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Patio or Deck? How to Choose the Best Option for Your Backyard

Are you planning a new outdoor living space for your backyard? If you are trying to choose between a patio vs. deck, , there are several key factors to consider. These include: the grade or slope of your yard, the height of your doorstep in relation to the yard, and how you’re planning to use the space. Another consideration is whether you are approaching your impervious limit.

Slope and Grade

A deck is usually the preferred option if backyard terrain features a notable slope in the area where the new deck or patio will be built. Sloped yards are not ideal for a raised patio as they could require significant excavation for installation. This could mean digging out portions of the patio space or adding soil to level the area. It may even require a retaining wall, a noticeable expense for a backyard project.

Entrance Height

Photo of Backyard Patio

Patios are best for yards where the entrance from the house is at ground level. If there are fewer than two or three steps between a door and the ground, there is not appropriate space for a deck.

If the entrance to the outdoor space is at ground level, but the ground slopes away from it, a low-to-grade deck that expands with the slope may be needed. In this case, excavation would be required to ensure a long-lasting deck as there must be enough clearance to keep the framing off the ground. If a deck frame is on the ground, it can hold moisture and deteriorate more quickly.


One consideration for your new outdoor living space is how you plan to use it. If this space will surround a pool or hot tub, we may recommend a patio. Patio surfaces are less slippery than decks. If there area receives very little sunlight, this effect may be worsened.

Impervious limits

One non-negotiable factor is whether or not you have reached, or are close to, your impervious surface limit. All properties have a limit of how much land can be covered by a permanent structure on it, which will block water absorption. (The limits are determined by your local government.) Patios are 100% impermeable, whereas decks may be as low as 50%. A deck may be your best option if you are approaching your impervious surface limit.

If you are debating whether to include a raised patio or a deck in a new outdoor living space, Archadeck can help. Call our team today at 919-973-1523 to request a design consultation. The expert design team at Archadeck of Raleigh-Durham will guide you through the pros and cons of all your backyard options. We look forward to working with you!