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Balcony vs. Patio — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on October 31, 2023
A balcony is an elevated platform extending from a building; a patio is a ground-level outdoor space usually adjacent to a home.
Balcony vs. Patio — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Balcony and Patio

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Key Differences

Balcony and Patio are two architectural terms describing outdoor spaces associated with buildings and homes. A balcony is typically an elevated platform that protrudes from the wall of a building. It's often accessed from an upper floor window or door and is usually enclosed by railings, balustrades, or parapets. In contrast, a patio is an outdoor space at ground level, often paved and adjoining a house, used for dining or recreation.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 31, 2023
Most urban apartment buildings feature balconies as they offer a small outdoor space for residents without the need for a backyard. These elevated platforms provide an excellent vantage point to enjoy city views or fresh air. On the other hand, patios are common in single-family homes, especially those in suburban areas. They allow homeowners to have a dedicated outdoor area right outside their back or side door, offering ease of access and the pleasure of an extended living space.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 31, 2023
In terms of construction, balconies usually require more detailed architectural planning due to their elevation and the need for safety railings. They often have a limited weight-bearing capacity. Patios, being on the ground, don't come with such restrictions. They can be constructed using various materials, including concrete, stone, brick, or tiles, and can be adorned with outdoor furniture, plants, and other decorative items.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 31, 2023
Weather considerations can also play a role in how each is utilized. Balconies, being elevated, might offer less protection from the elements and might be less usable during extreme weather conditions. Patios, given their ground-level positioning, can be equipped with pergolas, awnings, or umbrellas to offer shade and protection, enhancing their usability across different weather conditions.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 31, 2023
Lastly, the choice between a balcony and a patio often comes down to personal preference and architectural possibilities. While balconies are a way to bring the outside in for those living in apartments or buildings, patios provide homeowners with a comfortable ground-level space to entertain, relax, or even garden.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 31, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Positioning

Elevated platform protruding from a building.
Ground-level outdoor space.
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Oct 31, 2023

Common In

Apartment buildings, especially in urban areas.
Single-family homes, especially in suburban areas.
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Oct 31, 2023

Construction

Requires safety railings due to elevation.
Typically paved, without the need for railings.
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Oct 31, 2023

Protection

Offers limited protection from the elements.
Can be equipped with pergolas, awnings, etc.
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Oct 31, 2023

Primary Use

Viewing, small outdoor space for city dwellers.
Dining, recreation, entertainment, gardening.
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Oct 31, 2023

Compare with Definitions

Balcony

A platform enclosed by a parapet or railing.
They sipped their morning coffee on the small balcony.
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Oct 31, 2023

Patio

A courtyard or inner area open to the sky.
The apartment complex featured a central patio.
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Oct 31, 2023

Balcony

A gallery in a theater or auditorium.
Our seats were in the balcony section of the theater.
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Oct 31, 2023

Patio

A ground-level outdoor space usually adjacent to a home.
They hosted a barbecue on their patio last weekend.
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Oct 31, 2023

Balcony

An elevated platform extending from a building.
She stood on the balcony to get a better view of the parade.
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Oct 31, 2023

Patio

An outdoor extension of a home's living space.
The sliding doors led to a spacious patio.
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Oct 31, 2023

Balcony

An outdoor space accessed from an upper floor.
The hotel room featured a balcony overlooking the sea.
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Oct 31, 2023

Patio

An area typically paved, used for dining or recreation.
The sunlit patio was adorned with plants and furniture.
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Oct 31, 2023

Balcony

A balcony (from Italian: balcone, "scaffold") is a platform projecting from the wall of a building, supported by columns or console brackets, and enclosed with a balustrade, usually above the ground floor.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 19, 2021

Patio

A Spanish term meaning "courtyard" or "back garden."
The villa had a beautiful patio with a fountain.
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Oct 31, 2023

Balcony

A platform that projects from the wall of a building and is surrounded by a railing, balustrade, or parapet.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 19, 2021

