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Compare Costs of Decks vs Patios

Building a Deck

Building a deck is a great way to expand your living space to the outdoors. Decks provide space to relax, have fun and entertain.

The vast majority of decks are constructed with pressure-treated Southern yellow pine, but you can also opt for more durable wood species such as redwood or cedar. Non-wood products such as engineered vinyl decking and plastic composites are also available, and they are growing in popularity due to the ease of maintenance.

How Much Does a Deck Cost?

You can expect to spend about $15 to $25 per square foot for Southern yellow pine and about $25 to $30 per square foot for redwood or cedar, including installation. Composite and vinyl decking are slightly more expensive at about $30 to $45 per square foot installed. On the low end of those price ranges, you’ll get a basic deck without benches or a railing.

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Let’s say you’re planning to build 16x20-foot deck. Based on the price ranges above, the total cost works out to $4,800 to $8,000 for pressure-treated pine; $8,000 to $9,600 for cedar or redwood; and $9,600 to $14,400 for vinyl or composite.

If you’re handy, you can save a significant amount of money by building the deck yourself. Plan to spend about $1.50 to $5 per square foot for planks and $4-$6 per square foot for joists and posts.

Deck Pros

  • Look - Many people prefer the look of a deck over a patio. It adds architectural interest to a backyard.
  • Resale value - Even if you sell your home two months after building the deck, you’re likely to get a large chunk of that investment back in the sale price.
  • Ideal for uneven terrain - If your backyard is sloped or uneven, installing a deck is usually a better choice. There’s no extensive ground or grading work to do; the posts can simply be cut to different heights.

Deck Cons

  • Maintenance - Pressure-treated pine needs to be stained or sealed about every two years. Left untreated, the deck could fade and rot. Redwood and cedar require regular maintenance, too, although less than pine. Engineered vinyl products require very little maintenance, but they’re very expensive.
  • Cost - Unless you choose a high-end patio material such as natural stone, decks tend to be more expensive.
  • Permitting - Most cities and towns require you to obtain a permit before building a deck. There’s usually a small fee and a short waiting period.

Building a Patio

Patios also provide a great space for outdoor entertainment. There are several different types of patio materials, including:

  • Plain concrete - Most affordable; requires almost no maintenance.
  • Stamped concrete - Embedded with a pattern and color to mimic the look of natural stone; affordable.
  • Concrete patio pavers - Manufactured concrete stones that interlock to mimic the look of natural stone; more expensive.
  • Real stone - Most durable and most expensive.
  • Brick - Affordable and easy to install.

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How Much Does a Patio Cost?

The price of a patio depends on the material you choose. Regular concrete costs up to $5 per square foot, while stamped concrete runs $8 to $12 per square foot. Brick costs about $7 to $8 per square foot. Concrete patio pavers cost about $10 to $20 per square foot, and natural stone costs about $15 to $30 per square foot. All prices include installation.

For a 16x20-foot patio, that works out to up to $1,600 for regular concrete; $2,560 to $3,840 for stamped concrete; $2,240 to $2,560 for brick; $3,200 to $6,400 for pavers; and $4,800 to $9,500 for natural stone.

With a patio, you’ll also have to pay extra for any leveling or groundwork that is required prior to installation.

Patio Pros

  • Cost - Installing a patio is generally less expensive than building a deck that covers the same amount of space.
  • Low maintenance - No sanding or staining is required. Occasional sealing will make a concrete patio more durable, but it’s not crucial that you tackle the project on an annual basis.
  • No permitting - Unless you’re planning to build a second-story patio (which requires decking anyway) you won’t need a permit.

Patio Cons

  • May require weeding - Weeds will grow between the joints of concrete pavers, bricks or natural stone. You’ll have to apply a weed killer on a regular basis and pull any remaining weeds.
  • Prone to cracks - A concrete slab will eventually crack, requiring repairs or even replacement. However, more expensive patio materials such as pavers are not prone to cracking.

Author: Ashley Smith

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