If the architectural terms veranda and balcony have you confused, you’re not alone. Most of us can picture what a balcony is, but the word veranda might leave you scratching your head. Both structures are attached to the home, both are outdoor spaces, but they are different.
What is the main difference between veranda vs balcony?
The main difference between a veranda and a balcony is that a veranda is typically level with the first floor, and a balcony is usually on the second floor or higher.
There are some good reasons why people might confuse these two terms. They are fairly similar at a superficial level, but their purpose in the home and construction are very different. In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about the difference between a veranda and a balcony.
What is a Balcony?
Before we get started, let’s take a look at the definitions of a balcony or a veranda. A balcony is a “platform that projects from the wall of a building and is enclosed by a parapet or railing,” according to Merriam Webster.
The platform typically projects from the outside wall of the building and can be accessed through the inside of the building by means of a door or window. A balcony is also typically on the second floor or higher of a building and may be covered or not.
In general, balconies are 2-6 feet wide and 4-12 feet in length, but there is technically no size limit.
Types of Balconies
There are a couple of different kinds of balconies:
- Traditional balcony: A traditional balcony is exactly what you’d expect. A small platform with railing typically intended to be used by 1-2 people at a time.
- Faux Balcony (Juliet balcony/French balcony): These are fake balconies! They look like balconies from the outside, but they cannot be used as such. A faux balcony may just be railing affixed to the outside of a window or a very small platform with a railing outside of a window, which is often used for plants.
- Mezzanine Balcony: This indoor balcony is a loft-life structure that usually overlooks a living space.
- Cantilevered Balcony: These balconies get their support from inside the building with no visible supports. Cantilevered Balconies lend themselves to a modern style.
- Balcony Supported by Collums or pillars: These balconies are supported by columns or pillars underneath them. These are commonly found on second-floor balconies, but not so much on balconies on higher floors.
- Hung Balcony: These balconies get at least some of their support from cables that are attached to the wall of the building and the bottom of the balcony. They are generally not super nice looking, but they are practical.
- Covered Balcony: A covered balcony is essentially a balcony with an overhang that provides mild protection from the elements.
The Purpose of a Balcony
The purpose of a balcony is to provide a personal outdoor space to people living in apartments or condos. On a single-family home, a balcony may provide outdoor space for a bedroom or upper-level room.
Generally, balconies are not used for entertaining, but for personal and private use. Larger balconies can however be used as social space.
Now that you’ve got an idea of what a balcony is and what the different types entail, let’s take a look at the definition of a veranda.
What is a Veranda?
So, what exactly is a veranda anyway? Well, it is basically a covered porch or what is known in parts of the United States as a gallery. Merriam Webster says it’s “a usually roofed open gallery or portico attached to the exterior of a building.”
It usually has columns supporting the roof, and it may have railings as well. Unlike a balcony, it is on the first floor level of the home, according to American English. In the UK, it would be considered at the ground level.
“Veranda” is a pretty loose term. Just about any covered patio, porch, or deck that is attached to the exterior of a home can be called a veranda.
The Purpose of Verandas
Verandas are typically used for outdoor entertainment, especially when attached to the back of a home. This is why they are usually larger than balconies. Typically, you’ll find outdoor seating and maybe even a grill.
Some verandas are smaller, and they’re usually built to add curb appeal to the front of a home or in lieu of a set of steps.
Veranda Vs Balcony: What’s the Difference
Let’s take a look at how these two outdoor structures measure up. We’ve put together this handy chart to help make it easier to understand how a veranda vs balcony differ and how they’re the same.
