Pool Deck Design: Materials, Tips, and Inspiration
Poolside decks balance easygoing charm with elevated design.
Their secret? Hard to say, but our money’s on the gut-level appeal of elemental materials: wood, water, maybe a bit of stone or concrete. Put these things together and you can create “wow” moments in just about any landscape style.
There’s a hitch, though…
Is it possible to use natural wood for a pool deck?
It‘s possible, but we don’t recommend it.
Wood decks struggle in the sunny, wet environment of a pool deck, and require vigilant maintenance to stay in decent condition. Some types of wood perform better than others, but all have considerable drawbacks.
What about composite pool decking?
Not all composite decking is the same, but TimberTech is a superb deck material for use around swimming pools, or anywhere that moisture may be a factor. We’ll explain why in a moment.
First, let’s look a bit closer at the issues with using natural wood for pool decks.
PROBLEMS WITH WOOD POOL DECK DESIGNS
Mold, Mildew, Rot: Moisture causes natural wood to develop mold, mildew or rot. Wood that is consistently wet—say, from pool water—is particularly at risk, as are outdoor wood structures in hot, humid climates.
Mold and mildew can usually be cleaned away, though doing so is not always easy and often involves harsh chemicals like bleach. Once rot takes hold, wood must be replaced. In either scenario, time and expense are involved.
Warping, Cupping, Cracking: When moisture soaks into wood and later evaporates back out, it causes the material to swell and shrink. This results in a range of damages to your deck boards, including warping, cupping, cracking, and splitting.
Over time, exposure to UV radiation has a similar effect, gradually breaking down the structural integrity of wood decking.
Splintering: Exposure to the elements can also lead to splintering, a particular no-no in the barefoot environment of a pool deck.
Color Fading: As wood ages, its color fades, often turning to various shades of gray. Depending on the intensity of weathering, wood’s appearance can begin to degrade in as little as six months.
Hot: Any material exposed to prolonged sunlight will get hot, but dark-colored hardwoods like ipe, which are favored for their resistance to moisture damage, are particularly prone to get hot to the touch. In a barefoot environment, this can be uncomfortable.
High Maintenance: Annual treatments of paint, stain, or sealant to repel moisture and guard against UV damage can mitigate the above issues but require ongoing, meaningful investments of time and money.
Frequently, homeowners defer deck maintenance, kick-starting the degradation process by leaving wood vulnerable to weathering.
Frequent Repair + Replacement: Even with treatment, wood decks eventually degrade—the average deck lasts from 10 to 15 years, depending on the type of wood.
The ease with which wood gets damaged or degraded translates to more frequent repairs and replacement, and ultimately a shorter lifespan—more expense, more work, and more waste than a longer-lasting building material.
There’s no great wood material option:
Tropical hardwoods like ipe and cumaru have good natural resistance to pests and mildew (though they still require weatherproofing). They are also very hard—so much so that you must drill pilot holes before screwing them into place. This cranks up labor costs, adding to the very high purchase price of these premium materials.
Demand for tropical hardwoods has also driven widespread illegal logging, which is linked to numerous catastrophic environmental issues. It is difficult to know for certain if tropical hardwoods have been ethically sourced.
Softwoods like cedar and redwood also have good natural moisture- and pest-resistance but are easier to damage than hardwoods and do still require weatherproofing. The prices for redwood and cedar have also risen considerably in recent years.
Pressure-Treated Lumber is softwood, often pine, imbued with chemicals to resist damage from weathering and pests. It is cheaper than the other options, but generally considered to not be attractive as a deck material and, despite the chemical treatment, is still not impervious to water damage.
WHY TIMBERTECH POOL DECKING IS DIFFERENT
Spoiler alert: TimberTech composite decking avoids all of the issues affecting wood that we just listed.
Before we explain how that can be, let’s look at how TimberTech’s decking is constructed:
Cap + Core: All TimberTech decking has an outer cap surrounding an inner core. The construction of the cap and core depend on what type of TimberTech decking you use.
Composite Decking has a core that is made from a blend of post-consumer plastics and recycled lumber. In TimberTech‘s composite boards, the core is the core is protected with a 100% polymer cap.
Polymer Decking features a 100% polymer core (no wood), also protected with a 100% polymer cap.
The polymer cap is the secret sauce, creating a durable but highly attractive outer layer with superior resistance to weathering.
Let’s look at the specific benefits of this cap and core construction.
WHY TIMBERTECH POOL DECKING IS BETTER THAN WOOD
Superb resistance to mold, mildew, and rot. By locking moisture out, TimberTech dodges the risk of mold, mildew, and rot. TimberTech decking can even handle standing water (though you shouldn’t let standing water linger anywhere for too long).
No cracking, cupping, or splitting. A super strong core plus incredible moisture resistance means none of the structural degradation you get with natural wood decking. TimberTech stays perfectly intact for decades.
No splinters. Plastic decking caps keep bare feet permanently safe by taking splinters out of the equation.
Amazing looks, with no fading or staining. Thanks to proprietary color-blending technology, TimberTech decking beautifully recreates the look of natural wood.
Moreover, they‘ll continue to look great for decades without fading. Their industry-leading fade and stain warranties back the claim: 50 years for the polymer decking, 30 years for the composite series.
Tip: If you are curious to see what TimberTech looks and feels like, or would like to take a closer look at their most popular colors, you can have a free TimberTech Yardzen Samples Kit delivered directly to you!
