Decks: The process and what to consider

A few weeks ago, we talked about having a couple of posts on decking. Well, after a detour to deal with heat and algae, we’re back and ready to talk about decks. Just in case you missed it, be sure to check out the article on the suppliers we work with. Join us on this adventure after that.

Just like anything else, there are many type of decks to consider. Once you decide on the size and placement of your deck, you have to figure out what kind of deck you want.

bench and stuff

Basic types of decks

Brush concrete: A lot of decks have a concrete base, and there are multiple concrete options. The default option is brushed concrete, which is simply brushing concrete with a specialized broom after it’s poured to create a smooth surface. Brushed concrete is cost-effective.

Exposed aggregate: This is next on the price scale. Also known as pea gravel, exposed aggregate is a concrete surface that exposes elements such as granite and rocks for a classy look. Exposed aggregate is cooler on the feet than brushed concrete. It can be tougher to walk on, but troweling the surface will smooth it out to make it easy on the feet and the eyes.

Salt finish: This is brushed concrete with a twist. As the concrete is drying, rock salt is poured onto the concrete and troweled. After the troweling, the surface is washed. The water from that washing dissolves the salt, leaving an earthy surface that’s similar to exposed aggregate. Add color to this finish at extra cost.

Spray deck: A spray deck is a way to limit the heat soaking in your deck. Once you’ve laid your concrete, “spray” it with an acrylic surface. Not only does it add color and prevent heat even when topped with a sealer, it doesn’t whittle or crack with foot traffic.

More specialized decks

Stained concrete: This is a versatile deck design where concrete is distressed and can be cut into different designs and patterns for an eye-catching look. The pieces of a stained concrete deck can be cut into different shapes and stained various colors.

Stamped concrete: This is a good option for artsy types. This type of concrete allows for different colors, patterns, and even well-placed cracks in the surface. You can use powder for coloring effects and stencils for designs that will add pizzazz to your deck once it dries. It can mimic flagstone and wood to bring out the artistic nature of your deck even more.

Pavers: While concrete is the default deck surface, pavers are also an attractive option. There are two main pavers that we work with — cement pavers and stone pavers, which are also known as travertine. Unlike concrete, pavers are made of interlocking parts that have flexibility. Instead of cracking, pavers have a base that can move, expand and contract as needed. This makes them durable and resistant to the elements.

Tile and flagstone: This is another fun option, as you can put ceramic or stone tile on top of the laid concrete for a sturdy attractive look, or add flagstone on top of the concrete surface. There’s a weather barrier applied between the concrete and the tile/stone that serves two purposes. It prevents moisture from seeping up to the surface from the concrete and it prevents the tile from being cracked by tension below the surface.

Sealers

Putting a sealer on your deck provides a protective, colorful layer, making it resistant to the elements. But it’s something that is typically recommended by the deck construction company and is usually restricted to spray decks and stamped concrete decks. Applying a sealer increases the amount of heat the deck exudes, making it hot to walk on when exposed to sun or hot weather. If this is something you can live with, a sealer can be a worthwhile addition. Sealers bring out the life of stones and also enhance the color of the deck. You can also add a sand/silicone dust mixture to limit slippage on the sealed surface in wet conditions.


Discover Ultimate Pools

Ultimate Pools has been a leader in pool building and outdoor improvements in Magnolia, The Woodlands and Southeast Texas since 1991, specializing as a pool builder since 1999. From pools, waterfalls, hot tubs, decks, outdoor kitchens and outdoor improvements, Ultimate Pools will provide the highest of quality and customer service to you. Surf our website, send us an email, give us a call at (936) 321-9632, or visit our offices at 5170 FM 1488, Magnolia, TX 77354 today!

Decking: The companies we use

The pool and spa get most of the attention during our installations, but decking really ties your new pool together. While we’ve had plenty of articles about the installation and upkeep of swimming pools and hot tubs (please feel free to peruse the website to enjoy this content), we haven’t had much on decking. But that’s about to change.

We’ll jump into the deep end (pun intended) in terms of decking the next couple of weeks. While we’ll get into the nuts and bolts of decking in our next article, in this article you’ll learn about the companies we work with and the products and services that they provide. We hope this article can be a resource in your decking research. Search the websites of the companies we use to figure out what kind of tile/coping/stone, etc., you’d like surrounding your pool.

So here we go.

pool edge

Decking partners of Ultimate Pools

Stone: We use three companies to provide stone for your deck. They are Model Stone, Champions Stone and A&A Stone. These are our go-tos when it comes to flagstone, but there are plenty of stones to choose from. Oklahoma Wister is a popular style and can be found at these companies.

Tile and coping: Before getting into the companies that provide these services, let’s describe what coping is. When looking at the picture above, coping is the stone border in between the pool and the rest of the deck. That border also goes over the edge and toward the water, where the coping meets the tile. We utilize Master Tile and Noble Tile Houston for these elements. Check out the Pool and Spa Division at Master Tile when looking for the perfect tile and coping.

