If you've been considering adding a deck or patio to your home, this infomration will help you decide what type will fit your home and lifestyle.
How Steep or Sloped is Your Ground?
Patios must be at ground level, so if you have any type of slope, there will be added cost to level out the ground. You might also require some type of retaining wall to hold in the extra dirt or your patio might settle unevenly.
How Many Steps to the Ground?
You are supposed to have easy to access your deck or patio, so you really don't want more than 4 steps to your deck or patio. The first factor you'll want to consider is how high your home sits above the ground or how many steps are needed to go from your door to the ground. Occasionally you might include a few steps to position the deck or patio level with a pool but most often, it's a short step over the patio door threshold to your deck and no steps.
Decks or Patios?
You'll find decks are more common for many reasons:
Decks can match the floor level of your home.
Decks don't require a level surface. They sit on top of support posts, which sit on concrete piers in the ground and they're very effective at accommodating uneven ground.
Decks don't require excavation to clear space.
Decks can take advantage of views by moving them up or down.
Building Flexibility and Doing It Yourself
Patios may require excavation and then multiple layers of gravel and sand, while a deck only needs the space for concrete support piers to be dug out.
With a patio you also have to coordinate the delivery of significant amounts of material. The delivery truck will dump these materials in your driveway and then you have to move them to the patio site, one wheelbarrow at a time. When the project spreads out over several weeks or months, no one is happy. The masonry skills for laying a patio that will last for many years, and the equipment to excavate and prepare the base are more complicated.
Materials: Deck and Patio
You have few material choices for decks and patios.
Patios can be made from concrete, pavers, stone, tile or brick and since patios are at ground level, they don't require any handrails.
Decks have traditionally been made of wood, either pressure treated pine or more weather resistant redwood, cedar and mahogany.
Today there are composites and vinyl that are becoming popular as they require less routine maintenance. While building codes vary, decks generally require railings when they're 3 steps or higher.
Climate is also a Factor to Consider When Buying Materials
Consider the effects of extreme warm and cold temperatures. Will the materials get too hot for people to walk safely? Research how well your choice of materials will hold up to extreme temperatures. Some materials are more resistant to insects, warping, splintering and water damage. In all cases, make sure your deck or patio design incorporates good drainage.