In the past few years, one of my not-so-infrequent jobs has been to perform renovations on poolside patio areas. Very often, this has simply involved patching concrete, restoring tiles, and splashing on some new paint. With increasing frequency, though, I’ve found myself repairing and replacing poolside decking that has become waterlogged, rotten, moldy, and cooked by the sun—one particular property combined all of these things… along with rust lines that ran into the pool, in just 100 square feet of space!
There are few things more pleasurable than enjoying a pool on a warm summer’s day. An important part of that experience is the area around the pool—the place where people lounge, tan, bask, and get a running head start on their cannonball. Having a deck by a pool is both comfortable and practical. However, keeping the deck in good shape offers challenges. The biggest consideration with poolside decking is water resistance, followed closely by UV resistance. Fully-capped bamboo composite decking provides excellent water and UV resistance, giving the deck a long life with little maintenance.
Bamboo Composite and Moisture Resistance
Moisture is one of the prime weathering elements a deck will face. When water penetrates a decking board it will expand and warp the board, often doing so where the screws are sunk in—causing the rust lines described above. When using wooden decking, moisture is kept at bay through choosing highly moisture-resistant woods, and through the thorough application of a sealer every year or every other year, depending on the climate. Even expensive moisture-resistant rainforest woods paired with diligent sealing will begin to deteriorate more quickly within 20 years, typically requiring fundamental repairs.
Most composite decking incorporates plastic and sawdust filler that would otherwise be headed for a landfill. Recently, some manufacturers have begun using bamboo flour to replace sawdust, as bamboo flour produces a more water-resistant board than sawdust. Much of this improved water resistance derives from the fact that sawdust particles tend to clump together in the manufacturing process. When they clump, they create moisture-absorbent pockets that draw water into the board. Bamboo doesn’t clump together in this fashion. Instead, it mixes more evenly with the plastic, causing fewer of the problems related to moisture absorption (like warping and rotting).
Moss, Mildew, and Algae Resistance of Composite Decking
Moss, mildew, and algae all love moisture, especially places where moisture is caught in shallow pools and puddles. This happens frequently with porous surfaces such as masonry, concrete, and wood, especially if there is any shade present in the pool area, or if the regional climate has plenty of overcast days. While there are a variety of ways to keep these organisms at bay and off the deck, there are some decking materials that require far less effort. Perhaps the best example is composite decking that is fully encased in a rigid, impermeable plastic cap. Since water neither penetrates nor is prone to forming pools on top of the plastic capping, moss, mildew, and algae are unable to get a foothold. If any does form on the surface, it can simply be scrubbed off.
Composite Decking That Provides Traction
Good traction is obviously very important right next to a pool. With that in mind, I’ve put in plenty of grooved concrete next to pools, but I also haven’t had any concerns with using the right kind of composite decking. While early generations of composite decking and vinyl decking did indeed have the reputation for being slick, the industry has made great strides on this issue. There are now companies that are producing a capped board surface that is impermeable to water but that also possesses a slightly rubbery texture capable of gripping wet bare feet.
Sometimes my clients end up as friends who invite me to their house, which allows me to keep a close watch on my previous projects (and enjoy the pool while I’m at it). The pool decks that I have switched to composite decking have by far required the least attention and maintenance work, saving their owners time and money. These days, whenever I am asked to do a new build, fully-capped bamboo composite decking is one of the first materials to come to mind. One of the better bamboo composite products out there is Infinity Decking, produced by Fortress Deck. Like most of their other building products, it’s extremely durable, attractive, and easy to both install and maintain.