7 Steps to Build Your DIY Above Ground Pool Deck

Design a sturdy and stylish DIY above-ground pool deck in 7 steps: plan your deck, choose materials wisely, set a solid foundation, frame the deck securely, install decking and railings, stain and seal for protection, accessorize for enjoyment, and maintain regularly for longevity.

diy pool deck above ground

Creating your above-ground pool deck can be a rewarding DIY project that enhances your backyard’s ambiance and functionality. In this article, we’ll walk through the seven essential steps to build a sturdy and stylish deck, ensuring you can enjoy your aquatic oasis for years to come.

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Step 1: Design Your Deck

Swimming pool and wooden deck ideal for backgrounds

Before purchasing a single nail, it’s crucial to design your deck. Consider the size and shape of your pool, the landscape of your yard, and how you intend to use the space. Will you be hosting large pool parties, or is it a family-centric area?

Sketch out your design, keeping in mind the traffic flow and the placement of stairs. It’s also wise to check local building codes, as they can significantly influence your deck’s design, such as railing height and structural requirements.

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Next, think about the deck’s height. Should it be level with the pool’s edge, or would you prefer a multi-tiered deck that offers various levels of engagement with your pool? The height will affect both the materials you’ll need and the complexity of the construction.

Lastly, consider the orientation: where will the sun hit the deck during peak pool hours? Position your deck to take advantage of the sun or provide shade, depending on your preference.

Step 2: Choose Materials

Man assembling composite deck using cordless screwdriver.

The materials you choose will determine your deck’s longevity and maintenance requirements. Pressure-treated lumber is a popular, cost-effective choice that can withstand moisture and ward off insects, but it requires regular maintenance, such as staining and sealing. Composite decking is another option, offering a longer lifespan and less maintenance, albeit at a higher initial cost.

When selecting materials, also consider the aesthetics. What complements your home’s exterior and landscape? If you’re unsure, samples can help you visualize how materials will look in your yard.

Additionally, think about the texture underfoot—smooth surfaces may be more comfortable for bare feet but can become slippery when wet. Textured or grooved materials can provide better traction.

Step 3: Set the Foundation

A solid foundation is paramount for a safe and durable deck. Begin by marking the ground where the deck’s posts will go. Dig holes to the appropriate depth—below the frost line in colder climates to prevent heaving. Pour concrete footings and set post anchors before the concrete sets. These anchors will hold the deck posts firmly in place.

Once the concrete has cured, install the posts, ensuring they are plumb and level. The foundation’s accuracy will affect the entire structure, so take your time with this step. If your ground isn’t level, you may need to use different-length posts or adjust the concrete footings to ensure a level deck frame.

Step 4: Frame the Deck

The frame is the skeleton of your deck, and it must be strong enough to support the weight of the decking, furniture, and occupants. Start by constructing the outer frame, then add joists at regular intervals to provide additional support. Use galvanized or stainless steel hardware to prevent rust.

Ensure that the frame is square by measuring diagonally from corner to corner, adjusting until both measurements are equal. Install blocking between the joists to prevent twisting and to help distribute the load. Once the frame is complete, double-check that everything is secure and level before moving on to the decking.

Step 5: Decking & Railings

Deck construction background with copy space

Laying the decking is where your project starts to take shape. Begin from the pool’s edge, leaving a small gap between the decking boards and the pool to allow for expansion and contraction. Fasten the boards to the joists with deck screws or hidden fasteners for a cleaner look. Ensure that the boards are straight and the gaps between them are even.

Railings are not just an aesthetic feature—they’re a critical safety component. Install railings according to local codes, which typically require railings on decks above a certain height. Choose railing materials that match or complement your decking. Make sure they are securely attached and that the balusters are spaced so that small children can’t squeeze through them.

Step 6: Staining & Sealing

Worker applying brown wood protection oil on decking boards with paint brush next to the pool. Outdoor decking works. Copy space

If you’ve chosen a wood deck, staining and sealing are essential steps to protect your investment from the elements. Choose a stain that complements your home’s exterior and provides UV protection. Apply the stain with a brush or sprayer, and be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results.

After the stain has dried, apply a sealant to protect the wood from moisture. This will help prevent rot, warping, and splintering. Depending on your climate and the level of sun exposure, you’ll need to re-stain and re-seal the deck every few years to keep it looking its best and to extend its life.

