A pretty landscape design that flows and invites people in to sit and relax is everyone’s wish. We’d all love to have an outdoor haven for any season, and this is why many people debate on having a patio vs balcony installed in their yard. It gives you a great place to enjoy all of the seasons with family and friends, just like a veranda does. Out of every choice you have, some people go for patios while others go for balconies, and it all comes down to preferences, tastes, and the budget.
But, what are the differences between a patio vs balcony? People tend to interchange these terms when they’re talking about outdoor spaces, but they’re actually very different structures. They may serve the same purpose, but there are a few key differences that you have to keep in mind when you start deciding which one is best for you, and we’ll highlight them below.
When it comes to the patio vs balcony debate, it really all comes down to your preferences, wants, and needs.
Patio vs Balcony – Main Differences
A balcony is usually up in the air on the second or third floor of a home or apartment building, and a patio is usually on the ground level of a home. The two areas also give you very different views as balconies tend to look out over buildings or rooftops while patios look out over gardens or landscape designs. The biggest difference when it comes to patio vs balconies is the size of the structure.
Generally speaking, balconies are usually much smaller than patios, and they tend to have railings running around them where a patio doesn’t require any type of railing or enclosure because they’re a bigger space that gives you much more room to roam freely about the structure without being cramped next to someone else or nearby walls. If you’re considering installing a patio or balcony in your home but you’re still not 100% sure which is best, the table below can help you.
|Attached or detached
|2nd floor and up
|Steel and concrete
|Pavers, stone, or concrete
Defining a Balcony
A balcony is a platform that extends from the side of your home or a building. It can be located above ground level or at the top floor if your building or home has more than one floor. Some balconies have railings that run around the entire outside of the space, and some are open so you can see your surroundings better when you look out. Balcony styles range from being 100% enclosed to having partial walls, or you can find balconies with no walls at all. Balcony comes from French origins, and it comes from the Italian word for balcony or gallery, and they all mean a platform located on the upper floor that forms part of your home or building.
- Doesn’t require a lot of effort to clean and maintain
- Offers privacy options like window treatments, plants, or curtains
- Possible to install at ground level or higher up
- Offers limited use during winter unless it’s a covered space
- Might not offer enough space if you have an outside even with several people
There are many kinds of balconies you can choose from when it comes to designing one, and they come in a huge range of sizes and shapes.
Different Kinds of Balconies
When you’re considering a balcony vs patio, it’s essential that you have a clear idea what a balcony is and what is available to you. The design will differ based on your wants and needs, but there are several different ones to choose from, and they’re not very similar to one another. They include:
You don’t want to confuse this term with a faux balcony as they are different things. This one is basically a regular, smaller balcony design. It offers a little bit of floor space and is encased with railings, but it’s not large enough to hold furniture pieces. It’s a nice way to extend the room and make it feel more airy and open, especially when said room is part of a smaller apartment building.
This is a space that someone designed to look like a traditional balcony but it doesn’t have a floor. So, you won’t be able to actually stand on it, but it does come outfitted with rails to give the impression that it’s a functioning balcony. It’s typically used as a decorative structure to give your home’s exterior a more interesting look and design aesthetic.
This is a real balcony you can have, but it’s indoors. It has railings and a floor to it, but it’s located inside. It’s something that you commonly see in tall houses that have multiple floors. A mezzanine balcony can make your room look much more interesting, and it can serve a huge range of purposes, including a space for your plants to showcase them.
When you’re trying to describe a balcony, this is what many people think of. It’s a space located on an upper floor that has railings, and it’s open to the outdoors. It’s generally much larger and it can hold outdoor furniture so you can have a table, bench, or a couple of chairs to sit out and enjoy the higher view.
Any balcony you get serves several purposes. First off, it’s a way to enlarge your space on upper floors, and this is definitely a point in the patio vs balcony debate. It gives you a smaller outdoor area to perform several activities, but it’s mostly for apartment owners who don’t have a personal yard to relax or play in.
A balcony also gives you shelter and great sunshine access. For example, take a classical balcony design. These types of balconies come with individual roofs that are called loggia. They feature louvered doors to give you access to fresh air when they’re open.
An enclosed balcony design lends privacy to the owners. It works to help create a bridge between the indoors and outdoors, and it makes it easy to protect your family from prying eyes or inclement weather. It does allow some light and fresh air to make its way into your room though.
In a different perspective away from residential use, balcones have strong ties to ceremonial purposes. For instance, in the Vatican, the Pope gives his blessings standing on a stone balcony at the Basilica. Also, a lot of bigger churches have internal balconies for choirs or concerts to play or stand on.
Does Adding a Balcony Increase a Home’s Value?
When you’re buying or selling a home, the amenities really come into play. In fact, amenities are some of the leading factors people consider when they’re shopping for a new home. Balconies are a great way to increase your property’s value, and it’s common for them to boost your home’s value when you install them. A square foot of space outdoors can be worth 25% to 50% more than a square foot of indoor space, and this increases the selling price of your home a lot.
