Kool Deck VS Acrylic Pool Deck
It used to be that every backyard swimming pool looked just about the same. Everybody relied on the same product to keep the deck around the pool comfortable under bare feet: Keystone Kool Deck. Kool Deck is a premium, trademarked product, not to be confused with cool deck which is a common term that is used to refer to textured or stamped overlays for pool decks. In fact, if your pool deck was built before the mid-1990s, it’s probably covered with that familiar mottled-beige concrete.
Today we have many material and design options to choose from. Before selecting a pool deck product there many things to consider:
- First and foremost, is it safe and slip-resistant when wet?
- Is the material coarse, bumpy, or uneven?
- Is it heat-reflective? Will it remain cool on hot days?
- Will it blend well with other paved or hardscaped areas in your yard?
- Is it resistant to algae, chemicals, acid, mold and mildew, and frost?
- Is it compatible with chlorine and/or salt water systems?
Let's break them down.
Keystone Kool Deck was invented by 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 concrete surface that the manufacturer says is as strong as the base concrete.
"Kool Deck is almost non-existent in our industry now," said Manny Sanchez, president of the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance, Southern Arizona Chapter. "If somebody chooses a surface comparable to that, it is more than likely going to be an acrylic overlay."
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:
- Because it's more complicated to install than acrylic, 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.
- It fades under the Arizona sun, and its color is hard to match if you have to patch it during a repair.
- Must be applied to freshly poured concrete before the concrete cures to bond properly.
Acrylic Pool Deck
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.
- 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.
- When textured, it's cooler than plain concrete but not as cool as Kool Deck.
- Can cost up to twice as much as Kool Deck.
Pavers have gained popularity for pool decking and according to Sanchez are the most popular choice. Stone, brick, and concrete are the three main materials used to make pool pavers.
"Travertine and artistic pavers are now the kings," said Sanchez. "It takes more time to install but offers a much more customized finish without the cracking or delamination like the 'old' stuff."
For a look that's a bit different, consider Belgard's Oceanside pavers. They combine coquina and oyster shells for additional durability and natural beauty.
- A good alternative to plain concrete because they can be designed to resemble cobblestones, granite, tile, or traditional bricks.
- Can be arranged to complement many types of design schemes because of the large variety of shapes, colors, and sizes.
- Can be custom-made.
- Easy to find and easy to replace if a paver gets damaged.
- If installed correctly, many manufacturers claim that interlocking pavers are frost proof.
- Endure a high resistance to wear and tear and a durable non-slip surface.
- A good, budget-conscious choice.
- When installing, it requires a permanent border or frame to prevent shifting.
- Can appear industrial or commercial.
- If made of concrete, it is important to seal them properly to prevent fading from excessive water damage and sun exposure.
Whatever system you choose, if you are remodeling your deck and time is not an issue, do it in the cooler months to prevent cracking.
Keep your deck free of dirt, debris, and leaves, that can end up in the pool. Brush away from the pool. Be careful about power-washing. The pavers can move or the coating damaged. Usually, a simple wash with from the garden hose and a few swipes of a gentle scrub brush is all you need to keep your deck looking pristine while maintaining its safety features.