Pool Deck-Pavers on Sand or Concrete Sub-deck?

angelica-33November 13, 2008

Not sure if my first message posted, but I live in S. Fl and have just started construction on my pool. The decking is roughly 2,000 sq. ft. I am trying to decide whether to choose pavers on sand or stone on top of a concrete sub-deck. My PB says that the decking should be pavers on sand because (a) the decking will settle and it's easy to change out pavers in sand (b) it will be easy to pick up pavers if we have any plumbing/drainage issues in the future (c)concrete sub-deck will crack causing the stone on top to crack. I have a pool designer telling me that the pool decking should be concrete subdeck b/c (a)we'll get grass/weeds growing between the pavers (b)pavers will settle and look awful in a few years. My PB says he will do the concrete sub-deck and install the stone (most probably travertine) but b/c of the cracking issues he won't warranty it b/c he's certain the stone will crack. The additional cost of stone on the concrete subdeck is about $15,000 (a hefty price tag in this economy), but I want to make sure my patio looks nice for a long time. Any thoughts/suggestions?

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Hello angelica-33

There are a number of people on this site that have pavers and hopefully a few will chime in. I remodeled in 07 and my pavers still look great. I removed concrete and grass around my pool and had the pavers installed.

They have no grass or weeds growing between them and none are cracked. They are convenient when repairs etc. happen. I had a couple rows pulled up to install a waterline for an outdoor shower.

I am in So California and with our earthquakes, settling is common. I think the outcome is based on the quality of the prep and installation. Do the design you want and will be happy with for years.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 3:20AM
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I watched a neighbor do a huge patio in pavers that came out beautiful. He used crushed rock for the base and not sand, for whatever that is worth.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 2:27PM
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I'm going to be doing both concrete and pavers. Right now I'm just getting the standard concrete that follows the pool line (my coping is concrete too), plus and extension that ties in to our exisinting concrete deck.

Later if I save up some money, will add pavers along one side to create a second pool patio and follow some around the perimeter of conrete to tie it in.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 6:19PM
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It's your deck, not his, do it how you want it. It's all a personal preference.

Pavers can be convenient. I've seen beautiful decks and driveways with pavers, and I've seen some that look terrible from settling or weeds growing between them. If you need to replace some, it could be hard to match the style or color. It'd be wise to save some from the same batch for later.

Personally, I prefer brushed concrete for the deck around the pool because I think it'd be easier on the bare feet than pavers or stamped concrete. Off-setting the concrete with stone trim would look great and save money over doing it all in stone.

The concrete could crack, but how much, and why? Quality workmanship is the key. Hve you seen some of his work?

Is it 2000 sq. ft. of concrete subdeck with stone for $15000, or $15000 just for the stone, or $15000 more than the pavers?

    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 11:15PM
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We are in the process of building a pool in East Central Florida. After much thought we decided to lay travertine pavers over a poured concrete sub floor. We are not mud setting over it so we will/should not have a cracking issue except possibly on the perimeter where it will be mud set. It is costly because you are basically paying for 2 decks.

We chose this method because I did not want the pavers sand set over crushed concrete base for fear of ants, weeds, and possible level issues from settling.

There are many opinions on this as there are with sealing travertine.

Good luck on your decision

    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 7:47AM
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If you were to do a concrete sub base you can still lay the pavers in sand. (on top of concrete) Like said above mud/glue the outside pavers down and then sand over the rest of concrete and lay pavers. If worried about weeds and ants in a sand base only project make sure they use polymeric sand for the joints. You then wet it down and sand turns rock hard. If this is not available get a joint stabilizer and this will turn regular sand hard as nails.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 5:53PM
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It's your deck, not your designers.
Like your PB said, concrete will crack sooner than later. To some, not a big deal, to others, something that would bug them every time they saw it.
If pavers settle, it is not a big deal at all. As a matter of fact, it is a DIY job if you want. But they should not settle as long as the ground is properly tamped, especially where the pool plumbers have dug trenches.
And, unlike a concrete deck, most paving companies will guarantee thier work for 5 years.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 7:29PM
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I have had my pool (with pavers over sand) for two years now and I am running into a couple of big problems. Most notably is settling/uneven pavers. I also ran into a big problem with sealing the pavers. Not much trouble with grass and insects.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 3:51PM
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For what it's worth, I did my patio (which I will be replacing with EA decking for our pool) in pavers in a sand base. The settling I can, and do, attribute to too much sand base (my mistake). A real problem here in East Texas are the fire ants that tunnel their way into that sand base. That then results in some major settling issues. Just my experience with a DIY job.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 9:37PM
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For us, the extra $15k would be a deal breaker. What if the pool needed a repair and a good chunk of that expensive stone had to be ripped up and then replaced?

We live in New England so we had to take winter weather into consideration when we chose our decking. We ended up using pavers and had them professionally installed a little more than a year after the pool/coping install. Four years later the pavers still look great, no problems with heaving and only a couple of rogue weeds pulled. Our concrete coping however, does have some small cracks from settling/freezing.

We originally thought we could install the pavers ourselves and I'm so glad we came to our senses. It was worth the extra money to hire a professional!

Best wishes with your new pool!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 10:38AM
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I had my paver guy put down 12" of crush and run before the sand. He put the stone down in 4" layers and compacted each one. It's not going to move, it's not slipery and drains great.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 9:02PM
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quote" I had my paver guy put down 12" of crush "quote
WOW, what an overkill, you'll never experience any problems with that sub-base.

On any patio pavers that are anything over 1 1/4" thick I use a weed barrier fabric beneath 6" of 3 sack mix
stabilized crushed concrete beneath my sand, and mud in my soldier row on the outside edge of the perimeter. I've had really good luck with this process. I saw a pool from the late 90's 2 weeks ago that still looked perfect even after 10 plus years.

Mark, your deck should stay even for many decades.

See ya,

    Bookmark   May 16, 2009 at 12:41AM
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We had to bring the elevation up anyway and stone is relatively cheap.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2009 at 9:19PM
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I used Artistic Pavers. Here is what their recommended installation procedure is...


Here is a link that might be useful: How to install pavers

    Bookmark   May 17, 2009 at 10:39AM
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If you're doing stone over a slab, use a membrane if you're worried about the slab cracking and the cracks telegraphing through to the stone.

Around my pool I have 1800sqft of patio. A five inch thick slab, then Ditra, then stone.

I'm in CT so I have freeze/thaw. While I have a couple thousand sqft of dryset bluestone patios around my house (bluestone over 6-10" of compacted stonedust) that still look fabulous with no heaving after several winters, for the pool I really wanted the stone to be mortared over a slab.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2009 at 1:01AM
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I love the look of pavers, and the endless choices of color, pattern, etc. but will probably go with EA concrete; it will be one less decision to make and less expensive. our pb said sand on the feet is sometimes an issue with pavers around a pool. If concrete is scored properly, it is less prone to cracking but pb said all concrete cracks eventually. (not what i wanted to hear!)

    Bookmark   May 18, 2009 at 11:09PM
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Well, just have him put in control joints and at least you can tell the slab where to crack.

Sort of!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2009 at 3:00AM
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