Balcony, terrace, patio, deck, or whatever you call it. What’s the difference between these architectural terms? I’ll be the first to admit that all these different terms can be confusing if you’re not familiar but don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as you think!
There are several key factors that distinguish a balcony from a terrace. Both of these structures are used as outdoor living spaces but they are different in size, location, and construction. If you’re interested in learning more about exterior home decorating, you can visit the Home Decor section. Let’s get started!
Balcony vs. Terrace: How to Tell the Difference
A terrace is an open space that can be attached or detached to a building. In contrast, balconies are small elevated platforms that are affixed to a given room in the house.
Whereas a terrace can have multiple points of access, a balcony is typically only accessible through the room. Most hotels have balconies that allow guests to step outside the room to take in a breath of fresh air.
3 Differences Between Balconies and Terraces
Size – Terrace is considerably larger than a balcony. For this reason, it facilitates itself to large venues like a get-together or a party. A balcony on the other hand, is good for a romantic dinner for two overlooking the city lights. [READ: Creative Spring Backyard Wedding Ideas]
Location – A terrace is built on the ground (raised a bit) while a balcony is elevated typically on the second story or higher. In modern architecture, there are variations of this including the “rooftop” terrace which, as you may have guessed, is simply a terrace built on top of a flattened roof.
Construction – A terrace can be a standalone structure since by definition, it can be attached or detached to a building. This is not the case with balconies which have to be affixed to buildings/houses.
Can You Guess Which is a Terrace & Which is a Balcony?
*ANSWERS: Find the answers at the bottom of this post!*
What is a Terrace?
The word “terrace” is derived from the Latin word for Earth. “A terrace is an external, raised, open, flat area in either a landscape or a building or as a roof terrace on a flat roof. ” “Terrace” is actually used interchangeably with the word “patio” in many cases. Although similar, a terrace and a patio are not the same.
The distinguishing factor between the two is that a terrace is ground-level, but it is raised from the ground around it such as being built at the edge of a hill or cliff. The word terrace gives more description as to the physical surroundings of the outdoor structure whereas a patio is on flat level ground.
What Exactly is a Balcony?
“A balcony is a platform projecting from the wall of a building, supported by columns or console brackets, and enclosed with a balustrade usually above the ground floor.”
The word “balcony” is actually derived from the Italian word for “large window.” Believe it or not, most balconies were accessed through large windows and I wonder if this is where we get expansive sliding glass doors that are reminiscent of this. Apartments, hotels, and condos, often have small balconies above the first floor. [READ: Furnishing a Small Condo Balcony Without Sacrificing Style & Comfort]
Answers: Terrace, balcony, balcony, terrace.
For the Curious Mind:
- What’s the Difference Between a Gazebo, Pergola, & Pavilion?
- Wicker vs. Rattan – What’s the Difference?
- What’s the Difference Between Compost Tumblers and Bins?
Davis, Nicholas and Jokiniemi, Erkki. Dictionary of Architecture and Building Construction. New York: Routledge, 2008, p. 379.
Harris, Cyril M. Illustrated Dictionary of Historic Architecture. New York: Dover-Publications, 1977, p. 529.
About the Author
Cheryl Khan is an avid reader, freelance writer, and a New year’s resolution failure. She loves experimenting with cultural cuisine and exploring new areas of fashion and design.