Integrating the pool and house with a wooden deck

last updated: Apr 10, 2024

A key objective of the original design was to ensure that the pool and deck were integrated with the home, rather than being a separate element, fenced off and visibly independent.

To this end, the design extends the current wooden deck along the full width of the house and up to the edge of the pool’s rear retaining wall.

This doubles the size of the deck, creating a sizable outdoor dining space and providing clear passage between the house and pool. The fish pond that formerly sat in the middle of this area is relocated to the house edge.

Existing deck
The deck before construction began. Green lines show future pool location.
Existing deck
The deck before construction began. The fish pond is at the base of the bamboo.

The existing deck is at the level of the house. We’ll continue this deck along the house over to the edge of the equipment pad. We’ll leave a small strip clear where the pipes descend into the ground and attempt to transplant the existing bamboo there. We’ll also build a deck at the same elevation around the side of the home.

This is the upper deck. From here, there will be one step down to a lower deck that runs behind the pool deck retaining wall.

Computer render of planned deck

Computer render of the planned deck expansion.

Building a deck frame usually entails sinking posts into the ground, running beams along them, and then placing joists atop the beams. For reasons not worth delving into, we were not able to place any new posts and had to work with the existing structures.

A deck without posts

Thankfully, most of the area to be decked was still covered in a hard substrate, which had formed the base for the prior red bricks. Although most of the bricks had been removed, the substrate remained and could be used to mount the deck. In the area immediately adjacent the house, we had kept the bricks in place.

For the two areas where we have a hard substrate (adjacent the house and on the side of the house), I decided to build full frames of joists with bridging first, and then position them in the desired location by sitting them atop short pieces of 90mm PVC pipe. The pipes could then be filled with concrete, forming posts. The frame then just needed to be tied down in a few locations to prevent uplift.

That still left an approximately 2000mm span of earth between the new upper deck frame supported by the existing bricks and the existing deck. Luckily the span wasn’t too great for sufficiently close bearers to bridge safely. The bearers were secured to the existing deck bearers at one end with hangers and to the red bricks at the other.

Deck plan

The planned deck extension showing upper/lower sections (excluding upper section on house side)

For the lower deck, a ledger board was attached to the pool deck retaining wall and another to the existing red brick / rainwater tank slab. Joists were then run between the ledgers and attached with hangers.

Ledger board fixed to retaining wall
Ledger board attached to retaining wall using threaded rod chemically anchored into the wall
Ledger board and joists
Ledger board attached to retaining wall and joists attached to ledger using hangers
Full deck frame

Nearly completed upper and lower deck frames

The long and painful task of installing the deck boards

Although I would have liked to use a broader pieces for the actual deck boards (not least to minimize the amount of work installing it), the existing deck was 70mm and we wanted to ensure it matched.

The decking boards are hardwood. To avoid them splitting them, it’s necessary to pre-drill holes for the screws. Pre-drilling also minimizes the risk of snapping screws. We’re using stainless steels screws, which are great for longevity, but prone to snapping if too much torque is applied to them.

The screws have a tapered head, and it’s necessary to also pre-drill the area where the head will sit. Thankfully, there are countersink drill bits that will drill the hole and the head area at once.

Compounding this is the face that the boards are rarely completely straight, and so much be held straight with a lever of some sort (usually another decking board) as each hole is drilled and screw installed. Even with the right tools, it’s a very slow process and took a good amount of time to complete.

Despite being laborious, it was mostly straightforward work, with the exception of the boards that sit on top of the pool deck retaining wall. With no frame beneath them, these needed to be attached directly to the wall, which required plugging the wall with plastic anchors, attaching a board to the wall, and then another board atop the first. They also needed holes precut where the gass fence spigots were located. Getting the heights, widths, and positions correct was a challenge.

The finished product

Completed deck

The completed deck - new portions, new upper and lower sections

Completed deck adjoining existing deck

The completed deck adjoining the existing deck

Completed deck side area

The completed deck - side area

Relocated fish pond

Relocated fish pond with surrounding new deck above and prior deck below