Pristine pool decking perfectly complements a gorgeous in-ground pool and makes your backyard look picture-perfect.
It doesn’t matter if you’re building a new pool or remodeling your current one. But don’t neglect your pool decking in the process!
This guide breaks down everything you need to know to improve your pool decking, from the best materials to essential maintenance services.
What’s the Difference Between Decking and Coping?
First, let’s clarify the difference between pool decking and pool coping. Many people use these two words interchangeably, but they’re not the same.
Pool coping is a stone or concrete cap that runs along the edge of the pool. It’s the top of the pool wall and is no bigger than 12 inches wide.
Pool decking, on the other hand, is the much larger area that extends past the coping and surrounds the pool. It’s where you place lounge chairs, tables, etc.
Choosing the Best Decking Material
Unlike pool coping, made only from stone or concrete, pool decking can be made from a wide range of materials. The following are some of the most popular options:
Concrete is a durable, water-resistant, and inexpensive pool decking material. It’s also more versatile than many people realize. After it’s poured, concrete can be brushed or stamped to enhance its appearance and give it a more stylized look.
Wood is another well-known and low-cost option. It has a nice, classic look, and you can choose from many different finishes to find one that works best with your backyard and personal aesthetic.
The biggest downside to wood is that it requires a great deal of preventative maintenance to protect it from moisture and avoid common issues like rot, color loss, cracks, and shrinkage.
Composite wood is an excellent alternative for those who like the look of wood but not the maintenance.
Composite wood is made from a combination of wood scraps, ground wood particles, plastic, and binding agents. However, it looks just like natural wood.
Composite is an excellent choice because it’s highly durable and won’t splinter, rot, or fade. It is more expensive than regular wood, though.
Stone is a popular and stylish pool decking material. They’re highly durable and require little maintenance. They also come in many sizes, shapes, and colors, so it’s easy to use them to customize your pool deck. It’s important to note that the more stylized your stone choices, the more expensive they’ll likely be.
Pavers are stone or concrete bricks arranged in an interlocking pattern around your pool—layer pavers on top of a stone or sand base.
Pavers are good alternatives to concrete because they’re less likely to crack or shift. They’re easier and less expensive to repair, too.
Travertine pool pavers are definitely a luxury material. Travertine pavers are popular for a variety of reasons. They’re simple to repair and reseal, and with proper care, they can last for decades.
Travertine is naturally textured, making it non-slip and suitable for poolside use. Because it is a porous stone, it dries quickly and drains well even when wet.
Last but not least is tile. Tiles come in various shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns. Some tiles even resemble brick, wood, or marble.
Many people choose tiles as their preferred decking material because they’re easy to install. Many have self-adhesive properties as well and can easily stick to multiple surfaces.
Designing and Installing Your Pool Deck
After you’ve chosen the material for your pool decking, the next step is to start planning the installation process and fine-tuning the design elements.
Here are some essential steps to take as you begin preparing to install new pool decking:
Don’t jump the gun and start digging in your backyard before you first call the local utility companies. Placing a few calls won’t take very long, and it ensures you don’t encounter any buried lines while building or updating your pool decking.
Get Proper Permits
Some communities have specific rules for pouring concrete in certain areas. Make sure you have proper approval to install or renovate your decking first. That way, you won’t get hit with any fines halfway through the project.
Focus on the Foundation
A solid foundation is essential to a high-quality pool deck. Make sure you have an appropriate base that works with your desired material. Otherwise, you might end up with an uneven surface or other issues later.
Choose the Right Shape
Do you want a square or rectangular pool deck, or do you prefer a curved shape? Both options look great, but curved decking is usually more expensive than straight lines.
If you’re looking to save money, sticking with a straight deck is a more cost-effective choice.
Consider the Slope
Some pool materials — including concrete, brick, tile, and pavers — require a slight slope to ensure proper drainage.
If you’re using one of these materials, you’ll need a slope of approximately one-quarter inch per lineal foot. The slope should also direct water away from the pool, so dirty water and debris don’t get washed back into it.
How to Maintain Your New Pool Deck
If you’re building a new pool deck or remodeling an existing one, you can invest in certain services that make it more enjoyable and increase its longevity.
The following services are great options to consider to make the most of your pool decking:
Add a Cool Deck Coating
Don’t want to burn your feet on the deck during the hot summer? Use a spray or cool deck coating to beat the heat.
As a bonus, you can also use these coatings to further enhance your deck’s appearance.
Prevent Water Damage
One of the greatest threats to the life of a wood deck is water damage. Often this occurs below the surface where you cannot see or regularly apply protective coatings. One of the best preventative measures is to apply butyl tape to the bottom side of the deck boards. This will provide protection from moisture that gets trapped under your deck and add years to its life.
Lift or Level Concrete
If you already have a concrete pool deck, you might have noticed that the concrete has started to dip or settle. When this happens, you end up with an uneven surface that presents a tripping hazard for you and your guests.
Concrete lifting and leveling can address this issue and smooth the pool decking surface. These processes also save you from having to start over from scratch.
Level Up Your Pool Deck Today
Refreshed and revamped pool decking enhances your backyard and makes it the ultimate destination for spring and summer gatherings. Start planning your decking updates today, so your pool is ready to go when the weather warms up!