Building a pool deck extension

We have an above-ground swimming pool, that we set up around July and take down around September. We only swim in it a few times during summer, typically when the air temperature is 90° F (32° C) or more. It is a big hit during our summer party, too. But getting into the pool involved walking down a flight of steps from the deck, around the deck, and climbing a rickety ladder up and down, despite the pool being positioned a few feet from the deck. The pool can’t be set up any closer, due to a retaining wall and the support legs of the pool.

So a project in the last week or two was to improve that by building a small extension to the deck, enabling direct access to the pool.

Here’s the “before” picture; the deck railing and pool beyond:

Railing and pool

I removed that portion of the railing, blocking the gap with a temporary barrier. I also brought over a bunch of tools:

Removed railing

I built a pair of gates, using some reclaimed material from the old railing:

Gate

I also purchased some nice plastic pool steps, which Jenn assembled:

Pool steps

I rested the steps in the pool, to confirm their height; they’re floating, as they need to be weighted down with sand:

Steps in pool

Building the deck extension joists, using treated lumber:

Deck joists

Adding cedar deck boards, to match the main deck:

Deck boards

Adding trim around the edges:

Adding trim

Stained:

Stained

Looking from the ground next to the pool, where you can see the aforementioned retaining wall and pool legs, plus the attachment point and a post in a concrete footing:

Attachment point and posts

I considered several concepts for the deck, including having it removable, or hinge up like a drawbridge. Since I need to take down and set up the pool each year, I thought that having it be able to get out of the way would help with that. But ultimately I decided to make it a fixed deck, since that would be more sturdy, and it is very heavy. I determined that I should be able to assemble and disassemble the pool even with the deck fixed in place, since the pool leg under the deck will fit between the deck legs.

So I trimmed the trim of the main deck, to avoid unevenness there:

Trimmed trim

The underside of the deck, ready to be installed:

Underside of deck

The deck resting on boards, during installation; since it is rather large and heavy, it was a bit awkward to maneuver by myself, but I managed (Jenn was at work):

Resting on boards

The deck mounted, with missing boards for reasons:

Installed

Me under the deck, attaching bracing to the legs:

Me under the deck

Adding a railing post:

Railing post

Using the router to have nice rolled edges on the top of the railings, to match the main deck:

Routing railings

The extra deck boards and gates installed:

Gates

Initially I mounted the gates to open onto the main deck, as above, based on my original idea of having the extension fold upwards. But Jenn pointed out that it’d make more sense for them to swing the other way, now that it’s fixed in place. So I re-hung them to open that way, which is indeed much tidier:

Gates opening onto deck

Here are the gates closed, with a cane bolt to hold the right one closed, and a key-lockable latch for the left one:

Gates

When the pool isn’t there, we’ll probably lock the gates, for safety.

Next, I finished the railings, again to match the main deck:

Railings

The railing from the other side:

Railings

And I stained the railings:

Stained railings

The completed deck extension:

Finished deck

Finally, Jenn and I mounted the steps into the pool. Easier said than done, since she endured the chill water to position a mat under the steps, and hang buckets of sand below the steps to weigh them down:

Mounted steps

The steps are designed to fill the legs with sand, but we decided to hang buckets instead, to make it easier to move the steps when taking down the pool. It’ll be easier to set up the steps next year when assembling the pool, since I’ll be able to do it before filling with water.

The finished deck extension, complete with lights on the railing:

Finished

(The temporary rope barrier was to stop kids from diving during our annual party; that is normally a nice spot to sit and dangle feet in the pool, or rest beverages or pool floats.)

The deck and pool got a lot of use during our party on Saturday, and was admired by all. We had our first official swim on Sunday, and found the deck extension and steps so much nicer. To paraphrase someone at our party, this is how the deck should have always been.

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