One of the most important trends in exterior design today is to install a decorative concrete pool platform: a color, textured and cozy area surrounding the pool that does more than provide a safe and non-slip platform to take the Sun and barbecues. Decorative concrete has opened the doors to create pool terraces that complement the exterior of the house, merge with the exterior environment and reproduce traditionally more expensive materials such as slate, stone or even wood.
While pool decks made of flagstone, pavers, or brick have great aesthetic appeal, they can be costly to install because of the labor required to place each unit individually. Many installers find it more economical to pour concrete and apply a pattern than to haul and place paving units by hand. For homeowners on a tight budget, you can still achieve impressive results by mixing stamped concrete with fields of less-expensive plain concrete.
All of the paving materials in our face-off are durable and have a long life span, but most of them require more maintenance than concrete. Bricks and paving units can shift over time, requiring releveling or replacement. The joints between paving units also need to be refilled with sand periodically to prevent weed growth. Poured concrete eliminates all these issues, and simply needs occasional cleaning and resealing to maintain its appearance. See this guide to maintaining and caring for exterior decorative concrete.
Compared to the pool covers of brick and darker colored tiles, which can be extremely hot to the touch after baking in the sun, the concrete reflects solar radiation and is more comfortable with bare feet. There are also decorative concrete coverings that can be used to significantly reduce surface temperatures.
Because good traction is especially important on pool deck surfaces, slip resistance is a high priority. All of these pool deck materials can become slippery when wet, especially tile, but with concrete there are several ways to improve the surface traction without detracting from the decorative appearance. These include the use of broomed or exposed aggregate finishes, putting down a textured overlay, or mixing a clear plastic grit into the sealer before it's applied.