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Pool Deck Safety Surfacing 101

The United States boasts of having 10.6 million residential pools and 309,000 public swimming pools.

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Also, swimming is the fifth most popular sport in the US. Yet, more than half of the nation (65 percent to be precise) cannot swim or lack the basic swimming skills.

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So, where can you find this cohort of non-swimmers during a pool party? On the pool deck, of course! It is a known fact that people spend more time on the surroundings than the pool. This makes the deck a critical element of the overall pool design.

Traditionally, most pool surrounds were made using concrete, bricks, or tiles. However, modern surfacing materials like rubberized pool decks are growing in popularity owing to their durability, safety, low-maintenance, moisture resistance, and aesthetics.

Well-designed and maintained pool decks significantly improve a property’s curb appeal and boost its market value. Being socially-active, most Americans like to spend their outdoor time hosting pool parties, entertaining guests, sunbathing or just sitting by the pool. Therefore, it’s important to install the right type of surface that’s safe and welcoming for all – swimmers and non-swimmers.

Whether you are a proud owner of a pool or considering its addition to your property, this post will help you choose the most appropriate safety deck surfacing for your swimming pool. So, dive in to know how you can go about creating an enjoyable, functional, and appealing area around your swimming pool.

Pool Deck Surfacing: Common Challenges

Summer’s the time to swim, gather around the pool, and socialize with friends and loved ones. That calls for a secure pool area for swimmers and non-swimmers, seniors, and kids.

However, the pool deck area is subject to a lot of wear and tear due to moisture, dust, foot traffic, and sunlight. These factors can negatively affect the lifespan, curb appeal, and safety of the pool deck surface. Here are some common ways in which the pool deck surface is damaged over time.

1. Constant Wear and Tear

The pool deck surfacing is subject to heavy foot traffic, splashed chlorinated water from the pool, dust, and other factors that may compromise its safety, durability, and overall functionality. What’s more? These factors may deteriorate the surface, making it look dull and spoiling the overall appeal of your pool.

2. Moisture Damage

Here’s an interesting fact! Cannonball is the most popular way used to jump into the pool. While that’s a fun fact, cannonballs splash a lot of water around, gradually damaging the pool structure and surrounds.

Because the pool deck is constantly wet the risk of moisture-induced damage to the surface and the subfloor is high. Moisture can cause the following issues –

  • Mold and Mildew

If left unattended, the water trapped beneath the pool deck surfacing can promote mold and mildew growth. Several studies have shown that prolonged exposure to mold can cause respiratory disorders like mold-induced asthma, allergies, and upper respiratory tract infections. Moisture also augments the proliferation of black and green algae that can discolor surfaces like wood and masonry.

  • Weakened Foundation

Excessive moisture causes irreversible damage to the foundation of the pool. Water entering the subfloor weakens the foundation, soon leading to large cracks.

  • Structural decay

This is common among pool decks using wood. The water seeping through the floor can affect the framing component and cause them to rot or decay.

3. Subject to High UV Radiation

Pool deck surfaces, especially the ones made with wood, concrete, and masonry, are prone to damage caused by the harsh ultraviolet rays.

For instance, UV damage to a wooden pool deck may change the color of the surface to gray. Though the wooden surface appears rustic and natural, it’s an early sign of UV damage to the wood fibers. When water splashes on this damaged surface, the wood will further deteriorate, rot, and invite mold and cracks.

Similarly, when left untreated, the harmful UV rays can gradually break the polymer bonds in concrete. This results in the formation of fine dust on the surface and even cracks that weaken the integrity of the surface.

4. Needs Constant Cleaning

Pool decks are constantly exposed to water and heavy foot traffic. As a result, the area can easily collect grime, mold, algae, and caked-on dirt. What’s more? Food and cola spills are quite common on decks, causing the surface to look stained and dirty in no time.

Choosing an Ideal Pool Deck Safety Surfacing: Factors to Consider

Areas that are damp or outright wet like the pool surrounds, pose a variety of challenges. This makes it tough to choose an ideal flooring option that’s not susceptible to mold, mildew, rot, or mechanical damage due to water, sunlight, and general wear and tear.

Generally, flooring made using inorganic materials are considered to be better for wet areas in comparison to the ones using organic materials. Organic surfacing materials are plant-based (like wood) and can easily decompose when subjected to moisture.

On the other hand, inorganic surfacing materials (like vinyl or ceramic tiles) are largely immune to moisture. However, not all surfacing materials are 100 percent organic or inorganic. Therefore, this criterion isn’t enough for deciding on an ideal flooring option for a wet deck.

Let’s look at a few factors that need to be considered when choosing a suitable pool deck safety surfacing.

