Pool Deck Designs and Options

Decking around a pool has different requirements and considerations than standard decks. Learn what you need to know before you build a pool deck.

Photo by: California Redwood Association

California Redwood Association

By: John Riha

Above-ground pools are easy to install, there’s no excavation necessary, and they cost about one-fifth of an in-ground pool. Although most folks say an in-ground pool is more attractive, an above-ground pool can be just as eye-catching with the addition of a pool deck.

To build a pool deck, you’ll want to create safe, secure access with a freestanding deck that comes right to the edge of — but doesn’t attach to — your pool. In terms of design, your deck can border just a section of the pool, go halfway around, or encircle the entire pool. The surface should be wide enough for safe walking — 3 feet is a good minimum — and after that, it’s up to your imagination. Include a nice lounging area for sunbathing, relaxing and keeping an eye on kids.

Wood decks are the most popular and easiest for the DIYer to build. Pressure-treated wood, cedar, and redwood are all good choices, but you’ll need to refinish your wood deck almost every year to protect it from constant moisture and chlorinated water.

Composite and aluminum decking are waterproof decking materials that shrug off splashes. Choose textured decking that provides slip-resistance.

To stay safe, remember that railings are required on decks more than 30 inches above grade. Railings should be at least 36 inches high, with balusters no more than 4 inches apart. It’s a good idea to add a lockable gate to the deck stairs to restrict access to the pool.

Existing Pool Gets New Decking 02:15

The Moss brothers use composite wood to replace old rotting pool decking.

Here are some basic guidelines about how to build a deck around a pool. These requirements come form the 2012 International Pool and Spa Code, but that doesn’t mean they’ve been adopted by your region. Check with your local building authority for deck-building codes in your area.

• The deck should not attach to the pool in any way. The distance from the decking to the outside edge of the pool should be about 3/4 of an inch.

• Decks for above-ground pools are usually 3 to 6 feet above grade, so posts should be cross-braced for lateral stability.

• Freestanding decks have less code restrictions for foundations than decks attached to your house. A freestanding deck can rest on concrete deck blocks that are placed directly on the ground, saving you the time and expense of digging and pouring footings.

• Building codes state that decking surfaces around pools and spas should be slip-resistant. However, the codes don’t define what “slip-resistance” actually is. Some composite and synthetic decking materials have textured surfaces that should help reduce slipping, and aluminum decking can be ordered with a waterproof, anti-slip coating.

• Decking surfaces should be sloped 1/8 to 1/4 inches over 12 inches to shed water, but codes are unspecific about the total distance you need to slope a pool deck.

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Photo By: LGB Interiors

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Photo By: Eric Perry ©2012, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

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From: EWM Realty International and Luxury Portfolio International®

Photo By: EWM Realty International, a member of Luxury Portfolio International

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Photo By: Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers, a member of Luxury Portfolio International; Damon Moss Photography

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Photo By: Shannon Faulk / Getty Images ©2012, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

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Photo By: Greenwood King Properties, a member of Luxury Portfolio International

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Photo By: Hilton & Hyland, a member of Luxury Portfolio International

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