|Also Known As||Porch, gallery, covered deck||None|
|Exterior or Interior Structure||Attached to the exterior, but in rare cases may be finished to feel like an interior space||Usually exterior, except for mezzanine balcony or balcony seating, Exterior balconies may be finished to have an interior feel|
|Level||Ground/First-floor level||At least half a floor off the ground|
|Size||Can be any size, but typically large enough for several people to enjoy||Can be any size, but typically only large enough for 1-2 people to enjoy|
|Interior Access?||Yes||Almost always except in the case some faux balconies|
|Covered or Uncovered||Always covered||May be covered or uncovered|
|Enclosed with railing or half-wall?||Usually yes, but not required||For safety reasons, yes always enclosed with at least a railing or half-wall|
|Purpose||Entertaining groups of people outdoors, barbecuing, and enjoying outdoor space, may also be a functional way to enter home||Eating or relaxing outdoors for 1-2 people, Gives private outdoor space for condos and apartments|
|Used in Residential or Commerical Spaces?||Typically residential||Frequently found in apartments and condos, also found in hotels, faux balconies may adorn commercial spaces|
|Popularity||Because veranda has a loose definition, you can find one in most homes.||Balconies are also popular, but less popular on single-family homes.|
What is the Difference Between a Balcony and a Veranda on a Cruise Ship?
Now, all this terminology gets turned upside down when you’re talking about cruise ships. (Just another reason this gets to be confusing!)
Cruise lines use different terminology from each other, so there is no way to say for sure what the cruise line you’re looking into means, but in general, this is what you can expect:
- Cruise Ship Balcony: This usually means a small balcony that you can actually step out on to, and it may have a chair or two. Some of these are so small that you wouldn’t feel comfortable sitting on them, but you could stand and admire the open seas.
- Cruise Ship Veranda: Most definitely a balcony that you can step out on to, and typically a fairly decent size.
Either way, these are both typically not suspended off the side of the boat and feel more like an outdoor extension of the room. They could also be connected to nearby balconies with only minimal privacy, so make sure to do your research so that you know what you’re paying extra for.
Veranda Vs Balcony: Which is Better?
We say both! Verandas and balconies serve very different purposes. So, if you’re looking to build one or the other on your home, you have to get clear on why you want one of these things.
If you’re looking for a space to entertain family or guests, then go with a veranda (if possible). If you want a quiet, private place away from the rest to drink your morning coffee, then a balcony is a better option.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a veranda and balcony?
A balcony is an outdoor elevated platform that is attached to the building’s upper floor, while a veranda may be on the ground floor or part of the building’s wrap around the back door. A veranda is a roofed or covered open-air space like a porch, while a balcony is a small elevated platform.
How is a veranda different from a porch?
A veranda is a covered open-air space like a porch, while a porch is an open-air space that is usually attached to the front or part of a building’s ground floor.
What is a composite veranda or balcony?
A composite veranda or balcony is made of composite wood, which is a combination of wood fibers and plastic. This material is durable, weather-resistant, and requires little maintenance over the years.
Can a porch and deck be considered a veranda?
A veranda is a covered open-air space, while a porch and deck may or may not be covered, depending on the design. Therefore, a porch or deck can only be considered a veranda if it is roofed or covered.
What is a ground floor balcony?
A ground floor balcony is similar to a veranda, except that it is usually attached to the building’s ground floor. It provides an open-air space in which a homeowner can sit and enjoy natural light.
What is the difference between a patio and a balcony?
The main difference between a patio and a balcony is that a patio is usually on the ground floor and is an open-air space that does not have a railing, while a balcony is an elevated platform that has a railing and is attached to the upper floor of a building.
Can a veranda be part of a building’s outdoor living space?
Yes, a veranda can be part of a building’s outdoor living space. It can provide a comfortable and functional area where homeowners can sit and enjoy the outdoors.
What is a wrap-around veranda?
A wrap-around veranda is a covered outdoor living space that wraps around the sides of a building, connecting the front and back porches or balconies on either side. It provides additional space for outdoor relaxation and entertainment.
Are verandas and balconies the same thing?
No, verandas and balconies are not the same thing. Verandas are covered open-air spaces usually on the ground floor or part of the building’s wrap-around. Balconies are small elevated platforms attached to the upper floor of a building.
What is the origin of the word veranda?
The word veranda originated from the Portuguese word “varanda,” which means a balcony or gallery with a railing.