Patios Continue to Substitute for Decks on New Homes

As a previous post has shown, the share of new homes with patios increased for the sixth year in a row in 2021, to a post-2004 high of 63.0 percent  At the same time, the share with decks was trending in the opposite direction, declining for the fifth year in a row to a post-2004 low.  Of the roughly 1.1 million single-family homes started in 2021, only 17.5 percent included decks, according to NAHB tabulation of data from the Survey of Construction (SOC, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and partially funded by HUD).  As noted above, this is the lowest the new home deck percentage has been since the 2005 re-design of the SOC and indicates that, over time, patios and decks have functioned as substitutes for each other.

The 2021 SOC data also indicate that decks and patios tend to function as substitutes for each other geographically.  Across the nine Census divisions, the correlation between the percentages of new homes with decks and patios was  -.81.  The share of new homes with decks was at its lowest in the West South Central and South Atlantic divisions (7 and 13 percent, respectively), the same two divisions where the share of new homes with patios was at its highest (over 70 percent).

Decks on new homes nevertheless remain relatively popular in certain parts of the country.  For example, over 60 percent of new homes in New England came with decks in 2021, followed by 47 percent in the West North Central and 41 percent in the Middle Atlantic.  The New England and Middle Atlantic divisions are also the two divisions where patios on new homes are least common.  The West North Central, however, stands out as the one division where the shares of new homes with decks and patios are both reasonably high (around 45 percent), providing the best evidence that the negative correlation between decks and patios, while quite strong at -.81, is not perfect.

The SOC data provide information about the number of new homes with decks, but not much detail beyond that.  However, considerable information about the type of decks on new homes is available from the Annual Builder Practices Survey (BPS) conducted by Home Innovation Research Labs.

For the U.S. as a whole, the 2022 BPS report (based on homes built in 2021) shows that the average size of a deck on a new single-family home is 296 square feet.  Across Census divisions, the average deck size ranges from a low of about 253 square feet in the West North Central and South Atlantic divisions to 456 square feet in the West South Central.

The latest BPS also shows that composite (a mixture of usually recycled wood fibers and plastic) has moved ahead of treated wood as the material used most often in new home decks.

This post was originally published on NAHB’s Eye on Housing blog, where NAHB’s economists discuss the latest housing data and policy.

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