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Deck Ideas or Patio Designs - Which One Should You Choose?

Jul 28, 2008
There are many great deck ideas and just as many wonderful possible patio designs. However, there are few things to consider when deciding which one to include in your landscape. Hopefully you will enjoy your landscape structure for many years to come. Here are some things to think about.

The first consideration is how high off the ground your structure will be. It may be at or just above ground level where no steps are needed. It may require just a few steps. However, the structure may have to be located off a second story and thus be at a very high elevation.

For those situations where the structure can be designed pretty much at ground level, a deck or patio can both be used. The deck, however, must be constructed in such a way that it is not resting directly on the ground. Typically, patios are chosen.

What if your structure needs a few steps? For situations where anywhere from two to about seven steps would be required to get to the lower level, either patios or decks may be selected. The main thing to remember is that whatever you choose will be off the ground. In the case of a deck, that space beneath the deck floor can be left open or covered with lattice. However, with patios, side walls must be built. This will add on to the cost. In addition, for higher walls, protection against falling off the patio must be considered. This can be achieved by either the installation of railings or having deep planters built in the patio.

If the structure is to be built very high off the ground, as would be the case where the exit door is from an upper level, decks make much more sense. Choosing to have a patio at that level would necessitate extremely high walls. Creating multilevel patios is possible and walls can be designed to be reasonable heights. However, the amount of levels and walls would still up the cost tremendously. And I mean by huge amounts of money.

Decks which are entered from second story rooms can be creative ones. They can have interesting shapes. Another option is to design a multi level deck. One area might be your main living area, while another might be a smaller area for relaxing, closer to ground level.

Advantages of Patios

- Patios are less expensive than decks, if average cost materials are used and no side walls are needed.
- Patios can be created with materials that require little or no maintenance.
- Designs of patios can take on many shapes.
- Curved designs are easier with patios than decks.
- Patios can be designed in such a way so that they look very traditional or contemporary.

Advantages of Decks

- Decks do not need side walls.
- If the deck is at a higher elevations, it will be less expensive due the ability to just have an open lower area or lattice.
- Most decking material does not get hot.
- Seat walls and planters can be easily added at a reasonable cost.

The elevation of the door you are exiting out of, the style you are looking for and your budget will help determine whether a deck or patio is right for your project.
About the Author
Susan Schlenger is a Landscape Designer with a degree in Landscape Architecture. To learn more about both of these options, please visit Deck Ideas or Patio Designs at her website.
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