The area around your swimming pool is one of the most important parts of your poolscape. Not only is it where everyone congregates while poolside, it also plays a key role in defining your pool’s personality and style. There are a variety of manmade and natural materials that create superior pool decks, but those made from natural stone are matchless companions to sophisticated pool settings.
It is important, however, to keep in mind that in order for natural stone to retain its beauty around a pool, it should be treated with an approved sealer so it can handle weather changes, pool chemicals, and hard use.
Here are a few of the more popular natural stone types. Deciding which one to use depends on how you will use your pool and your property’s architectural style.
Travertine is one of the more popular materials for building luxury pool decks. This material’s reputation for being hard-wearing yet beautiful has been known since ancient times. Today, the material is in as much demand as ever, especially with pool builders who have come to depend on this material’s porous nature and tendency to remain cool to the touch.
Because travertine typically absorbs water instantly, decks made of it are virtually slip-free. Plus, it can handle all types of weather conditions, including freeze/thaw.
Ordinarily mined from quarries in Turkey, Italy, Iran, Mexico, and the USA, travertine usually comes in ivory, light brown, brown and gold. Rich and luxurious in look and feel, pool designers will generally choose this material for artistic settings.
Travertine is commonly found in one of three finishes: tumbled (textured and porous), honed (smooth and matte), and polished (smooth and shiny).
Photo courtesy of Rugged Class Waterfalls & Pools, Yakima, Washington.; photography by Stephen K. Wolfe
Another pool deck material that is frequently considered is flagstone, a common term for any type of flat slab of natural paving, like the Oklahoma stone that was used to build this deck (pictured at right).
Rich in earth-toned colors and textures, this type of stone is ideal for around a pool because it has a non-slip surface, resists moisture and heat, and can withstand constant use.
Quarried all over the world, flagstone is low maintenance because of its highly dense makeup and will usually hold up for years. Easily installed, this material is the choice of those who like a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, and who also want a one-of-a-kind creation.
Photo courtesy of Land Design, Boerne, Texas
Slate is a type of flagstone that has been used by builders for centuries. Heavy and durable, slate is easy to install and can be cut in varying lengths and widths.
Colors range from dark blacks and brown to reds (like the one pictured at left), rusts, purples, greens, to blue-grays.
Quarries in Wales, Portugal, and the United Kingdom are known for high quality slate, but quarries in the U.S., especially those found in New York, also produce attractive, long-lasting slate. This type of stone decking is great for natural settings, but also suitable for traditional spaces as well.
Photo courtesy of Stone Mason of Spring, Montgomery, Texas; photography by John Guild
Bluestone is another kind of flagstone and is primarily quarried in the U.S., particularly in New York and Pennsylvania. Perfect for outdoor use, bluestone pavers are hardwearing, non-slip, and water resistant.
Normally blue-gray in color, this material is commonly finished in one of three ways: thermal, which gives a uniform texture; natural cleft, which creates a non-uniform texture; and honed, which have a highly smooth appearance. Bluestone is an ideal choice of stone decking for an outdoor space that is surrounded by natural charm.
Photo courtesy of Drakeley Swimming Pool Company, Bethlehem, Connecticut. Photography by Jeffrey Boucher
Limestone is one of the world’s go-to building materials. Limestone, normally quarried from local sources, is hardy and can retain its beauty for years, no matter the weather. Many pool designers not only construct decks using this material, but also prefer to use its good looks for pool coping.
Durable and alluring in a warm, earthy way, limestone can tolerate extreme weather changes and hold up against continuous use. Colors include gray, blue, tan, brown, and pink, among others, and can be cut in a variety of shapes and sizes, making it a stress-free choice of decking for many homeowners.
Photo courtesy of Cipriano Custom Swimming Pools & Landscaping, Mahwah, New Jersey; Photography by Ed Pirone
Sandstone is comprised of quartz grains and is usually light brown or red. Exceptionally hard-wearing, even-toned sandstone is the ideal companion for pools that are dramatic in color and texture. Pool designers like this selection because they can obtain the amount of material they need without worrying about an extreme color range.
Photo courtesy of Lewis Aquatech Pools, Chantilly, Virginia
Granite is one of the hardest natural stones, which is why pool designers select it when looking for a consistent look that can stand the test of time.
Made primarily of quartz, granite is usually dark in color, holds a shine, and repels water. Granite decking is perfect for pool designs that are natural in motif—but also a good choice for elegant settings, like this flamed Italian granite deck (at left).
Photo courtesy of Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa, Morgan Hill, California.; Photography by Barbara Bourne
Coral stone, also known as coralina fossil stone and keystone, consists of coral and shell fossils, coral, sand, as well as limestone.
This distinctive material is strengthened by nature to survive a number of climate extremes, saltwater, pool chemicals, and heavy foot traffic, making it ideal for pool decking and coping. Virtually non-slip, coral stone also absorbs only a minimum of heat and is easily maintained.
Although commonly used in the tropics, coral stone can be enjoyed elsewhere, including in settings that experience a freeze/thaw cycle.
Photo courtesy of Coral Stone USA, Haileah, Florida