Your pool may be the main draw of your annual summer shindig but the deck is where the party happens. You can have the most perfectly pH balanced pool in the world but if your pool deck is some gravel and broken glass, nobody is going to show up to the party.

Luckily for you, the options for building or remodeling your pool decking are plentiful and we’re here to help you pick the perfect one with our handy guide to pool decking.

Before Diving In

Before you grab a shovel or pickaxe and start smashing up your existing pool decking to begin your remodel, we have to hit some preliminary steps first. 

Prior to any major remodel or installation, you’ll want to make sure it’s legal. Most places have specific laws and ordinances, especially when it comes to pools. Get your permits in order and call before you dig!

Check for local pool ordinances that pertain to decking or construction to make sure that you’re backyard dream doesn’t turn into a nightmare. Any major building project can quickly turn into a costly battle if you find yourself on the wrong side of zoning issues.

Pool Decking Materials

Once you’ve settled all of the zoning requirements, the real fun part begins: choosing your materials! What do you want to use to build your new pool deck? The choices are many and the possibilities are endless.

Put on your creativity hat and chew on this food for thought before getting started.

There are a few things to consider before choosing a material. You want something that is safe, comfortable to walk on barefoot, and something that looks nice with your backyard design.

  • Aesthetics: How it looks with the rest of your pool and backyard design
  • Safety: Non-slip factor and heat-reflective surface 
  • Maintenance: Cost and labor of upkeep
  • Budget: The cost of initial installation and repairs
  • Installation: DIY or professional install?

With these factors in mind, let’s take a look at your options:

Poured Concrete

Poured concrete is by far the most popular choice for pool owners because of its affordability, durability, and water and slip-resistant texture. You have a couple of options when it comes to concrete too: brush-finished or stamped concrete.

Brush-finished concrete is the cheaper and more common option. It looks like standard concrete when completed and makes for a comfortable, slip-resistant surface. The type of brush used to finish the surface determines the quality of the finished product: the finer the bristles, the lighter the texture.

Stamped concrete is a bit more expensive but can be made to look like tile, stone or brick at a fraction of the prices of those actual materials.

Pros:

  • Can be poured into any shape to fit your taste. Curves and geometric patterns are totally doable!
  • Very affordable option
  • Easy to maintain
  • Non-slip surface is comfy to walk on barefoot
  • Doesn’t get too hot in the summer

Cons:

  • Not a good choice for cold climates: repeated freezing and thawing can cause damage over time.
  • Not a DIY (do it yourself) option in large slabs. Better hire a pro for this one.
  • Without a brushed or textured finish, it can be very slippery

Concrete or Stone Pavers

Paving stones (or pavers) can be made of either concrete or actual carved stone. They can be made to look like bricks, cobblestones, granite, or tile. They can also be made in any color and fit together nicely in interlocking patterns for a clean and polished finished product.

Pavers can be a good alternative to poured concrete, although slightly more expensive, depending on the size, shape, and quantity. They are a DIY-friendly option since they are easy to install and repair. If a paver breaks, it can easily be removed and replaced.

Pro Tip: If you’re attempting a DIY deck with pavers, make sure you lay the proper foundation of sand or gravel so that your stones don’t sink over time.

Pros:

  • Offer a ton of variety: plenty of colors and shapes to choose from
  • Great for DIY home improvement enthusiasts
  • Easy to install and replace
  • A good budget-friendly option

Cons:

  • Improper installation or faulty foundation can cause stones to shift and sink
  • Might require a permanent border to prevent shifting
  • Overly-complex patterns may make the design look too busy and take over the yard

Brick

A very similar option to pavers but slightly more expensive, brick is a beautiful and traditional option that is especially nice for historic homes. Brick pool decks are installed in the same way as pavers, over a sand or gravel foundation, and can be a great DIY project.

Brick is very durable and doesn’t take much to maintain. You can also get bricks in several different shades of natural tones like grey and tan, in case you’re not a fan of the traditional terra cotta red.

Pros:

  • Great for DIY home improvement enthusiasts
  • Easy to install and replace
  • A durable, non-slip surface with a classic look

Cons:

  • Moss may form on bricks in shady areas, which may require more maintenance
  • Needs a good, solid foundation to prevent shifting and sinking

Stone

Stone is a beautiful option for pool decking that can really give your landscaping a natural look. You can get flagstone decking in a variety of shapes, sizes, and types of stone such as travertine, limestone, sandstone, granite, and quartzite.

