Patios can be attached to a house, or detached. They are often designed and oriented with the landscape in mind. Patios are versatile: they can take on any shape and be built with a variety of materials, including concrete, pavers, stone, tile, brick, pebbles, rock or pea gravel. Most patios are set on a concrete slab or a sand and pebble base. Since patios are built at or around ground level, they don't require safety railings.
Decks are primarily made of wood or a composite wood material or vinyl, like Trex. Popular woods for decking include redwood, cedar and pressure-treated pine. Properly cared for, decks offer a beauty and warmth unlike any other material. You can stretch out on a deck without a cushion and still be quite comfortable.
Like patios, decks can be attached to a house or freestanding. Decks often are built to take advantage of a view. Decks can be different levels and often need railings. Certain types of wood and composite decking are resistant to insects. Unlike natural wood, composite and vinyl decking don't splinter and usually don't warp.