If you are thinking about changing up your outdoor living space by installing a deck or patio, then you have come to the right place!
They are both worth considering when looking to create a stylish living space in your garden which can be used for al fresco dining and neighbourhood barbecues, stargazing, and entertainment!
But which one is the right option for you and your outdoor space – composite decks or a paved patio? If you are interested in figuring out which of the two needs more maintenance, has the lower cost per square metre, or will suit your exterior design better, then read on.
In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons involved in installing either a patio or deck in your garden and what to consider when it comes to setting each of these outdoor spaces up.
The Difference between Patio and Composite Deck
In order to understand which one is the better option for you, it is important to understand the actual difference that lies between a patio and a deck. These lie mainly in which materials are usually used for it, whether they have the same properties when it comes to withstanding heavy weights or weather and what cost each of them comes with.
Below we will dive into a short introduction of each option, followed by their respective pros and cons. After that, we will compare the properties of each option based on several variables such as maintenance needs, material and price, so that you can make an informed decision on which option you would like to use for your outdoor space.
Decks usually consist of longboard materials which are likely PVC, timber decking or, in our case, composite decking that is secured with structural joists. Composite products come from synthetic materials such as plastic from shopping bags or water bottles mixed with wood or sawdust.
Apart from boards, you can create fencing, railings, gates, stairs, and even bannisters with composite!
There are many ways in which you can lay your composite decking boards and design your outdoor living space – if you would like some inspiration on that, check out our Composite Decking Boards Inspiration Article!
- Made of 95% recyclable plastic and FSC-certified reclaimed wood fibres
While the most popular material used for a deck is still traditional wooden decking, composite decking has been on the rise and has become more and more popular in Britain over the last few years. This is due to many of this contemporary decking materials’ features.
The best thing about composite decking is that it comes in various colours and finishes, so you can replicate the look of wooden decking but get the best of both worlds, as your decking will be way more durable with basically no maintenance to real wood!
Lifespan: 25 – 30 years
Advantages of a Composite Deck
- Can be built on the ground, elevated or as a balcony
- Perfect for raised decks
- Extremely low maintenance
- Extremely durable
- Available in different colours
- More contemporary style
- Even comes in a wood-inspired look (versatile design)
- Boards do not warp or splinter
- Suitable for almost any climate
- resistant to UV rays
- Insect Repellant
- Non-slip surface
- Moss & Algae resistant
- Eco-friendly & sustainable
- Easy set-up and DYI option
- Quick construction
- Easy to repair (replace boards)
Disadvantages of a Composite Deck
- Could have weight restrictions depending on the structure
- More expensive than timber decking
- Not as heat resistant as patios
- Could require building permissions
Patios are made of relatively heavy paving materials, which are secured with concrete on the ground.
- Concrete or bricks
- Natural Stone such as Sand- or Limestone
- Reconstituted stone
- Porcelain tiles
Going with porcelain paving, real stone, or concrete patios has its own benefits and disadvantages, as you might have to clean these more often, and the material might not be as slip-resistant as composite decks. Nonetheless, if properly maintained, i.e. kept clean from dirt and debris, a natural stone patio will also serve you for a long time.
Lifespan: 10 years for natural materials (stone) or 25 to 30 for brick or concrete
Advantages of Patio
- Can hold heavy weights
- Less maintenance than timber decking
- Ideal for fire pits (fire resistant materials)
- More durable than timber decks
- Can increase your resale value
- Lots of designs and ranges to choose from
- Relatively long lifespan
- More natural looking
- More suitable for traditional homes
Disadvantages of Patio
- Requires flat concrete base (limited to level ground)
- Needs to be installed on concrete paving
- Vulnerable to stains (especially porcelain tiles)
- Vulnerable to weed growth in between paving gaps
- Prone to chipping
- Not as environmentally friendly as composite decking
- Might not be frost resistant
- Hard to install yourself
- Tricky to repair
Another important factor to consider when figuring out whether you should go with a patio or deck is the function of your new outdoor space.
