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It used to be that every backyard swimming pool looked just about the same—because everybody relied on the same product—Keystone Kool Deck—to keep the deck around the pool comfortable under bare feet. In fact, if your pool deck was built before the mid-1990s, it’s probably covered with that familiar mottled-beige concrete.

Today, acrylic is becoming even more popular than Kool Deck because it’s easier to install and maintain. Here are the pros and cons of each:

Kool Deck

Keystone Kool Deck was invented by a Tucson company—Mortex—in 1962 for use as a surface coating over concrete swimming pool decks, walkways and patios. Applied to freshly poured concrete, Kool Deck creates a colored, textured cement surface that the manufacturer says is as strong as the base concrete.

Kool Deck Pros:

  • lowers the surface temperature of concrete by around 20 degrees—more than any other deck material.
  • withstands thermal expansion and contraction better than concrete.
  • Is fairly easy to clean.

Kool Deck Cons:

  • is more complicated to install than acrylic, so it takes someone trained specifically in the use of that deck topper. If you go with Kool Deck, make sure your installer is trained and experienced in applying this specific material.
  • fades under the Arizona sun, so its color is hard to match if you have to patch it up during a repair.
  • must be applied to freshly poured concrete before it dries in order to bond.


An alternative to Kool Deck is a thin coat of acrylic or polymer concrete—usually a mixture of modified acrylic resin, Portland cement and sand—applied over plain concrete to give it a texture.

Acrylic Pros:

  • can be fashioned to look like flagstone, Saltillo tile, brick and even Kool Deck.
  • can be acid-stained or custom-textured for a unique look around the pool.
  • may be applied to new or old concrete.
  • is usually finished with a solvent-based sealant that makes it stain resistant and easy to clean

Acrylic Cons:when textured, is cooler than plain concrete, but n

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