Which Option Is Cheaper: A Concrete Patio Or Wood Deck?

Outdoor living spaces such as patios and decks are just what you need for entertaining guests outdoors or truly getting to enjoy your space. Adding a patio or deck can also be an excellent way to increase the value of your property. It can also create the proper atmosphere for creating many happy memories. 

Overall, a concrete patio will generally be cheaper to install compared to a deck. While your specific house and yard set-up may determine which is cheaper for your individual needs, a wood deck is likely to have a better return on investment compared to a concrete patio. Of course, there’s no rule that prevents you from having both a deck and a patio. After all, they are both excellent spaces for entertaining. 

While both patios and decks can be wonderful additions to your property, it is first important to understand what each of them is as well as which option is cheaper to help you make an informed decision for your budget.

What is a Deck?

A deck is a raised platform that can be made of different materials, which include pressure-treated lumber, wood, PVC, composite, and more. However, here the focus will be on wood decks. A deck can sit high above the ground raised by posts and accessed via a staircase or be built low to the ground raised only by joists.

What is a Patio?

A patio is an outdoor seating area that’s typically flush with the ground and is often made of concrete. While concrete is probably the most popular material used for building patios, you can also use gravel, stone, and many other materials.

Decks vs. Patios: Which Option is Cheaper?

If you would like to add either a patio or deck to your home, you need to consider several different things. You also need to ask yourself questions. Is it cheaper to build a patio or deck? Which option is easier to build? Simply put, a patio is generally cheaper than a deck. However, that’s an oversimplification of the reality since the cost will depend on several different factors, which include:

  • Materials used (wood, concrete, vinyl, etc.)
  • Location of the addition (above ground, on the ground with supports, etc.)
  • Features (seating, railings, built-in barbecue, supports, etc.)
  • Size of the addition

Other Factors that Determine Which Option Is Cheaper Include:

Slope of the yard on which you wish to place the deck or patio

A patio is usually placed directly on the ground, which is why it is preferable to choose a level space. A patio is often not the ideal option for uneven ground since the cost to create a foundation can double or even triple the cost of the addition. If you have uneven ground in your yard, a deck would be the cheaper option since the cost of installation is almost always never affected by the slope of the yard. 

Installation Difficulty

Installing a deck is generally more difficult compared to that of a patio and is best handled by professionals. Structures for supporting the deck have to be cemented into holes that are drilled into the ground. You also have to make additional considerations when it comes to properly attaching the deck to your home.

You can build a deck on land that is not level, which makes it a great option for sloping landscapes or uneven yards. Waterproofing materials might be required in some cases to avoid compromising your home’s foundation.

Installing a patio is generally easier, but it requires extensive preparation of the ground surface where you will lay it. It is best installed in areas that are relatively flat and even because patios are typically installed on the ground directly.

The area where a patio is installed will often require reinforcement with rebar too if you are using poured concrete and the ground underneath has to be compacted. You can do it as a DIY project, but it will probably be a lot of difficult work.

When it comes to installation difficulty, installing a deck is generally more expensive since it usually requires a professional, but while installing a patio is generally cheaper, it might end up being quite an expensive project if your yard is either sloping or uneven.

Installation Cost

The cost of installing a deck will depend on the size of the deck, the materials used, and whether you hire a professional or do it yourself. A deck measuring 16-feet by 20 feet may cost anywhere from $7,500 to upwards of $15,000. However, the cost will vary depending on the material used. For instance:

  • Redwood and cedar cost anywhere from $25 to $30 per square foot, on average, with the cost of installation included
  • Composite or PVC costs anywhere from $30 to $45 per square foot with the cost of installation included.

You can save significantly on costs if you build the deck yourself. You can expect to pay anywhere from $1.75 to $5.50 per linear foot for the decking materials needed and between $4 and $8 per square foot for posts and joists materials.

The cost of installing a new patio depends on the material used to construct the patio and whether any leveling or groundwork is needed before installation. A patio measuring 16 feet by 20 feet will vary in cost from $2,500 to $9,500 depending on the materials used and the labor needed.

  • Concrete patio pavers cost anywhere from $10 to $20 per square foot on average
  • Regular concrete has an average cost of $9 per square foot on average
  • Stamped concrete cost anywhere from $12 to $15 per square foot on average.

All the above prices are inclusive of the installation costs.

If you compare the installation costs of patios vs. decks, it is quite clear that patios are generally cheaper, but that’s just half the story. Depending on the materials used, it is still possible for patios to cost more to install than decks.

Maintenance

Maintenance is an important consideration when choosing between a patio and deck since it may determine which option is cheaper in the long run. A wood deck requires just power washing annually to protect against mildew and mold. Decks should generally be stained and sealed at least every 2 years to increase lifespan and improve durability. And quality composite decks just need hosed off and offer 25 – 50 year warranties against staining,fading,splintering, and warping.

A patio, on the other hand, can be cleaned easily with a hose and requires minimal ongoing maintenance. Inspecting regularly for cracks is necessary at times to prevent water from leaking under the patio thus causing erosion. In some of the extreme cases, the patio can crack and the whole surface would require removal and replacement.

If you compare the maintenance requirements of wood decking it becomes clear that patios are the cheaper option since they require less maintenance while decks are not as cheap to maintain since they require power washing annually, which often involves a professional, unless they’re built with composite or PVC decking.

Return on Investment (ROI)

If you are considering selling your property in the coming years, it can be a good idea to consider the ROI for a deck vs. a patio. Your choice in building materials will obviously contribute to the costs. 

The average ROI for a deck is roughly 75 percent more than that of a patio. For instance, a homeowner that spends $10,000 to build a deck can expect to get back $7,500 after reselling the property.  In contrast, a homeowner that spends $3,500 to build a patio can only expect to get back $1,500 after reselling the property. But the value of a deck can also increase with the overall home as local property values increase along with it.

If you consider the ROI, the concrete patio is no match for the deck since decks have a generally higher ROI than patios. But it may also be the centerpiece of the house that is unique to its space and helps sell it. Buyers want a peaceful sanctuary they can envision themselves enjoying. Look around your neighborhood and make note if the other houses around you have deck or patio additions, it might be what sets yours apart.