Growing up during a hot Midwest summer, when there wasn’t a lake to plunge into, I’d find a pool, somewhere, anywhere. Most of those pool plunges were preceded by a short climb up a ladder or stairs, because of the relative popularity of above ground pools in my neck of the woods.
Some of these pools had a small deck or platform connected to them, and I’ve built and repaired a few of these above ground pool decks for friends and clients. My experience has brought me to the conclusion that a good composite decking material is the best thing there is to stand up to the four-season weathering Iowa has to dish out. Due to its high level of moisture resistance and a surface texture that provides grippiness even when wet, fully capped bamboo composite decking is an excellent choice for an above ground pool deck. In this post I’ll explain why this is, as well as the attributes to look for in the best composite decking.
In the Midwest, between the winter snow, the spring rains, and the heavy summer thunderstorms, moisture resistance is at the top of the list of maintenance concerns. Add to that the fact that a poolside deck is a moist place, even when the moisture isn’t caused by ill-advised cannonball dives and long games of Marco Polo. A bigger cause of moisture moving onto the deck may be the condensation of water vapor that evaporates from the pool. That moisture finds its way onto the underside of the decking boards in particular.
Regular wooden deck boards usually have their underside stained and sealed once, if at all, which leaves them pretty unprotected, and can lead to warping and board deterioration when moisture collects there. This is where fully capped composite decking is helpful. The ‘full cap’ I keep mentioning is a protective resinous membrane that runs all the way around the board, serving as protection against moisture and the sun. While more composite decking now comes with capping than it used to, not all of it comes with a full cap. If you are considering composite decking for your above ground pool area, this is something to keep an eye out for.
Both very wet wooden decks and the first generations of composite decking have a reputation for being a bit slippery, which isn’t the quality we’re aiming for right next to a pool. If you spend the time and energy to keep a wooden deck in good shape by regularly applying stain and sealer, it will have good traction. You might also apply those gritty, sandpaper-like strips to increase friction on any stair treads and in the areas right next to the pool. However, you get the same level of friction with less work when you go with a good fully capped composite decking board. Not all composite decking has the same level of friction, though. You can now find decking made with technology from the tire industry to create a tough, rubbery capping material that is much grippier than comparable brands of composite decking, and that’s what I’d suggest for your pool deck, especially if you have kids.
Durability in the Cold
Above ground pool decks tend to be fairly exposed structures sitting out in the middle of the backyard. When rain, snow, and sleet comes, they are getting it from all sides–and underneath–and it’s important that the materials used in the construction are especially durable.This last winter saw some large snowfalls, with some heavy snows happening all the way into March. Snow itself doesn’t harm a deck so much as the melting and refreezing of it–and Iowa has seen a lot of melting and refreezing this year. When this happens, the moisture wends its way into whatever nooks and crannies it can find in the decking boards.
A good defense against this is a board with a lot of density, such as a bamboo composite. Due to the nature of the material and the way in which they are produced, bamboo boards provide fewer opportunities for moisture penetration than do their plastic and sawdust composite counterparts. This means bamboo composites perform extremely well against moisture. In addition to the composition of the decking board, fully capped composite decking is covered with tough capping, which not only keeps pool water out but is also durable enough to stand up to the kind of weather that comes to Iowa between November and April.
Beautifying the Pool Area
Above ground pools have a well-deserved reputation for not being aesthetically pleasing. Yes, they’re great for cooler parts of the country like the Midwest since they get warmer faster and stay warmer better than in-ground pools do. But they’re more about practicality than beauty. Still, there are things you can do to change that, and adding a deck is one of them. A deck around or partly encircling your above ground pool is a great way to turn a potential eyesore into a beautiful addition to the yard. There are some gorgeous lines of composite decking available, that strongly resemble natural hardwoods in both color and grain pattern, and these can soften your pool’s appearance and help it fit more naturally into your backyard.
If you have an above ground pool, composite decking is an ideal material for creating a beautiful and long-lasting deck or patio. If you’re looking for something attractive and high-quality, I’d consider Infinity Decking, produced by Fortress Deck. It’s a highly durable and moisture-resistant bamboo composite that’s encased by a protective resin cap, utilizing technology borrowed from the tire industry. Coming in several colors and two grain styles, it’s easy on the eyes and will last for many maintenance-free years. If you have grander designs for the home and yard, like adding a railing to that pool deck, check out Fortress Building Products’ catalog of innovative building materials. All of their products are well-made and well-designed, and will last through any Iowa winter.