Carefully planned and installed, a deck or patio can greatly increase the value and enjoyment of your home by expanding your outdoor living space. The trick is to decide which one, and which construction materials, will fit in   best with your current surroundings while meeting your goals for outdoor relaxation and entertaining.

When deciding between a deck and a patio, here are some considerations to keep in mind:

Capacity- If you’ll be entertaining lots of people or if you need to hold something heavy like a hot tub, a patio makes a sturdier choice. While decks can be reinforced to hold extra weight, the reinforcements may compromise aesthetics.

Terrain- If you have a sloping yard, you may want to go with a deck. Though the ground can be built up to provide a level patio surface, this can cost extra.

Weather- How much sun, rain, and snow does this site get? Too much sun can make patio surfaces unpleasant to walk on in bare feet, while rain and snow take their toll on deck materials.

Once you’ve decided on a deck or patio, you’ll need to choose an appropriate construction material.

Decks- Synthetic decks made from recycled plastics are appealing due to their minimal maintenance requirements. Plus, they’re less susceptible to insect damage, warping and splintering. Wooden decks, on the other hand, are less expensive and provide a more natural look. However, they do require periodic maintenance.

Patios- Pavers are durable, low-maintenance choice for patio construction and come in a wide variety of styles and colors. Concrete is another option to consider, especially since the days of the dull, gray concrete slab are behind us. You might be surprised by the color and pattern choices available in concrete patios.

Remember, the last thing you want in your yard is unusable dead space. Think ahead and thoroughly research your options for a deck or patio that you can enjoy for many years to come.