The area around your pool should be beautiful and inviting, a comfortable gather for family, an inspiration to neighbors and guests. A design element of the home, the area surrounding the pool is an opportunity to show off exquisite style, provide comforting convenience, and increase the value of a property. To this intention, add building materials that embody practicality, durability, and safety.
Pool Surround Solutions Abound
Educated homeowners are no longer content with the cookie-cutter look for the standard pool deck or backyard pool surround. They want this part of their property, often used for entertaining, to be as attractive and show-worthy as the rest of the home with a minimum maintenance requirement. Manufacturers and builders have responded quite well to the challenge.
No longer limited to the standard and plain poured concrete, modern residents have the good fortune of selecting among a variety of pool surround solutions that can be customized to suite lifestyle, neighborhood feel, personal aesthetics, and price point.
When it is time to add or update the pool area, smart householders evaluate all of their options to select the best solution for the backyard.
Concrete has been the traditional material for use around the pool. It is quick to install, durable, and easy to maintain. Concrete areas near the pool have come a long way in design. While the standard smooth gray surface is still available, there are now decorative choices. One simple change is the addition of color. Colored or tinted concrete can be an attractive option that can be combined with additional elements, to customize an attractive pool patio or surround.
Stamped Concrete: The concrete is first given a base color, followed by an accent color. The accent color is carefully applied as a “release agent,” which appears through the top of the concrete, giving the product a unique, antiquated, or realistic look, as desired. Next, a pattern is stamped into the surface. This pattern may be purely decorative or contrived to resemble other building materials, such as seamless stone, slate, flagstone, or brick. Stamped concrete is often a cost-saving option when the goal is to create the look of a more expensive building material.
Engraved Concrete: Both new and existing concrete can be engraved, offering the advantage of an update to a current pool surround. Inheritance flaws can be covered with this process, and the variations they introduce may even add to the beauty of the final pattern. Engraving concrete requires a skilled professional using a specialized engraving machine to cut designs directly into the solid surface. Before the engraving process begins, new concrete is allowed to cure for at least four hours, while existing concrete is first throughly cleaned. Staining may be part of the process, if desired. Geometric patterns, logos, tile patterns, and artful designs are all possible with engraved concrete.
Acid Staining: This option also works with both new and existing concrete patios, although a more controlled result is often achieved with newer exteriors. This is because the process is one of a chemical reaction that takes advantage of the existing concrete’s minerals, some of which naturally leach out over time. A mixture of mineral salts, water and a small amount of muratic acid is applied and allowed to sit for one to four hours. The resulting reaction creates an organic and variegated appearance in earth tones that is quite unique and attractive.
Concrete Overlay: Resurfacing can be done to the current concrete around a pool with a concrete overlay. The coating may restore the appearance of an older, worn surface to that of new. Adding a polymer resin to the overlay material increases both the durability and the versatility of the result. A concrete overlay can be spread thick or thin, depending on the needs of the job; it can often be used for leveling and repair. Other techniques, such as “thin stamping” may also be applied. This is one of the most cost effective solutions to updating an older surround, although it may not have the same durability as some of the other options that are available.
Concrete Pavers: Paving stones made from concrete offers the advantages of the material with the added design element of forming gently curved configurations, with a lower cost in comparison to many natural stone options. More information about pavers appears in this article below.
Exposed Aggregate: A base of concrete is poured and then seeded or topped with a choice of pea gravel or crushed stone. The surface is then washed to expose the shapes and colors of the aggregate for interest. An affordable, durable, and attractive option, exposed aggregate can be rough on the naked foot, but highly slip resistant.
Concrete Advantages: Concrete, concrete overlay, stamped concrete, etched concrete, and exposed aggregate is long-lasting and more durable than many other building materials. Sealing the surface protects it from the natural elements as well as pool treatment chemicals of all types.
Concrete Disadvantages: This material may eventually crack. In addition, large jobs require multiple truck loads of material, and the colors among loads may not be an exact match. An experienced professional can reduce the negatives, building in the proper control joints to reduce the chance of cracking concrete, and working with multiple color lots to ensure the best outcome.
If you choose this option:
Paver Pool Patios
Pavers can be used in a variety of settings around the pool, including decks, the pathways leading to the pool, steps, and sitting walls. These elements can stand alone or blend well with the surrounding landscape. Interlocking pavers, also known as segmental pavers, are so called because each paver is held in place with its neighbor. Two elements help individual pavers become a beautiful long-lasting pool surround: the sand between joints, and the edge restraints that form the border of the area.
A number of options in pavers now exist, and pavers can be made of brick, concrete, natural stone, brick or rubber. The proper choice will depend on the three factors of style, local availability, and the project budget. A large part of the investment in pavers goes toward the cost of labor to place them.
Natural Stone Pavers: Discerning homeowners may choose the natural stone beauty of travertine pavers with added advantages in durability and natural non-slip surface. Natural stone options include: travertine, limestone, bluestone, marble, granite, sandstone and coral stone. Slate or flagstone, which is a common term used to describe any type of natural stone in a flat slab form, may offer further selections.
Travertine Pavers: A porous stone, travertine is not conducive to heat absorption, making it a comfortable and a literally cool way to construct a pool deck. Available colors in travertine include ivory, gold, walnut and red. Variations in the roughness of stone are available. Filled travertine, in which the pores of the stone are filled with grout, is another design option. Travertine is a form of limestone that is often described as offering an old world, rustic or Mediterranean look.
