Deck, Porch, Balcony, Patio, Terrace: What's the Difference? - Home & Texture
Outdoors Different Outdoor Living Spaces

Deck, Porch, Balcony, Patio, Terrace: What's the Difference?

With so many outdoor living spaces to choose from, it can be helpful to differentiate between all of them to help you make the most informed decision.

January 10, 2024 at 8:03 AM PST

Investing in your outdoor living space can instantly beautify your home. But in order to do so, you have to understand the terminology, which can be confusing. This is because people tend to use words such as deck, porch, balcony, patio, and terrace interchangeably, even though each term refers to a specific area with its own unique characteristics and purposes. When taking a deep dive into the world of outdoor living spaces, the terminology that you use matters. And while decks, porches, balconies, patios, and terraces share similarities, they truly are different. Understanding the disparities between each area can help you make a more informed decision when planning, designing, and decorating your space.

To learn about each term and its purpose, take a look at this guide below.

outdoor living space
Photo credit: Cameron Smith


First up, let’s talk about decks. A deck is an elevated platform that attaches to the side or back of your home. Decks are commonly made from wood or a blend of wood fibers and plastic called composite decking, making them a strong and sturdy choice to enjoy a number of activities.

Because decks are raised above ground level, they make fantastic areas for hosting. And they come in a wide range of sizes so you can host everything from a wedding ceremony to an intimate dinner for two under the night sky.

outdoor living space
Photo credit: Avi Werde


Porches are a common outdoor space that you can find everywhere, from single-family homes to apartments. Located at the entrance of a house, a porch is a covered area enclosed by a roof — and in many cases, screens. They commonly include decorative elements such as columns or a roof overhang to create an attractive and welcoming entrance for visitors.

Porches are areas designed for relaxing and socializing. They make great spots for reading or meditating, but they can also be fun areas for friends to watch the sunset or have a glass of wine after dinner.

outdoor living space
Photo credit: Samantha Gades


A balcony is a small outdoor platform, usually attached to an upper floor of a building and surrounded by a railing. Balconies are private spaces that offer a more intimate connection to the outdoors. They can be found in apartments, condos, or even single-family homes with upper levels. A balcony is typically a lot smaller than other outdoor spaces, making it ideal for private retreats such as stargazing, bird watching, or indulging in a cup of coffee in the morning.

outdoor living space
Photo credit: Arcwind


Next, we have the patio. The patio is an outdoor space located at ground level. This space is mostly built using stone, concrete, or bricks. Many people think of patios as being attached to the rear of the home, but they can attach to the side of a residential property, too.

Patios have a flat surface, making them perfectly suited for spending time outdoors. Many homeowners arrange patio furniture, dining sets, and other amenities to enjoy the great outdoors from the comfort of their homes.

Photo credit: garrett parker


Last but certainly not least are terraces. If you prefer more luxurious outdoor living spaces, terraces are your best bet. Many of them feature a raised platform or even a series of platforms, which add to their allure.

Terraces are built on rooftops, hillsides, or other sloped landscapes in order to take in fantastic views. And because of this, they are typically decorated accordingly — i.e. pristine landscaping, lush gardens, or other fancy decorative elements — to produce a beautiful, visually appealing outdoor oasis.

Because terraces are often situated near stunning landscapes, they make an ideal spot for hosting elaborate dinner parties or formal celebrations. This way, attendees not only enjoy the party, they can take it the impeccable views as well.



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