The words are sometimes used interchangeably, but a patio and a porch are not the same by definition. At home, both provide a spot to enjoy the outdoors near the indoors, and that's almost where the similarities end. Understanding the differences, however, can broaden your architectural design smarts.
Defined By Design
A porch is typically constructed at any entryway and attached to the home. It may be covered or not, and screened or not. A patio, on the other hand, is constructed in or on the ground directly beside or slightly out from the home, such as around an in-ground pool. It may be made from practically any hard material, including poured concrete, paving blocks, flat rocks, bricks or gravel set in the earth. Wood decks, even those constructed on the ground, are not patios. Depending on codes, decks and porches that are 2 feet or higher typically must have a railing.
- M. Gerwing Architects: Architect’s Glossary –- Patio, Terrace, Veranda, Deck, Balcony
- National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior: The Anatomy of a Porch
- Patio, Porch, Lanai, Veranda: What’s the Difference?
- National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior: Preserving Historic Wood Porches
- Butterfly Mind: Balconies, Porches, and Patios –- a Primer on the Language of Outdoor Seating
- Your Dictionary: Patio
- Your Dictionary: Porch
- Your Dictionary: Deck
- North American Deck and Railing Association: Deck Inspections: A Matter of Life and Death
Lorna Hordos is a home-flipping business owner and freelance writer. She writes friendly, conversational business, home and lifestyle articles for Bizfluent, azcentral, Daltile, Marazzi, Lowes, Philips Lighting, WordPress.com and numerous other publications.