Which is Better – a Concrete or Paver Pool Surround?

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  • March 4, 2019

Everyone who owns a pool eventually has to decide what type of surround to put around it. Pool surrounds can be made of various materials, with concrete and pavers being two of the most popular choices.

At first glance, concrete and paver pool surrounds may look like equally good options, but there are some important differences which make one of these options stand out.

Which one is it? Read on and we will show you.

Paver Pool Surrounds

Pavers have been around for thousands of years. Long before they were used to make pool surrounds, they paved roads in ancient Egypt and Rome. Today there are various types of pavers available, such as concrete, brick, and natural stone which includes travertine and granite.

The process of laying a paver pool surround has approximately 9 steps, which are:

  1. Clear and level the area around the pool  
  2. Compact the soil  to create a firm base. This base is very important to keep the pavers as level as possible.
  3. Create a layer of compacted limestone, gravel or coarse sand on top of the soil. This layer helps hold the pavers in place and allows water to drain.
  4. Use an adhesive and lay bullnose pavers around the edge of the pool so that they create an overhang of between 15-30 mm.
  5. Build an external border around the edges of the pool surround. This border gives the surround a neat appearance and also allows the pavers to expand and contract with the weather.
  6. Set the pavers in place by hand. They can be set in simple rows or used to create a basket weave or herringbone pattern
  7. Cut the last few pavers and fit them into any odd spaces that are still empty.
  8. Fill in the cracks between the pavers with sand or grout.
  9. Apply a sealer.

The cost of a paver pool surround varies greatly, according to the type of pavers that you choose, how much preparatory work the area requires  and the size of the surround. We estimate, though, that you will probably pay between $50 to $110 per square metre for materials and labor.

Once a paver pool surround is installed, it requires a moderate amount of upkeep, which includes:

  1. Regular surface cleaning to prevent dirt buildup and staining.
  2. Periodic deep cleaning with high pressure water and if necessary, a rotary surface cleaner to remove stubborn dirt, as well as any mildew and moss that might be growing in the cracks.
  3. A fresh application of sealer every 2-5 years depending on what type of sealer is used.
  4. Occasional repair of pavers as they shift or come loose.
  5. Occasional refilling of the cracks as the sand washes out or the grout dries and shrinks.

In summary, laying a paver pool surround involves about 9 different steps and can take a week or two to complete depending on the size. The pavers and the installation costs will probably be between $50 to $110 per square metre, and there is a moderate amount of maintenance to help the surround look its best and last well.

Now let’s consider concrete pool surrounds.

Concrete Pool Surrounds

Nabateans living near the Arabian Peninsula developed the world’s first form of concrete thousands of years ago. They used it to build kilns and underground cisterns, as well as lay floors. In our modern society, approximately 10 billion tons of concrete are made every year and used in all types of construction, including pool surrounds.

Installing a concrete pool surround involves about 8 steps:

  1. First, prepare the area around the pool so that it is level and compact.  
  2. Build a wooden frame in the desired shape to hold the concrete in place as it dries.
  3. Mix the concrete. Concrete is made of portland cement, water and aggregates, such as sand, gravel or quartz. Aggregates make the concrete strong and resilient.
  4. Pour the concrete being careful to remove any pockets of air in it.
  5. Level the surface of the concrete.
  6. Cure the concrete for about 7 days depending on the weather. Curing involves keeping the concrete humid, so that it can develop strength and volume stability.  
  7. After the concrete is cured and dried, polish the surface as desired.
  8. Lastly, apply a sealer.

Laying a concrete pool surround takes a week or two depending on the size of the surround, the amount of preparatory work that needs done and the weather. Since pouring concrete requires less manual work than laying pavers, concrete pool surrounds tend to be cheaper than their paver counterparts and cost an average of $45 to $90 per square metre.

Along with their lower price, concrete pool surrounds have a few more advantages when compared to paver pool surrounds:

  1. They are seamless and don’t have cracks that collect dirt, mold and weeds.
  2. They can easily be made into any shape. This aspect makes concrete pool surrounds especially nice for fiberglass pools.
  3. The concrete is spread right up to the edge of the pool and eliminates the need for bullnose pavers.
  4. Since the concrete is one solid piece, it doesn’t rise or sink and become uneven as pavers tend to do.

Another great thing about concrete pool surrounds is that they require minimal maintenance. All they need to last for years is:

  1. Regular cleaning to keep them from collecting dirt and staining.
  2. A new coat of sealer every few years to keep the concrete from aging too quickly, as well as to keep the surface smooth.  

In conclusion, concrete pool surrounds cost less than paver pool surrounds, they are simpler to install and require significantly less ongoing maintenance. Besides all that, concrete pool surrounds have a modern beauty about them that will complement any type of decór.

Paver and concrete pool surrounds may look equal at first glance, but when you take the time to consider the details – how much they cost, how they are laid and what you are going to have to do to take care of them – concrete pool surrounds stand out as the most practical and reasonably priced option.