Installing a swimming pool in your backyard can greatly increase the functionality and enjoyment of your outdoor living space. However, the area surrounding an in-ground or above-ground pool is often overlooked during planning. Creating an enticing, safe and functional pool deck should be a priority when investing in a home pool.
This comprehensive guide covers creative pool deck options to transform the zone around an in-ground or above-ground pool. Read on for design inspiration, material recommendations, safety guidelines and tips tailored specifically for elevated above-ground pool decks.
Benefits of Installing a Pool Deck
Before delving into the specifics, let’s examine why a deck is an essential pool component:
- Improves Safety: A slip-resistant pool deck creates a non-slip boundary between the pool and lawn. This prevents accidental falls and clearly defines the swimming zone.
- Enhances Functionality: Well-designed pool decks incorporate appropriate circulation space, seating/lounging areas and storage for pool equipment and toys.
- Adds Value: Pool decks significantly improve backyards by creating a usable entertainment area. This increased backyard functionality adds real estate value.
- Creates Ambiance: Thoughtful design and material choices set the tone for the entire pool area. An enticing deck invites your family outside to enjoy leisure time.
- Low Maintenance: Modern decking materials are long-lasting, easy to clean and often include warranties. Enjoy your investment while avoiding continual upkeep.
Pool Deck Design Elements
When planning your pool deck, incorporate these key elements:
- Safety Railings: Above-ground pool decks absolutely require protective railings for fall prevention and entry control. Railings may also be wise around certain areas of an in-ground pool. Ensure any railings meet local safety codes.
- Entry/Exit Points: Strategically place pool access ladders, steps or sloped entry sections. These allow smooth transitions for entering and exiting the pool.
- Non-Slip Materials: Selecting a decking material with grip and some texture minimizes slips when feet are wet. Materials like natural stone, stamped concrete, pebbled finishes and wood are ideal choices.
- Gradual Slope: If possible, create a very subtle grade leading away from the pool. This facilitates proper drainage to prevent standing water.
- Buffered Perimeter: Allow ample deck space on all sides of the pool so active swimmers don’t feel confined or crowded. Include extra room for loungers, tables, etc.
- Sun vs. Shade: Find the right balance of sun exposure and shaded relaxation areas. Consider adding a pergola, umbrella, trees or detachable canopy to provide respite from the midday sun.
- Electrical and Lighting: Incorporate adequate lighting, outlets and switches for night swims, music, décor or appliances like fans, heaters or refrigerators. Consider low voltage or solar options.
- Storage: Designate space for pool toys, cleaning supplies, spare parts and other accessories. Storage benches, vertical racks or weather-resistant cabinets keep items organized yet out of sight.
- Privacy Buffer: Strategically use plants, fences, screens or trellises to increase privacy and further define the pool area. This keeps pool activities private without total seclusion.
- Compliance: Adhere to all local regulations regarding barriers, access, safety measures, permitting and construction. Contact your County Recorder’s office to confirm standards where you live.
In-Ground Pool Deck Materials and Ideas
Installing a new or replacement deck around an in-ground pool requires proper structural support and attractive, functional finishing materials. Compare the positives and negatives of each option below when deciding which fits your landscape design, lifestyle needs and budget parameters.
- Long lasting durability
- Customizable shapes and textures
- Installed on-site for perfect fit
- Modest cost
- Low maintenance
- Rigid, unforgiving surface
- Prone to cracks over time
- Heat absorbing in warm climates
- Professional installation required
Standout Design Idea: Stamped concrete mimics natural materials like stone, brick or woodgrain at a fraction of the price. Rebar reinforcement and control joints help prevent cracks. Integrate radiant heating tubes underneath for luxurious comfort.
- Beautiful, upscale aesthetic
- Available in endless colors/textures
- Innate non-slip texture
- Doesn’t retain heat
- Easy to repair sections
- Expensive upfront cost
- Some ongoing sealing required
- Cracks or dips may form
- Professional installation
Standout Design Idea: Create visual interest by combining rectangular stone pavers with pebble mosaic inlays. Or, opt for loose materials like crushed granite or pea gravel in lounging/play areas while reserving stone tiles for high traffic zones.
Ceramic and Porcelain Tile
- Sleek, contemporary appearance
- Factory controlled quality
- Extremely durable
- Easy to clean
- Range of colors/patterns
- Rigid, unforgiving surface
- Grout requires occasional sealing
- Dropped items may crack tiles
- Professional installation
Standout Design Idea: Define separate activity zones like dining, lounging and sunbathing by altering the size, texture, layout or color of ceramic tiles in each section. Consider large format tiles with narrow grout lines for a seamless look.
Wood Decking Boards
- Classic, natural style
- Stays cooler than other materials
- Softer underfoot than stone/concrete
- Numerous styles mimic other finishes
- Slippery when wet
- Eventual weathering and splintering
- Ongoing sealing and maintenance
- Costly to install properly
Standout Design Idea: Minimize upkeep by selecting woods like ipe, cedar or composite deck boards in place of high maintenance softwoods. Allow gaps between boards for drainage and utilize hidden fasteners to prevent snagging swimsuits.
Interlocking Composite Deck Tiles
- Quick, DIY-friendly installation
- Affordable, simple upgrade
- Range of color/pattern options
- Stays cooler than poured mediums
- Easy to replace damaged sections
- Not as durable as permanent materials
- Tiles may shift, spread or lift
- Doesn’t mimic high-end building materials
- Plastic appearance doesn’t appeal to all
Standout Design Idea: Use two contrasting colors of composite deck tiles to create an eye-catching geometric design. Outline the pool shape or define separate activity zones in a unique pattern.
