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Planning for an Aboveground Pool Deck

Investing in an aboveground pool provides your family with years of affordable recreation right in the backyard. But your new pool needs a well designed aboveground pool deck to provide safe, easy access to inexpensive relaxation. Homeowners must plan carefully for this addition, incorporating a deck into the overall landscape and ensuring the structure has adequate support and safety features.

Planning for a Seamless Landscape

The ideal deck design creates a smooth transition between the pool and all areas around it. Several design tricks can be used to achieve this effect, including:

  • Multiple levels - the main deck is installed level with the pool coping, allowing for quick access into the water. Incorporate additional levels to ease the transition between a higher pool deck and the balance of your yard.
  • Wraparound stairs - similar to multiple levels, wraparound stairs provide a visual and physical path onto the lawn or patio around your aboveground pool. Choose a corner of the pool and build stairs at a 45-degree angle, down to grade.
  • Matching building materials - if your aboveground pool deck is built from a composite product, use the same building materials in other areas of your yard for a cohesive look. Add an overhead feature in composite, or install composite railings around a porch or patio near the back door. If your yard includes a treated wood deck, use that material in other areas as well.
  • Curved profile - rounded and wavy profiles help distinct areas to melt together. Design a curved edge on your aboveground pool deck or lay down a wavy stone pathway. Even rounded furniture can be used to create attractive lines and transitions.
  • Gardens and planters - use flowers, shrubs and ornamental grasses to soften transitions between the pool deck and your yard. Coordinating colors and carrying a garden theme through from yard to deck helps to create a cohesive yard that's comfortable in every corner.

Basic Designs

Most aboveground pool decks surround the pool, providing maximum points of access. Install at least a three-foot wide walkway around the pool for a comfortable path. A larger area for seating can be included on one end of the pool; aim for an area at least 100 square feet in size, providing enough room for a patio dining set.

Create a private space on your pool deck with 5-foot high wooden or composite screen. Add a decorative topper for aesthetics or extend the posts and install a scrolled beam to hang potted plants and other outdoor accessories. A privacy screen helps to block your neighbour's view, reduces wind and provides a space to hang your pool cleaning equipment. Installing privacy screens around the perimeter of your pool deck will create a dark, boxed-in feeling. Opt for strategic placement instead, and enjoy a spacious outdoor living area.

Key Elements of Support

Local building code dictates the size and location of deck piers. Always follow codes and apply for building permits where applicable; this ensures your pool area complies with local laws. Concrete piers or floating deck blocks can be used to support the deck framing, which is most often made from 2x6 or 2x8 lumber. Generally 2x6 or 5/4x6 boards are used for the decking, and 4x4 or 6x6 posts support the railing.

The support structure of pool decks differs from standard decks in several ways. Unlike standard decks that are attached to the house using a ledger board, pool decks stand alone in the yard. They are installed flush with the pool coping and around the pool walls, but are not attached to the pool in any way. This helps to maintain both structures over the years, since frost and other weather conditions tend to result in movement.

Stainless steel or hot dipped galvanized fasteners should be used to ensure durability. Pool decks run a greater risk of corrosion damage, and investing in stronger, more durable fasteners is wise. Support brackets (such as joist hangers and carriage bolts) represent a small portion of the overall budget, and upgrading to stainless steel could significantly extend the life of your deck.

Safety Features

Keep your family safe and sound while enjoying your new aboveground pool with vital safety features. Railings, locking gates and stairs are essential elements in any deck design, but play an important role in pool decks.

Most local bylaws demand a 42-inch high railing be installed around an aboveground pool deck. This helps to prevent people from falling off of the deck surface, as well as eliminating the ability to climb into the pool from below. Spacing for the railing pickets varies, but 4-inches on center tends to be a good guideline.

Your railing posts should be securely fastened to the deck framing, unless you've opted to install metal posts with flanges. Wider top rails can be used for resting drinks and pool tools, but the space between top and bottom rail should be “unclimbable,” spacing determined by the local building authorities.

Add railing gates to keep young kids, pets and uninvited guests out of the pool. Install locks to keep this area secure when not in use, and consider locking your perimeter fence as well.

Stairs should be easily climbable, with low rises (height of the step) and wide runs (depth of the step). Consider installing extra wide steps, at least 4 to 5-feet across, with secure handrails. This design makes it easier for swimmers of any age to climb up to and down from the pool deck.

Design and build an attractive, affordable and functional backyard with a new aboveground pool deck. Keep safety features in mind and consider how to transition smoothly between your deck and the surrounding landscape. With the help of an experienced professional, a new deck will help your family make the most of an aboveground pool, enjoying months of outdoor fun and fitness in a safe, comfortable atmosphere.

Posted by: diana
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