it to create memorable moments that can last a lifetime.

Wayne Lamarre - Owner Nest Outdoors

The cons of a patio 

1. Requires a level grade 

It can be more challenging and expensive to install a patio on uneven ground compared to a deck. A level surface needs to be achieved by building up the grade, cutting down the grade, or using retaining walls. If the ground is uneven, it may require additional grading or excavation work to level the area, which can add to the cost and time required for the installation. 

2. Requires excavation

Patios typically require excavation of any grass, soil, and organic material and replaced with a compacted structural base like hardpack, crushed stone, or gravel, depending on the application. This provides a solid surface for pavers or stone to be laid upon. Machines like skid steers or mini excavators result in a significant disturbance to the landscape and may involve the removal or transplantation of plants and trees. Your yard might also need fill material trucked in to create better grades adjacent to your patio, which can further impact the surrounding area and require grading and drainage work, which can be a more complex and disruptive process than installing a deck.

3. May be prone to settling or cracking

If not installed with a good structural base and attention to drainage requirements, a patio made with familiar materials like pavers, bluestone, or granite can be subject to settling or heaving in areas over time. Patios made from poured concrete are subject o environmental stressors like the freeze/thaw cycle of New Hampshire winters, which can lead to soil movement and cause the patio to shift or settle. This settling can lead to concrete cracking or other types of damage to the patio surface, which can be unsightly, left unattended for long enough, and can cause tripping hazards. 

4. Needs adequate drainage

A patio needs sufficient drainage and should be designed and constructed to prevent water from pooling or accumulating on its surface. Poor drainage can lead to water shedding off the surface to undesirable areas, fostering mildew growth or allowing for icy patches during winter, and these are the kinds of things that lead to slips and falls. 

If your patio has drainage issues, rainwater will seep into the surrounding soil and cause damage to the foundation of your home or the surrounding landscaping. Adequate drainage is essential for patios with impervious surfaces that do not allow water to pass through. To ensure proper drainage a "pitch" of 1.5% to 2% is recommended. This gentle slope promotes proper runoff and stormwater management, allowing water to run off and drain away from the home and surrounding structures.

5. Lack of shade can be an issue

Lack of shade can make any outdoor living spaces uncomfortable and even unbearable during hot summer months. Depending on the location and design elements, patios can be more exposed to the sun, making it difficult to enjoy your time outdoors. You may need to add to your budget to introduce some shade in the form of a well-selected and placed tree or with the construction of overhead structures such as a pergola or pavilion that provide much-needed relief from the sun. The cost and feasibility of adding shade will depend on your budget and the specific design of the patio and the surrounding landscape.

6. Problems with impervious surfaces

Typical patio construction means the surface is impervious, meaning it does not allow water to pass through. This can be problematic for a few reasons. In a natural state, stormwater in the form of rainfall would infiltrate directly into the ground. Impervious surfaces prevent this, which means water will build up and run across the surface until it arrives at a place to infiltrate. Water will flow directed by gravity will find the path of least resistance. If not properly managed, this water runoff can lead to the erosion of soils and cause water damage to basements or other structures. This is particularly true in areas with heavy rainfall or poor soil drainage. Many urban areas will restrict the percentage of impervious surfaces allowed on each property, which could dictate the allowable size of your patio or if you can install a patio at all. 

7. Can be prone to staining

Some foods can stain a patio surface, but the biggest culprits are spilled liquids like red wine or the dripping dyes from summer treats like popsicles, which can be difficult to clean if left to absorb into porous stone or concrete surfaces. Fallen leaves left can decay over time and can also cause some unsightly staining that might need some elbow grease and attention from a pressure washer from time to time.

We've recently built several projects that integrate a patio and a deck into one fantastic outdoor living space.

Nest Outdoors

The pros of a deck 

1. Strong connection to interior spaces

Decks can have a stronger connection to interior spaces like a kitchen or living room as they are most commonly attached directly to the house. A more seamless connection to the home can lead to a higher usage rate and ease of entertaining if food is involved. In many designs, a deck can be a natural outdoor extension to your dining room or be the perfect fresh air alternative to your living room to relax or gather with friends. 

2. Can be built over uneven grades

Building a deck can be an excellent option for yards with slopes or uneven grades, as it may be much easier and less expensive to build than a patio under these circumstances. With the help of braces and struts, decks can easily accommodate different heights and angles in the landscape. Because they are elevated above the ground, decks can easily span any rough or challenging terrain below. 