Step 7: Accessorize & Enjoy

Poolside deckchairs or sun bed on terrace with blue swimming pool private view with forest background. Relaxing in vacation holiday concept.

With the construction complete, it’s time to personalize your deck. Add lounge chairs, a dining set, or a cozy seating area to make the space inviting. Consider adding planters, a pergola, or string lights to create an ambiance. Don’t forget practical accessories like a pool cover reel or storage boxes for pool toys and equipment.

As you accessorize, think about how each addition serves your needs and enhances the pool experience. Whether it’s a space for relaxation, entertainment, or both, your deck should reflect your lifestyle and taste. Once everything is in place, take a moment to appreciate your hard work and enjoy your new pool deck.

Maintenance Tips

Regular maintenance will keep your deck in top shape. Inspect the deck annually for loose boards, protruding nails, or any signs of damage. Clean the deck surface regularly to prevent the buildup of algae and mildew, which can make it slippery. If you notice any structural issues, address them promptly to avoid further damage or potential safety hazards.

For wood decks, remember that re-staining and re-sealing is a part of the routine maintenance cycle. For composite decks, occasional cleaning with a mild detergent and water is usually sufficient. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for specific care and maintenance of your decking material.

In the video, ProWood explains.

  1. Importance of Routine Maintenance: The video emphasizes the significance of regular deck maintenance, highlighting its impact on the longevity and aesthetic appeal of the structure.
  2. Debris Removal: Clearing debris is the first crucial step. Whether using a broom or a leaf blower, it is essential to eliminate sticks, leaves, and any other collected items on the deck.
  3. Furniture Removal: Temporary removal of furniture from the deck is recommended to facilitate thorough cleaning and maintenance.
  4. Cleaning Techniques: Utilizing a stiff bristle brush along with a quality deck cleaner is advised for effective cleaning. In more stubborn cases, a power washer with low pressure and a fan tip can be used, maintaining a safe distance from the wood to avoid damage.
  5. Sweeping Consistency: It is crucial to be consistent with sweeping motions, starting from the home’s foundation and moving away, while avoiding going against the grain to prevent damage like peeling or splinters.
  6. Final Rinse: After cleaning, a final rinse is necessary to wash away any detergent residue, promoting a clean and polished finish.
  7. Inspection for Damage: Following the cleaning process, a thorough inspection for signs of damage such as rot, warped, or loosened boards is recommended. Unstable railing components should also be addressed promptly.
  8. Replacement Parts: Local Pro wood dealers can provide replacement pieces if needed. After replacement, it is essential to let the new pieces dry for a few days before continuing the maintenance process.
  9. Application of Finish: Applying a couple of light coats of oil-based semi-transparent exterior stain or a quality waterproof sealant is recommended. The deck must be completely dry before applying the finish.
  10. Frequency of Maintenance: The video suggests repeating the maintenance process every one to three years, depending on the deck’s condition. It advises against using exterior paint, varnish, or latex-based stain, as they may not offer sufficient protection and can lead to faster weathering.

Safety Considerations

Safety should always be your top priority. Ensure that your deck’s railings are secure and that the gaps between balusters meet local safety codes. Keep the deck surface free of obstacles that could cause trips and falls. Consider installing a gate at the top of the stairs to prevent unsupervised access to the pool, especially for homes with small children or pets.

Additionally, good lighting can prevent accidents and enhance the deck’s usability after dark. Install lights on the stairs and around the perimeter for safety and ambiance. Always have life-saving equipment like a life ring or a shepherd’s hook within easy reach in an emergency.

DIY vs. Professional Help

Deciding whether to tackle this project on your own or to hire a professional comes down to your confidence in your skills, the complexity of the design, and your budget.

A DIY approach can save money but requires a significant time commitment and a thorough understanding of construction principles. If you’re not experienced in carpentry or unsure about any step, it’s wise to consult or hire a professional.

Professionals can ensure that the deck is built to code and may complete the project faster. They can also handle any unexpected issues that arise during construction. Weigh the pros and cons and consider your resources before making your decision. Remember, a well-built deck is an investment in your home and your safety.

With these steps and considerations in mind, you’re well on your way to adding a functional and attractive above-ground pool deck to your home. Remember to take your time, follow safety protocols, and don’t hesitate to seek professional help if needed. Enjoy your new outdoor retreat and the countless hours of relaxation and fun it will provide!

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