Terrace Vs Balcony: The 5 Key Differences

Updated April 6th, 2024
large terrace and small balcony

The main difference between a terrace and a balcony is that a terrace is a large, open, flat area, often on a building’s roof, that can accommodate more people and activities, while a balcony is a smaller, elevated platform that extends from the side of a building. The choice between the two depends on the intended use and space available. Terraces are typically preferred for larger gatherings and more spacious outdoor living, and balconies offer a more private, intimate outdoor space. But that is not all.

What Is A Terrace?

The word “terrace” originates from terracem, the Latin word for it. It translates to earth in English. A terrace is an outdoor space that’s linked to a residential building. There are unsealed and paved terraces depending on the homeowners’ preference. Just like the balcony, the terrace defines spaces that link the exterior and interior of the building. it’s usually situated at the back of the building or in close proximity to the dining room or kitchen.

The terrace has become an increasingly popular feature among homeowners in a busy city. For safety reasons, the terrace is constructed with a railing and is built with shade since it’s outside the house. It’s an open space where the homeowner can relax or enjoy the fresh air.

What Is A Balcony?

The word balcony originates from the Italian word “balcone.” The balcony is a raised outdoor platform that’s attached to higher floors. Most apartment buildings in urban areas have balconies that can be accessed from the indoor living space. If the building has ten floors, every floor aside from the ground floor will most likely elevated platforms attached to them.

Most balconies are designed with railings for safety purposes and the roof usually covers them. Balconies serve a very similar function to terraces because these freestanding structures can also be used as a spot for relaxation and entertainment.

Comparison Overview

Comparison PointTerraceBalcony
#1. - AccessibilityOpenClosed & Privat
#2. - SizeLargeMostly small
#3. - LocationOn the ground or roof (rooftop terrace)At the side of a building
#4. - UseManyMinimal
#5. - ConstructionOn solid groundAttached to side of building

The Key Differences Between a Terrace and Balcony

Now that we’ve established what a balcony and a terrace mean let’s look at their major distinctions, some of which you may already grasp from reading their definitions.

#1. – Accessibility

The accessibility to the terrace depends on the building design. For an apartment building, you’ll most likely see a rooftop terrace that can be accessed by separate entrances (the fire escape or staircases). Generally, a terrace is more accessible than a balcony, which makes it more of a public space.

On the other hand, the balcony can only be accessed through the house itself. This is a significant difference between a terrace and a balcony because the former doesn’t have to be linked to any room in the house, while the latter is typically linked to the sitting room (in most cases) and the kitchen or dining room (in some cases). It’s more of a private space since you have to go through a room to get to it.

#2. – Size

The size is another difference between a terrace and a balcony. The former is usually bigger and has more space than a balcony, particularly rooftop terraces. This makes a terrace more versatile. Most buildings have small balconies, but a tiny balcony, just like a large window, is a good channel of ventilation for the room inside.

#3. – Location

The balcony, being an elevated platform, has more flexibility in the choice of location than a terrace.

The builder can decide to fix size balconies anywhere they choose. It can be at the front, the side, or the back of the house. In some houses, you’ll see balconies in two of these three locations. Also, note that the balcony is always located on any floor above ground level. It’s not limited to a specific room.

For the terrace, the location is either on the top of the house (a roof terrace) if it has a flat roof or on the ground, usually located at the back.

#4. – Use

Both living spaces have good uses. This is both a similarity and a difference.

The terrace is often used for entertaining guests since it’s like an extension of your sitting room. It can also be used for gardening if you so choose. In summary, it has more uses or functions than a balcony.

On the other hand, balconies are mostly used for decorative purposes – you may want to cultivate a beautiful garden with potted plants. Alternatively, spacious balconies can be used for receiving guests as well (which is where the similarity comes in). The balcony also gives you a good view of the neighborhood and brings in lights to the room.

#5. – Construction

This is one of the most significant differences between a terrace and a balcony. The terrace construction is considered more secure, solid, and stable than a balcony since it’s one of the outdoor areas and is mostly situated on the ground.

The balcony is not as solid as the terrace because it’s not established on the ground but is elevated and attached to the building.

What Is Best for Whom?

Based on their differences and definitions, the terrace is best for homeowners who have sufficient outdoor space and frequently receive visitors. It’s also ideal for homeowners who like relaxing in outdoor areas.

On the other hand, the balcony is best for those residing in apartment buildings and homeowners who enjoy the view from a balcony. It’s also ideal for those who enjoy gardening because they can use their balcony space to grow food or ornamental plants. The latter can be used to enhance the interior design of the house.

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