Patio or Deck – Which is Best?

I’m often asked by clients if they would be better off with a patio or a deck for their garden. There isn’t a definitive answer as to which is better because it depends on your location, tastes and lifestyle needs. But there are pros and cons to each which will help you decide. Here are some of the main things to consider:

Patio Benefits

  • Easy maintenance (if you’ve chosen a good quality paving)
  • Wide variety of colours, shapes and textures
  • Paving looks good with a larger selection of property styles
  • Longevity (if you’ve chosen a good quality paving)

Patio Downsides

  • More intensive construction required underneath a patio, especially in areas with a lot of ground movement where reinforcement is needed
  • Environmental impact of using concrete
  • Cost

Deck Benefits

  • Quicker, easier construction, especially if raised above ground level
  • Natural looking material
  • Slightly cheaper depending on wood used

Deck Downsides

  • Maintenance (requires regular oiling if you want to keep its brown colour)
  • Longevity (more of an issue with untreated softwood decking)
  • Can be very slippery in winter

The 1st Consideration…

Whilst the above list does have valid issues to consider, the place I like to start with is the style and type of property someone has. If you live in the middle of rural England in a beautiful old house, decking probably isn’t going to be the best material to use as it won’t be in keeping with the house style.

However, if you live in the USA with a timber clad house, decking will look great with it. So think about the type of house you have first and foremost, before taking the things in the list above into account.

Next Step

You may well have the type of house that will suit either paving or decking. In this case, the next thing to consider is personal taste. Does one material draw you more than the other? For those of you muttering “No, that’s why I’m reading this, just tell me which one to choose already!” hang on, we’re getting there…

If that doesn’t narrow it down to a definitive “I want this one” answer, the next thing to look at is the style of garden that draws you. Are you more of a traditional or modern garden type of person?

What Garden Style Are You Trying to Create?

Do you like simple, clean lines or lots of interesting details and textures? If you want lots of detail and interesting features then paving will be a better choice for you. It’s much easier to create interesting patterns and different textures with paving than it is with decking.

If you like clean lines and minimal detail, then decking is great for this. Minimal detail can of course be achieved with one size of paving but because the individual paving slabs are much shorter than deck boards, paving will always look slightly ‘fussier’ than decking.

You can create more intricate patterns with paving and cleaner, simpler lines with decking

Have It All!

Photo credit N. Townley

If you really can’t make up your mind, another option is to just have both. A combination of  paving and decking looks great in modern gardens, the contrast is really effective.
I hope this article has helped you on the road to making a decision on which option to go for. We have just scratched the surface of the process, though.

It’s Important You Design Your Deck or Patio Properly…

There’s a lot more that goes into creating a great looking patio or deck than we’ve discussed here. The design shapes you use play an even more critical role than which materials you use. So it’s really important to spend a little bit of time deciding which shapes will suite your home and work with the rest of your garden.

If you’d like to learn exactly how to create a stunning patio or deck, then check out the online garden design courses we do here at Successful Garden Design.

Learn more, attend one of our FREE Fast Track Garden Design online classes…

Register on this page:



About Rachel Mathews

Professional international garden designer for over 20 years. My mission is to de-mystify garden design and make it easy for people to successfully design their own garden - without needing to spend a fortune!


  1. Sugarland outdoor patios says:

    i think the design of the home can really affect your choice. homes which have a spacious outdoor space can work well with patios. You can even install an outdoor kitchen within the patio. Both decks and patios, need a proper design in order to boost the appearance of your outdoor space, i couldn’t agree more.

  2. Nice one,I also think that if one doesn’t have a choice he or she can go for both as both decks and patios have some pros and cons as well.

  3. both are different and unique from each other though they sound different.One should hire an experienced professional while installing decks and carports,you may visit

  4. PT LandscapeInc says:

    This is a quite informative yet easy-to-understand article. Another thing to consider whether you opt for deck or patio or both in your yard, is to make sure to understand the construction as well as the maintenance costs of each one.

    Also, ask your professional landscape contractor to guide or teach you about maintenance care. They should be able to give you tips and other inside knowledge.

  5. Hi Julia,
    Thank you for your comment. If you have any garden design questions, don't hesitate to get in touch with us.

  6. I agree that keeping with the style of the house is important. I also like lots of details. I think it is going to take a lot of ideas to get my perfect patio. Hopefully, we can get something figured out by next spring.

  7. I like how you outlined the pros and cons so nicely for decks and patios. We've been thinking of getting a deck since there are so many nice options when it comes to choosing wood. We just need to look around and find the best prices of timber. Do you know if construction gets much more complicated if you want to install a hot tub on the deck? I imagine you would need extra support for it.

  8. Thanks for the great breakdown on the benefits and downsides of both patios and wood decks. I would love to have a deck in the back yard to entertain guests on summer nights, and it will help to have an idea as to what can be done with them. I guess getting a professional to look at my house would be a good idea.

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  10. My husband and I have been thinking about installing a deck or patio, but we haven't decided which one would be best for us. You made a good point about easy maintenance if you choose good quality paving. We both have a busy schedule, so I don't think we should spend money on something we wouldn't be able to maintain. After reading this, I think a patio would be our best option. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Rachel, I like to see that decks have such a quick and easy construction. I think my wife and I would like to put a deck in our backyard. I think that that would make for a nice area to have family bonfires this summer.

  12. My neighbor has a beautiful tile deck, however, I'm partial to the wooden look! I hadn't thought to even combine both materials for my deck, but that's definitely something to consider. I'll have to see where our budget lies, but I can't wait to get started on this!

  13. We have a wood deck in our backyard right now, and the maintenance is definitely a downside. We do love being outside and the deck has been great for our family. I think if we were to replace we would use a different material.

  14. Really, it all just depends on your own personal preference. All too often, people think that there home needs a particular thing to match their neighbors. But, when it comes to a patio or a deck, it is important that you do what you want. The last thing you want is to regret your choice. That being said, do you have any advice about finding a professional to help you with the process of building a deck?

  15. This is a really interesting article, I had never compared decks and patios before. I have always loved the look of a nice deck, so that is probably what I would choose. Although, having both would be really cool too!

  16. My husband and I are thinking of putting in a patio or a deck, and the information on the benefits and downsides of each were really helpful. It's good to know that patio looks better with a larger selection of property styles and a wide variety of colors and textures. We are leaning towards a patio, so it sounds like it could work well with our home.

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  19. Rachel, I never thought to consider our garden when deciding between a deck or a patio. I like the idea of having a wooden deck that we could use for some bonfires. I better hire a contractor that could put one in our backyard so we can have some fun bonding experiences.

  20. After reading about deck benefits, I believe a deck is the best option. Patio downsides are costly. Also, I love a deck. Thank you so much for the article, with actual writing. This proved to be quite helpful to know information about decks.

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  23. This was helpful. We have been considering a patio, but there are several large tree roots that we haven’t known what to do with. A deck might be a better choice. Thanks.


  1. […] well as having a luscious lawn for sunbathing on, every garden needs a patio or a deck. Choose which one of these two you want – decks are more rustic, but patios last […]

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