We are often asked about the pros and cons of paver installations around pool decks. The truth is, many home owners who decided to install pavers around their swimming pools ended up regretting the choice. Weeds growing through the gaps, pavers becoming rough and porous, mold accumulating in the paver pores (that can only be power washed out with mold and dirt flying all over the backyard), fading colors, and wobbling pavers are all reasons why home owners end up hating their pavers. Oh, and did we mention that many pavers get super hot as well?
If you want to know the truth about pavers, don't go to the stone yard or landscape supply store. Why? Because all they want to do is sell you their pavers - they have nothing else to sell to you!
If you want to know the truth about pavers, don't go to your landscaper. Why? Because your landscaper has nothing else to offer, other than to install pavers!
If you want to know the truth about pavers as decks around swimming pools, you need to understand a bit about whats underneath your pavers, and how pavers react after a few years of installation.
Truth #1: The ground surrounding your pool is not stable.
When your pool is excavated, a large hole is dug in your backyard, into which the base and walls of the pool are installed. Once the pool form is set, the empty void around the pool is then back-filled with dirt, gravel and whatever else might have been in the pile of dirt removed for the pool. Pool installers will then tamp this backfill down, being careful not to disturb the walls of the pool and cause damage or uneven surfaces along the sides.
This can be a problem around liner pools, in particular. The wall of a liner pool is made of very thin sheet metal that holds the entire pool together, which is not much support when you consider the weight of the water pressing out against the side walls. When the pool is built, the installer backfills the area around the pool wall with dirt, sand, and gravel. This base is then compacted to make the ground sturdier.
If the contractor compacts too much, excessive pressure can damage the pool wall. To prevent this, most contractors don’t compact the base as much as they should. As a result, the base is too loose, it may collapse, and it may move around over time, causing the pavers to shift along with it.
The result is an unsightly, uneven deck with wobbly pavers that will need to be reset not just once, but year after year.
Truth #2: Concrete deck demolition.
If you’re demolishing an old concrete pool deck and replacing it with pavers, you could run into the same problem. First, there is a tremendous risk to the pool wall due to the demolition of the concrete deck (we talked more in depth about this topic in our blog here). Second, the base under the concrete deck is not strong enough for a paver installation, and has to be compacted in the same fashion as a new pool installation.
Once pavers are uneven, a professional has to reset them. This is done by removing the affected pavers, rebuilding the base and resetting the pavers. This is a costly undertaking and can get super frustrating if pavers frequently need to be reset.
Truth #3: Landscapers recommend pavers because they are not experts with pool decks.
The likelihood that your landscaper will recommend pavers for your pool deck might simply be a function of their having no experience updating existing concrete. A concrete deck is your best choice for a smooth surface that will maintain its original character far longer than pavers ever will, especially around in-ground swimming pools. Just ask your pool store or pool builder:
Concrete slabs can bridge minor ground movements underneath the deck much better than pavers. Concrete is still the number one choice for pool decks of new swimming pool installations. If your landscaper suggests pavers beside your pool, they may be suggesting an unsuitable option solely based on their inability to suggest anything else. Unfortunately, you will have to pay the price of high maintenance later.
Truth #4: Moss will grow in between pavers.
Just like weeds, moss growth in between pavers is a common problem. Moss likes to grow in wet, shady areas. If it gets out of hand it can be an even bigger pain in the neck than weeds. That’s because not only is it unsightly, but it can be very slippery when wet, which is the last thing you want beside a pool.