Angie's List Report: Deck of Patio

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Updated: 6/21/2013 9:59 am

During the summer, both a deck and a patio can provide an outdoor extension of your living space. But subtle differences between the two might make one better for your needs than another. In this Angie's List report, how to decide between the two.

For Robert Hadden, he went the patio route. His shrubs took a beating during the winter. So Hadden removed them from his home and put a patio in their place instead. He he quickly learned it wasn’t an easy project to take on by himself.

“I had the intention of putting it in myself but as I quickly learned just carving an area in the earth and putting down stones, I wasn’t going to achieve much doing that. I knew there was a lot more to it than that. So that’s why I called the contractor I did and had him do it for me,” Hadden said.

Choosing whether to build a deck or patio deserves careful attention as either can give you years of enjoyment if designed correctly. Patios work best on flatter terrain because you need a minimal amount of structural engineering to put them in. The styles and varieties of pavers can also play a role as those styles often change.

“In general sense as far as what products people are moving towards um paving stones for many years were more smaller formatted meaning size and shape of the stones and so forth. You have very traditional looks that are used in historical areas, like a 4x8 type brick or paver. Those are now expanding out to larger format pieces where you can get pieces that are large as 24x36 for an individual stone. So people seem to be trending more towards having larger formatted pieces in general,” said Kevin Schluchter, a patio contractor.

When it comes to decks there is a little more versatility. Decks can be installed out over variety of terrain.

“We can create a couple of different spaces with the deck, higher spaces, lower spaces. So it can feel like separate areas. Also, we can put benches, privacy screens, and railing, so it really can flesh out the space nicely," said Tom Booker, a deck contractor. Angie's List founder Angie Hicks reminds homeowners to consider the budget and how to plan appropriately for the space.

“When planning a deck or patio first you want to get your budget in line, then see what your options are. Figure out how much square footage you’re looking to add and then price it out accordingly with each different type. Keeping in mind the price range can vary on installation, but you also need to consider what the lifelong maintenance is as well. For instance, a wood deck is less expensive than a composite deck to install initially, but requires more maintenance,” Hicks said

An incorrectly installed patio or deck can be an unsightly blight on your landscape. Angie’s List says it’s critical to choose a licensed contractor. And never sign a contract without reading the fine print.

Before you build a deck or patio, you'll also want to look at the way weather affects your property and determine whether roof drainage could create a problem on an attached deck or if the way snow and ice build-up could create a slippery hazard on a patio.

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