3. Enhanced views 

Whether you want a better vantage point to take in a beautiful scenic view or simply a nice spot to look down on your lush green lawn, a deck can enhance views compared to a patio due to its elevated platform. Sometimes all it takes is a better line of sight to the lake, a distant mountain, or a backyard garden that can significantly improve how you experience and enjoy your property. 

4. Greater increase in property value

It is generally accepted that a deck will have a slightly better return on investment than a patio when it comes time to sell your home. Of course, this depends on the quality of either element, among other factors. This may help you decide what is best for your property if you think you'll put your house on the market within a few years. If you are in your forever home, we recommend weighing the metric enjoyment over a financial return when it comes to the return you'll get on your backyard investment. 

5. Preserves yard space

Because most decks are attached directly to the house, they don't take up any more yard space than their footprint. This can be a significant factor for smaller yards or families wanting to preserve recreational lawn space as much as possible for sports like soccer, practicing lacrosse, or a good old-fashioned whiffle ball game. 

6. More shade options

Most decks share an exterior wall of the house, so it can be easier to attach or construct various shade structures or solutions. You may be able to extend a roofline over a portion or all of your deck for deeper shade or choose a pergola that can interrupt the sun just enough for the right amount of shady relief. Alternatively, there are many retractable canopy options that attach directly to the house and give you flexible control for when you want to soak up the sun or relax in the shade.   

7. Wide range of color options 

Today's decks take full advantage of manufactured options regarding the look and color of your deck boards. You can easily find a color to match your house perfectly or add some design drama with higher contrast. You can choose a color that works great with your concrete paver walkway or exists harmoniously with a bluestone landing at the bottom of your deck stairs. 

8. Enhanced architectural details

Decks don't need to be boring. There are many new railing systems, from rot iron aluminum of various colors and styles, and wire railing systems that maximize views. Shatterproof glass inserts almost make the railing system disappear entirely. No need for bland posts or steps, either. Posts can include fine architectural details and moldings with a stone-veered base for high style. Steps can and railings can include landscape lighting that transforms the atmosphere of your deck after dark.

9. Less yard disturbance to install

Deck installation happens with less ground disturbance than a patio. Instead of excavating a broad area, decks only require enough digging to install a pylon or concrete-poured sonotube to provide structural support below the frost line. This means that the ground beneath the deck can stay as is and the surrounding landscape can remain largely unchanged. This can be a major advantage for homeowners who want to minimize the impact of the construction process on their yards.

10. Usable storage space under a deck

The space under a deck can often provide convenient and valuable storage space for items such as outdoor furniture, lawn equipment, and bicycles. This area is reasonably protected from the elements, making it a great option for storing items that would otherwise take up space in a garage or shed. What you can keep under the deck will depend on its height, and you may want to consider moisture protection with a waterproof barrier between the decking and stored items.

The cons of a deck

1. Higher Cost: 

Decks can be more expensive than patios, especially if custom features or high-end materials are used. The manufactured materials of a deck have traditionally been more costly than typical patio materials. And like all construction materials, the materials that make up a deck have seen a significant rise in price over the past few years, often outpacing the rising cost of hardscape material. 

2. Requires regular maintenance 

Decks generally require more maintenance than patios. Natural wood especially requires periodic staining and sealing. They also may need shoveling in the winter, as the weight of ice and snow can be significant, which is not an issue with patios. Many deck materials can suffer weather-related damage such as fading, warping, splitting or splintering, rot, mold, mildew, and fading over time.

3. Requires a permit and inspection 

Decks must receive necessary approvals and be constructed to local building codes and safety standards, and undergo proper inspections. This can impose some restrictions based on the property line offsets that don't apply to decks as well as added costs and potential delays to the construction process and timelines. 

4. Reduced accessibility

Decks are typically elevated, sometimes making them difficult to access for elderly family members or those with mobility issues. If this is an issue for any of your family or guests. In that case, you can increase your deck budget to design and install a ramp that meets accessibility codes making accessing the deck more amenable to everyone. Railings and steps can make moving furniture and accessories like portable fire pits or heaters more challenging at the beginning and end of each season.

