DIY Patio or Deck? Part I: Decision
Our last two articles were about swimming pools which are, admittedly, a very big DIY decision. One type of DIY project that some people have been known to knock out over a weekend (depending on the amount of help from friends and bribery necessary to get that help) is the building of a pool/deck. You can preorder the materials, get them delivered to your house, and do whatever preparatory work you need to before the big weekend. Before you announce said big weekend we need to think about which structure to build: deck or patio?
Broadly speaking, patios and decks are the same in that they are both outdoor spaces which allow you and your guests to enjoy each other’s company and conversation while experiencing the joy of the great outdoors. Both can give you the sense of that outdoor “room” that’s just another part of your your house. Both, depending on your municipality, may require permits and an identification and flagging of buried water, gas, and electric lines. But that’s where the similarities end. One can make an argument for one being cheaper than the other, but the price difference is not significant enough to be the deciding factor. Hence, we’ll talk about construction a bit more first.
Of course “deck” refers to ships and how they were constructed. And home decks, like ship decks, have been traditionally made of wood. But as technology has pushed us forward we’ve found that composite materials can still deliver the look and feel of a traditional deck, while delivering a longer-lasting structure (doesn’t need to be powerwashed and resealed) and being “green” (many of those composites are made of recycled plastics). What’s the catch, you’re asking? Well, those materials are often cost double their wood cousins. Whether you choose composite or wood, you’ll need concrete footings to stabliize the structure.
That being said, you have to keep in mind that you are “limited” to standard lengths. If you start looking at or ordering non-standard lengths for your deck, the price starts to move up pretty quickly.
Decks have the sense of “elevation” about them – even when you talk about them. Patios are always imagined as flat structures built on the ground that can be made of differing types of materials – from paving stones to brick. There is no “sealing” or “resealing” but you can count the grass and weeds that you have to be vigilant about as its own type of “sealing.” You also have the luxury of having a fire pit, if you’d like (not a deck possibility).
Unlike decks, if you ever decide to change the look and feel of your paving stones, you can simply pull up your old ones and reuse your existing leveled base with new paving stones or bricks. You also have the freedom to make it as large as you want as you are only limited by the “standard length” issue we discussed with decking.
Think about the sort of social events that you have and enjoy. Do they involve a fire pit (patio is best)? Do you have an inherent love of wood? What materials make up your home? What kind of maintenance do you want to do/are prepared to do? Once you’ve sketched out some ideas, price out possibilities so you know what you are getting into.
Whether you decide to build a patio or deck, remember that at the Rental Center of Monticello we are always here to help counsel with advice; we can also rent you things like an excavator that can either help give a different shape and structure to the deck you want to build or help you to level and flatten an area you want to use for a patio.