1. Surface Traction

Wet surface traction is an important consideration when opting for a pool deck flooring. Several surfaces like concrete and masonry offer great traction when dry but do not work well in the perenially wet conditions like that of a pool surround. Most floorings get slippery when wet, increasing the risk of slips and falls, especially in kids and seniors.

On the other hand, rubber pool decking surfaces (sometimes referred to as rubber pool coping) offer great traction in dry and wet conditions. Textured rubber surfaces are also available for additional grip. This makes rubber surfacing a versatile option for a variety of locations.

Make sure you choose a pool decking surface that’s skid-resistant, enabling everyone to have an enjoyable time while staying safe.

2. Durability

Pools are busy areas. High foot traffic, kids jumping around, and seniors with mobility aids means a high degree of wear and tear. All these factors can deteriorate the surface, reducing its traction, moisture-resisting capacity, and curb appeal.

The pool decking surface you choose should be able to withstand all this weathering. Failing to choose a durable flooring option can cause your deck to look dull and shabby within a few months of installation, attracting heavy repair and maintenance costs.

Opt for a pool deck surface that’s high-performance, sturdy, and resilient to the routine wear and tear and intensive activities, allowing you to get the maximum returns on your investment.

3. Waterproof and Moisture Resistance

We’ve already discussed the irreparable damage moisture can cause to the subfloor and the pool’s foundation. Merely using a water-resistant surface will allow frequent saturation, damaging the surface and the subfloor in the long term.

Hence, all wet areas, including the pool decking, should use a surface that’s not just resistant to moisture but also waterproof.

4. Resistant to Mold/ Mildew/ Algae/ Microbes

Wet areas are an ideal setting for the proliferation of bacteria, fungi, and algae. Thus, installing a surface like brick, travertine, or limestone can easily accumulate microbes, moss, grime, and algae deposits, making it unhygienic and unsafe to walk or lie on. Similarly, wood surfacing, when not maintained adequately, is prone to mold and mildew.

Thus, the pool decking surface you install should be resistant to such microbial growth. Rubber rock pool decks, for instance, are made using rubber which is naturally moisture resistant and inhospitable to molds and other microorganisms.

5. Easy Underfoot

Most surfaces like stone or bricks are textured and coarse. Though this coarseness makes the surface skid-resistant to some extent, it can be tough on the underfoot, causing foot injuries and abrasions, especially when people move around with their wet and bare feet.

Go for a surface that’s easy on your foot and offers adequate support to your feet, allowing you to have a fun and relaxing time with your pool mates.

6. Easy to Clean and Maintain

Cleaning and upkeeping a heavy-traffic area like the pool deck isn’t easy. On any given day, dirt, dust, grime, and food spills are easily tracked across the deck when people walk around, pulling down the overall appeal of the area.

Hence, in such heavy foot-traffic and mess-prone area, you need a surfacing that’s easy to clean and maintain.

7. UV Protection

We already discussed the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation on the pool deck surface. To avoid such damage, you require a surface that’s highly UV stable and doesn’t deteriorate even in strong sunlight.

8. Attractive Appeal

Besides ensuring the safety of its users, a pool deck is supposed to offer a pleasant and inviting space for all. The ambiance of a space plays a critical role in elevating the mood of the occupants. Therefore, opt for a surfacing that complements the overall decor and creates a pleasing atmosphere for your guests and loved ones. 

The Top Pool Deck Surfacing Materials Compared

1. Stone

A wide selection of stone types is available for pool deck surfacing. Sandstone, limestone, and granite are the most popular ones. Stone flooring offers several earthy hues.

Pros

  • Stone surfacing looks stylish and easily complements the overall pool decor
  • It’s tough and durable
  • A few stone surfaces like sandstone are coarse or naturally-textured, making them a suitable slip-resistant surface for pool decks

Cons

  • Installing stone surfaces is an expensive affair, especially because grout and adhesives are required
  • Some stones like limestone need a lot of maintenance to enhance their look and downplay their porosity

2. Concrete

Since concrete makes a fairly smooth surface to walk on, is economical, and available in various colors, most pool deck owners prefer this surfacing. However, this surface doesn’t come without its limitations.

Pros

  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Doesn’t heat up much in summer
  • Economical option compared to other surfaces

Cons

  • Concrete is porous. Over time, large cracks may appear due to weather changes, soil issues, and leakages
  • Concrete surfaces are tough on the underfoot
  • Concrete isn’t slip-resistant; hence, it can cause serious injuries in case of a fall
  • It requires texturing and stamping to make the surface slip-resistant. That’s an extra cost!

3. Engineered Wood

Engineered wood is sturdy and can stand up to long periods of puddling but not in the long term. The pool deck receives constant spills and splashes. This water tends to seep through the surface if not wiped off.

