Decorative Stamped Concrete Swimming Pool Decking

The truth about concrete.

When deciding on different swimming pool aprons there are many options, and the sky is the limit. Concrete and pavers are the two primary materials, and both offer many color choices, textures, patterns, and designs. Decorative colored concrete is the most popular around pools due to its versatility and cost-effectiveness. Typically, decorative concrete represents the best value in pool decking. It is much quicker to install and, in most cases, it can be completed within a few days of work time. Those few days may become spread out and be pushed around on the calendar due to weather and building inspections but again, much more attractive than the weeks of labor and high costs that pavers require. Concrete also doesn't need re-sanded like pavers, it doesn't settle and fall out of pattern like pavers and doesn't have the weed and moss growth each year that can occur with pavers.

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Though concrete is the most popular that doesn't make it perfect. There are distinct cons to both decorative concrete and regular broom finish concrete. First and foremost, the main con to ANY concrete is that it WILL CRACK. All concrete cracks. It is caused by the concrete shrinking during the curing process, being put under continuous stress and settling over time. If anyone says their concrete doesn't crack, they are simply lying to you.

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To overcome this shortcoming, concrete is installed with relief joints. These are either tooled joints (most sidewalks have them every four feet or so) during the finishing process or by saw cutting joints (Home Depot's floor is saw cut) into the slab. These joints are placed strategically in order to catch cracks where they are anticipated -the weak spots. These joints are placed with structure, function, and aesthetics in mind to reduce the potential for an eye sore. The question that we ask ourselves as we lay out the joint plan is 'where is the stress going to occur and where is this concrete most likely to crack?' Once we answer these questions, we compare it to what will look nice and that becomes the layout. MOST of the time we are right. Sometimes we are not, and a crack may occur outside the joint. It's unfortunately the nature of concrete.

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Beyond the inevitable crack in concrete, the other downfall is that it has blemishes and inconsistencies. As hard as we try there are always going to be color as well as texture variations in a given concrete slab, particularly when it comes to decorative concrete. The coping around the pool can also be rough and contain minor imperfections. These imperfections and variations can typically be masked and blended away into a slab that has the 'natural stone' look. Due to this repair-ability and camouflaging, the stone texture has become our most popular concrete decking because stone, by nature, is not perfect. Ironically the imperfections typically make the stone appearance more believable and natural. This masking can also be a huge benefit when it comes to repairing a crack, should one show up outside the control joints.


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