3 Types of Above-Ground Pool Decks that Make Your Pool Fun Again
A typical above-ground pool is elevated above grade at three feet or so. To allow you to climb into that pool, most will come with the standard clumsy ladder. It does get you into the pool … but not much else. An above-ground pool deck makes all the difference between getting a new pool and creating a fantastic pool experience you’ll enjoy all summer long.
The New Pool Dream
You can picture it now: Your new above-ground pool is ready to use! You climb that ladder and hop in. Ahhhhh, cool, clear water, the kids are happy, laughter and fun brighten the warm summer air.
Oh, wait, they forgot their pool noodles. You climb back down the ladder and grab some, then struggle up the ladder again holding the awkward pool noodles. Yuck, they’re kind of grassy from sitting on the ground and now that grass is in your pool.
After a while, you’re ready to climb out and relax in the sun. But, now you can’t see the kids. Are they playing nicely? Was that a shriek of laughter or something else? You climb back up (again) to see. Man, those ladder rungs don’t feel that good on your feet. OK, the kids are fine, you back down to relax.
Seriously, they want something again? Back up the ladder one more time ... ouch! Your foot slips on the wet rung and you bang your shin. This is getting really tedious.
That scenario, repeated day after day, starts to degrade that fun, happy, pool experience you dreamed of. You worry about their safety when you can’t see them; you fuss about the extra grass and leaves floating around; and if that ball goes sailing over the edge one more time, it’ll just have to stay there!
Above-Ground Pool Decks Make the Dream a Reality
What’s missing? It’s the above-ground pool deck: a place to lounge, monitor the swimmers, store pool toys, and wrangle wandering items that would otherwise end up falling three feet below.
In my experience, most people don’t give the pool deck enough forethought during the above-ground pool-purchasing process. Trust me, you’re going to want a better way to enjoy the benefits of a pool than that clumsy ladder.
Over the last decade of designing and building decks, I have learned that, more than likely, the pool deck will cost you more than the pool did. Most people want composite decking -- splinters in your feet from wood decking are never fun -- and you’re going to end up needing more space than you think you will. Think floats, toys, lounge chairs, space to cannonball from and move around. All this stuff really takes up a lot of space.
Along with that, there are pool code requirements that you have to meet if your backyard is not fenced with a pool-compliant fence, and possibly homeowner’s association requirements.
Three Pool Deck Options
Here are three approaches that you might consider for your above the ground pool deck:
1. Small Platforms
This type focuses on a set of stairs leading to a small deck that serves as a comfortable platform to get in and out of the pool. Maybe there’s room for a lifeguard chair, but not much else. It’s the least expensive, but with this approach you concede recreational space. You’ll need other areas in the yard where you’ll hang out.
2. Partial Pool Decks
The next step up curves around the pool without completely encircling it. This will give you some recreational space on the deck, but you will not be able to walk around the whole thing -- and you can bet those pool toys will find their way over the edge on that side of the pool. If you go this route, I recommend creating some expansion plans for encircling the whole thing in the future.
3. Complete Surround Pool Deck
This option comes the closest to the convenience and look of an inground pool. You’ll always have access to every side of the pool. You can space the lounge chairs out comfortably. The kids won’t lose their balls in the yard. Everything stays out of the grass, which means that more of the grass and debris stays out of the pool. Naturally, we leave access panels for pool maintenance equipment and such. This approach will be the costliest.
Whatever your goals are, partner with your deck builder early -- before you install the pool. This will allow the pool to be placed ideally to enable the ideal pool deck design for your needs. A lot of time there is some wiggle room in where exactly you place the pool, and at what elevation as well.
Start the pool deck design process as early as you can for the best results. You’ll be using that pool for years -- make that experience as fun and relaxing as you’re dreaming it will be.