Above-ground pools have plenty of advantages: They’re less expensive to build than in-ground pools, less permanent, and they generally require less work than their in-ground counterparts (if anything, because they’re usually smaller in volume).
But they have their downsides, too, one being that they’re slightly difficult to get in and out of since you have to climb a ladder—it’s just not as simple as jumping in, or as relaxing as sitting along the side and dangling your legs in the water. Plus, if you don’t have a deck, that means your guests are walking straight from the yard, up the ladder, and right into the pool, bringing with them whatever muddy mess they just walked through (and between splashing and weather, it can get very muddy around an above-ground pool).
There’s a simple way to upgrade your above-ground pool: build a pool deck. Installing a deck around your above-ground pool is a fairly straightforward way to make your pool more accessible and more enjoyable. Whether you build a deck all the way around your above-ground pool or just along one side, the extra space will give you and your guests a place to sunbathe and hang out at water level. Plus, guests who enter via a deck don’t have to walk right in from the (possibly muddy) lawn, which means your pool will stay cleaner and your sanitizer and filtration system won’t have to work as hard.
Hire a Contractor to Build the Deck
Unless you’re a pretty adept carpenter who happens to have a lot of free time, it’s often best to hire a professional to build a deck around your above-ground pool. Most pool decks can’t be completed in just a weekend, and they also involve a good amount of structural engineering and designing (and cement pouring), so unless you’re positive you’re ready for that sort of undertaking, it’s worth the money to hire a professional.
The right contractor will work with you to understand how you’ll want to use the deck (A luxurious oasis where you can set up a patio table and grill for pool-side dining, perhaps? Or just a simple splash ledge with some stairs that’s easier to use than the ladder?). They can design a few options that meet your needs and any local building codes. That’s right—while above-ground pools on their own usually don’t require any sort of permits because they’re not permanent structures, building a deck may be a different story; you’ll want to make sure you do things by the book. Decks are subject to very specific construction guidelines about guardrail and railing heights (they’re two different things; railings run along a set of stairs, guardrails run around the edges of the deck itself).
Building code guidelines will also govern baluster placement, stair tread sizing, grade of the ground below the deck, how the deck is constructed, and more. A good contractor will know the local deck building codes and be able to save you from having to research those yourself. Additionally, a professional contractor with experience in these sorts of projects should be well-versed in the specific requirements of a pool deck and will know to account for those long-term requirements, like making sure it’s still possible to change the pool liner without damaging the deck (it’s a common mistake that many DIYers make).
Cost of Building a Deck Around Your Pool
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to building your above-ground pool deck. There are a variety of factors to consider that will affect the price tag of the final project, both regarding your property and the style and size of the deck you decide to build. For instance, the slope of your yard and surrounding landscaping will play a factor in construction.
Then of course, there’s style. How big is your deck? Are you going to build-up a privacy wall—say with wood lattice?—on one or many sides? Are you going to add built-in benches or maybe an area for a grill? All these decisions add to the price tag (though sometimes, they’ll also save elsewhere; money invested in benches is money saved on patio furniture).
Best Materials to Use for this Project
The most common option is wood. Building your above-ground pool deck out of wood offers plenty of opportunities to customize the look, from the type of wood you choose, to stain or paint color, to the pattern in which you decide to lay the planks. Just know that wood requires upkeep. You’ll have to protect it with a weatherproofing, sealant, and reseal it every few years, too, depending on the weather in your region and how you use your deck—the same goes for repainting or restraining as the color starts to fade.
Another material that’s gaining popularity is engineered composite wood. Composite is a manufactured material made from a blend of organic fibers, like wood (or sometimes straw) and synthetic materials, like recycled plastics. The resulting material often has the look of wood, but it’s stronger, hardier, and often more weather resistant.
Your contractor can help you pick the best material for your new above-ground pool deck, based on your budget and entertaining needs.