Patio

A patio (, from Spanish: patio [ˈpatjo]; "courtyard", "forecourt", "yard") is an outdoor space generally used for dining or recreation that adjoins a residence and is typically paved. In Australia the term is expanded to include roofed structures such as a veranda, which provides protection from sun and rain.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 19, 2021

Balcony

A gallery that projects over the main floor in a theater or auditorium.
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Sep 19, 2021

Patio

An outdoor space for dining or recreation that adjoins a residence and is often paved.
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Sep 19, 2021

Balcony

(architectural element) An accessible structure extending from a building, especially outside a window.
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Sep 19, 2021

Patio

A roofless inner courtyard, typically found in Spanish and Spanish-style dwellings.
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Sep 19, 2021

Balcony

An accessible structure overlooking a stage or the like.
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Sep 19, 2021

Patio

A paved outside area, adjoining a house, used for dining or recreation.
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Sep 19, 2021

Balcony

A platform projecting from the wall of a building, usually resting on brackets or consoles, and inclosed by a parapet; as, a balcony in front of a window. Also, a projecting gallery in places of amusement; as, the balcony in a theater.
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Sep 19, 2021

Patio

An inner courtyard typical of traditional houses in some regions of Spain.
The flat looks out on a patio on one side and a churro café on on the other.
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Sep 19, 2021

Balcony

A projecting gallery once common at the stern of large ships.
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Patio

A paved yard or floor where ores are cleaned and sorted, or where ore, salt, mercury, etc., are trampled by horses, to effect intermixture and amalgamation.
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Sep 19, 2021

Balcony

An upper floor projecting from the rear over the main floor in an auditorium
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Sep 19, 2021

Patio

In Spain, Spanish America, etc., a court or courtyard of a house or other building; esp., an inner court open to the sky.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 19, 2021

Balcony

A platform projecting from the wall of a building and surrounded by a balustrade or railing or parapet
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 19, 2021

Patio

A usually paved area adjacent to a dwelling, used for outdoor lounging, dining, receptions of guests, etc.
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Balcony

An ornamental feature on a building's facade.
The historic building had intricately designed balconies.
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Oct 31, 2023

Patio

Usually paved outdoor area adjoining a residence
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 19, 2021

Common Curiosities

Are patios exclusive to single-family homes?

No, but they're more common in such settings compared to apartment complexes.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 31, 2023

What's the main difference between a balcony and a patio?

A balcony is elevated, while a patio is at ground level.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 31, 2023

Is a balcony considered an outdoor space?

Yes, it's an outdoor platform accessed from an upper floor.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 31, 2023

Can patios be covered for protection from the elements?

Yes, patios can have pergolas, awnings, or umbrellas for shade and protection.
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Oct 31, 2023

Do balconies always protrude from buildings?

Typically, yes; they extend from a building and are enclosed by railings.
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Oct 31, 2023

Do balconies offer good views?

Being elevated, balconies often provide a vantage point, offering views of the surroundings.
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Oct 31, 2023

Are balconies common in apartment buildings?

Yes, especially in urban areas, offering residents outdoor space.
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Oct 31, 2023

Do patios enhance a home's living space?

Yes, they extend the living space outdoors and can be used for various activities.
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Oct 31, 2023

Can both balconies and patios increase property value?

Yes, both can enhance property value by offering outdoor spaces for relaxation and entertainment.
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Oct 31, 2023

Is safety a concern for balconies?

Yes, due to their elevation, they require safety railings.
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Oct 31, 2023

Can patios be made of different materials?

Yes, patios can be constructed from concrete, stone, brick, or tiles.
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Oct 31, 2023

Can patios be used for gardening?

Yes, many people use their patios for gardening, among other activities.
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Oct 31, 2023

Are there weight restrictions for balconies?

Often, yes. Due to structural concerns, balconies may have weight limits.
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Oct 31, 2023

Can a balcony be in the interior of a building, like in an atrium?

Yes, some balconies overlook interior spaces like atriums or galleries.
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Oct 31, 2023

Is the term "patio" of Spanish origin?

Yes, "patio" is Spanish for "courtyard" or "back garden."
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 31, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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