Both terraces and balconies are types of patios and the two share many similarities. When looking for an apartment, house or hotel, you might notice that the owner or real estate agent advertises some or all units as having a balcony or terrace. The two architectural items are so similar that some use both words in relation to a patio attached to a unit.
A terrace sits on the ground floor of a unit, with a slight slope providing runoff for rainwater. In some cases, the designer adds a short wall or fence that completely surrounds the porch. Terraces come in different sizes, some large enough for the addition of a hot tub or a table and chairs for entertaining. The Spanish call a terrace "terraza", the French use the term "terrasse" and the Italians use the word "terrazo" for terrace.
Balconies are porches or patios located on the upper floors of buildings. Often made from concrete or wood, the balcony attaches to the side of the building with a door to access it. The balcony can be attached to the wall with brackets, or supported with columns or posts. The Italian word "balcone," which means scaffold, relates to the modern term.
According to Difference Between, balconies have an important historical role that terraces lack. Theaters reserved balcony seating for politicians, celebrities and prominent people in society. Different religions also use balconies, including the Catholic Church. The Vatican makes the announcement of the new pope from a balcony and the pope addresses citizens from the balcony. Terraces lack any important historical role and the primary use of terraces is for relaxation.
Both balconies and terraces use concrete as a primary construction material, but designers may opt for tile, wood or flagstone. Terraces use poured concrete or another material that places the porch flush against the wall of the building. Both types of porches require some form of railing. The division is not necessarily required for terraces, but is for balconies to reduce the risk of individuals falling over the edge and injuring themselves.