When you’re trying to add appeal and value to your home, adding an outdoor balcony is always a great approach to take. You can use a balcony for a host of activities, from taking in the view of your landscape or area to eating outside during the warm months or using it as a small storage space. It also adds square footage to your property without eating up your yard space, and this increases your property value.
Adding a balcony can be an expensive project, but it can boost your home’s value by a significant amount, especially if you’re looking to sell in the near future.
Five Balcony Decor Ideas
The decor ideas for your balcony are seemingly endless. It all comes down to what you have in your budget and how handy you are. However, most of our ideas are very beginner-friendly, and you can easily use them to create a fun space to kick back and relax.
Create a Lounge Space
If you want a nice outdoor space where you can sip your coffee or tea, work on your laptop, or read a book, the first thing you’ll need to invest in is comfortable furniture. There are dozens of different furniture styles you can choose from, depending on your space constraints, budget, and decor style, but a few popular items to consider include:
- Adirondack chairs
- Chaise lounges
- Egg chairs
- Outdoor armchairs
- Outdoor bean bag chairs
Whatever furniture pieces you choose to decorate your small balcony, just be sure that it’s meant to be outdoors and made using weather-resistant materials. Otherwise, you’ll have to haul it inside every time there’s bad weather like rain or snow. Then, add a cute throw pillow, cushion, or a cozy blanket to make an inviting space.
Along with a comfortable chair, you’ll want to invest in a small side table out on your balcony. It doesn’t have to be huge, but it will give you a space to put your phone or drink as you relax outside in the sunshine.
One of the easiest ways to make any space feel more like home, no matter if it’s outside or in, is to decorate using plants. Even if you have a small space, you can incorporate vertical planters, hanging plants, or railing boxes packed with colorful flowers and lush greenery.
Maybe you’re not sure what to plant. In this case, geraniums or Boston ferns are two very beginner-friendly choices that will thrive in your apartment balcony. Depending on the local planting zones, succulents are a low-maintenance choice that prefers dry, warm weather. You can easily make a small balcony garden by incorporating railing planters, hanging baskets, potted plants, and vertical gardens.
It may not be possible to fit a hammock in your balcony if it’s on the smaller side, but if it’s large enough, hanging this bed is a great way to unwind and relax at the end of a long day. Some hammocks come designed to get mounted between two poles, so you’ll want to check with your housing authority or landlord before you start drilling hooks into the walls of your balcony to support a hammock.
However, there are also portable hammocks that tie to poles, and this makes them a much more feasible option for an apartment balcony. Some hammocks come outfitted with freestanding frames, but these take up a lot more space than other balcony ideas. It’s something to consider when you’re deciding between a patio vs balcony.
You’ll be able to enjoy your balcony during the day or night if you add outdoor lighting. String lights are a very popular choice to help decorate a balcony because they come in several colors and styles, but you could also incorporate solar lights, floor lanterns, or hanging lights into your design.
If you don’t have an electrical outlet, you can still get lights by using solar-powered ones. Not only can you put them almost anywhere, but they’re also a very eco-friendly pick that won’t make your electric bill go up.
There are several ways you can brighten up your balcony, and many people choose string lights that they can drape over the railings.
If you have a very tiny balcony with just enough space to turn around, having a table will be a huge bonus. These are unique pieces of furniture that you can mount right to the railing on the balcony to take up minimal space, and they come with a fold-down design that allows you to move it out of the way when you’re not using it. A balcony table is great for fresco dining, working on your laptop, enjoying a cocktail with friends, and it’ll help you make the most out of your space.
Rug or Flooring
If your balcony is slightly blah, you can easily spruce up the space and make it feel fresh by adding a floor covering of some sort. Outdoor rugs are always a fantastic choice because they’re a very low-maintenance way to make your balcony feel homier. You can find rugs in a huge range of shapes and sizes, and there are options that perfectly fit every style, no matter if you want a polished contemporary look or a more funky bohemian style.
Also, you can choose to go for all-new flooring on your balcony if you don’t like the linoleum or concrete surface. You can get interlocking outdoor tiles online, and they’re a very renter-friendly option that goes perfectly on balcones of all sizes. They come in styles that mimic the look of traditional flooring or faux grass, and they’re easy to remove or install as needed.
Defining a Patio
A patio is an outdoor space that goes on the ground level outside of your home, and they’re typically designed for recreational activities or dining. They’re usually paved, but they don’t have to be. They can also include a host of decor elements and plants to jazz up the space. Patios are typically paved, and you can use stone, brick, or concrete pavers to accomplish this. A patio is usually a floor-like structure that you find in outdoor settings and made out of concrete. You’ll typically find a patio in the backyard, and they’re very popular in commercial properties. The word “patio” has Latin origins, and it was originally designed to be an open space that sat adjacent to a Roman house or building, and it often had tile or stone pavers.
