Exterior Pools & Water Features

All You Need to Know About Concrete Pool Decks

A concrete pool deck must be safe, slip-resistant, and easy on the feet.
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Textures and coatings can give you a lasting concrete pool deck to match your needs and weather challenges. Creating a slip-resistant, concrete pool-deck surface can be achieved by texturing the surface or applying a slip-resistant coating. Any finish or coating should also preserve the concrete from exposure to sun, heat, cold, or rain, and resist mold and mildew. While there are many coatings, finishes, and techniques designed for concrete pool decks, your local installer is likely to have a favorite. Determine first how you want your deck to look, then find a process and product that will work for you.

Stamped Concrete
Stamping is the process of using a stamping plate with an etched design or pattern and pressing it into the poured concrete to create patterns over the entire surface. A stamped application makes for an attractive and naturally slip-resistant surface that can replicate patterns and designs from nature, masonry, and even fine art tiling.

Stampcrete International of Liverpool, NY, sells a proprietary concrete deck mix, trains licensed installers, and holds seminars on the stamping process. “We have over 50 designs and 60 different colors to choose from, but we recommend a seamless texture or low-profile stamp for the pool deck area,” says Bill Nelson, a sales representative for the company. “A design with a deep line will hold water, which you don’t want,” he says.

Stampcrete finishes their pool decks with two coats of sealer to protect the surface from stains and weathering, and their non-slip sealer, should the homeowner request it. A standard concrete pool deck costs from $3-6 per square foot, depending on the region. “Our product runs about $10-12 per square foot,”which includes the deck and product, says Nelson. Installation might run an additional $3-4 per square foot.

Textured Concrete
A textured-concrete pool-deck surface places safety at the forefront by bringing inherently non-slip properties to the deck. Increte Systems out of Odessa, FL, offers two spray-on textured-concrete products that are applied to an existing concrete slab to dress it up and provide non-slip qualities. “Spray-Deck and Texture-Crete are both made from a cementitious material mixed with a liquid resin and sprayed onto a concrete surface with a hopper and a gun, just as you see with drywall,” says Rich Cofoid, national sales manager for Increte.

The three-day process includes cleaning the existing concrete surface of grease and oils, spraying the mix over the surface, and sealing the set surface with a sealer. The result is a colored, textured surface that is firmly bonded with the slab below, naturally slip-resistant, and stronger than normal concrete. A Spray-Deck system costs anywhere from $3-5 per square foot, in addition to the cost of the deck itself. A Texture-Deck finish, which adds multiple colors to the surface, runs from $4-6 per square foot.

Sealers and Coatings
Left untreated, a concrete pool deck is at the mercy of the elements and can be an accident waiting to happen. Exposure to sun, heat, rain, and cold will cause the surface to crack. Spilled beverages, suntan oils, and food can cause staining. A wet concrete surface is slippery, and lingering water can form into mold and mildew. The right sealer or protective coating will keep the surface looking new for years to come. It can also keep those running feet safely on the deck.

A good concrete sealer should leave the surface waterproof and protected from cracking, chipping, and the damaging effects of the elements or the freeze/thaw cycles in the Northern states. Some concrete sealers also protect against staining from pool chemicals.

Coatings often provide additional benefits. Keystone’s Kool Deck, which is made by Mortex, lowers the surface temperature of the deck, leaving it cool to the touch. These textured coatings adhere to the concrete, provide slip-resistant footing, and hide blemishes or imperfections in the slab.

Match Your Deck Choice to Your Climate
A textured-concrete pool-deck surface is a great answer to the slipping problem, but in regions known for nasty winters and heavy snowfall, an untested textured surface might not hold up to shovels, salt, and freeze/thaw conditions. “It is possible to have a textured surface or coating in the Northeast, but it has to be a strong, durable product,” says Mike Reitz of Stampcrete. “Our textured coating rates at 7,000 psi, so it’s not going to pop off or flake off.” Regular cement measures at around 3,500 psi. Conversely, a colored concrete made with low-grade pigments won’t keep its color under the hot sun in the South.

Resealing a surface is an eventuality for concrete pool deck owners. The number of years a surface will last without resealing will depend on use and abuse. In the Northeast, where salt is regularly used in the winter and makes its way onto decks and patios via rain and traffic, a concrete surface will require more frequent resealing. “Salt is concrete’s enemy, and there’s little you can do to completely stop its effects,” says Reitz. In the South, heat and sun are the challenge. “Cheap pigments added to the cement will fade in the South,” says Reitz. “A synthetic dye used for coloring will hold up and keep its color.”

Before selecting a concrete-pool deck-surface, coating, or finish, consider the climate challenges facing the surface. It is a good idea to check out other concrete pool decks in the area, and see what works and what doesn’t.