As we mentioned earlier, patios require a level surface and therefore need paving or concrete slabs to stabilise them. This might make them more durable when it comes to weight resistance, but not ideal if you would like to have an elevated deck that makes use of a beautiful view you might have from a certain spot on your property.
A patio is sometimes also preferred for your outdoor kitchen area, as the material is more heat and fire-resistant and, therefore, a bit safer than composite material. This feature also makes it ideal if you would like to install a fire pit on your patio, and it is definitely one of the major benefits of a patio!
Composite decking is ideal if you want a differently levelled outdoor living area, as it can even be built on a slope in your garden, but it might not be able to hold a heavy hot tub as a patio could – but that again depends on the construction of your deck!
Composite decking can furthermore be used for contemporary design ideas, such as a sunken lounging area with a built-in bench, which can make you save spending more money on garden furniture.
Since they are made out of different materials, a patio has very different maintenance needs compared to a composite deck.
Composite decking is basically maintenance-free as it requires no buffing, sanding or painting in order to protect its colour or form. Whereas if you went with a natural timber deck or a stone patio, you would have to regularly clean and treat your wooden decks in order for them to remain splinter-free and not rot either, just like you would have to clean your stone patio.
A natural stone patio is generally low maintenance, but cleaning with a high-pressure hose might be required from time to time, especially in between seasons. Make sure you know what you are doing, as natural stone can easily become damaged if you use the wrong cleaning products.
Because they are so different in terms of materials and installation requirements, figuring out which option (a new deck vs patio) is cheaper can be a bit tricky.
However, while composite decking boards are usually a bit more pricey than patio materials, they are way easier to install and will therefore save money when it comes to not needing a professional landscaper.
A patio made of concrete can be relatively cost inexpensive, whereas depending on what stone you decide to go to, you might end up paying a little fortune, too.
A patio in your garden might bring the resale price of your home up, but the return on investment tends to be higher with a composite deck as it might still look better in a few years’ time than a mouldy patio that has not been taken care of for a while.
So at the end of the day, the costs of both might differ slightly but are not significant enough to make an informed decision on the price alone.
What do I need to consider before deciding between patio or deck?
Here are some simple questions you can ask yourself to aid you in your decision-making:
- How much maintenance are you willing to provide?
- What is the size of the area you want to transform?
- Is your garden level or does it slope?
- Which garden styles do you prefer?
- Do you already have existing furniture?
- What is your budget?
- Is your area exposed to extreme temperatures or weather?
Which is more environmentally friendly – patio or decking?
While composite decking comes from recycled plastic and only certified wood that is being re-used as well, natural stones and bricks have been used for many centuries when it comes to building and have shown their durability and are not harmful to the environment either.
One factor that might have an effect on the carbon footprint of a stone patio, however, is the sourcing of the stone and how the stone quarries are being kept. Most manufacturers and suppliers these days place a lot of emphasis on the sustainability of their products, though, so you should not come across any issues when sourcing for your patio.
If you decide to go for the patio option, we recommend using local stone instead of having your materials flown into your country just because they look better.
What is an FSC Certification?
Composite decking materials are usually all from FSC-certified wood, meaning that the wood materials that have been reclaimed to make a composite board come from sustainably sourced wood.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a certifying body that was founded in 1994 and works towards timber that is only sourced from sustainable sources without having a negative environmental impact. Currently, about 200 million hectares of natural forest are certified by the FSC.
It is safe to say that if you are going for decking instead of a patio, you should definitely stick to composite when it comes to decking materials instead of PVC or timber decking, simply based on the advantages mentioned in this article.
Not only is composite decking made out of recycled plastic and therefore more environmentally friendly than any patio material could ever be, but you can go for a variety of colours and ranges. Our range of composite decking boards have advanced colour streaking and brushing techniques that make us stand out from the competition. Please do order a sample pack from our website to see for yourself.
Should you somehow choose to still go for a patio because you just love natural stone for your outdoor living area too much, make sure that you do not have any uneven ground in your garden.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to deciding which option you should go for, as it merely comes down to your personal preference and perhaps the set-up of your outdoor area, i.e. slopey or not.
No matter what you decide to go for in the end, be sure to check your local planning permission regulations for either your deck or patio design.