Tips from a 40 plus year pool man - Part 1
Why am I writing this? Well, I get multiple calls every day from all around the country from other pool industry folks asking me my opinion on lots of different things. The “How do I keep my cost down” to the pool buyer is numero uno on the list. So now let’s start to show the short list of my opinions: Swimming Pool Decks
1. The type and amount of decking material used on the new pool project is the single biggest factor in effecting the pool project cost. There are many types of decking material available. If the Buyer wants natural stone to be their choice, there goes the budget. Cantera stone, flagstone, slate, etc. all typically require a base of reinforced concrete to be installed under the natural stone. Commonly, dependent on the locale of the project and the quality of the stone product selected, you can easily spend $30 – $50 a square foot on a deck with these materials. Let us see, simple math, a 400 square foot deck can cost $12,000 – $20,000. I have to admit that these types of pool decks are not the norm so don’t grab your pacemaker pool buyers out there!
2. Concrete decks with overlay materials are very common. Spray texture finishes, faux finishes that simulate flagstone, tile, and brick are what most pool builders are utilizing today. These decks are typically much cooler to walk on than any natural product and look rather nice when properly applied. What do they cost? Depending on how intricate the overlay pattern becomes, the base concrete and overlay usually cost between $10 a square foot to $20 a square foot. Easy math again please. A 400 square foot deck should cost between $4,000 and $8,000.
3. Concrete, exposed aggregate (pea gravel), and traditional cool deck are not nearly as common as they used to be.
A. Concrete is not very decorative and is HOT to walk on during the swim season.
B. Exposed aggregate is rough to walk on, hot, and if a pebble pops out and you step on it bare footed, get ready to change religions!
C. Traditional cool deck is rapidly becoming a disappearing commodity. All the old timers that applied it during the 50’s – 80’s have retired or passed away. The materials by nature were extremely porous, stain easily, and often tended to flake off within a few years. In my opinion all items covered under number 3 A-C are passé. There are much prettier and more cost effective types of decks to install. What do they cost? Usually $3.50 – $7.50 a square foot.
D. Patterned concrete is another option. It is beautiful and virtually nothing to care for later if the work is done professionally and correct. Make a mistake during application however and you will not be able to match any repaired or replace areas for color and possible texture. It does get hot so try to stay with lighter colors of stains. Cost? $11.50 – $18.50 installed depending on the level of detail needed in the deck.
4. Wood decks are another option available. I personally am not much of a fan for these. Especially when the Buyers selects a poor grade of wood that will splinter and warp within a few years. Sounds real inviting for your bare feet does it not? Most of these type of decks I have seen in my travels are self-installed by the pool Buyer. The composite decks are very nice. Due to the nature of the material, it never rots, warps, or splinters and has no maintenance. It is pricey to purchase but is worth the cost in my opinion. Cost from the cheap stuff to the primo product, professionally installed is $12 – $35 a square foot. I am a big fan of some type of wood deck being installed adjacent to masonry pool decks as an accent.
5. Pavers are the last common option. Some pavers require a substrate of reinforced concrete, some do not. The interlocking ones do not as they are installed typically on torpedo (concrete) sand. Pavers are quite nice and some folks like to mix and match colors as well as doing custom designs. The advantage of the interlocking pavers is that they can be pulled up, the sand leveled, and then the paver reset if you have a lot of ground movement. Very classic looking and also pricey, but again a very rich look. The cost can run between $15 – $40 a square foot depending on your choice of materials, design, etc.
So now that you have stayed with me this long, let me sum things up. Want to save money on your pool? Know in advance the kind of pool deck you want and also limit the amount of the deck as much as possible. In my opinion, a 3’ – 5’ wide sidewalk around most pools is all that is necessary. If you want a place to put a table, chairs, or chaise lounges, an additional 120 square feet (10’ x 12’) for all you PHD’s out there is all you need. I do not recommend getting rid of all the grass in the yard and replacing it with concrete. That is going to cost you $$$. I would recommend low maintenance landscape, rock gardens, etc. if you don’t’ want the lawn mower near the pool.
Well there you are! I’m sure that some of you are saying there may be deck material options I did not mention here. You may be right but I think I covered what 90% of pools being built have around them for decking. Any opinions that any of you have? I will be pleased to hear from you. Just click on reply and give me an ear full.