Designing Pool Decks and Patios: How to Choose Materials

  • 01 of 10

    Things to Consider When Selecting a Pool Decking Type

    poolside pato
    Woman sunbathes on poolside patio. Trevor Lush/Blend Images/Getty Images

    The hardscape area around your swimming pool is called a surround, deck, or decking, even though it isn't always made of wood or composite, like traditional outdoor decks with which we most often associate the words. Traditionally, most in-ground swimming pool decks are made of concrete. Other materials, like pavers and brick, are also popular choices.

    Pool decks and paved surfaces in the yard such as pathspatios, or steps are functional landscaping elements, adding usable space, creating a...MORE smooth transition from one area to another, providing drainage, and covering bare dirt.

    When it is near or surrounds a pool or spa, decking creates a frame while providing a safe path around its edge. If backyard space allows, the deck can be enlarged to accommodate poolside furniture for relaxing or dining.

    Deck Materials: What to Think About

    Choosing deck material shouldn't be just a matter of going with what you think is the most attractive. Important things to consider:

    • The material must be safe and not become slippery when wet.
    • Make sure the decking material isn't coarse, bumpy, or uneven.
    • Choose a heat-reflective material to keep the surface cooler on hot days -- think about bare feet!
    • Select a material that blends well with other paved or hardscaped areas in your yard.
    • If possible, find out if the material is resistant to algae, chemicals, acid, mold and mildew, and frost.
    • A modern solution: for a seamless look, carry out the coping material to the surrounding deck or patio.
    • Safety fences and barriers should be considered and integrated into the pool and deck design. Check city or local laws or guidelines regarding pool barriers—most should be at least 4 feet high and be positioned between the pool and areas of access.

    Take a look at the variety of pool deck materials, along with their pros and cons.

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  • 02 of 10

    Poolside Patio: Concrete

    modern house with pool
    A modern house in the desert with a concrete pool surround. Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

    Concrete makes a smooth surround that is available in a variety of colors besides the familiar light grey. Certain types of architecture, like Mid-century modern and contemporary, call for the clean, uncomplicated lines and even surface of concrete. Pool decking or a surround made of concrete should be poured by a professional, unless you are an expert do-it-yourselfer or have lots of help from capable assistants.

    Pros:It's easy to maintain and feels good underfoot. Doesn't get too warm...MORE when the temperatures rise.

    Cons: If it doesn't have a textured finish or is brushed, concrete can become slippery when wet. Aggregate (small pebbles or rocks) can be added to concrete for a slip-resistant surface.

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  • 03 of 10

    Patio Near the Pool: Brick

    pool with brick surround
    Toronto home with brick pool surround. Natasha Nicholson/Getty Images

    Brick has been around for more than 5,000 years, so it's a proven material and surface for a pool deck. 

    Pros: Durable, easy to maintain, available in colors other than terra cotta—like grey, for instance.

    Cons: Moss has a tendency to grow on cool bricks, so you have to regularly maintain it. If not, mossy bricks can become slippery when wet, and can potentially create a dangerous falling zone.

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  • 04 of 10

    Pool Decks and Patios: Pavers

    pool with pavers
    Pool at dusk with interlocking pavers. George Gutenberg/Getty Images

    Pavers are a popular type of hardscape for paths and patios and come in many different materials, sizes, shapes and colors. Paver materials for poolside patios include stone, concrete and aggregate.

    The increasingly popular interlocking concrete pavers are a good alternative to plain concrete, and are designed to resemble cobblestones, granite, tile, or traditional bricks. Keep in mind when using interlocking pavers for pool decking that patterns formed from lots of smal units can appear busy....MORE Step back and assess the entire space, along with colors, textures, and patterns, before buying.

    Pros: Easy to find and easy to replace if a paver gets damaged. A good, budget-conscious choice. If installed correctly, many manufacturers claim that interlocking pavers are frost proof.

    Cons: When installing, requires a permanent border or frame to prevent shifting. Concrete pavers can look industrial or commercial, which isn't necessarily a negative thing if your home and yard are modern.