Pros

  • They look aesthetically pleasing and are available in a wide variety of patterns and colors
  • It’s a comfortable surface to walk and lie on

Cons

  • Are prone to water damage. The surface requires frequent maintenance
  • May invite bigger problems like rot, mold, and mildew
  • May get slippery if not routinely sealed with fine aggregate
  • Tend to get damaged when exposed to long hours of harsh sunlight
  • Depending on the type of wood you choose, the wooden pool deck surfacing is expensive

4. Bricks

Bricks have been used in construction for over five thousand years. Being highly durable, they are an ideal choice for all kinds of outdoor construction.

Pros

  • Brick is durable and can withstand heavy traffic
  • Its terracotta color renders an interesting and attractive appeal to the area. It’s also available in a variety of hues

Cons

  • Bricks can get slippery in wet conditions
  • Since brick is porous, it tends to gather moss, making it look stained. Brick surfaces demand regular cleaning and maintenance

5. Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic tiles are a great choice for areas where water puddling is common. However, the tiles have grout seams between them which can offer avenues for moisture to seep into the subfloor.

Pros

  • The tile itself is resistant to water but may allow water to seep beneath through the grout seams
  • Available in a variety of patterns and textures

Cons

  • Ceramic tiles aren’t slip-resistant
  • Can cause serious fall injuries hence aren’t safe, especially with kids and seniors around

6. Rubber Surfacing

A rubber pool deck surface scores over all the surfaces mentioned so far. That’s because rubber surfacing is skid-proof, waterproof, easy to install, absorbs shocks (in case of a fall or intensive activity), durable, easy to clean, and requires little maintenance.

What’s more? Rubber pool deck surfaces are available in a wide range of appealing colors and can be customized according to the overall pool decor. If your pool gets direct sunlight through the day, you can opt for rubber surfaces with superior UV protection rubber surfacing or UV-stable polyurethane resins. This prevents the color from fading in extreme sunlight.

Pros

  • Non-skid surface even in wet conditions, making it a safe option for pool decks
  • High resilience to wear and tear
  • Poor host to microbes, rot, mold, and algae
  • It’s easy to clean
  • Available in a wide range of colors

Cons

  • It has a distinct rubber-like smell when newly installed. However, the smell fades away in a few weeks
  • The upfront cost of installing a rubber pool decking may seem high but the long-term return on investment is high

FAQs on Pool Deck Surfacing

1. What’s the best material for pool deck surfacing?

Surfacing materials, such as wood, concrete, rubber, and stone are used for building the area around the pool. However, when choosing an ideal surface, consider factors like safety, resistance to moisture and stains, ease of cleaning, low maintenance, and budget.

Choose a flooring option that satisfies most of these criteria. For instance, a rubber pool deck surfacing ticks all these requirements. It also offers a comfortable and forgiving surface compared to other materials, allowing you to spend an enjoyable and stress-free pool time with your loved ones.

2. Can I resurface my pool and deck at the same time?

Usually, the pool and the deck do not wear at the same time. However, if your pool area needs a facelift, you can get in touch with Rubcorp’s team of experts who will critically evaluate your pool and suggest the best solution. Talking to an expert surfacing firm can save you consultation, material, and labor costs.

3. Can I go DIY with my pool deck surfacing?

Surfacing the pool deck requires expertise and experience in handling the materials used. For instance, installing rubber decking for pools is a complex process involving steps like application assessment, measuring and estimating, knowing the mixing ratios and environmental adjustments, and surface preparation.

Even a small mistake could mean irreversible damage to the deck. It demands attention to detail which is only possible when professional rubber decking installers are on the job.

Make sure you involve an expert who’s experienced in pool deck building.

4. What’s the cost of installing a rubber pool deck?

Contractors usually consider several factors, namely the surface area of the pool, the size of the deck, the current condition of the area, access to your property, and the slope around the area (for adequate drainage) before coming to a number.

If you are planning a rubber pool deck resurfacing, get in touch with our team on YourSurface@rubcorp.com. We will propose a tailored solution to improve your area’s functionality and appeal at the best price possible.

5. How can we account for water drainage in pool deck surfacing?

Pool deck surfaces are constantly bombarded with water. Therefore, regardless of the surfacing you go for, it’s wise to account for adequate water drainage, thus preventing water puddles. An expert surfacing contractor understands this and will design for maximum water drainage.

The rubber pool deck surfaces that our team installs allow water to drain through the surface, thus preventing slips and falls.

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We have completed pool decking projects for Olympic-sized swimming pools, water parks, and indoor and outdoor pools across the US. Tell us about your requirements and our team will work with you to improve the longevity, functionality, and attractive appeal of your pool.

Summing Up

For most Americans, social life is synonymous with poolside living. However, when creating an outdoor entertainment space by the pool, you need to install a safe and functional flooring that allows everyone to have a fun time. Use the information shared in this post to choose a suitable pool decking surface that best meets your needs.

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Creative Director, Rubcorp Distribution, LLC

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