Be it the cool evening breeze in summer, the warmth of the sun on a lucky winter day or the pleasing sunshine of spring, being able to enjoy them from the comfort of your own outdoor spaces is bliss. In the modern day scenario of paucity of space, having a porch, deck, balcony, veranda or patio is nothing less than a luxury. Expert professionals have time & again stressed on the importance of having an outdoor space for better ventilation and added comfort of relaxation. And speaking of these spaces, all these outdoor spaces appear similar to a certain extent and we often tend to use them interchangeably. But, there exist clear differences between all of them.
This article talks about these differences and in particular, the differences between a porch and a deck. A porch is a covered area added to the front of the home, while a deck is an open, flat, roofless outdoor space typically at the rear part of the home. The porch structure is outside the building walls, but it may be enclosed in walls, columns or screens extending from the main structure. Decks are generally found adjoining the house. One can enjoy decks only in good weather, whereas a covered/ insulated porch can be enjoyed in any weather/ season. In general, decks are less costly than porches as they don't include the expense of a roof. Porch and deck have some similarities, but this article enlists their differences so that you can make a better informed decision regarding a porch Vs. deck to add to your home.
Typically sitting at the front of the home in addition to the entranceway and accessible by the front steps, porches are usually covered by an overhang or extension of the roof. A sunporch may be situated on the side of the residence and apart from being covered by roof overhang, such porches are generally screened in for year-round access. Porches can be useful for sitting & observing street activity at leisure, as a guest reception area and also for outdoor storage.
Normally located at the back of the home, decks are outdoor extensions of the living/ lounging area. Usually, they form a part of the courtyard's recreational space and might be included in landscaping alongside a pool-area, an outdoor kitchen or a patio. Decks are great for outdoor recreational purposes like BBQ, grilling, entertaining, sunbathing and relaxing. They may have added elements like hot tubs or fire pits, and may also possess built-in benches or tables.
When it comes to durability, the endurance of the porch or deck hinges partly on the materials used. Generally decks have a shorter lifespan & need more maintenance as they are exposed to the weather/ elements of wear. Decking with man-made materials like composite decking & fiber cement decking may prolong the lifespan of both the deck as well as the porch. Modified wood products can also be a good deal of help for the same.
Porches and decks are quite similar in construction. The primary difference between them is that the porch bears a roof and is partially enclosed, while the deck is entirely open. It follows that the installation process itself is the same for deck & porch. The biggest difference, the enclosure of the porch, is a key aspect; one needs to check if the roof overhang already exists or does the roof have to be extended out over the new porch.
When replacing an old porch, the construction of a new porch/ new deck will nearly be the same. But if a new porch or deck is being added, a new roofline will be required for the porch which would translate into a more challenging & costlier installation. The porch will also require a ceiling & posts to support the overhang at the front. On the other hand, decks do not require any of these. However, since a deck is totally open to the outside, ensuring proper waterproofing is a must to prevent the weather from compromising the material used to build the deck, over time.
Porches having an adequate overhang may be given flooring/ other materials that are not suitable to be used for decking.
Decks are normally built of a frame made of pressure-treated lumber (timber)/ wood. The decking material employed to cover the surface/ floor of the deck, as well as any benches, railings, privacy walls or ledges, however, can be composed of a number of different materials. The entire deck could be built out of pressure-treated lumber; composite decking is the next most popular material, which is made by blending woods & plastics. Other widely used options are fiber cement decking & modified wood decking. When choosing a decking material, one needs to consider the cost, maintenance as well as how the material reacts in the sun. Composite decking tends to become hot, making it inappropriate & inconvenient to walk bare foot. Composites might also become slippery when wet, rendering them tricky to use in wet climates.
Porches are also constructed employing a frame of pressure-treated wood and may be built using the same decking materials. The main distinction is that the porch floor is generally more finished-looking. As the porch is a covered space, it doesn’t have the problem of composites becoming over-heated. Porch flooring may also require less maintenance overall because it will be less exposed to the outside elements & weather. Moreover, the porch flooring might be of a better quality of timber, fiber cement, composite, or even an indoor flooring material like hardwood or stone.
Appearance & style of the porch/ deck is largely dictated by factors like the architecture & interior design of the home, the use or function of the area, and the homeowners' personal preferences. The porch is considered as an extension of the home and has a significant impact on the curb appeal, so it is important to make sure that the porch style matches the design & aesthetics of the rest of the dwelling. Porches tend to be more formal in appearance as compared to decks since the former have a greater impact on the entryway. Contemporary or modern decks are lately gaining more popularity, especially those with built-in benches, hot tubs & fire pits; such decks make for an ideal gathering space or entertaining spot.
Coming to the costs, decks & porches incur a similar expenditure for material & labor but the porches mandate the additional cost of roofing materials & installation. Pine is the most commonly used decking material and costs the least at US$5.00- 9.00 per sf. Hardwoods are the costliest at US$9.38 per sf. in average.
Cost of labor may also vary depending on the material. Composites are pricier to install as compared to hardwoods, with most labor costing between US$40-80 per sf, taking the total per sf cost of building a deck to US$21 -71, having an average of approximately US$33 per sf. Constructing a medium sized deck of 200-500 ft would cost around US$7,000.
Most of the porches cost US$67 per sf on an average, with labor costing from US$20- 40 per sf and materials running about the same cost as for a deck, with the additional cost of roof joists, shingles & beadboard. A porch measuring 16 x 20ft would cost between US$16,000- 30,400, with an average cost of US$21,400.
Talking about maintenance, both porches & decks need some degree of upkeep. This is dependent largely on the materials used for building the deck or porch. Wood decks require the maximum maintenance- they need to be washed annually & stained at least every 2 years. Composites need less maintenance, only the damaged boards require replacement. Modified wood & fiber cement decks are also conveniently low maintenance. Compared to decks, porches generally require less maintenance as the latter are covered. A wood porch might need to be washed & stained every few years, as opposed to needing the same on a yearly basis. Man-made materials & modified wood are quite hassle-free as they require little for maintenance.
Since both decks & porches are usually composed of pressure-treated timber, they are quite susceptible to termites and other wood-boring insects like carpenter ants & some bee species. It is, therefore, a good idea to routinely check the structure of the porch/ deck annually as a part of its maintenance, so that any infestation could be caught & treated well in time.
The balcony is a platform that projects outside from the wall of a building, generally above the ground floor. A balcony is enclosed by balustrades/ walls and supported by console brackets or columns. Balconies are usually small sized; homeowners do not use them as social spaces or for entertaining, unlike a porch or a deck.
A roofed platform along the outside of a dwelling, the veranda differs from the balcony in that the former is level with the ground floor. The veranda often extends across the front as well as the sides of the building. It can be partially enclosed with a railing.
Coming to the patio, it is a paved outdoor area adjoining a house, which is normally used for recreation or dining purposes. The term
patio comes from Spanish language where it means inner courtyard. Materials commonly employed to build a patio include bricks, stone, concrete and many times tiles or cobbles too. Oftentimes people decorate their patios with ornamental plants & outdoor furniture.