Decks and patios serve as extensions of our homes in the summer for entertaining and lounging, as a great spot to read the morning paper or to enjoy an impromptu picnic lunch. After a long, snowy winter, most of us are more than ready to spend a lot of time outside enjoying the sunny summer days. And a new patio or deck is just the ticket.
Whether you build a patio or a deck, or both, depends upon how you plan to use the area, your outdoor space and the elevation of your home. A deck is a better option if you have an exit that is at least a few feet above ground level or want to build off a second story. Decks require more planning and effort than patios, and a lot of cuts. A wooden deck is typically the most immediately affordable choice, but vinyl or composite decks require less maintenance and will hold up better down the road. You should also consider your backyard vista. The ground level positioning of a patio allows it to blend into your landscaping and backyard area, but if you have scenic surroundings, the elevation of a deck will give you a better position from which to enjoy the view.
Patios are great for ground level exits or as a landing from a deck. A level yard is not a prerequisite for a patio. Great patios can be created from rolling lawns and multi-tiered patios can be carved into significant slopes, taming them for great effect. The design versatility of patios is endless—choose from different colors and styles of pavers to match your tastes and complement your home and landscaping preferences. Pavers come in stone, granite, concrete and other materials, and brick and paver shapes can range from square blocks to octagons and interlocking styles. And if you prefer a been-there-forever look, many paver lines offer tumbled edges and fade-resistant stones—an old-world appearance that will remain attractive for years, even decades. If you have a smaller backyard, you can use pavers to create a small, attractive patio space with enough room for a bench or a few chairs—a patio can fit nearly anywhere. A fun addition to a patio area is a fire pit that can be used to continue the outdoor living into the fall months.
Before you break ground on your deck or patio, make sure the area is large enough to accommodate your plans for the space. Plan outdoor improvements in the same way you would plan an addition to your home. If you will use the area primarily for outdoor dining and entertaining, decide where you will place your grill and patio furniture, and be sure that you leave enough room for people to walk around comfortably.
The summer is finally here—celebrate by sprucing up your outdoor living space and creating the deck and/or patio that makes you want to be outside.