It’s best to find out what varieties of stone are available naturally in your area in order to keep the price down and fit in with the surrounding geology (if that’s your thing). Stone can definitely be an expensive option, depending on what stone you choose… but man, it is gorgeous.

It also has its own natural friction with a smooth walking surface, making it a perfect choice for the poolside. Make sure you only get unglazed stone, as the glaze will cause it to become ultra-slippery when wet.

Pro-Tip: Choose lighter shades of stone that won’t absorb too much heat for happier bare feet this summer.

Pros:

  • A beautiful, natural look that is hard to beat
  • Naturally non-slip for poolside safety
  • Comes in a variety of shapes, colors, and types

Cons:

  • Not a good DIY option as a concrete slab may be required for the foundation
  • Can get very expensive, especially with professional installation
  • Darker shades of stone can get quite hot in the sun

Wood

For a natural-looking deck with a smooth surface, wood might be a perfect choice. Wood decking is inexpensive, easy to work with, and can make any pool or spa deck look instantly like a Swiss chalet. 

As you may imagine, since wood is a natural material, wood decking requires the most maintenance. You can choose from strong exterior woods like teak, cedar, or redwood that are both water-repellant and resist insect damage.  

A beautiful wood deck can be installed DIY but you can also hire a professional for just a bit more. The complex joist systems below the deck might be best left to a pro. 

The most important part of a wood deck is the sealant. Wood decking will require regular staining and sealing to prevent rot, water damage, and color loss. If you don’t mind an annual deck-staining party, wood might be the right choice for you.

Pros:

  • Lots of variety, colors, and design options
  • Gives your deck a beautiful and natural look
  • A good choice for sloping backyards or irregular surfaces since it’s built off the ground

Cons:

  • Requires a lot of maintenance, yearly sealing/staining, and occasional refinishing
  • May require professional installation
  • Poorly maintained wood decks can be expensive to remove and replace… not to mention splinters!

Composite Wood

So you want the natural look of wood but don’t want all the maintenance? Then composite wood is your new decking solution! Composite wood is made to look like natural wood but is actually produced from plastic-like synthetics.

The best part? They require practically zero maintenance. Composite wood decks never rot, wear down, or fade from sun damage. These are a very sturdy and permanent decking option that comes with a hefty price tag, due to the component polymer materials.

However, the minimal upkeep needed over time may actually make the added initial expense worthwhile.

Pros:

  • Have the beautiful, natural look of wood
  • Many colors, varieties, and designs available
  • Practically no maintenance necessary
  • Will never fade, splinter, or rot with time, sun, and water damage

Cons:

  • High initial cost that can be countered by lack of upkeep expenses
  • Requires professional installation

Tile

A tile deck offers a clean and elegant look that can class up any backyard pool area. Tile comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, and materials — even ones made to look like marble, granite, brick, or wood! Unglazed tiles are the only option here, however, as glazed tile (like you have in your bathroom or kitchen) is way too slippery for poolside use.

Tile is a fantastic DIY project too. There are so many ways to install tile, making it an inexpensive and versatile option for any pool deck or indoor/outdoor transition. Some tiles can be self-adhered to any surface, others can be set in concrete or using traditional grout. 

Pros:

  • Inexpensive, quick and easy install
  • DIY option with versatile installation methods
  • Comes in many colors, shapes, and sizes that also mimic other materials

Cons:

  • Even unglazed tiles can be slippery when wet, make sure to get something with texture

Deck Coatings & Sealants 

If you’re looking to spruce up an aging pool deck, a surface coating may be the right choice for you. There are a number of options out there, usually made from epoxy, sand, and resins to bond tightly with the deck material itself.

A good surface coating will protect the decking itself from water, chemical, and UV damage, all while providing a non-slip surface that won’t scorch your feet in the hot summer sun. With a pool deck coating, you can also add color and texture to your deck or give an older surface a much-needed facelift.

There are a variety of options out there to choose from such as Limecoat, Kool/Cool Deck, and Spray Deck. These can also be a fun DIY project that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Revitalize, refinish, and then relax with a brand new or updated pool deck.

You’re All Decked-Out

Now armed with the knowledge of how to turn your pool area into the party spot of the season, you can go out there and build or remodel your pool deck. With a sparkling pool and gorgeous place to sip margaritas next to it, your backyard oasis never looked so good.