Paver Bricks and Blocks
- Timeless beauty and charm
- Range of styles: new or reclaimed
- Install freeform or geometric patterns
- Cooler underfoot than solid materials
- Allows drainage between joints
- Settling or unevenness may occur
- Can feel rough on bare feet
- Weed prevention ongoing
- Not ideal for extremely wet climates
Standout Design Idea: Incorporate loose fill like sand or pebbles between wider paver joints for a breezy, Mediterranean courtyard aesthetic. Use a polymeric haze-free sealer to enhance color vibrancy.
Pebbles, Gravel and Loose Fill
- Natural, lush appearance
- Creative custom designs
- Allows rainwater to drain
- Easy installation
- Constant weed prevention required
- Can stick to wet skin/swimsuits
- Gets displaced easily
- Not accessible for wheelchairs
Standout Design Idea: Dedicate a “zen zone” filled with smooth river rocks or beach pebbles for ultimate relaxation. Surround it with greenery and comfortable chaise lounges to create a spa-like escape next to the pool. Use landscaping barriers to keep loose fill from migrating.
Rubber Safety Pavers
- Safer, more forgiving surface
- Available in bright colors
- Easy interlocking installation
- Resists slipping when wet
- Good value durability
- Doesn’t mimic high-end building aesthetics
- Absorbs heat in sunny climates
- Can harbor mildew or algae over time
- Loose fill varieties require edging
Standout Design Idea: Define a splash pad play zone by installing rubber safety pavers in fun, bright colors. Ensure correct installation and grading for proper drainage. Surround with potted palms for a festive backyard oasis feel.
Above-Ground Pool Deck Considerations and Ideas
Elevated above-ground pool decks deserve special planning considerations related to structural support, safety barriers, accessibility and visually blending with existing landscaping design elements.
Structural Reinforcement Basics
- Custom design required based on pool dimensions/height
- Overbuild support posts below frost line
- Utilize doubled beams and knee braces for stability
- Anchor securely into pool frame (if manufacturer approved)
- Check local codes for specifications
- Required minimum heights vary by municipality (36-48 inches typical)
- Vertical members no more than 4 inches apart
- Max 4 inch gap at bottom between barrier and deck
- Self-closing, self-latching gates with hardware
- Incorporate ADA guidelines regardless of local codes
- Include ample clear deck space around entry points
- Select smooth, easy to traverse decking materials
- Minimal slope for drainage
- Consider installing a pool lift
Visual Blending Ideas
- Disguise support posts as trees, trellises or part of a privacy screen
- Paint deck floor and barriers to blend with pool color
- Add corner planters, decorative posts and foliage to soften landscape transition
- Wrap support posts in natural stone veneer
Finally, always obtain necessary permits and ensure finished work is officially inspected for safety before use. Investing a bit more time and forethought into structural support and finishing details leads to better long term deck durability and aesthetics.
Sample Above-Ground Pool Deck Designs
Modern Redwood and Cable Rail
A slatted redwood deck topped with outdoor rugs combines form and function. Thick posts ensure structural integrity while thin cable railing maintains visibility. Decorative privacy screens attach directly to the barrier poles for added seclusion.
Rustic Wood Plank
Wide-planked timber decking brings organic charm along with cedar planter boxes doubling as guard rails. An arched arbor hides one support post while creating a shaded lounging niche. Outdoor curtains provide adjustable sun control.
Mediterranean Style Stucco and Tile
Creamy stucco siding trimmed in terra cotta tiles conjures images of an Italian villa. Wrought iron railings lined with flowering vines ensure safety without limiting views. Cast stone columns and an ornamental urn further enhance old-world appeal.
Tropical Wood and Bamboo
Exotic bamboo fencing secures the perimeter of an ipe hardwood pool deck. Adding rattan chair pads, a palm leaf umbrella and potted palms transports you to a tropical resort. The neutral tones beautifully blend into the existing stone patio and plantings.
Minimalist Black and Gray
For the contemporary purist, a black stained deck keeps the focus on the poolscape. Essential items like chaise lounges, side tables and low voltage lighting complete the sleek look.strategically placed planters with colorful annuals provide lively contrast.
The average cost to build a basic pool deck is $7-15 per square foot. More elaborate designs with features like fire pits, pergolas and outdoor kitchens can run $25-50 per square foot. Professional installation also adds expense.
The best materials are slip-resistant, drain well, durable and attractive. Top options include natural stone, stamped/stained concrete, wood composites, ceramic tile and interlocking pavers. Each has pros and cons regarding appearance, comfort, maintenance and cost.
Yes, it’s recommended to slope the deck area 1/8 inch per linear foot away from the pool to allow proper drainage. This prevents standing water and slippery conditions. Grading is especially important with solid surface materials like concrete and tile.
Plan for a deck area at least 4-5 feet wide around the entire perimeter with additional space for loungers, tables, etc. This circulation area ensures someone can comfortably walk the pool’s edge without feeling crowded or confined.
Required railing heights vary slightly by region but typically range from 36-48 inches high. Verify your local municipality codes for the exact barrier height regulations in your area before building.
Hopefully the pool deck possibilities above sparked ideas for transforming unused yard space around your swimming pool into a functional entertainment oasis. Consider aspects like traffic flow, separate activity zones, visual appeal, durability and safety based on your family’s needs and preferences. Contact a qualified pool contractor to discuss custom deck solutions matching your overall landscape vision and budget. Investing in a skillfully-designed pool deck ensures your swimming asset gets fully utilized for years to come.