Everyone judges a book by its cover and a good way to think about your pool is the deck is the cover of the book. Choosing the right style of concrete pool deck for your home can seem a bit overwhelming, so here is a simple guide to picking one of the three most common types of concrete pool decking – standard broom finish, colored and cut, and stamped or exposed aggregate.
The most common type of pool deck is standard grey concrete broom finish that is just like a sidewalk or driveway. This style is the tried and true and most economical way to have a long lasting, low maintenance pool deck. Normal maintenance consists of pressure washing and sealing. We recommend resealing your deck a minimum of every other year (fall). There is really no disadvantage to this style of pool deck other than it is very common.
Colored concrete is becoming increasingly popular. Colored concrete allows you to choose a color that matches your house or other outdoor decor. Color can really make your deck pop and with some decorative cuts (such as diamond), you can make a beautiful deck that is only incrementally more of an investment than the standard grey. One challenge with coloring is blending color if you need to make repairs. Sticking with a particular brand of coloring such as Butterfield will help create consistent look and color. Maintenance is similar to standard concrete, but it is imperative to seal soon so the color will not fade.
Decorative concrete such as stamped or exposed aggregate is the third option. These styles are very beautiful finishes for a pool deck. They are more expensive than standard finish, but definitely add a pop to your deck that can create a completely customized look. Stamped concrete can create a paver look that is much more economical than actual pavers. Custom patterns and styles can create an amazing look to complement your landscaping. Options are virtually endless. Maintenance is more imperative with decorative concrete so we recommend sealing every year or even twice per year. Your location and the harshness of winters (salt or chemicals to de-ice) will dictate your maintenance schedule.
What to expect:
The most common question asked is how long to until my concrete cracks? There is no definite timeline, but just know that it will eventually crack. If cracking happens within the first 30 days or even immediately after the pour is complete, be sure the concrete from the manufacturer was correct. With concrete, the installer has only 10% of the outcome of the concrete cracking, the correct psi, mix design, and preparation account for the other 90% . The ACI (American Concrete Institute) set parameters for this and require testing and reporting to make sure concrete is made properly. At Mudslingers, we recommend a pool deck  have a 4000 psi or stronger mix design, also with a minimum of 3.5-4″ in thickness.  A wire mesh of three feet from water’s edge is required for pool bonding (this can be installed around entire pool of desired) and is required to pass electrical inspection, but this will also give it added strength. Ask your pool company about all of the options to ensure you are getting the best mix design for your budget. The next check is the type of crack – most likely just looking at a small surface crack, probably from hot temperatures and wind drying the surface quicker than the rest of the slab. Surface cracks will not affect the integrity of the pool deck. You simply caulk or seal the crack to keep water out and prevent it from getting bigger. If you have decorative concrete you can add some color to the sealer which will help conceal the crack even better.
Tips on Sealing
Your geographical location will impact the degree you need to worry about sealing. The midwest has extremely hot summers and very harsh winters. Extreme fluctuations in temperature can wreak havoc on your pool deck (especially in winter if you use salt or other chemicals to remove snow and ice). Normal erosion and ground movement could happen sooner and sealing will help prevent the cracks from expanding.
Choosing the right pool deck for your family can be a great experience. Consider your landscaping or future plans when choosing the style you are most comfortable with for the “cover of your book.” Your pool builder should be willing to offer suggestions and show examples of others for inspiration.