Prepare for this Summer’s Pool Deck Replacement

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Thinking about a pool deck replacement?

We are in the perfect time of year (Feb – May) for a pool deck replacement; After the rains – before the pool opens for summer. We’ve had the chance to replace more than a few over the years, so I thought I would write this post about what we typically experience during the process.

Pool decks are a very different animal from your standard run-of-the-mill walkway. There are lots of extraneous issues in pool decks that you don’t have to deal with in other types of concrete flatwork. If you are planning on pool deck replacement this year read on, be prepared, and go easy on your poor little concrete or pool contractor.

A few years ago I was presenting an estimate to a client to replace their entire pool deck along with some of the surrounding walkways leading up to it. My pricing separated out the walkways and the deck. After some quick calculation, the owner’s rep noticed a large difference between the price per square foot for the pool deck and the walkways. This lead to a head cocked inquiry as to why the pool deck concrete was so much more expensive. This particular client was a rather astute maintenance supervisor for a large property management company. He understood that it is important to know what his owner was paying per square foot so he could easily compare our price to bids from other contractors. I hadn’t really broken the bid down like that. I never looked at the pricing per square foot on this particular project and once it was brought to my attention it was glaring. The price per square foot was 35% higher than the walkways. The question caught me off guard a bit and I found myself clumsily comparing the differences between the two bid items between wiping the beads of sweat off my forehead. As it turned out, and not because of my exceptional sales prowess, we got the job and we weren’t even the lowest bidder.

Prepare your owners and board members.

Removing and replacing a pool deck is often only 50 – 75% the cost of the entire project value. Why? We have no idea what is going on below deck. Often pool plumbing pipes are already leaking and the vibration from the demolition can exaggerate or cause leaks. As well equipment can get damaged. Even the most conscientious contractor can damage the old brittle delicate plastics used in the pool deck for equipment like skimmers and auto fill valves. We are, after all, using tools to remove the deck called breakers, jackhammers, and sledgehammers. They are specifically designed to break stuff and that is what they do best. Following this paragraph is a partial list of reasons why pool decks cost so much more to replace. If your contractor hasn’t prepared you for these potential extras and listed allowances, options or exclusions for these items in his bid, you should question his pool deck experience.

  • While the deck is removed it is a good opportunity to update the equipment…skimmers, autofill valves, handrails, fences, plumbing, coping, electrical conduits, drainage systems…
    • Sometimes these items will have to be replaced because of damage so it is best to plan for its budget with.
  • More than likely your contractor will have to deal with both your local building department AND the Department of Health. They will require the new installation to be brought up to current building and ADA codes.
    Often this includes, and is definitely not limited to, compliant drainage, electrical bonding (grounding), chair lifts, fencing, and in extreme cases ADA parking close to the pool with compliant ADA Path-of-Travel to the pool… (In general HOA’s aren’t required to conform to the last one.)
  • Do you have any extras for the existing pool coping so pieces damaged in the process can be replaced? Otherwise, can it still be acquired? If the answer is no then you may need to replace all of the coping as well.
  • Often we see pool fences that have been installed directly on top of the existing deck so when replacing the deck that has to be resolved. The fence has to be removed and replaced or propped up and reinstalled to the new deck. Repairing or reassembling the surrounding fencing and landscaping is often an issue.
  • Adding depth and “No Diving” marker tiles to the deck in the correct locations.
  • After the demolition, compaction AND form setting but before the reinforcing goes in, always get a pressure test for the existing and new plumbing systems. We want to discover any leaks before the reinforcing is installed and definitely before the new deck is poured.

These are some of the issues that can come up in a pool deck replacement. Your contractor should make you aware of the common issues that will add costs beyond the original price.

Even with the expense and possible issues during the project, updating your pool area is worth it. A clean and well taken care of recreational / pool area raises property values and demands higher rental rates. We had a customer that used us to replace their pool deck in addition to an entire renovation of the clubhouse, leasing office, pool area as well as a few of the resident buildings. My contact for the company claimed they recovered their investment in 6 months because of the increased rates for incoming renters. I imagine that’s an extreme case. Both in money spent and ROI. Luckily even small investments go a long way. Most of the pool deck replacements, that we are involved in, run between $80,000 and $200,000 for the entire project.

There are alternative methods to beautifying a pool deck that keep costs down. If the concrete is in good enough shape it can be resurfaced by a contractor that specializes in coatings. If your deck hasn’t failed but has a few areas that need attention, those areas can be replaced and then the deck can be resurfaced. Resurfacing tends to be about half the cost of replacing. If you don’t have the budget to replace or resurface the deck. You can grind the trip hazards, replace divider boards or raise the sinking concrete if that is the problem.

If you are considering updating your pool area give us a call we can walk you through the methods and pricing to fit your budget.

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