Above ground pools are highly desired for their ease of installation but can be awkward to enter and exit. Most above ground pools are accessed with a single precarious ladder that can be difficult to climb. Installing an above ground pool deck is the obvious solution.
Above ground pool decks are built either by contractors or by using plans. Building one yourself can be a rewarding experience, allowing for easy access to the pool as well as a great place to sunbathe in a lounge chair. Three basic parts make up the above ground pool deck: the floor, stairs, and railing.
Erecting above ground pool decks is often the domain of professional builders. As an alternative, homeowners and diy’s can opt to purchase a pre-built kit which only requires minimal skills to assemble.
If you are looking for a unique and luxurious aesthetic, and you know exactly what you are after, we recommend reaching out to a talented designer to help you build your above ground pool deck.
Either way, make sure you plan the construction fully and down to the last detail to make sure it is going to work as you anticipate. This article aims to serve as a guide for picking out the best materials, style, and design suitable for you and your outdoor needs.
Swimming pool decks can surround a pool or just be partly around it. Remember it’s the pool that determines the features of the deck and not the other way around. It may be circular, or it can be square and have corners, or even have an irregular shape to follow, e.g. a kidney-shaped pool.
Step 1: Create the Floor Foundation
The floor for the deck is created by suspending many trapezoidal wooden segments above the ground next to the pool. The segments are fashioned into trapezoids so that they form a curve when placed end-to-end. You need to make enough segments to cover the entire perimeter of the pool.
Step 2: Set the Posts
The segments will be suspended in the air flush with the pool rim through the use of posts and concrete blocks. Special concrete blocks which have an insert for 4×4 posts are laid on the ground next to the pool. The ground should be even, but you don’t need to cut down the grass. The center of the blocks closest to the pool wall should be 12 inches away from the wall. The blocks farther away from the wall should be 18 inches away from the center of the other block.
Place a 4×4 post into the socket in one concrete block. Use a yardstick to mark a line on the post at the height of the pool rim. Then, lower the mark on the post by the thickness of the decking and floor frame. Now you can cut all of your posts to this length and place them into the durable concrete blocks.
Step 3: Set the Frame
The frame segments will be attached to the posts using 2.5-inch screws driven in at an angle. The very last segment installed will need to be custom cut. The vertical posts suspending the segments will need to be reinforced with angled wood beams. However, if your deck is less than 30 inches high, these reinforcements are not needed.
Step 4: Lay the Decking
Many deck boards are cut on one end slid underneath the rim of the pool. The deck boards are secured to the deck frame using long screws driven directly downward. After the boards are put into place, the ends are cut off to the appropriate length.
Step 5: Guard Rails
Guard rails are created by placing vertical on the deck surface and putting fence segments in between. You can learn more about this in our deck railing article.
Step 6: Deck Stairs
We also have an article about deck stairs which you can read.
Above Ground Pool Deck Considerations
When designing your above ground pool deck, there are several considerations to keep in mind other than just the design of the deck. Every detail from the materials, the available space, and the complimentary style of the deck with the rest of the yard are all things to take note of when designing and building the ideal pool deck for the space.
- Size of Area
- Complimentary Style
Choosing Materials for Your Deck
There are advantages and disadvantages for many materials that you may like to use for the structure. Most people choose wood for their above ground pool decks mainly due to its natural beauty, flexibility, and the degree of resilience it offers.
Plastics and aluminum are other materials that are gaining in popularity. These materials off far less in the way of problems and they can also withstand the harsh effects of the environment with very minimal maintenance throughout the year. However, aluminum decks can cost a fortune and plastic decks may appear to be cheaply made depending on the brand and quality of the build.
Pressure-treated timber offers a less expensive option, but it is predisposed to warping and not quite as good to look at. When not properly cared for, this material can end up cracking and can undergo discoloration from the water and sun over time. But again, these issues can be avoided with proper care and maintenance throughout the year.
Considering the Size of Your Installation Area
Make sure you take into account the size of the area where the deck will be placed and its relationship with the surroundings. It is better not to use the whole yard if possible, think about what you want to keep as your lawn, for example.
