What’s the difference between a patio and alfresco?



When it comes to creating the ideal outdoor space, the choices can often be overwhelming. Two terms that frequently pop up in the world of outdoor design are ‘patio’ and ‘alfresco’. While they may seem interchangeable to some, they have distinct characteristics and serve unique purposes. In this blog, we’ll outline the nuances of both, helping you make an informed decision for your home. 

So what exactly is a patio?

A patio refers to a designated outdoor space tailored for relaxation and entertainment. While nice weather and a shady tree can make any backyard a relaxing spot, a patio is distinctively pave, often roofed, and typically adjoins the house, bridging the home and the backyard.

What is an Alfresco

Originating from the Italian phrase for “in the fresh air,” the term ‘alfresco’ is often associated with outdoor dining. An alfresco space is an outdoor extension of your home’s interior, sheltered under the primary house roof. The continuity of the main roof over this area, combined with flooring materials like concrete, pavers, or decking, emphasises its outdoor feel.

What are the main differences between a patio and an alfresco? 

The primary distinction between an alfresco and a patio lies in the roofing. An alfresco typically integrates with the home’s main roofline, offering a cohesive appearance, whereas a patio has its own separate roof, setting it apart from the main structure. An alfresco space serves as an all-weather extension of your home, suitable for use throughout the year. In contrast, a patio, being more open to elements like rain and wind, may require more upkeep.

Should You choose and alfresco or a patio?

Choosing between a patio and an alfresco for your home depends on several factors:


If you prefer a more open space that connects you directly with the outdoors and don’t mind occasional exposure to the elements, a patio could be more suitable. If you’re looking for a space that offers protection from the elements year-round, an alfresco might be the better choice.

Look and Feel

A patio provides a clear distinction between the house and the outdoors, which can be a design preference for many whereas an alfresco offers a more integrated look with the main house, which can be more visually appealing to some.


A patio may be more budget-friendly depending on the design and materials used. Typically, constructing an alfresco might be more expensive due to its integration with the main roof and often requires more materials and labour.


Being exposed, a patio may need more regular upkeep, especially if you’re in an area with frequent rain and storms. As an alfresco is more protected, it may require less frequent maintenance than a patio.

Space & Layout

Consider the available space and the layout of your property. An alfresco might be more suitable for homes with limited outdoor space, while a patio can be a better option for larger homes on bigger blocks. 


Ultimately, the decision should be based on your personal preferences, how you intend to use the space, your budget, and the specific conditions of your property.

The Coastal Patios team are experts in this area and can guide you in creating the perfect outdoor entertaining area for your property. Get in touch with our local team today for a quote.