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Salt Finish Concrete Pool Deck (Design Guide)

Here’s our salt finish concrete pool deck including what it is, pros and cons, cost and design tips. Salt finish pool deck Homeowners with backyard swimming pools know very well how slippery an ordinary pool deck can be. While adults can watch their steps to prevent falls, children are often not so lucky. That is why many swimming pool owners love to have a salt finish concrete pool deck.

This type of swimming pool deck is not only safer for everyone who uses the pool. It also gives the water feature a more natural look and feel, almost like walking on the beach. If you want to learn more about what a salt finish concrete pool deck is, this article is for you.

What is a Salt Finish Pool Deck?

Conventional swimming pool decks feature a broom or brushed finished to give the concrete surface a textured feel. Before the concrete hardens, technicians brush the surface with a broom or a similar tool to create shallow indentations.

The tiny grooves created by the broom or brush strokes create a rough surface, allowing people and objects to maintain traction as they move on the pool deck.

A salt finish pool deck is almost like a smooth-finished or brush-finished platform. The only difference is the addition of rock salts onto the wet concrete mixture’s surface.

Swimming pool deck finishers often use coarse rock salt like what many households use for deicing or in their salt-based ion-exchange water softeners. While the pool deck’s concrete is still wet, finishers add a layer of coarse rock salt on the surface before pressing the salt grains with a roller or float.

Pressing the salt particles pushes them deep enough into the concrete to create indentations when removed. One must be cautious in pushing the particles. Too shallow, and the pool deck might not receive its much-needed slip resistance. Too deep, and the rock salt gets stuck in the concrete.

Concrete finishers wait about 24 hours for the mixture to set before they rinse the surface with a power washer. This action removes any salt grain not embedded into the dry concrete. It also produces the characteristic speckled pattern as dislodged salt particles will leave small craters on the surface.

Salt concrete finishes are common in homes in the country’s southern and western regions, where the weather is generally warmer. 

Subjecting a salt finish pool deck to freezing temperatures can cause spalling. Salt lowers water’s freezing temperature, forming ice faster than ordinary water. This characteristic allows the salt to freeze water and melt ice rapidly while building pressure in crevices. It can lead to cracks in the concrete.

That is why many pool deck contractors do not recommend a salt finish for homes in cold climates. Rock salt finish pool deck Cantilever pool deck with rock salt finish.

Pros and Cons of a Salt Finish Concrete Pool Deck

Pros:

  • Exceptional slip resistance with the correct application
  • Safer for people to move around the swimming pool even with wet feet and surface
  • Provides excellent traction for wheeled items, such as utility vehicles, food carts, and poolside trays
  • Withstands chemicals, physical forces, and extreme heat 
  • Reflects heat better than tiles and dark-colored bricks, making it more comfortable for anyone to walk on the pool deck surface barefoot
  • More affordable than other pool deck styles
  • Provides a distinctive weathered pattern to the swimming pool deck
  • Allows for customization, especially when used with colored rock salt
  • Easy to clean and maintain, allowing families to keep their pool area’s integrity over time
  • Works with other decorative patio, coping and swimming pool finishes

Cons:

  • Not recommended for swimming pools in cold climates 
  • Requires professional installation, ensuring uniform salt distribution and proper compaction

Is Salt Finish Concrete Slippery?

Public swimming pool with concrete salt finish deck The speckled finish and tiny indentations created by the dislodged salt crystals give salt finish concrete excellent skid and slip resistance.

People walking around are less likely to slip and fall because the textured surface provides excellent traction on the soles of the feet or footwear. For this reason a concrete patio with a salt finish is often used for public pools.

The textured finish also makes it ideal for other objects, such as utility vehicles and food carts. The wheels have a firm grip on the surface, preventing unnecessary movements without hampering the device’s mobility.

Is Salt Finish Concrete More Expensive than a Concrete Pool Deck?

Home with salt finish concrete pool Salt finish concrete is more expensive than a traditional concrete pool deck because of the additional rock salts. However, the price difference is almost negligible, depending on the size of the swimming pool deck.

One must remember that ordinary concrete pool decks require only a broom or brush to create a slip-resistant surface. You can buy one of these tools for less than a dollar or two.

On the other hand, adding rock salt into the concrete can increase the construction cost by a few tens of dollars. For example, if one requires ten 50-pound bags of rock salt, the concrete pool deck’s construction cost will be higher by $60 to $70. 

Using a hundred 50-pound bags will put an extra $600 to $700 on the construction cost, considering the average price of a 50-pound bag of rock salt is about $6 to $7.

On average, a basic salt finish will cost homeowners a dollar for every square foot of pool deck area. This price is on top of the usual cost of constructing a concrete pool deck.

So, if one has 100 square feet of deck area, the additional cost will be $100 on top of the concrete pool deck construction cost. If the overall project costs $1,000, adding a basic salt finish will push the price to $1,100.

Contractors can also include a salt finish in their services, purchasing only a roller to press the salt crystals into the wet concrete. This tool is inexpensive and will last many years with proper care and maintenance.

Salt Finish Pool Deck Conclusion

A salt finish concrete pool deck is an inexpensive option for swimming pool owners who want excellent slip resistance and a unique weathered look on their pool decks.

With the correct knowledge and skill, ordinary homeowners can apply a basic salt finish themselves. Even if they contract with professionals, the cost will still be lower than having other decorative pool deck options.

The improved safety and raw beauty of salt finish are enough reasons for many homeowners to adopt this pool deck decorative option.

For more related content, another similar finish that is popular is an exposed aggregate pool deck.

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