Decking vs patio: Which type of terrace is right for you? 

Can’t decide between decking and a patio? We look at what’s involved in installing and maintaining each one – and reveal the costs.

Being able to create space in your garden for a terrace where you can soak up the sunshine is a wonderful thing. But what is the best material to construct this new al fresco living space from? If you can’t decide between decking vs a patio, we’re here to clear things up. You’ll be choosing your timber or selecting your slabs in no time at all. 

Whether you opt to install decking or patio, both will require an investment of time, money and energy. Yes, decking ideas tend to be quicker and cheaper to add to your garden, but need much more TLC as the timber settles into its new home. On the other hand, a patio is a bit trickier to install and might be more costly to lay, but needs minimal maintenance.

Decking in the garden with seating and pergolaCredit: Jacksons Fencing

Regardless of the team you end up backing once you’ve finished reading, everyone in the decking vs patio debate wins. Why? Because both have the potential to add value to your property. 


What’s the difference between a decking and patio? 

Despite being made of different materials, decking and patios tend to fulfil the same job – extending the level, usable space in a garden. Both can either sit beside the exterior of a house or serve as a terrace elsewhere on your plot.

Decking is crafted using a series of planks attached on top of supportive posts and joints (which are in contact with the ground). Patios are formed when stone slabs are placed onto a levelled foundation, directly on the ground.  

Which is easier to install – decking or patio?

Decking is quicker, but only just

Grab your stopwatch. It’s decking vs patio, and the clock is ticking. Which project will be finished first? 

“Decking is easier and quicker to install than a patio,” says Thomas Goodman, property and construction expert at 

Though not by as much as you would think, says the spokesperson for Infinite Paving 

“Despite the fact that the installation of a patio has a lot of heavy materials and intricacies, if it’s done by an experienced professional, the installation can be a very easy and efficient process,” they say. “It is also worth noting that with paving, the difficulty differs depending on the surface on which you are paving.” 

garden and patio in summer seen from stylish designer room through bifold doors.Credit: Shutterstock / Wormsmeat

Both can level out uneven ground

One excellent benefit of both patio and decking is that they can level out uneven ground. They are a particularly useful solution for tiered gardens and sloping gardens, though this does make installation trickier. 

“If you are installing a deck on relatively flat ground with no changes in ground level or steps required for your deck, then it may be slightly easier to install,” says Megan Godden of Jacksons Fencing.  

The foundation is paramount to a deck’s success as it provides the structure and will support the weight above. If posts or joists are not installed correctly, it could cause the whole deck to fail. 

“We would always recommend using a trusted and reputable installer to ensure the install is correct, as decking is heavily reliant on the quality of the installation for longevity, durability, and functionality.” 

Does decking or a patio last longer in a garden?

Both can have long lifespans if they’re looked after

back garden with patio covered in snow in winter.Credit: Shutterstock / Paul Maguire

Goodman says that a patio will last much longer than decking. Stone is hardier than wood, of course, and these structures need to withstand the heat, frost, wind, rain and whatever else we throw at them over the years.  

“The typical lifespan of decking that has been installed very well is around ten to 15 years,” says a spokesperson for Infinite Paving. “When you compare that to the 40 to 50-year lifespan of a perfectly installed patio, there is no competition. Patios are far more durable and long-lasting, and are affected much less by the constant changing of weather conditions throughout the year.”

Remember to treat wood properly

However, Godden says that good quality timber decking that has been properly treated can last for 25 years and longer.  

“It’s essential that you use timber that has been treated correctly for in-ground contact when building a deck,” she adds. “Decking posts and joists should be more heavily treated with a quality timber treatment, as these are going to be touching the ground and are therefore more susceptible to rot and insect attack.  

“The posts and joists that make up the foundations of the deck are integral to the longevity, as if even one post or joist fails, the integrity of the whole deck could be compromised.”


“Look out for a long lifetime guarantee as this will ensure the manufacturer has treated the timber correctly,” suggests Godden. 

Decking vs patio: which needs more maintenance?

A patio needs far less TLC

Man with paint brush applying oil to deckingCredit: Shutterstock / ronstik

Even though good quality timber that’s been properly treated for ground use can have a long lifespan, it’s a fact of nature that wood needs more maintenance than stone.  

“Decking needs to be repainted or re-stained, resealed and power washed regularly,” says Goodman, who also adds that eventually decking may need to be rebuilt.  

That’s why it’s important to know how to treat decking and to make sure that you know whether decking oil or stain is best for its upkeep.

“Decking, no matter the material, requires far more upkeep and maintenance than any type of paving,” according to Infinite Paving’s spokesperson. “With decking, it is not uncommon to see blemishes such as splintering, splitting and – in the case of PVC decking – shrinkage and expansion of deck boards throughout the year, which can cause huge gaps within your decking.” 

Top tips for ongoing care

“Patios are incredibly low maintenance,” states Infinite Paving’s spokesperson. “All patio materials are extremely strong and durable stone, which have been sealed to provide maximum protection. A patio simply requires a simple wash every three to four months to stay looking as fresh as the day it was installed.” 

“Decking should be periodically cleaned from a safety perspective but also to help with longevity, as a build-up of moss and lichen can cause it to become slippery and dangerous,” says Godden.  

“We recommend a gentle washing with slightly soapy water and sponge to remove dirt and cobwebs. A very light abrasive clean, such as with a nylon kitchen scourer, can be used along the grain. Do not rub against the grain as it is likely to leave marks.  

“A very light cold-water pressure washer can be used at a low setting, and held at a distance from the wood, but care must be taken not to damage the surface of the timber. The decking will lighten in colour when moss has effectively been removed.” 

Is decking or patio more expensive?