A smaller deck that is approximately 12 feet by 12 feet will be able to handle a round table and a larger deck offers much more space and can get to be upwards of 400 square feet depending on the available space. You should also keep in mind that decks are usually wider than they are deep meaning that the longer part of the deck is what will run along the house.
Does Your Deck Idea Compliment Your Home’s Existing Style?
Another thing to consider is how your deck will look with your existing home. This may reflect on the overall value of your home, so keep in mind. A deck that seems out of place may lower the price of the house when it’s time to put it on the property market. Traditional architecture works well with wood as do houses with more modern designs.
There are a lot of factors that have to be considered when planning to build a pool deck but the process is generally a whole lot easier when you check off the information above.
In a nutshell, ensure that the structure will blend well with the house and its surroundings and also, it should be made of high-quality materials that can last for many years.
If You Can’t Afford a DIY Above Ground Pool Deck…
While it’s our preference to build a full deck for your above ground pool (for safety, aesthetics, and ease of use), we also know that not everyone has the time or resources to go this route.
If you’ve already made up your mind to install a ladder, be sure to read the rest of this post.
Above Ground Pool Deck – Ladders
Above ground pool ladders provide a way for people to enter and exit their pool with ease. Without the addition of a ladder, entering a large above ground pool can be quite hard, not to mention dangerous. These ladders have several steps that users walk on to get inside the pool. A set of handlebars minimizes the chances of slipping.
There are several basic types of ladders, each of which works with a different kind of pool setup. If an above ground deck is present, users will only need a single ladder positioned inside the pool on the edge of the deck. If the pool stands freely, a ladder will be needed on both the outside and inside of the pool. Let’s look into these ladders in greater detail.
For pools that have soft sides, an A-frame ladder is a must. Since the walls of these pools are too soft to support the weight, A-frame ladders act as a bridge over the top. The ladder is installed by placing it over the edge of the pool. This puts steps on both the inside and outside of the pool for easy entry and exit.
Metal ladders are made from aluminum and typically have ABS plastic steps. Aluminum will not rust in water, making it safe to use in a poolside atmosphere. Ladders made completely of plastic are also available. People concerned about the ladder’s legs scratching or ripping the pool liner can use a special ladder pad for protection.
Always match the height of the ladder with the height of the side walls. The wall should not touch the ladder when installed. Choosing between a ladder with handrails and one without them is a matter of preference. Hand rails improve safety which can be important for young children or the elderly.
Hard Sided Pools
One-sided ladders can be used on hard sided pools because the wall is capable of supporting the weight. One-sided ladders lean up against the pool wall and can be placed inside or outside the pool. These ladders often have a loop on the top which grips the pool to keep it in place.
For pools with a slanted or uneven bottom, an above ground pool ladder with a pivoting bottom is recommended as to reduce stress on the liner. When using a one-sided ladder, users must decide whether entering or exiting the pool is more difficult and place the ladder on the more difficult side. A-frame above ground pool ladders can also be used on hard sided pools.
Above Ground Pools with Decks
An above ground pool with a deck can make use of a one-sided ladder for exiting the pool, and another for entering the deck. If the deck does not come with an entry ladder, a one-sided ladder can be leaned up against it. Another one-sided ladder can be placed inside the pool for exiting to the deck.
Free-standing deck sets are available that combine the above ground swimming pool ladders and a small deck in one package. Simply assemble the deck at the poolside for an instant deck and ladder setup.
The first thing you will have to do is measure your pool so you can accurately determine the diameter and the height of your pool. Having these measurements will help you figure out the appropriate deck size you will need for your pool.
When choosing the decking you are going to be using to improve your outdoor living space, make sure to keep in mind the pros and cons of each material type and the maintenance time you are willing to put in to care for it throughout the year.
Building the deck yourself can definitely save you some money, but you need to make sure to arm yourself with all the information you need to successfully complete a safe and stable deck for your pool that will add value to the home and last your family for years.