Balcony vs terrace: the difference between the two, plus the pros and cons of each

We explain everything you need to know about balcony vs terrace pros and cons

We explain balcony vs terrace. Here are two pictures of these - one balcony with dark brown rails and white wooden doors on a dark and light gray house and a terrace with a wooden dining set, white doors and windows
(Image credit: Custom Home Design by Nina Lichtenstein / Bernardini Builders / DNA Photography)

We're here to officially break down the balcony vs terrace debate. Whether you're figuring out which one to install in your home or just wondering what the actual difference is, we've got you covered.

We've spoken with designers to help you get clued up on the nuances, breaking down what each of them are and the advantages and disadvantages of both. As well as this, we have shopped buys to help you decorate either.

If you're looking for backyard ideas, finding out the differences between balconies and terraces will come in useful when planning.

Balcony vs terrace: Everything you need to know

If you're upgrading the exterior of your home, you might want to find out the difference between balconies and terraces before you start renovating and shopping at the best outdoor furniture brands.

What is a balcony?

A dark wooden balcony with a dark wooden dining set on it and white double doors behind it, on a house with dark gray tiles on the top half and light gray tiles on the bottom half

(Image credit: Custom Home Design by Nina Lichtenstein / Bernardini Builders / DNA Photography)

For those who want to live their fairytale fantasy in their home, going for dreamy small balcony ideas is a gorgeous choice.

“A balcony is a compact outdoor space that extends from an upper level, offering panoramic views and a sense of elevated seclusion” explains Nina Lichtenstein, principal designer and founder of Nina’s Home Design.

She continues, “Typically smaller in size, balconies provide intimate settings for relaxation, contemplation, or alfresco dining.”

While their limited footprint may restrict furnishings and activities, Nina says balconies compensate with their cozy charm — especially when paired with balcony decor buys (we have this cute Strawberry Cat Planter from Urban Outfitters in our baskets right now).

Balcony pros and cons

If you’re weighing up whether balconies are for you, Nina has broken down the pros and cons of them:

Balcony pros

  • Scenic views: Enjoy sweeping views from the vantage point of your balcony.
  • Privacy: Shielded by walls or railings, balconies offer a secluded retreat.
  • Cozy atmosphere: They're perfect for quiet moments, morning coffee, or romantic evenings under the stars.

Balcony cons

  • Limited space: The compact size of balconies may restrict the types of furniture, patio decor ideas, and activities you can do.
  • Exposure to elements: Depending on its orientation and location, a balcony may be subject to wind, rain, or excessive sun exposure.

What is a terrace?

Custom Home Design by Nina Lichtenstein / Bernardini Builders / DNA Photography

(Image credit: Custom Home Design by Nina Lichtenstein / Bernardini Builders / DNA Photography)

Unlike small and sweet balconies, terraces are much larger spaces that either extend from ground level or rooftops. 

Nina explains, “These offer space for leisure, entertainment, and social gatherings. Whether adorned with lush greenery, stylish furnishings, or dining setups, terraces are versatile environments for relaxation and recreation.”

We think this Beachcrest Outdoor Dining Set from Wayfair would look gorgeous on any terrace.

Terrace pros and cons

If you really love stretching out in the garden, a terrace may be a better option instead of a little balcony. Nina explains the benefits and challenges of this type of space:

Terrace pros

  • Generous space: With their larger footprint, terraces can accommodate a variety of outdoor dining ideas, garden beds, and even inflatable pools.
  • Versatility: From hosting lively gatherings to planting flowerbeds, terraces offer endless possibilities for personalization.
  • Natural light: Terraces benefit from natural light, creating a vibrant and inviting atmosphere.

Terrace cons

  • Maintenance: The expansive size of terraces may require regular upkeep, including cleaning, landscaping, and furniture maintenance.
  • Exposure to noise: Depending on their location, terraces may be more susceptible to noise pollution from neighboring buildings.

What's the difference between a balcony and terrace?

The corner of a terrace with dark wooden flooring and a dark gray house looking onto a dark and light gray house with balcony with a woman in an orange dress sat on the balcony dining set

(Image credit: Custom Home Design by Nina Lichtenstein / Bernardini Builders / DNA Photography)

When deciding between a balcony and a terrace, be sure to consider factors such as space availability, lifestyle preferences, and desired functionalities. 

“Balconies tend to be smaller and more intimate, while terraces offer more space for activities and gatherings,” says Ricky Allen, interior designer and director of Ever Wallpaper.

As well as this, balconies are normally elevated and attached to a building, while a terrace can either be connected to the ground or be placed higher up in the building.

Both of these are also normally made from different materials. “Balconies use tough, easy-care­ materials like composite de­cking. Terraces use more refined mate­rials like stone or eco-frie­ndly wood,” explains Artem Kropovinsky, interior designer and founder of Arsight. 

You could always write these points down on a sheet of paper and tick or cross whether these points are important to you. From here, your decision on what to choose when faced with balcony vs terrace should be a lot easier.

Terrace and balcony buys

No matter what you decide upon for your outdoor area, we've scouted out beautiful outdoor decor buys that will look great in either your balcony or terrace.

The prices below were correct at the time of publishing this article. 

By weighing up balcony vs terrace delights and differences, you can make an informed decision on what you need for your outdoor space.

“Whether you opt for the cozy intimacy of a balcony or the expansive allure of a terrace, embrace outdoor living in style and create memorable moments in your own private outdoor haven,” Nina finishes by saying.

Once you’ve decided what you want to go for, budget backyard ideas will help you put the finishing touches onto your space.

Eve Smallman
Content Editor

Hi there! I’m a content editor at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses. For Real Homes, I specialize in interior design, trends and finding the best viral buys.