How much does each one cost to install?

Carpenter building wooden decking constructionCredit: Shutterstock / Radoslav Cajkovic

The price of installation of course depends on the size of the area you wish to cover. Additional factors include the materials you’ll use and what state the ground is in (is it uneven?). 

Godden says: “You can use a decking calculator to tell you exactly what materials you will need and how much it will cost per metre, and see where you can save.” 

Checkatrade has a useful cost guide on its website. For material costs, the company estimates the following (using ballpark average figures): 

  • softwood decking will cost £4-6 per metre 
  • hardwood decking will cost £9-15 per metre 
  • composite decking will cost £15-25 per metre 
  • concrete patio will cost £30-40 per square metre 
  • flagstone patio will cost £15-75 per square metre 
  • raised patio costs will start at £45 per square metre  

Don’t forget professionals’ fees

Of course, if you’re also paying a tradesperson to install the decking or patio for you, you’ll need to factor in their fee.  

Though it’s best to contact a professional landscaper or gardening expert, Checkatrade has compiled some average costs.  

“A landscape gardener will cost between £12.50-18.75 per hour, or approximately £100-150 per day,” the company writes. “A bricklayer will charge between £18.75-31.25 per hour or £150-250 per day. Patios usually take three-to-four days to lay. Labour charges for decking are similar but depending on the size and style of your decking, you can expect the job to take one-to-two days.” 

There may be additional costs, such as skip hire, ground preparation materials (such as sand and weed membranes) and wood treatment to consider.   

To sum up…

According to Checkatrade, the decking material and installation could cost a minimum of £2,300 for a non-elevated, 24 sq m softwood deck. 
By comparison and based on Checktrade’s ballpark figure of £340 per sq m for materials and installation, a flagstone patio of 24 sq m could cost £8,100 on average for materials and installation.

Which cost more to care for? Decking or a patio?

Ongoing care affects cost-effectiveness  

Close up of wooden deckingCredit: Jacksons Fencing

Whether you choose to install decking or patio may depend on your budget. If you have more money to spend initially, but then want minimal ongoing costs, then a patio is a better choice. Or if you’d rather part with less cash now, but then don’t mind investing in materials for upkeep, then decking is the way to go. 

“A patio tends to cost more than decking,” says Goodman. “However, a patio will last longer than decking. With this in mind, you could end up paying more for decking in the long run. This is because decking requires regular maintenance and will need to be replaced roughly every 15-20 years.” 

The spokesperson at Infinite Paving agrees, saying that paving is more cost-effective than decking. 

“Once your patio has been installed, if maintained properly you will incur very little or even no extra costs for the duration of its 50-year lifespan,” they told us. 

Decking and patios can add value to your home 

According to the experts Saga Exceptional spoke with, both decking and patio will “undoubtedly” help to add value to your home. Godden notes that extending the amount of living and entertaining space in a garden with decking will attract more buyers and could increase the asking price. 

In a news story reported by the Express, the National Association of Estate Agents (also known as Propertymark), believes a patio could add as much as £10,000 to a property’s value.  

Research from GetAgent shows that the potential for decking to add value to a house is similar to that of a patio. 

The average cost for a patio area or decking is £2,235, the business reports on its blog. It estimates either would likely add 4.3% to your home’s value. At the time of the research, the average UK house was £281,161. So with the increase, it would be an additional £12,090 added to your property value. After the initial outlay, you could be looking at a £10,000 profit. 

Ultimately, which is best, decking or patio?

Both have their advantages

decking and a patio in a garden near a pool and a dining tableCredit: Shutterstock / Dimitri Lamour

Designing your garden is not always determined by how much things cost, or how easy they are to maintain. Sometimes, you just prefer the look of something. Perhaps you love the rustic appeal of ancient looking flagstones inset into a patio. Or maybe you’d relish taking care of a sleek, smart decking with stairs?  

If you’re still caught in the middle of the decking vs patio battle royal, we’ve rounded up the best bits about each to help you choose: 

Benefits of decking:

  • quicker to install than a patio 
  • lighter materials to move around 
  • if made of good quality timber, properly treated and well maintained, can last a long time 
  • initial costs cheaper than a patio, though in future costs more to maintain 
  • adds all-year usable surface to your home 
  • can add up to £10,000 to the value of your home. 

Benefits of a patio:

  • guaranteed to last a long time 
  • less affected by weather 
  • needs little to no extra cost once installed to maintain 
  • extremely low maintenance  
  • less likely to need replacing due to rot or pest damage 
  • adds all-year usable surface to your home 
  • can add up to £10,000 to the value of your home.
Rosanna Spence

Written by Rosanna Spence she/her


Rosanna Spence is a Staff Writer for Homes at Saga Exceptional. Rosanna has been a journalist for nearly 10 years, reporting on a huge array of topics – from microwaves to cocktails, sustainable buildings, the Caribbean islands and beyond. She’s interviewed chefs at the helm of Michelin-starred restaurants and chatted to countless CEOs about their businesses, as well as created travel guides for experienced travellers seeking life-changing adventures.

Rosanna loves nothing better than getting under the skin of a topic and is led by an unwavering curiosity to share information and stories that inform and inspire her readers – a mission that has taken her around the world. Throughout her career, she has created content for Business Traveller,, Pub & Bar, BRITA, Dine Out and many more leading titles and brands.

She turned her attention to the Homes sector as a result of an ongoing renovation and improvement project, which takes up a fair amount of her time outside of work. When she’s not comparing carpet samples or debating the pros and cons of induction hobs, you’ll find Rosanna exploring Bristol’s food and drink scene, obsessively watching horror films, or donning some walking boots and heading for the hills.

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