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Deck vs. Patio: Which is Best for Des Moines Homeowners?

It’s an all too common dilemma – as a Des Moines homeowner, should you build a new deck or patio for outdoor living and entertaining? Both can increase your functional space, boost curb appeal, and potentially even increase resale value. But decks and patios carry far different costs, installation challenges, lifespans and aesthetic payoffs that factor heavily into deciding what’s best for your home.

As a concrete contractor servicing the Des Moines area for over 20 years, I’ve seen the patio vs. deck debate play out countless times. Of course I have my opinions on the better backyard investment, but what truly matters is what makes the most sense for your property, lifestyle and budget long-term. Keep reading as I break down the key differences and considerations between decks and patios to help Des Moines area homeowners make this big decision.

Difference Between Patios and Decks

Fundamentally, patios and decks serve similar purposes – expanding outdoor living areas to better enjoy nice weather, host gatherings with family and friends, pursue hobbies like grilling, etc. But they arrive at outdoor space creation from very different construction approaches:

Patios: Ground-level paved areas using concrete, pavers, stone or bricks that adjoin or stand separate from a home. The solid, sturdy surface lies right on prepared ground or gravel base.

Decks: Elevated, above-ground wooden structures built from boards and beams extending off a home, with built-in support from vertical posts concreted into the ground. Railings provide safety given the height.

With patio materials flat on the dirt and decks hovering above it, key patio pros compared to decks include greater affordability and privacy. Meanwhile, decks offer more versatility handling uneven terrain and can provide better views. We’ll explore the nuances shortly.

Now let’s get into important factors Des Moines homeowners should weigh when assessing which backyard upgrade – a handsome new brick patio or an open cedar deck – best fits their property and lifestyle.

Key Considerations for Des Moines Homeowners Climate & Weather

Let’s start with something we know all too much about year to year – the weather! As a city seeing some of the coldest Midwest winters alongside hot, humid summers, Des Moines extremes impact material durability and deck/patio comfort potential. For example, freeze and thaw cycles strain concrete, while blazing sun bakes darker surfaces like wood decks.

Understanding local climate patterns helps appropriately select materials and features to handle both seasonal cold and heat fluctuations. Planning small touches like integrated shade elements into the design also ensures your new space stays enjoyable as outdoor temperatures shift.

Home Sizes & Yard Shapes

Consider your existing home’s dimensions and layout along with available yard space. Des Moines lots come in a spectrum of shapes and slopes, with homes ranging from compact ranch styles to sprawling two stories. Ensure any deck or patio compliments your architecture aesthetically while also fitting sensibly given backyard terrain limitations or challenges. Consider sightlines from interior rooms to maximize views.

Zoning Laws & Permits

Development regulations also factor prominently in Des Moines outdoor addition planning, more prominently for decks. Depending on their scale and height, constructed decks often must adhere to zoning laws around setbacks, boundaries and safety specifications monitored through permit approval processes. Requirements vary by municipality, so connect with local officials early about proposed plans to avoid compliance issues down the road.

Outdoor Lifestyle Culture

Let’s be honest, Iowans love their outdoor relaxation seasons after long winters! Tailgating, cookouts, outdoor recreation and simple patio coffee sessions fill many Des Moines residents’ warmer agendas. Evaluate your family’s anticipated backyard activities realistically – do you simply need a grill perching spot or space for a dozen guests? Design to match functional needs rather than overbuild, but include electrical or lighting capabilities if frequent after-dark usage expected.

Future Resale Value

While both backyard builds can increase home sale prices, industry research gives deck additions higher return potential. Local selling points like developed green space also sweeten prospects for buyers looking for move-in readiness. Just ensure current trends or personalized luxury touches don’t alienate future owners valuing simpler spaces. Seek professional guidance balancing resale ROI with finishing touches true to your tastes.

Cost Comparison

Affordability often determines backyard upgrade extents, so let’s crunch budget-impacting numbers on patio and deck investments tailored to Des Moines’ local contractors’ average installation pricing:

Patio Budget Estimate

  • Concrete slab: $6-8 per square foot
  • Stone pavers: $10-15 per square foot
  • Permit fees: $50*
  • Total 200 sq ft patio: $2,400-$4,000

Deck Budget Estimate

  • Pressure-treated wood: $15-25 per square foot
  • Composite: $25-40 per square foot
  • Permit fees: $100*
  • Railing/steps: $50/linear foot
  • Total 200 sq ft deck: $5,000-$10,000

*Permit requirements vary by city ordinance

Though just estimates until professionally quoted, you see patios promise significant upfront savings for Des Moines homes. However, upgraded patio materials like natural stone cost more initially. Evaluate which material’s durability, aesthetics and pricing align best within your overall budget.

Just remember – long term costs tell a different story…

Lifestyle Factors to Consider

Patios typically provide greater privacy thanks to at-grade access and surrounding fences/plantings securing lines of sight. Their solid surfaces also easily accommodate free-standing amenities like fire tables, water features and dining sets.

Meanwhile, decks trade some seclusion for better views courtesy of added elevation. Their slatted floor and open framework also limits extremely heavy decor like hot tubs without structural enhancement.

If you value panoramic sightlines to showcase backyard vistas or trees, decks definitively maximize visibility. For more intimacy or ability to delimit spaces via walls, patios better suit such priorities.

The Verdict: Which is Generally Better for Des Moines?

Based on weather patterns jeopardizing wood integrity, permitting complexity where applicable and extremely cold winters limiting deck enjoyment months at a time, patios tend to make better overall backyard investments for Des Moines homeowners. Their affordability and minimal long term maintenance perfectly align with pragmatic Midwesterner mindsets.

Exceptions & Unique Factors

Still, some unique homeowner situations buck patio convention. For properties with steep grade changes or drainage issues, decks smartly sidestep needing extensive ground preparation. Home chefs who envision future outdoor kitchens or homeowners knowing eventual hot tub additions are forthcoming may also justify a deck’s elevated sightlines and reinforcement capabilities.

In special scenarios, shelling out extra initially to erect well-built decks makes sense to match lifestyles, properly leverage views or seamlessly adapt uneven topography.

Key Contractor Questions

If still undecided between patios and decks, connect with the pros! Reputable Des Moines contractors like myself ask the right specificity questions to translate your vision into concrete plans. Expect queries on intended usages, placement preferences, material likes, and budget flexibility goals to craft the perfect backyard enjoyment hub just for you. Lean on our building expertise so you can simply relax out back when your future oasis is complete!


I hope mapping out the differences between deck or patio possibilities provides a helpful reference point jumpstarting your ideal backyard addition. Patios typically make the most financial and practical sense for Des Moines homeowners thanks to lower costs and durable, low-maintenance construction. But for some properties with special considerations like sharply tiered yards or desired future amenities, decks deliver functionality traditional patios cannot.

Chat with me to match prospective backyard goals with the best-suited structures. Most importantly – envision gathering great memories outdoors more often once your perfected paved space or elevated retreat is complete!

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