Patio vs Alfresco: Which Is Better for You

Key summary: A patio is an outdoor space with a separate roof from the house, offering design flexibility and affordability. An alfresco area is integrated with the home’s roofline, providing seamless indoor-outdoor living and year-round protection. If you enjoy customising your outdoor area and want a budget-friendly option, go for a patio. For a cohesive extension of your indoor space with added protection from the elements, an alfresco is ideal.

Adding an outdoor entertaining space to your Perth home is a wonderful way to get more enjoyment out of your yard and connect with nature.

If you’re dreaming of your own outdoor oasis, you’ve likely come across popular options, such as custom patios and alfresco areas.

While the terms are often considered interchangeable, it is important to understand their differences so you can determine the ideal option for your goals.

Our patio vs alfresco guide will help you understand their key characteristics and benefits to help you make the best decision for your home, yard, location, lifestyle, and budget.

In this guide, I’ll cover:



What Is a Patio?

Patio is a broad term, encompassing a wide range of designs. A patio can be as simple as a flat outdoor area next to a home, usually with a paved surface.

However, many homeowners opt to add a roof over their patio — which we highly recommend to get the most use out of your patio. A roof transforms a patio into a space that can be used even when the Perth weather isn’t quite cooperating.

A custom patio, whether it is a hip end patio, skillion patio, or flat patio, offers homeowners a much-needed break from the scorching rays and year-round protection from the elements.

Key Characteristics of Patios

  • Typically built with timber or steel construction
  • Feature a wide variety of rooflines and configurations to choose from
  • Versatile space for outdoor relaxation and enjoyment
  • Distinct roofline from the house but the structure can be attached to the home or freestanding
  • Practically unlimited design options

Benefits of a Patio

Patios offer a variety of benefits, including:

  • Wide variety of roof types and colours to choose from, making them highly customisable
  • Easy to customise a design that complements your home and yard
  • Adds usable, enjoyable outdoor living space to help small homes feel bigger
  • Provides space for entertaining or relaxing
  • Provides year-round protection from the elements, such as harsh UV rays
  • Can increase your home’s value
  • Adds visual appeal and individuality to your home and yard

Patio Design Tips

Here are some of my go-to patio design ideas and tips:

Custom flat patio



Alfresco Areas

What Is An Alfresco Area?

An alfresco area is a true extension of your home’s living space. Situated under the same roof of your house, an alfresco area seamlessly combines the inside and outside of your home.

Key Characteristics of an Alfresco Area

An alfresco area shares a roofline with the house. By maintaining roof continuity, an alfresco area blurs the line between indoor and outdoor living space.

While many homes will accommodate an added alfresco area, a patio is a better option in cases of limited space or certain structural considerations.

Benefits of an Alfresco Area

  • Extend your living space
  • Can make a smaller home feel larger
  • Offers year-round protection from the elements, such as rain and UV rays
  • Add dynamic character to your home and backyard
  • Added privacy

Tips, Features, and Design Ideas for Alfresco Areas

Because they are seamlessly integrated into the main home, alfresco areas are well-suited to design elements that connect the interior and exterior of your home.

Here are some of my favourite design tips for alfresco areas:

  • Add large glass sliding doors to create stunning views, let in ample natural light, and truly create an extension of your living space
  • Add luxury flooring to your alfresco area (polished concrete, tile, timber decking) to bring the indoors out
  • Use consistent design elements throughout the interior and exterior of your home to create a cohesive feel
  • Coordinate design elements (i.e. matching kitchen hardware from your indoor kitchen with your outdoor kitchen)
  • Add soft furnishings, rugs, and comfortable seating options
  • Use natural materials and accents as decor, such as greenery, timber accents, stones, mulch, and driftwood

See more of my favourite alfresco design tips here: Extend Your Living Space: Our 6 Best Alfresco Area Ideas


Patio vs Alfresco: Key Differences

The biggest difference between a patio and alfresco area is the roof. A custom patio features a separate roof from the house, creating a distinct appearance and almost no design limitations. An alfresco area is usually integrated with the home’s roofline, creating a cohesive design.  wide variety of options,

Patio Alfresco
Roof Various choices Integrated with house
Protection Varies based on design Year-round protection
Maintenance Higher maintenance Less maintenance
Cost More affordable More expensive
Appearance Separate from house Integrated with house


How Do I Know If a Patio or Alfresco Is Suitable for My Home?

Here are factors I recommend considering to help choose between a patio or an alfresco area for your home:

  • Function — If you prefer an outdoor entertaining space that feels like an extension of your indoor living space, an alfresco area offers a cohesive feel. A patio is a great choice if you want a bit more distinction between your indoor and outdoor living spaces and a higher degree of versatility and customisation.
  • Cost — A custom patio is typically more budget-friendly since an alfresco area is integrated with the main roof. Connecting to the main roof usually requires more labour and materials. Ultimately, the cost of a custom patio will depend on the materials chosen, design, structure, and size. If you would like a free quote for a custom patio, we’d be happy to get you an exact estimate.
  • Maintenance — A custom patio is a low maintenance way to enhance your backyard. Still, alfresco areas are known for being the lowest maintenance option since the structure is integrated with your home. Learn more about patio maintenance in my guide here: A Complete Guide to Patio Maintenance.
  • Aesthetics — For patio design, the sky is the limit. Customise the roof line, colours, size, shape, and more. An alfresco area is more limited since it is integrated with the primary roof. Some homeowners prefer the high level of customisation a patio offers while others prefer the seamless look of an alfresco integrated with the home.
  • Space and Layout — If you have limited space, an alfresco area might be your best option. Custom patios lend themselves well to larger spaces. The best way to determine your ideal outdoor entertainment space is with a free on-site consultation. We’ve successfully added luxurious, stunning custom patios and alfresco areas in a wide range of yards.


When to Choose a Patio

I recommend a patio if you:

  • Want the ability to customise an outdoor entertainment area that complements your home’s architecture and design
  • Want protection from the elements in an area of your yard that is further away from your home (i.e. a patio area by a pool or a custom patio by your garden)
  • Want the highest amount of design flexibility

When to Choose an Alfresco Area

I recommend an alfresco area if:

  • You prefer your outdoor entertainment space to be integrated with your home’s primary roof
  • You are working with limited space
  • You are looking for the highest level of protection against the elements and more privacy
  • You prefer the lowest maintenance option


Need Help Choosing Between a Patio vs Alfresco? Chat With Our Design Experts

A patio is a designated outdoor entertaining space, typically with a paved area and a roof that is separate from the house. An alfresco area features a roofline integrated with the home. Both a patio or an alfresco area can enhance your backyard and offer a beautiful spot for year-round entertaining.

Deciding between a patio or an alfresco area comes down to your space, budget, lifestyle, and aesthetic goals.

Browse our gallery of custom patio designs for inspiration or get in touch with our design experts. We would love to hear about your backyard vision and help you make it a reality.

From stunning gable patios to custom curved patios to hybrid alfresco patios, we’ve helped Perth homeowners transform their yards into their favourite place to be. Contact us for your free on-site quote or with questions.

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