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  • 05 of 10

    Wood Pool Decks

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    Couple enjoys the view from their pool deck. Getty Images

    Decks constructed of wood look quite attractive next to an in-ground swimming pool or spa. 

    Pros: Depending on your budget, there are lots of wood varieties available. The design options are wide open, with many patterns and looks possible. Because wood is a natural material, it's going to look...natural.

    Cons: Wood decks in any location require seasonal maintenance, including cleaning, sanding and sealing. Because of its proximity to a body of water, maintenance is especially important. You...MORE don't ever want it to get to the point where it is splintering; can you imagine sitting  on the edge of the pool and getting splinters in your thighs? Ouch!

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  • 06 of 10

    Poolside Patio: Stone

    flagstone patio
    Flagstone patio near swimming pool. Stuart McCall/Getty Images

    Stone is a natural looking material for patios and paths, has enough texture to make it slip-resistant, and enhances landscaping and architectural features. Many types are available, and prices are often determined by what's offered in your region; stones from local quarries will cost less than those shipped from across the country. Flat stones are used for paving purposes; known as flagstone that is usually made of:

    • Quartzite
    • Sandstone
    • Limestone
    • Granite
    • Porphyry

    Pros: Available in an assortment of...MORE shapes and sizes: square, rectangle, triangle, and irregular.

    Cons: Can be expensive if you choose a flagstone that is not readily available in your area. Darker colors or shades can become hotter than lighter ones. Inexpensive stone might actually be faux stone, which can look cheap or fake.

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  • 07 of 10

    Tile Pool Surround

    saltillo tile
    Saltillo tile pool decking. George Gutenberg/Canopy/Getty Images

    A highly glazed tile surface that gets wet could create a dangerous scenario for anyone who walks near the pool. Since tile is graded for slip resistance, play it safe and look for something like unglazed terracotta (saltillo), or vitreous and water-impervious porcelain tile that will withstand frosts and freezes.

    Pros: Can create a seamless indoor-to-outdoor transition if the same tile is used.

    Cons: Tile can be slippery, especially when wet. Choose something with a "tooth" that will...MORE prevent you from sliding and provides better traction than smooth-as-glass marble or granite.

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  • 08 of 10

    Mixed Materials

    modern house with pool
    Modern house with mixed-material pool decking. John Edward Linden/Getty Images

    Examples: adding tile mosaic medallions that can be inserted into a paved concrete area while it's being poured or laid; river rock or pebbles set in a narrow groove adjacent to another material, like concrete. 

    Pros: If you like variety or can't narrow down your choices, combining two or more will give you an opportunity to use both. 

    Cons: The look can get too busy or surfaces may be uneven. Less, even with mixed materials, is more.

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  • 09 of 10

    Artificial Turf

    artificial turf near pool
    Pool with artificial turf. Andy Sotiriou/Getty Images

    If you love the look of a freshly manicured lawn but live in a region affected by drought, synthetic grass might be the best material for your poolside deck.

    Pros: Because it isn't real and doesn't grow, there's no mowing involved. It also never gets brown or dry looking, unlike the real thing.

    Cons: The padding of some artificial turf is made of recycled rubber tires, and the fake grass is often made of a petroleum-based product. Check the "ingredients" used to create that fake grass....MORE  Another downside—some synthetics can get hot to the touch, especially if exposed to full sun. Unlike real grass, fake turf is not biodegradable. And it still needs to be cleaned if it gets stained from dripping popsicles or dog poop.


     

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  • 10 of 10

    Synthetic Decking

    synthetic pool decking
    Synthetic decking surrounding infinity pool. Martin Barraud/Getty Images

    Synthetic or composite decking is a popular alternative to wood, without the maintenance and weathering issues.

    Pros: Synthetics are durable and can last a long time. They are also made to be resistant to insects and harsh weather conditions.

    Cons: Some brands can become slippery and aren't resistant to mold and mildew.