Limestone Pavers: This is an idea building material for the homeowner who desires a great deal of customization but prefers the timeless beauty of natural stone. Limestone is usually quarried locally, can be often be processed with specific cuts and shapes. It is available in a large variety of beautiful color choices including tan, brown, gray, yellow, blue, pink and black.
Bluestone Pavers: A popular paving material, bluestone offers durability in most climates. It features a beautiful blue dominant color that can include shades of brown, rust and green. These pavers can be ordered in either a dimensional or cut stone with straight edges, or an irregular stone to impart a more natural look.
Marble Pavers: A beautiful finish, a glowing translucency, and veins of color are the hallmarks of marble pavers. The design that uses marble denotes a sense of being both modern and yet timeless. Since it is best installed around the pool in a natural finish, it will age beautifully, gaining patina and color irregularities that will add a great deal of character.
Granite Pavers: Characterized by an extensive color range, granite is a popular stone that can offer a true variety of choice, making it ideal for a customized design, from natural to elegant settings. A highly durable material, it is one of the hardest stones available, offering a consistent look that will stand up to the elements for decades to come.
Sandstone Pavers: Composed of grains of quartz, sandstone is exceptionally hard wearing. Even in tone in either a tan or red hue, sandstone can cover a large area without concern for color matching. This consistency makes sandstone pavers ideal to offset a dramatically designed pool that features strong color and shape.
Coral Stone Pavers: Mostly used in the tropics because it absorbs a minimum of heat, coral stone may endure some environments with a freeze/thaw cycle. Benefits of using coral stone pavers around the pool include: a naturally non-slip surface, durability despite exposure to salt water or pool chemicals, and easy maintenance. The exotic look consists of coral, shell fossils, sand and limestone is unique and a conversation starter. Coral stone is also known as Coralina, fossil stone or keystone.
Brick: While the popularity of brick for a pool deck or pool surround has decreased somewhat this century, it may still be the best choice for homes with a strong historic tie to the material. Natural clay bricks will not fade in color, are environmentally friendly, and have a tendency to adjust themselves to movement in the underlying soil, preventing cracking of the pavement. Bricks are naturally slip resistant and one of the best materials for high trafficked and wet areas.
Rubber Pavers: An environmentally friendly product, rubber pavers are usually constructed from recycled rubber tires and manufactured responsibly, making this choice one for the eco-aware homeowner who also desires a durable product that can be customized through color and style. Interlocking rubber pavers creates a soft surface that is porous, self-draining (through the technique of strategically placed outlets), and nonskid. Brilliant cleaning usually requires nothing more than a garden hose, although a mild soap may also be used.
Paver Advantages: Pavers tend to be long-lasting, are non slippery, and do not crack. Expansion and repair is easy, as new matching pavers can be added in the future, as needed. Should work need to be done underneath the surface, individual pavers can be taken up, eliminating the need to completely replace the entire surface around the pool.
Paver Disadvantages: Correct installation is critical, otherwise, the pavers may settle and move over time. Colors and pattern selection may be limited, and variations in color for natural pavers cannot always be controlled.
If you choose this option:
Wood Decking Around the Pool
The warmth of wood decking is beautiful, especially when planks are placed in an attractive pattern, and a rich stain is used to enhance the natural grain. Highly customizable for almost any backyard or situation, wood decking is well-suited for above ground pools or raised spas. Wood can be sustainable, making it one of the best eco-friendly options for a pool deck.
Exotic Hardwood: Brazilian hardwood is a fine exotic hardwood that is idea for homeowners who wish for a natural, durable wood surface around a pool. It is characteristically resistant to moisture, rot, insects, wood wear and even fire. Popular species of exotic hardwood includes: Tigerwood, Brazilian Walnut, Brazilian Apiton, Brazilian Teak, and Garapa.
Cedar and Redwood: Rich and attractive in look, Cedar and Redwood decking have the advantage of laying flat, making these woods very lovely on first install. Cedar is soft and easily scratched, requiring extra care to maintain its beauty. Redwood has been declining in popularity, perhaps due to an increase in cost of this material. Location must be a consideration when choosing cedar or redwood for a pool deck or pool surround, as shade and moisture can be detrimental.
Pressure Treated Wood: Pressure treated lumber has been chemically infused to compensate for wood’s natural vulnerabilities for rot and insect damage. The process does not protect against normal weathering or corrosion. Modern manufacturers have stopped the use of toxic Chromated Copper Arsenic (CCA) in the process of manufactured wood, but reclaimed pressure treated wood, produced before 2003 should always be carefully sealed.
Wood Composite Decking: Wood composites, which bind wood fiber with plastic resins, offer the benefit of wood, while compensating for some of its disadvantages. Wood composite decking is available in several color choices.
Wood Advantages: Inexpensive, wood feels cool and comfortable on bare feet. Lightweight, it can be easily constructed into a multileveled deck, a cantilevered deck or a raised deck. A professional may be able to place wood decking on top of other existing surfaces.
Wood Disadvantages: Hot and moist environments may promote mold and decay. The wood may be subject to damage by termites. Maintenance can be time consuming. Splinters can be painful.
If you choose this option:
Professional Installation Advice
Installing a pool surround or pool deck may be best handled by a professional who has the experience working with the chosen material, enhancing its advantages, compensating for its disadvantages, and allowing for the confines of the homeowners location.
Research: Conducting background research on potential contractors is important. Reference checks are a necessity.
Quotes: Homeowners should seek out several price bids and eliminate those that fall too high or low of the general range. Quotes should not be assumed to be binding.
Company Requirements: Proof that the company is licensed and insured should always be confirmed before any work begins.