Patio or Deck? 5 Key Considerations.

As a Class A Contractor with Residential Building Code designation, NOVA Landscape & Design has the qualifications and experience to design and build the ideal deck or patio for your Northern Virginia home. Our designers will be happy to help you decide which type of outdoor living space is right for you – even if that means looking beyond traditional options and considering a ground-level deck or a raised patio!

The Basic Differences

It’s not uncommon for homeowners to use the words “deck” and “patio” interchangeably. For our purposes, a deck is an open outdoor porch or platform, typically encircled by a rail, that extends from a house and does not have a roof. A patio is a paved area situated directly on the ground, which can either be attached to or detached from a house. Here at NOVA Landscape & Design, we exclusively design, source, and install or build custom paver patios and composite decks throughout Northern Virginia. Thanks to the industry-leading product lines we’ve hand-picked for use at NOVA, both the patios and the decks installed by our team are very low-maintenance and long-lasting. Finding the best solution for your home will come down to your personal preferences and outdoor living needs. Once you’re ready, we’ll be here to help you build the space of your dreams.

Consideration #1: Cost

For either type of project, your costs will include materials, installation, and labor. Your choice of materials will go a long way toward determining the total cost of your project. Generally speaking, a patio is a more affordable option up front, but a deck will get you a better return on your investment. By investing in a composite deck, you will increase the value of your home. A patio will have a less significant impact on home value, and the return will show primarily in your increased enjoyment of your living space.

Consideration #2: Intended Use

To figure out what type of outdoor space your home and lifestyle will best accommodate, it’s wise to consider how you will functionally use the space. Do you want a comfortable place for family and guests to dine, or would you ideally prepare and enjoy meals in the same outdoor space? Should seating be integrated into the structure, or do you prefer to add outdoor furniture? What does the flow of traffic look like? Where will people be walking? Where are doors located in relation to your outdoor space? Do you want to access the space from multiple floors of the home? Only by answering these functional questions can you plan a custom space sure to meet your needs and add to your everyday enjoyment of your home. Be sure to give all occupants of the home a chance to chime in about functionality, and to share any functional concerns with the team designing your space.

Consideration #3: Versatility

Your property’s characteristics could potentially simplify your choice of patio or deck. To install a patio that will stand the test of time, you will need ample flat ground, as the structural integrity of a patio depends on the consistency of the ground beneath. A deck, on the other hand, has a built-in support structure and can be built over an uneven surface. Both patios and decks offer ample design options to suit your home and preferences. Patios can be any size and shape, and can include a variety of additional elements, from water features to fire pits and outdoor kitchens. Where a patio creates a connection and natural flow between your living space and landscape, a deck provides a vantage point while also creating separation.

Consideration #4: Materials                                                                

Many contractors will let you choose from the full range of materials, from fragile bargain-basement pavers likely to crumble to wood or composite decking that is vulnerable to damage from everyday use. At NOVA Landscape & Design, we eliminate material choices that could compromise your investment. We guarantee the integrity of our work and only install industry-leading materials made to last and perform beautifully. For composite decking, TimberTech AZEK™ is our manufacturer of choice. When building custom patios, we install Natural or Manufactured Stone, as well as Concrete Pavers from Nicolock, Belgard, and Tecno-Bloc. Beyond physical appearance, you’ll want to consider how your deck or patio will be affected by weather conditions. Dark pavers can become extremely hot in direct sunlight, while lighter materials and AZEK composite decking will absorb less heat. Finally, wood and smooth patio surfaces can be problematic when wet, creating a slipping hazard, while textured pavers and AZEK decking provide protection against slips and falls.

Consideration #5: Longevity

We have already mentioned that, at NOVA, we only build decks and patios made to last. Our projects are backed by a unique workmanship warranty in addition to the exceptional warranties offered by the manufacturers of the products we use. Those include 50-year Fade & Stain and Lifetime Limited Product warranties on AZEK composite decking and lifetime warranties on pavers. Many of the common problems you might encounter with DIY work or lower-quality materials will be prevented just by working with us. We cannot, however, rule out all longevity considerations. Any patio can crack, heave, or become uneven as the ground beneath it naturally settles and shifts. Paver patios need to have polymeric sand re-added every 1 to 5 years, depending on the size of the paver gaps, traffic, and surface water amounts. Composite decking, though more expensive, will retain its performance and appearance with no maintenance aside from occasional washing with a standard garden hose. The durability of your outdoor living space will ultimately be determined by the materials used therein, the quality of the work, and the care with which you use it.