Stays cool. TimberTech polymer decking stays up to 30° cooler than competing boards, though like any material, it will still warm up after prolonged sun exposure.
Slip resistant. The Alloy Armour Technology used on TimberTech decking caps provides up to 40% better slip resistance than leading competitors. For families with kids, this is a huge advantage for a pool deck.
Bendable. TimberTech decking is easy to bend, allowing for round pool decks—a useful option when the edge of the pool is curved.
Super low maintenance. With no need for annual weatherproofing, and none of the physical degradation that plagues natural wood decking, TimberTech requires barely any maintenance. Give it an occasional sweep or wash, otherwise forget about it.
Longer lifespan, better value. TimberTech composite decking typically lasts 25-30 years, while polymer decking lasts up to 50—that’s two to five times the lifespan of a wood deck.
Factor in avoided maintenance and repairs, and you get a tremendous lifetime savings relative to a wood deck.
Less waste. Choosing a long-lasting TimberTech deck over natural wood keeps your deck on your property, and not in a landfill.
It also prevents massive amounts of waste and scrap from entering landfills. In 2021 alone, TimberTech’s recycling program diverted about 500 million pounds of waste and scrap from landfills, up from 400 million pounds in 2020.
Credit this to TimberTech‘s use of recycled materials to build their decking: up to 80% recycled content in their composite boards, and approximately 50% in the polymer boards, with the majority of that plastic falling into the hard-to-recycle category.
Beyond all the functional and practical ways in which TimberTech outdoes wood as a pool deck material, it bears repeating that TimberTech decking looks amazing. More to the point, it looks like real wood, and is available in a huge range of colors, making it a cinch to plug into virtually any design style.
Want to see for yourself? Order your free TimberTech Yardzen Samples Kit to receive physical samples of some of the most popular TimberTech decking colors!
COMPOSITE POOL DECK IDEAS
Now, for some inspiration!
To help you develop your pool deck design ideas, let’s take a look at some Yardzen landscape design renders created for our clients with poolside composite decks.
Tiger in the Leaves
TimberTech composite decking in Tigerwood complements things with a weathered, warm hue that pairs nicely with the teak lounge furniture. Wide stairs lining the deck’s edge allow for easy movement into the lower yard, making for an open, expansive feel.
This long and luxurious backyard pool cuts into a hillside like a watery terrace. On the uphill side: a concrete wall with custom water features. On the downhill side: another wall lined by a row of no-fuss Dianella ’Cassa Blue’, giving way to a grid of oversized concrete pavers.
To offset the cool grays and blues, the design bookends the pool with two TimberTech Pecan decks, a medium dark, warm-but-not-bright shade that keeps things stately while adding a kick of inviting atmosphere to the mix. Positioning the decks at either end of the long pool area only amplifies its length, lending the yard an axial grandeur. It also drives traffic along the full length of the pool, making sure every space is activated.
Small Space, Big Function
This design packs a lot into a compact outdoor space. A fire pit, above-ground hot tub, and spacious lounge zone share long, open edges, amplifying each space‘s perceived size and making them flow seamlessly into each other.
The TimberTech deck is compact but effective, tucking its elevated platform at the far edge of the space to minimize the impact of its height upon the adjacent lounge zone. The English Walnut shade of the decking pairs nicely with the aged brick, pale gravel, and creamy neutral cushions around it.
Hotel at Home
This backyard screams “staycation.” The in-ground pool is ringed with attractive blue tile, which complements the warm, caramel hue of the Antique Leather TimberTech decking.
In place of umbrellas, the design goes big with an all-out cabana bed. If that doesn’t feel tropical enough, a limited, lush palette of leafy green plants set a tropical vibe that extends across the full length of the yard.
This minimalist, modern deck is both functional and stylish. Built with TimberTech composite decking in the beachy Ashwood finish, the deck climbs just high enough to meet the top of a partially submerged plunge pool, and offers just enough space to soak in some sun on a pair of chaise lounges. A natural stone path allows wet, barefoot bathers to cross the lawn without getting their feet muddy.
Set the Tone
These homeowners came to Yardzen looking to make their above-ground hot tub look like a more intentional part of their pool deck plans. The resulting design adds a low, tiered deck around the tub, using TimberTech’s Weathered Teak decking. Furnishings stick to the teak and white established by the hot tub deck.
The bottom step, aligned to the paver path for a quick, comfortable walk between the tub and the house, is made extra wide to double as a slip-resistant, barefoot friendly staging area for toweling off after a soak.
GET STARTED WITH YOUR LANDSCAPE DESIGN BY YARDZEN
Yardzen’s award-winning online exterior and landscape design is tailored to homeowners in all fifty states in the US, and can include composite decking designs to help you live better outside, be it around the pool or elsewhere in your yard.
Whether your goal is creating more functional outdoor living space or beautifying your home exterior, we can create a design that meets your needs and style preferences.
Our design process begins with understanding your space, your aesthetic preferences, and a discussion of your budget and vision to minimize surprises when it comes time to build.
Our top-notch designers then develop a personalized vision for your yard, shared through 3D renderings, 2D plan drawings, and plant and material lists. Your design will capture the look, feel, and function you are hoping for, all while keeping costs within range.
Once your design is complete, we’ll help you connect with a local contractor from our Pro Network of vetted professional landscapers to install your new design.
For clients with decking in their design, this is also order a great time to order a free TimberTech Yardzen Samples Kit to help you lock in your final decking selections.