HOME with Dean Sharp: Balcony Or Deck - What's The Difference?


It's the age old question....and one, depending on how you answer, that could be the deciding factor for your friends as to whether or not you're "fancy schmancy" or just a regular Joe.

Do I have a balcony or a deck?

Balcony sounds so much more fancy then deck, so it's likely that even if you have a deck, you're calling it a balcony.

But what's the difference?

Well, technically, a balcony is a structure that projects OUT from another structure. A deck is usually a larger, elevated area but one that doesn't necessarily project out.

Now, if you have a balcony, there are different sizes to consider. For example:

  • Standing balcony usually measures 1.5-2 feet. Just enough to 'stand' on...(get it)
  • Seating balcony usually measures 3-4 feet. Again, just enough for a couple of chairs.
  • Standard balcony is 6 feet or more. That's one where you can set up a table and chairs, maybe a small chaise lounge to lay out and work on your tan.


Then there's the 'balconet'...the false balcony, also known as the Juliet balcony...you see a lot of those in France, Spain and Italy.

But here's the truth, if you're living in a place with a balcony shallower than 6 feet, you're likely never going to use it. Instead, it'll become a place to keep the extra junk you can't fit inside the house.

If you do have a balcony that you do use, you want to make sure you have proper drainage for it...there's nothing worse than washing down your balcony and water is left standing there with no where to go. Generally architects and designers call for a 1% (1/8 inch per foot) on outdoor balconies. But this minimal slope doesn't provide sufficient drainage in most real world cases. Generally, positive drainage requires a slope of at least 2% (1/4 inch per foot) to drain properly.

There are tons of things to consider in any balcony:

  • Railings: wood, iron, glass, cable rail, stone balustrade.
  • Surfaces: fiberglass, special finishes, drain through wood, tile, stone.
  • Undersides: siding, stucco (you want to be aware of NOT trapping moisture) NO ONE wants to deal with a rotting balcony where your foot falls through the floor!


So before you go ahead and decide on whether you want a balcony or a deck, take a listen to the show.