- Easy to decorate
- Patios typically cost less than balconies
- Possible to install a patio in any type of weather
- Exposed to the outdoor elements 24/7
- Requires more maintenance
Patios are generally larger spaces on the ground floor that are great for relaxing or hosting friends and family.
Different Types of Patios
When you’re considering a patio vs balcony, you have to know what options you have available for your patio to help you make an informed decision. Patios are generally used for recreation or dining, and the term originates in Spain, where it means inner courtyard. Common materials used to build new patios include but are not limited to bricks, stone, and concrete, but you can find cobbles or tiles too. Patios are often decorated using outdoor furniture and plants, and the most popular types include:
Asphalt is a very common material used to make patios. It’s popular because it has a very affordable price point, and it’s a very versatile material. It’s flexible, and it can easily withstand temperature changes without having issues throughout the year. It also gives you a very flat and simple look that gives you a smooth surface to work with. Finally, asphalt is easy to repair if need be.
Concrete is another very popular material used to create patios. It’s nice because it lets you make a very clean and flat surface with a uniform design. Also, concrete is extremely versatile and you can pour it in a huge range of layouts to get a patio in virtually any shape you want without being limited to using unjust straight lines. Stamped concrete is a fun way to get designs that are very uniform and neat if you don’t want a flat surface, and concrete is extremely resilient.
Gravel patios have benefits and drawbacks associated with them. On one hand, they’re one that is very easy to install, and you can do it as a 100% DIY project. They also facilitate good drainage, and they can be a very cost-effective option in general. On the other hand, you have to know that gravel is a loose material that has many small pieces that are likely to get scattered and pushed around the yard, so they do require a bit of maintenance. A gravel patio also isn’t as easy to walk on as a concrete one, and the same benefits and drawbacks apply if you want to create a sand patio.
Flagstone patios are very popular because of their organic, natural look and their simplicity. Unlike pavers, natural stone won’t fade over time, and it ages beautifully. This allows you to keep your patio for a long time. The stones come with irregular shapes, and this can make installation easy in some instances while being one of their most appreciated features.
Pavers are another great choice if you’re considering a material for your patio, and many people use them for large or small spaces. Pavers can be made out of a range of materials, with brick and concrete being the two main options. You can arrange them in a huge variety of patterns, and they come in different colors and shapes. The colors will fade over time, and they can also get damaged relatively easy. However, the repairs are generally easy.
Purposes of a Patio
Most people use a patio to host outdoor parties. It could be something during the day or a slumber party where you have a space to lay down cushions, tarps, and blankets to enjoy the pretty night sky. Some people also enjoy having movie nights on the patio while projecting your favorite films onto the side of the house or on big white sheets.
It’s very common to see patios on commercial properties, especially at restaurants who want to offer more dining space.
Patio Decor Ideas
Updating your patio decor is a great way to make a tired space look more ready to entertain. And, just like your home’s interior, the small finishing touches can help you pull everything together while elevating the look and feel of the space.
Simply picking out funky prints or bold pieces can elevate how your patio looks, without requiring that you start from scratch with your decor. Colorful glassware is a must-have for summer parties, and they help to lend a trendy feel. You can also add quirky string lights that will keep the space illuminated and ready to use after dark.
You can use a fire pit to prepare for cooler seasons and to extend how long you can entertain at night. It allows you to enjoy your space all year-round, and it makes a fantastic focal point. A round stone fire pit in the middle of your patio is a great place to make memories or entertain family and friends. A rounded fire pit is good for smaller patios because it takes up less space, both physically and visually while creating an intimate, casual atmosphere. The surface of your fire pit can double as a serving area or coffee table when it’s not in use.
Outdoor rugs can help you define your smaller patio’s space by anchoring any furniture pieces you have in your layout and creating a cohesive scheme for your colors. You can create a seamless transition between your outdoor and indoor spaces by using a rug to showcase your style. Outdoor rugs work to soften a stone or concrete patio, and they add a welcome layer of texture.
No matter if you plan on building benches or buying an outdoor sectional sofa, arranging your seating around the edges of the patio will give you more space to work with inside. You want to have a variety of seating options for your guests, including a small couch or lounge, a few chairs, and if you have a bar, barstools.
Finally, you can introduce warm tones into your patio to make it much more inviting. You could paint your walls a warm terra cotta color, add rattan furniture, and more to get a very balmy summer feel. Rugs, cushions, and ottomans will all add layers of texture to the space, and this helps to create visual interest. You can use an oversized rattan pendant to define the focal point and continue your indoor design outside.
So, which one wins the patio vs balcony debate? Do you feel that one will fit into your space easier than another? You should think carefully about what you want to use this space for and whether or not you have room to accommodate it. Once you have an idea in mind, you can look up local contractors and add it onto your space to enjoy it all year-round.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.