What is the difference between a patio and a deck?

Which is best may depend upon where  you live in San Diego

San Diego is known World-wide for our fabulous weather.  For that reason, a patio or deck is a great investment for most San Diego homeowners.  As patio and deck experts in San Diego, two of the most popular questions we receive from homeowners and clients are:

  1. What is the difference between a patio and a deck?
  2. Which one is best for us?

The answer to this question is going to depend on several factors, some of which have to do with where in San Diego you live.  In coastal communities such as parts of La Jolla, Del Mar, Encinitas, Solana Beach and Carlsbad, one type of outdoor structure will be a better solution than if you live in an inland San Diego community.

Before we can discuss which structure is best for which San Diego communities, we need to define a patio and deck.

What is a patio?

A patio is a Latin word and is defined as an area, usually paved, adjoining a house and used as an area for outdoor landing, dining, etc .   A patio is similar to a courtyard in that it is not surrounded by four walls.

Patio in San Diego - Republic Construction Inc

Patios can be attached or detached from a home and are often designed and oriented with the surrounding landscape in mind.

Patios can be any shape and made of a wide variety of materials including brick, tile, stone, pavers, pea gravel or rock.  They are often set on a concrete slab or a pebble or sand base.  Patios are also built at or around ground level and, as a result, do not require safety railings.

Carmel Valley Patio with Fireplace

What is a deck?

Decks are primarily made of wood or a composite wood-like material such as vinyl.  Popular woods for making decks include cedar, redwood and pressure-treated pine.  When properly cared for, wood decks can offer a beauty and warmth for many years.

Deck with lights on water

Like a patio, decks can be freestanding or part of a structure.  Many decks are often built to take advantage of a view and are elevated.  As a result, many decks have railings.  The railings are many times made of wood but can also be made of other materials such as metal or glass.

Certain types of woods are composite decking are resistant to pests and insects.  When treated correctly, decks won’t splinter or warp for a long period of time.  However, to maximize the useful life of your deck, routine maintenance and care is recommended.

Deck overlooking garden

Patios vs. decks, a cost comparison.

Generally speaking, patios are usually cheaper than decks.  However, the cost of the project will depend on several factors including:

  • Location of the addition (on the ground without supports or above ground, on the house with a door).
  • Materials used (concrete, wood, vinyl).
  • Size of the addition
  • Included features such as a built-in barbecue, seating, railings and support.

A second factor to consider when choosing a patio or a deck that greatly impacts the final price, is the slope of the yard in which you plan to place the patio or deck.  Most patios are placed on or in the ground.  As a result, patios are best on a level surface.  Flattening a sloped area for a patio can double or triple the cost of your new addition.

On a sloped surface, a deck may be the best choice because many decks are above ground and can be built on uneven ground.

Which is best for your needs?

In addition to the cost, you will need to determine which outdoor addition will work best for the purpose that you hope to use it for.  Is landscaping important and do you want to incorporate trees, shrubs, and flowers into your design?  If yes, a patio may be your best solution.

Is the space where you want to put your patio separate from the main structure?  Again, a patio may be the best option because the foundation can be placed away from the house or structure.

Do you have an in-ground pool and do you want to create a space around an area in which to gather, cook out or relax?  Again, a patio may be your best option here.

Do you have a view that you want to spotlight?  If yes, a deck might be your best option.  Many decks are built above-ground and can offer a wider visual range.  Decks are also ideal when looking to build in an area that is sloped, uneven, or on a hill.  Since many decks are built above-ground, stairs and railings need to be factored into the project.  Most stairs we have seen are made from the same type of wood as the deck itself while rails we have worked with have been made of not only wood but also glass and metal.

Patios vs. Decks in San Diego

San Diego has been blessed with some of the best climate in the World.  As a result, outdoor patios and decks are a very good investment for many San Diego homeowners.  If your property is located in one of the Coastal communities, has a beautiful view you want to optimize, and is built on a sloped surface like many residences in La Jolla, Del Mar, Encinitas, and parts of Solana Beach, a deck may be the best solution for your needs.

If your property is in an inland community and built on a level surface, then a patio may be your best option.  If you want to integrate your garden or in-ground pool into your design, then a patio may best fit your needs.

If you have questions about whether a patio or deck is best for your situation, have a project you would like to discuss or need more information, contact us or call (760) 419-5552 today.

About Republic Construction Inc.

Republic Construction Inc. is a general contractor in San Diego.  We specialize in patios and decks and proudly service the communities of Point Loma, Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, La Jolla, Del Mar, Fairbanks Ranch, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Carlsbad, Oceanside, and the rest of San Diego County.

Republic Construction Inc. services include:

Deck Design
Deck Refinishing
Deck Repair
Deck Waterproofing
Flagstone Installation
Home remodeling
Patio Covers
Patio Design
Pedestrian Walkways
New Construction



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