Lanai vs Patio vs Porch | What’s the Difference?

When it comes to the topic of home design you may run into some confusion when figuring out the difference between a lanai, a patio, and a porch. People often get these areas mixed up and use the terms interchangeably, but they serve different purposes. This guide will give you all of the information you need to know about lanais, patios, and porches.

What is a Lanai?

lanai porch enclosed

A lanai is an area that is like a porch but features an overhead covering and is usually closed in with glass or a screen. A lanai can feature walls on either side and a screen or glass area in front also. A lanai is the most enclosed option in this guide.

Lanais are especially popular in the state of Florida because Florida is a hot humid environment with a large variety of bugs. The appeal of a lanai is that it can prevent bugs from entering the general area and block out harmful sun rays. You can read more on why backyard pools are screened in Florida in our full detailed article.

A lanai is a great way to enjoy nature in a cool shady environment. Lanais may not be ideal for you if you have a green thumb because lanais don’t receive as much direct sunlight as other options on this list.

What is a Patio?

rock patio backyard space outdoor living

A patio is an area that is outside and attached to the house. With a patio, you can either choose to cover the area or keep it open. People often use a patio for an outdoor dining space and enjoy having cookouts on the patio.

A patio is a very open area that is located on the ground floor of a home. People enjoy sitting out on a patio and catching some sunshine while they enjoy the fresh air. In areas that have a lot of rain, a patio may not be ideal because there isn’t always a covering to a patio that will block the rain. Patios can be a great area to grow plants because there is so much direct sunlight.

What is a Porch?

porch entrance of home

Porches are an area at the entrance of a house that is covered but opens so that you can enjoy nature without getting wet from the rain. People enjoy sitting out on the porch to get some fresh air and relax. Porches usually are not large enough to accommodate a large outdoor dining area.

Porches are a good option for people who like the fresh air that a patio provides but also like the coverage of a lanai. Prices are a good middle ground in both the versatility and price of each of these options. You can get plenty of fresh air and still get coverage from the rain, a porch is a great area to sit back and sip on a morning coffee or tea. 

What’s the Difference Between a Lanai and a Patio?

The difference between a lanai and a patio is that a lanai is much more closed in than a patio. Patios do not have enclosing walls and lanais do have enclosing walls. Both home features can allow you to get some fresh air, but a lanai is much more closed off than a patio. Patios also are not usually covered.

Patios are more ideal than lanais for both cookouts and gardening. Lanais are more ideal than patios for keeping insects out of the area and protecting yourself from the sun. Both options can benefit different people with different lifestyles.

What’s the Difference Between a Lanai and a Porch?

It is common for a lanai to have the same coverage as the rest of the house.  A porch usually doesn’t have the same coverage as the rest of the house. Porches also are not closed in by walls and lanais are always closed in areas.

A lanai is more effective than a porch for keeping out insects because a lanai is completely closed off. A porch is ideal if you want to still feel a nice breeze and have an open area that will protect you from rain.  Both house structures are covered areas that allow people to enjoy nature.

What’s the Difference Between a Porch and a Patio?

Patios are not usually covered at all. Patios are also usually larger than porches and will allow people to host cookouts on them. Porches are always covered areas that are attached to the entrance to a home. A patio is a much more open area than a porch.

Patios are more ideal for gardening than porches because a patio receives more direct sunlight than a porch. Porches are ideal for enjoying nature no matter what the weather conditions because porches are covered and can protect you from sun, rain, and snow.

What is the Most Expensive Option?

The most expensive option between a lanai, a porch, and a patio is a lanai. The reason that lanais cost more to install the porches and patios is that a lanai requires more materials to build. For a lanai, you will need a base, walls, and a covering that attaches to the rest of your house. Most people even finish their lanai area which makes it even more costly.

The fact that lanais are close in and covered also means that they require more manual labor than the other options featured in this guide. Lanais are versatile because they are finishable which can give you more living space in your home and increase your property value. The other options in this guide cannot be converted into a livable space.

What is the Most Affordable Option?

The most affordable option between a lanai, a porch, and a patio is the patio. The reason that a patio is a more affordable option among the three is that a patio requires fewer materials. The other two options require a covering which can cost a lot of money.

Patios do not require any sort of covering or any type of walls. The fact that patios are so open makes them cheap and versatile. Many people do not even need to hire a professional to build their patio because they don’t need walls or a covering.

Frequently Asked Questions

When deciding on which option will work the best for your home you may find yourself asking many questions. These are some of the most common questions that get asked when deciding on adding a patio, porch, or lanai to people’s homes. Read through these questions to make sure you are selecting the best option to suit your needs.

What’s the Difference Between a Lanai and Veranda?

The difference between a lanai and a veranda is that a lanai is usually integrated into the home as a closed-in area that blends in naturally with the home. A veranda is a closed-in area with a roof that wraps around the home instead of blending in. Both areas are covered and enclosed.

What’s the Difference Between a Lanai and Balcony?

The difference between a lanai and a balcony is that a lanai and a balcony is that a lanai is usually on the ground floor of a home and is always covered. A balcony must at least be on the second level or higher of the home and can either be covered or uncovered. A balcony cannot be located on the ground floor like a lanai can and is not usually enclosed.

What Do You Call a Patio in Florida?

Most homes in Florida usually use a lanai in favor of a standard patio. A lanai is like a patio but is covered and more closed in. Lanais are popular in Florida because lanais protect people from the sun and allow people to get fresh air while reducing insect encounters.

If you are interested in blocking sunlight and reducing your encounters with insects, you may prefer a lanai over a standard patio. Standard patios are usually uncovered and open.

What’s the Difference Between a Balcony and a Patio?

A patio is always located on the ground floor and will allow people to enter the home from the outside. A balcony must be located on either the second floor or a higher up floor. Typically, with a balcony, people can’t enter the home from the outside. Balconies are intended for people who are already inside the home to step out for a bit and get some fresh air.

Patios are attached to an entrance to the home on the ground floor. Many people enjoy hosting cookouts on patios. Balconies are more of a private setting than patios are because people cannot enter a home from a balcony.

Final Thoughts

There are many options to take into consideration if you want to add a feature to your home that allows you to get in touch with nature. You should figure out what features you are looking for in an outdoor recreational structure before you purchase one. Figuring out the purpose you seek from your outdoor area can help you avoid regrets later.

Once a structure is added to your building it can be inconvenient to convert it later, but not impossible. So even if you change your mind later about the features you want in your outdoor area you can convert it to suit your needs.

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