Let’s face it; outdoor living space is more important than ever. People are beginning to realize that sitting inside on your couch, scrolling social media, and bingeing on Netflix shows is unhealthy and unproductive. The fresh air, the trees, and the singing birds make being outdoors magical, and there are plenty of studies that show just how healthy it is to get outdoors. There is never a better time than right now to prep your backyard, so it is a place where you and your family want to hang out. The foundation of any great backyard is either a deck or a cement patio. Perhaps you don’t have a patio or deck and would like one, but you don’t know which to choose. Like with almost everything, decks and patios have both pros and cons, so let’s take a look at which might be suitable for you and your lifestyle.
Wood Decks: The Good and the Bad
Wood decks have been around for a very long time, but before the 1970s, they were simple, small rectangular spaces, and people didn’t use them for recreational purposes. By the 1980s, decks began to change dramatically. They were no longer just a space where dad grilled burgers; they started to take on exciting purposes, and homeowners wanted their outdoor spaces customized. Decks suddenly became extensions of the home instead of a cheap exterior addition.
Wood or composite decking vary in price, looks, and durability. A well-constructed deck will give you years of service and enjoyment. The deck design process starts with the type of material or wood you want to use for your deck.
Natural wood is the traditional material used for decks, the very first decks were made from wood, and it remains a popular choice. Natural wood is the real deal; it is natural, smells good, and looks great. There are several types of wood you can choose from, each with its own distinctive qualities and looks. There are other options when installing wood decks, including the type of finish.
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Softwoods are a popular choice with homeowners because they are relatively inexpensive and will serve you well for many years. Hardwoods are also a popular choice, but they can be expensive. Both softwood and hardwood decks will require care and maintenance to prevent discoloration, rot, and fading. Compared to composite decks, wood decks demand a lot of attention, including staining and sealing every few years. Wood decking is also a renewable and recyclable resource, but trees have to be harvested in the process.
If you aren’t willing to commit to routine wood deck maintenance, you can always choose a composite deck. The most significant benefit of a composite deck is its longevity; you will enjoy your deck for a long time because composite materials can withstand harsh weather conditions for decades without protection or treatment. Composite decks are also lightweight, stain-resistant, and won’t rot.
There are several downsides to composite decks that you should consider. Composite decks are not resistant to mold and mildew, some composite slats are obviously cheap or fake looking, and they tend to sag and bend more than wood. Additionally, composite slats come from non-renewable sources.
Cement Patios: The Pros and Cons
The origin of cement dates back over 2,000 years ago when the Greeks and Romans mixed volcano ash with lime and water to form a hard mass. But modern concrete really became popular in 1913 when Ready Mix was created and began mixing concrete at a central location and delivering it to job sites. Colored concrete was invented in 1915 and continues to grow in popularity. Decorative concrete was developed in the 1950s and has seen an enormous growth in popularity, changing what used to be plain and basic patios into something decorative and beautiful.
One of the biggest pros of a concrete patio is the cost. The initial cost of a cement patio is usually far less than a wooden deck. However, wooden decks typically get a higher return of the investment at about 75 percent. You will garner a return of investment with a cement patio, but usually only about 30 to 60 percent.
Another advantage cement patios have over decks is in stylistic versatility. Traditional decks are pretty straightforward, they are all shaped about the same way, and the stain and sealant colors are quite common. When you choose a cement patio, you have literally thousands of options when selecting the style and finish. Stamping patterns and other finishing techniques are used to emulate tile, stone, and brick as well as geometric designs. You can also stain cement patios in solid colors or even blended patterns.
Just like wood decks, cement patios will last longer when they are adequately cared for and regularly maintained. However, concrete decks don’t need to be resealed and restrained as often as their wooden counterparts. It will cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000 to reseal a wood deck, whereas the cost to seal a concrete patio is between $100 and $200. In addition, homeowners with a wood deck have to check for loose boards, mold, and rot every year.
Concrete patios not only look fantastic, but they also perform very well too, which saves you money in the long run. You may run into some issues with wood or composite decks that you won’t with a concrete patio, including warping and splintering. But there is always the risk of your concrete patio cracking.
There are a few other cons associated with concrete patios. For example, concrete is not very DIT friendly, and repairs are difficult if you don’t know what you are doing. Concrete patios can be damaged by the freeze/thaw cycle, which we see many here in Northern Colorado.
We urge you to do a little research and discover which is best for you and your home. If you would like an honest opinion on the matter, feel free to give us a call. We aren’t here to sell you something that isn’t right for you; we want what works best for your needs and application, even if it turns out to be a wooden deck. If you think a concrete patio is right for you, fill out our estimation form, and we will get back to you.