5. Safety concerns and a need for railings 

Decks can be less safe than patios in certain situations. For example, a deck built at a higher elevation increases the risk of falls and accidents. Decks made of wood can be slippery when wet or when temperatures dip below freezing. Because of their elevated surface, some decks can be a bit more hazardous for small kiddos or pets, who might be prone to falling. Railings must be part of most decks to meet safety standards, which can impact the views and restrict the available, usable space. Railings add to the cost of the deck and, in some circumstances, restrict the useable space.

6. May not provide as much privacy 

A deck may not provide as much privacy as a patio due to its elevated position and the open nature of its design. This means they are more visible from neighboring properties and the surrounding area. It can be more difficult for applications to create barriers to block the views from public spaces. In contrast, patios can be surrounded by walls or fencing, providing more privacy and keeping unwanted sights and sounds out. 

7. Weight Restrictions

It's critically important that a deck provides enough support for its intended use, like a large number of guests or a hot tub, and building codes require deck systems to carry weight uniformly across their surface. Determining the load limits of a deck depends on the deck size and the material strength of the frame and foundation. The weight limitations of a specific deck require calculations considering a particular build's dead and live load limits. Steel framing, joist widths, and other building methods can significantly increase the load capacity of a deck.

A few more patio vs deck considerations

How to choose between a patio and a deck if cost is an issue

  1. A patio is usually more cost-effective if your backyard is flat. If it isn't, you'll likely incur additional costs for any required site work or required structural elements like retaining walls.
  2. A deck may be cheaper if your backyard is sloped because you can avoid the potentially expensive solutions needed to level your yard. 

How to choose between a patio and a deck if cost is NOT an issue

If cost is not a concern, the decision between a patio and a deck will be based primarily on aesthetics, functionality, and personal preferences. Consider factors such as the colors, textures, materials like natural stone or wood or composite decking you'd prefer, the overall size and shape that's best, and whether you want to be "in the landscape" (patio) or perched above it (deck). Factoring in privacy, accessibility, and the additional features, if any, that you'd like to include, like an outdoor kitchen or hot tub, can help you arrive at the best choice. 

Can a patio and a deck work together in the same backyard? 

Yes, they can! At Nest Outdoors, we've done many landscape designs that integrate both a patio and a deck. Imagine a daily grilling deck with stairs leading down to a cozy lower-level area that's great for lounging and dining. The combination can coexist beautifully in many landscape designs, with one being more the focal point and the other playing a supporting role.

Here's a great local resource for outdoor furniture for either a patio or deck.

The good news is you can get the benefits of better outdoor living whether you choose a patio or a deck

Both a patio and a deck provide the opportunity for better outdoor living. as both options enable greater access to landscape beauty right outside your back door. They each get you to destress, breathe in more fresh air, collect more of the sun's rays, help you connect with nature more often, and motivate you to gather with friends and family more often. Wins across the board!


When it comes to outdoor living, there's nothing quite like having a patio or deck! Not only do these additions increase your living space and boost the look of your property, they can even add value. But beyond the practical benefits, patios and decks provide countless opportunities for entertainment and relaxation – perfect for hosting special gatherings with family and friends, or simply taking some time out to enjoy nature. Plus, studies have uncovered numerous health benefits that come from spending time outdoors – so don't think twice about investing in a patio or deck today! It's worth it in more ways than one!

Both can do the job, but decks tend to be better for smaller gatherings, while patios are usually connected to adjacent areas like lawns and include features like sitting walls, making them great for larger parties and events.

That depends on factors such as size and complexity of the job – in general, though, installing a patio will take longer than building a deck due to more labor and equipment involved in excavation, leveling out the base, and laying down stones/pavers.

There are lots of creative options for customizing your patio or deck – think built-in seating, fire pits for cooler nights, pergolas for shade, etc

You certainly can. Depending on the design, the deck may need additional support, and the outdoor kitchen can require different construction methods if built on a deck as compared to a patio.

Depending on where you live, specific zoning laws or local regulations could affect construction projects like these. The design team at Nest Outdoors is familiar with local municipal requirements, but you can also check in with your building department for information.

Wayne Lamarre is the owner of the Bedford landscaping and design company Nest Outdoors

About the author of this article

Wayne Lamarre

Wayne founded Nest Outdoors to expand great home-living experiences to your backyard. He combines his formal art, landscaping, and design education with over 25 years of project construction experience.

Learn more about Wayne

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Backyard landscape design by Nest Outdoors for a client in Hollis NH

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