deck vs patio

The Cost of Building a Deck vs. a Patio

The Cost of Building a Deck vs. a Patio


When it comes to creating an outdoor living space, homeowners often find themselves deciding between building a deck or a patio. Both options offer a great way to extend your living area and enjoy the outdoors, but they differ in terms of materials, maintenance, construction, and overall costs. Here, we’ll break down the costs associated with building a deck versus a patio, as well as the factors that can influence the final price tag.


Understanding the Difference Between a Deck and a Patio

Before diving into the cost comparison, it’s essential to understand the fundamental differences between a deck and a patio.


A deck is an elevated outdoor platform, made of wood or composite materials, that is attached to your home’s structure. Decks are built with a support system of posts, beams, and joists, which allows them to be constructed on uneven terrain or sloped yards.


On the other hand, a patio is a flat, ground-level surface that is often made of poured concrete, pavers, or natural stone. Patios are built directly on the ground and do not require the same structural support as decks but do require the terrain to be graded level and some needing retaining walls.


Factors That Influence the Cost of Building a Deck or Patio

Several key factors can impact the overall cost of your deck or patio project:


Size: The larger your deck or patio, the more materials and labor will be required, resulting in a higher overall cost.


Materials: The type of materials you choose for your deck or patio will greatly influence the total cost. For decks, common materials include pressure-treated wood, cedar, exotic hardwoods, and composite decking. Patio materials can range from poured concrete and pavers to natural stone.



Site Preparation: If your yard requires extensive grading, excavation, or other site preparation work, this can add to the overall cost of your project. Decks typically require less prep work since they can be built on any terrain.


Design Complexity: Complex designs with multiple levels, curves, or built-in features will typically cost more than simple, straightforward layouts.



Cost Breakdown: Building a Deck

The cost of building a deck can vary widely depending on the factors mentioned above, but here’s a general breakdown of what you can expect:


Pressure-treated wood: $35 to $50 per square foot

Cedar: $55 to $65 per square foot

Composite decking: $65 to $110 per square foot



Additional Costs:

Railings: $45 to $110 per linear foot

Stairs: $150 to $300 per stair tread

Permits: $100 to $1,000 depending on your location and size of the project

Site preparation: $500 to $2,000, depending on the extent of the work required


For a basic 12×16 foot (192 square foot) deck made of pressure-treated wood, you can expect to pay around $6,800 to $9,800 for materials and labor. A similarly sized deck made of composite materials would cost between $15,600 to $26,500.

Composite Deck

Cost Breakdown: Building a Patio

Like decks, the cost of building a patio can vary based on several factors. Here’s a general breakdown:


Poured concrete: $15 to $20 per square foot

Concrete pavers: $35 to $55 per square foot

Natural stone: $50 to $75 per square foot



Additional Costs:

Excavation and grading: $1,500 to $5,000, depending on the extent of the work required

Permits: $100 to $500, depending on your location and size of project

Drainage systems: $1,500 to $5,500, if necessary


For a basic 12×16 foot (192 square foot) patio made of poured concrete, you can expect to pay around $2,800 to $4,600 for materials and labor. A similarly sized patio made of natural stone or brick would cost between $4,800 to $15,700.


As you can see, the cost of building a patio is generally lower than the cost of building a deck, especially when using more affordable materials like poured concrete. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these are rough estimates, and your actual costs may be higher or lower depending on the specific factors of your project.


Long-Term Cost Considerations

While the upfront cost is a crucial factor in deciding between a deck and a patio, it’s also important to consider the long-term costs associated with each option.


  • Decks, particularly those made of wood, require regular maintenance such as staining, sealing, and cleaning to preserve their appearance and structural integrity. This can add to the long-term cost of owning a deck.
  • Patios, especially those made of low-maintenance materials like concrete or pavers, generally require less upkeep over time, which can result in lower long-term costs.



  • Decks, when properly maintained, can last between 15 to 20 years, depending on the materials used and the level of upkeep. Composite decking lasting 25+ years.
  • Patios, particularly those made of durable materials like concrete or natural stone, can last for several decades with minimal maintenance.

Resale Value:

  • Both decks and patios can add value to your home, but the extent of the value added depends on various factors such as the quality of the construction, the materials used, and the overall design.
  • According to the 2021 Cost vs. Value Report by Remodeling Magazine, a composite deck addition has a higher return on investment (63.2%) than a mid-range backyard patio (55.2%).


Lifestyle and Aesthetic Considerations

In addition to the cost and long-term considerations, it’s essential to think about your lifestyle and aesthetic preferences when choosing between a deck and a patio.

  • Decks are ideal for homes with scenic views or uneven terrain, as they can be built to take advantage of these features.
  • Patios are well-suited for level yards and can be easily integrated with other outdoor living features like gardens, fire pits, or outdoor kitchens.



  • Decks offer a warm, natural look that complements many home styles, particularly those with wood exteriors.
  • Patios can be designed to match a wide range of architectural styles, from traditional to modern, depending on the materials and patterns used.


Ultimately, the choice between a deck and a patio comes down to your personal preferences, budget, and the specific characteristics of your property.

Cost-Saving Tips for Building a Deck or Patio

Regardless of whether you choose to build a deck or a patio, there are several strategies you can employ to help keep costs down:


  1. Keep the design simple: Opting for a straightforward, rectangular layout without many extra features can help minimize materials and labor costs.


  1. Choose affordable materials: While high-end materials like composite decking or natural stone may be appealing, selecting more affordable options like pressure-treated wood or concrete can help you stay within budget.


  1. Consider DIY: If you have the skills and tools necessary, tackling some aspects of the project yourself, such as site preparation or painting, can help reduce labor costs.


  1. Time your project wisely: Scheduling your deck or patio build during the off-season (typically fall or winter) may result in lower labor costs, as contractors are often less busy during these times.


  1. Prioritize features: If your budget is tight, focus on the essential elements of your deck or patio and consider adding extra features like built-in seating or decorative elements later on.


Building a deck or patio can be a significant investment, but it can also greatly enhance your outdoor living space and add value to your home. By understanding the costs associated with each option and considering factors like materials, maintenance, and long-term value, you can make an informed decision that best fits your budget and lifestyle.


On average, building a patio tends to be less expensive than building a deck, particularly when using affordable materials like concrete. However, decks can offer a higher return on investment and may be better suited for certain home styles and landscapes.


Regardless of which option you choose, careful planning and budgeting can help ensure that your outdoor living project is a success. By working with a reputable contractor, selecting materials wisely, and prioritizing your must-have features, you can create a beautiful and functional outdoor space that you and your family will enjoy for years to come.



Trust the Experts in Composite Deck Installation

Whether you’re just beginning to explore your options or are ready to start building, Decked Out Builders is here to be your trusted deck-building partner. Our team of skilled professionals has decades of experience as premier composite deck builders in Illinois and Wisconsin. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have about composite decking materials and can help you schedule a design consultation when you’re ready to move forward.


In addition to custom composite decks, we offer a range of other outdoor living services, including porches, patios, pergolas, outdoor kitchens, and more. Browse our portfolio of showpiece custom decks and request your free quote today to start turning your outdoor living dreams into reality.