Your Backyard: Concrete Patio or Wood Deck? Your Backyard: Concrete Patio or Wood Deck?

Choosing between a concrete patio or wood deck in your backyard depends on your personal needs and taste. In general, a backyard deck is considered more visually attractive, but a concrete patio is far easier to maintain. Both forms of backyard patio have advantages and disadvantages when it comes to installation, some of which are outlined below. 

Concrete Patio

The biggest positive for a concrete patio is durability. Concrete is an ideal choice for those looking for a low maintenance backyard patio that is able to withstand the elements. Although they can be less attractive to look at than backyard decks, some imagination can help turn them from an unsightly slab into something a little more decorative. 

Installing a concrete patio usually takes around three days and is not a project that should be taken on lightly. You will need heavy-duty items, including a cement mixer and around 25 bags of cement to cover a 50 square foot area. Keep in mind the position of your patio in relation to the house. You will need to install the concrete patio with a gradient that slopes away from the house for runoff. A gravel layer below the concrete will help to prevent cracking in the concrete patio during freezing weather conditions. Be sure sweep a float over the top layer of concrete to avoid a lumpy finish. 

Installing a concrete patio takes patience. Once the concrete is in place, it is vital that it is left to set, but does not dry out too fast. Try laying a plastic sheet over the top and leave it for week or so to keep moisture within. Even after removing the plastic, leave it alone for at least another three weeks before it can be used properly. 

Wood Deck

A concrete patio certainly has the strength, but when it comes to looks, it's all about wood! Wood decks are extremely versatile and can be cut into virtually any shape. They are visually appealing in their natural color but can also compliment a pocket of outdoor space by being painted or varnished. 

When it comes to construction, a wood deck is often easier than working with masonry materials and, unlike concrete patios, can be built level on a sloping surface. Properly maintaining your backyard deck is necessary, but not as time consuming as some may imagine. It is important that a wood deck is cleaned and re-sealed every couple of years, but they do not require constant attention. 

When used outdoors, wood is regularly exposed to wet and dry weather conditions, which can cause cracks or "surface checks". A simple way to reduce the risk and severity of surface checking is to install the boards with the bark side down (with the growth rings curving upward). As the moisture comes and goes, the board will naturally cup towards the bark side, resulting in less checking.

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