Fortress Blog

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Best Decking for a Saltwater Pool Is Super Tough and Moisture Resistant

One summer, a friend and mentor offered me a deal: I could use his saltwater pool as much as I liked, at any hour of the day, in exchange for my handyman skills.

The first order on the agenda was building a new deck around the pool, as the old cedar deck was more than a little worse for the wear. Our goal was to create a deck that would stay in great shape for a long time and could go for long periods with little maintenance, since my friend lived elsewhere during part of the year. It was my first poolside deck project, and I ended up doing a lot of research on what would be the best decking for a saltwater pool.

My friend was open to having another wood deck, but he was also wary because of how (relatively) quickly his previous wood deck had worn out. I focused on looking for the best composite decking materials instead. I found a high-quality composite decking board that seemed to stand head and shoulders over the others. It looked beautiful, stayed beautiful, and didn’t require a great deal of work to keep it that way. So, what qualities are needed to create an awesome deck by a saltwater pool?

The Best Decking for a Saltwater Pool Is Highly Moisture Resistant

It probably goes without saying that serious moisture resistance is important when it comes to poolside decking. Wood is well known for its tendency to absorb water, and water is equally well known for its capacity to deteriorate wood, even if the wood is treated, stained, and sealed regularly. Composite decking, on the other hand, is designed to deal with water, though some types are better at this than others. My favored composite decking uses two key features to keep the moisture out:

  • A Bamboo-Based Core: A great way to keep moisture out of decking boards is to utilize materials that are much more hydrophobic than wood. Among the more recent developments in composite decking is a unique decking board made from recycled plastic and bamboo. This combination of materials forms a dense board that prevents water penetration even without protective capping (though it does have a cap for extra protection). While not all composite materials work so well, I’ve found that this kind of water-resistant composite decking is extremely effective in a poolside setting.
  • An Advanced Protective Cap: If you’re looking for poolside decking, you’ll absolutely need a deck board that’s completely encased in a protective cap for extra moisture resistance. But not all protective caps are created equal. Some are prone to scratching, peeling, and denting, which can allow salt to enter the board and cause damage. On the stronger end of the spectrum are caps made of an enhanced resin material that’s strongly attached to the core of the board to prevent peeling. Some caps even utilize technology borrowed from the tire industry. These caps are tough and a bit rubbery and have a lot more play than many of the more brittle caps out there. This helps them grip the feet better for a more non-slip deck surface, which is always important in any pool area.

Resistance to Salt Corrosion

Wooden decks that are consistently exposed to salt will begin to wick the saltwater into the decking boards. Exposure to the sun evaporates the water, leaving the salt behind. The salt crystals build up within the cellular structure of the wood, and ultimately begin to damage the wood, giving the wood a fuzzy look, often referred to as “salt-kill.” While pressure-treating can be somewhat effective against this, using a material that keeps the salt out altogether is even more effective. The key to avoiding “salt-kill” is to keep the salt water from penetrating the board to begin with, which keeps the salt crystals from getting lodged in the wood (or composite). This is why a composite decking system using bamboo and advanced capping was my pick when it came to finding a decking system that would stand up to the saltiness of my friend’s pool.

Whenever I’m in town, I still have access to my friend’s pool. Actually, the poolside deck turned out so well that I am not compelled to do any more handyman work in exchange for the pool use! And if he and I end up teaming up on a remodel with a saltwater pool, we’ll most likely be laying down another composite deck--fully capped and bamboo based. One of our top picks is the Infinity® Decking manufactured by Fortress Building Products. Made with bamboo and using an enhanced resin capping system, I’ve found it to be super tough where heavy moisture is concerned. And if I need other building products that have a beautiful, quality look to them and are tough against moisture, I always browse Fortress®’ full range of products. They’ve got corrosion-resistant, stylish fencing, railings, and ornamental hardware to go with your beautiful new deck.

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