Pavers and decoration: Pavers help durability by serving as a sturdy foundation to your deck. There are two main pavers, cement pavers and stone pavers, which are also known as travertine. Belgard is our source for cement pavers, while Keystone provides stone pavers. As far as colors and decoration, Proline Stamps has accents that will cap off your decking experience.

Check out the options on these websites to figure out exactly what you want in your decking. We’ll get it done from there.


Discover Ultimate Pools

Ultimate Pools has been a leader in pool building and outdoor improvements in Magnolia, The Woodlands and Southeast Texas since 1991, specializing as a pool builder since 1999. From pools, waterfalls, hot tubs, decks, outdoor kitchens and outdoor improvements, Ultimate Pools will provide the highest of quality and customer service to you. Surf our website, send us an email, give us a call at (936) 321-9632, or visit our offices at 5170 FM 1488, Magnolia, TX 77354 today!

Scaling: What causes it and how to prevent it

While it’s annoying, scaling is something that will happen in your pool from time to time. Whether it’s the rocks, the plaster or the tile on the surface, scaling can leave a white calcium mark or residue that can detract from the aesthetics of the pool. While scaling on plaster, tile or bricks isn’t harmful to the foundation of your pool, it does leave it looking less attractive.

How does scaling occur? How do you deal with it once it happens? And better yet, how do you prevent it from happening in the first place? We’ll answer these questions one by one in this article.

wall with scaling

Scaling, as you can see in the picture above, typically shows up as a white film or mark on the surface and is visible once a wet surface is dried. It varies in degree and severity and can range from anywhere to a slight disturbance to a huge hassle that causes plenty of headaches and consternation.

Causes of scaling

There are two main causes of scaling, one which occurs naturally with an imbalance of moisture and one that occurs when the water chemistry of pool isn’t diligently maintained.

  • Efflorescence: Don’t worry if you can’t pronounce it, it’s a tough one. It’s also tough to get out of concrete, as efflorescence is a crystalline deposit that comes from salt gravitating to the surface of concrete or masonry to create a white, film-like coating. Efflorescence scale can be caused simply by a gradual moisture imbalance in a section of your pool.”The moisture causes the salts to emerge through the gunite and rise to the surface,” said Scott Gordon, the Branch Manager of Sales at Master Tile. “These salts need somewhere to go, and efflorescence is the result of that. You’ll see it happen on bricks of a house if a sprinkler keeps hitting them at a certain point.”
  • Water chemistry imbalance: Having the wrong pH and alkalinity is another main cause of scaling in pools, as it leaves more of a calcium deposit on your plaster and tile than a salt-based one. Having the water slightly out of whack allows there to be too much calcium in the pool, which latches on to the pool surface and leaves a white scale residue. Too little alkaline can have a similar effect, leaving the unsightly white film.

Preventing/Dealing with Scaling

The best way to deal with scaling is not to allow it to happen in the first place. Gordon believes that taking the initiative with water chemistry is essential in preventing scale from occurring in the first place.

“It’s up to the homeowner to keep their pH levels where they need to be,” he said. “If you don’t pay attention or neglect it, your pH will go too low and too high and scaling will occur, and once it occurs, it’s very difficult to remove. You can try to scrub it out, but it usually comes back right after. Having the correct water chemistry is key.”

You can use smart maintenance systems such as IntelliChem and ScreenLogic to keep your water chemistry on point. As detailed in the writeup on IntelliChem that we did in July, the IntelliChem system not only helps you keep your chlorine, alkalinity, cynaric acid and calcium where they should be, but they can also tell you whether your pool water is ideal, normal, corrosive or scaling. If your water is the latter, than that’s when that tricky white film starts to appear.

It’s also good to scrub the surface of your pool regularly. That will help break up any calcium or salt deposits that make it to surface before they start leaving their mark on that surface. See point No. 1 in this article — scrubbing works with scaling as well as algae.

As far as correcting current scaling, the best way to go is to make sure your water chemistry is where it needs to be. There are other possible solutions that can be considered such as scrubbing out the white film or using chemical and glass beads to blast it out, but that scale will return if the water chemistry isn’t what it should be. If you want to keep your pool looking good, learning water chemistry and implementing it is absolutely necessary.


Discover Ultimate Pools

Ultimate Pools has been a leader in pool building and outdoor improvements in Magnolia, The Woodlands and Southeast Texas since 1991, specializing as a pool builder since 1999. From pools, waterfalls, hot tubs, decks, outdoor kitchens and outdoor improvements, Ultimate Pools will provide the highest of quality and customer service to you. Surf our website, send us an email, give us a call at (936) 321-9632, or visit our offices at 5170 FM 1488, Magnolia, TX 77354 today!