Porches, Stoops, Decks, and Patios: What Are the Differences, and Which Is Best for You?

Ben Kissam
Written by Ben Kissam
Updated December 22, 2021
Photo: Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

You can barbecue on all of them, but one of these outdoor living spaces is probably ideal for your needs

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Building an outdoor living space lets you entertain guests, barbecue, or just have a place to take in some fresh air after a long day. But before you start shopping for chairs or researching the best grilling recipes, you need to know the differences between a porch, stoop, deck, and patio—and which type of outdoor area is best for your needs and space. This guide breaks it all down.

What Is a Porch?

Large enclosed porch with dining table and chairs
Photo: Pipas Imagery / Shutterstock.com

A porch is different than a deck in that it is an outdoor structure with a roof that typically attaches to the front or back of a home. A porch can be screened-in or open, but both allow you to spread out in the fresh air—often with plenty of shade as a bonus.

Your front or back porch is a great place to read, relax, watch a sunset, or chat with friends. Depending on your home’s layout, it might also become a focal point of your home (and one of the areas with the most foot traffic to boot).

What Is a Stoop?

Couple talking and laughing on stoop
Photo: Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Stoops are simple raised structures in front of a home, typically with a step (or several stairs)  and a railing that lead to the entrance. Unlike a porch or patio, a stoop usually doesn’t have a roof or overhang to protect it—or you—from the rain or sun.

Traditionally, stoops were designed as a spot for incidental social encounters. Parents or children might spot a friend on a stoop and have a quick chat or run into neighbors while they relax out front.

Stoops are also a popular location to grow flowers, put small pieces of furniture (like a chair for reading), or install a mounted mailbox.

What Is a Deck?

Wooden deck with furniture
Photo: Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com

Usually made from wood and finished with paint or stain, a deck is an outdoor platform attached to your home. Like a porch or a patio, it’s popularly used to relax, socialize, get fresh air, or cook and eat.

There are two common types: raised decks and ground-level decks. A raised deck, vs. a patio, can be built several feet off the ground, giving homeowners room underneath for storage or shaded activities. A ground-level deck, as its name implies, is built right on the ground. These should be built with ground-contact (pressure-treated) wood to ensure it lasts a long time.

What Is a Patio?

Wicker furniture outside on patio
Photo: Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com

A patio is a no-walled structure designed for outdoor cooking, eating, and socializing. Common materials used to build a patio include:

Unlike porches, stoops, or decks, patios aren't always directly attached to the house, either. They are typically found in the backyard but may be off to the side or further back.

Building a Porch, Stoop, Deck, or Patio: What to Consider

From protecting your front entrance to giving your family a place to socialize with neighbors and friends, there are a number of reasons you might build an outdoor space at your home.

Cost

The cost to build these outdoor additions can vary immensely, especially when factoring in size and materials. Your budget can help you decide which is right for you.

Here are the national average costs for installation of each structure:

  • Porch: $4,600–$22,000

  • Stoop: $900–$2,000

  • Deck: $4,000–$11,000

  • Patio: $1,800–$5,300

Generally speaking, a simple stoop with one or two steps or a concrete patio is the most affordable option.

Weather

Your local climate can also help you decide whether to build a porch, stoop, deck, or patio. For example, if your area experiences lots of rain, a structure with an overhang or ceiling (including a porch or patio) might be a good idea.

You might also factor in heat, snow, or even insects (including pesky mosquitoes). An enclosed or screened-off area could make paying a little extra for a porch worth it if you’ll be able to enjoy it without covering yourself with bug spray.

Space

A home with a large yard but narrow rear exit might be best suited for a patio. Otherwise, you may wind up building an enclosed deck or porch that’s too small to comfortably sit in.

For patios built away from the home or raised decks, you should also consider whether you’ll need to build a walking path. This could affect your budget by several hundred or even thousands of dollars depending on the type of material you use.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Necessary maintenance should also be a factor when planning your build. Enclosed areas will need to be treated like a room in your home, meaning a new porch will likely require the most ongoing work. Keep in mind, you’ll have to rescreen a porch every six to eight years, but even minor incidents such as small kiddos pushing on your screens could make rescreening an annual job.

Cleaning a deck is pretty straightforward (just never use bleach!), and many patio surfaces including concrete and stones stay pretty clean with a weekly or monthly rinse.

Which Is Best for Your Home?

There are benefits to building any of these structures, but budget, space, and climate can help you decide which is right for you. Whichever structure will make it easiest to enjoy your new living space—and not have to worry about weather, mosquitos, or going off-budget—is probably the best option for your home.

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