Next phase of outdoor remodeling is finishing up your beautiful pool. Selecting which concrete finish to put around your pool can be a tough decision but ultimately a fun decision to make.
Life is good an you are blessed, heck, you have a pool!
Whenever anyone asks me about which is the best surface to put around a pool, I immediately ask a couple of follow up questions. I wish there was one definite answer but that rarely exists in life.
What are you doing most around your pool?
Will there be kids running around?
Will you have tables and chairs close to the pool or on a different surface?
Am I looking for function first or design?
The single most important factor I personally focus on, is a slip hazard, and avoiding it at all costs.
Stamped concrete is usually everyone’s go-to option, and understandably so. It is a gorgeous solution with hundreds of options that always brings a different dynamic to any landscape it is applied to.
With that being said, stamped concrete has the lowest level of traction of all outdoor concrete finishes. Add water to the top of this low traction surface and you basically have an ice skating rink.
There are special topical sealers to help with traction on stamped concrete that do a pretty good job help avoiding slip hazards. The one I use is called Shark Grip and is made specifically to be “slip resistant”.
I use Shark Grip on all of our outdoor stamped concrete projects simply for the safety of our clients. I must warn tho that it must be reapplied almost yearly and it is not entirely slip resistant.
There are other options aside from stamped concrete that are great surfaces around a pool.
Below I break down the top three surfaces we go with when providing a solution for our customers.
- Regular Light Broom Finish (Low Design, Low Slip Hazard) $
Installing regular light broom finish around a pool is your best option for safety, hands down. You will see a light broom finish on driveways, sidewalks, roads, patios, curbs, almost anywhere concrete is poured and used for function with little regard for design.
Having little design does not mean that this is an ugly finish or lower value. With a light broom finish you are still getting a quality surface, with a high safety, and flat surface for any tables or chairs you plan to put around your pool.
There are also some fun ways to give simple design to a regular broom finish. One way is through designed control joints. If you choose to go with this finish, I like to saw cut joints in a checkered like pattern. Saw cutting the control joints in 4’ x 4’ diamonds gives a beautiful, modern look to a very simple and inexpensive concrete finish.
- Very safe option to avoid slip hazards.
- More budget friendly, inexpensive option for finish
- Flat surface for tables and chairs
- Little design opportunities
- Exposed Aggregate Finish (Medium Design, Low Slip Hazard) $$
In my opinion, exposed aggregate finish is the perfect middle ground for a surface around a pool.
With this finish, you get a unique design without compromising the safety you need around a pool. No one wants slip hazards around pools and if you’re investing in a pool it is always nice to dress it up a bit.
Exposed aggregate around pools, is slightly more expensive than regular light broom finish, but not as much as stamped.
Finishing exposed aggregate is a longer process than regular and you need to buy more material to help expose the aggregate so that’s where the extra cost is.
Also, I don’t have A TON of experience with this but you can custom order aggregate to have poured in your concrete so you can get like only all white pebbles or only all black or something. Obviously this will make the material cost more expensive but could be a very cool option to add more design.
- Very safe option to avoid slip hazards
- Flat surface for tables and chairs
- Beautiful design
- Budget friendly
- Design options but limited
- May be slightly rougher surface than desired
- Stamped or Textured Finish (High Design, High Slip Hazard) $$$
If you are planning on building a backyard paradise around your pool with an outdoor kitchen, pergolas, and anything else your mind can dream up, you are probably willing to invest more in concrete.
Installing stamped or textured concrete around your pool is a great way to increase its curb appeal and complete your backyard paradise.
There are hundreds of different stamp and color combinations you can create so really take your time in choosing which stamp you would like. There are also simple texture patterns, which I have at my house, that are a great alternative instead of having stamp patterns.
In my opinion, around a pool, aggregate is the much safer option because it has more traction to the surface. Where stamped concrete has a “smoother” surface even though there are groves in the pattern of the stamp, it still has a smooth slippery surface.
Also you in order to get the visual outcome you desire with stamped concrete, you have to apply a topical sealer (sealer that sits on the surface of the concrete). Without the sealer your concrete is going to look dried and grayed out.
There are special sealers that are supposedly “slip resistant” but I have used them and they are still way more slippery than regular brush finish and aggregate finish.
With that being said, stamped concrete done well is gorgeous and if maintained properly should continue to look great long term.
- Gorgeous end result
- Very high design opportunities
- Very high chance for slip hazards
If it were me I’d do exposed aggregate, because I’m a nervous nelly and would hate to see one of my guests slip and fall into the pool. God forbid they were knocked unconscious.
BUT stamped may give you more style that you could be looking for.
Tell me what you think in the comments below and what your experience has been so far with the concrete around your pool!