Old Pool - New Deck




Introduction: Old Pool - New Deck


What to do with the gaping hole left behind in the deck after removing the pool.
Like so many above-ground pool owners who wanted some of the conveniences of an in-ground pool, I built a deck at pool height around the pool. This scenario served us well lasting many years, but at sometime, as many know, our lifestyles change and the pool may go unused or it needs replacement. With the intent on giving this space new life I set out to find a creative solution.

So after much deliberation, and as much as I hated to see it go, it was time to say goodbye to the pool. I played with different ideas and wanted to do something other than the obvious insertion of new framing and floorboards at deck level (the dance floor). I even considered opening up one end of the deck and creating a secret garden sitting area accessed from the lower yard, but I'm happy I went the chosen route as it made good use of our small yard. In its place would be an illuminated step down deck that added some visual interest with the feel of a sunken living room.

I consider this a two-person job at the very least since carrying and holding large pieces of lumber is accomplished more easily with extra helping hands. On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is easy, I consider this job a 6 for someone familiar with construction methods. Not too complicated, pretty straight forward. You just have to do the hard work of planning, hauling, assembly and finishing and oh yeah, some sweat equity.



  • Lumber (4xs, 2xs, 1xs as needed)
  • Galvanized screws (or nails), bolts/nuts/washers
  • Galvanized support hangers/hardware
  • Concrete footings
  • Rope lighting
  • Stain or paint
  • poly-carbonate roof panel (or other finish material)

  • TOOLS:

Circular saw

Table saw (compound / miter)

hand saw


tape measure

scribe / pencil / marker

chalk line

speed square or sliding T-bevel / angle finder


screw gun / drill

large clamps (optional)

work space / supports for holding long lengths of lumber while cutting

eye protection


utility knife

ladder to get in and out of the hole (or a box and an old dresser like I did)

Step 1: Planning

As with building all permanent or semi-permanent structures and working in what amounted to a small construction site, safety is a priority, during construction and after, especially in building a space that may be occupied by many people and objects. Prepare well, wear the proper gear and take your time because I have found that Mr. Murphy is waiting at every turn to turn your day sour.


One would think the site below a pool to be flat and pristine but don't forget, there was likely sand or in my case, pool-base used as a cushioning agent below the liner. After dismantling the pool's framing and recycling what we could, the now compressed pool-base created an unwelcome and slippery work area. It was dense and slimy and took quite a few black bags to get it up and out (couldn't fill them due to the weight). Making sure all debris was removed and a clean-as-you-go mentality was used, the site was ready to move around in with tools at hand.

Using recommended construction methods (any "how-to" book on building decks as a reference should do) and armed with those lessons that Murphy taught me in the past, I planned for the correct lumber sizing and estimated the amount of materials needed. We picked them up and hauled them home, coordinating the opening and closing of doors as we came out of the truck (SUV) and in through the front and out to the back. We then reversed this process many times during the course of the project with the scraps and debris. It helped to organised my work-space and stack the materials in a handy location in a neat and orderly fashion (you know, that safety thing) and to help find things easily. Despite these efforts, you'd be surprised how many times I misplaced my glasses on top of my head and had pencils disappear into thin air.

Step 2: Stage One - the Ribs

I had built the outer surrounding deck using over-kill tactics (3 ft deep footings under all 26 posts) so I figured I (and my trusty assistant) could get away with using surface mounted concrete footings to support the center of the new deck being as the outer perimeter of the new deck was to be attached to the existing deck. I also planned to install the new deck in a manner that would make it relatively easy for someone to remove it and put in a new pool if they like, down the road. So the original surrounding profile was left in tact and screws were used to speed installation and for easier removal. Non permanent footings would be easy to remove without creating an obstruction beneath a replacement pool's liner.

I designed my finish deck boards with a center strip from front to back to line up with the style of the original deck. It also created a visual break between boards who's ends would otherwise abut and, as they aged, could look distracting. So now, knowing what I wanted and how it should look, I was then able to design the support system.

My design was to have this deck be a step down from the outer deck so I had to install new ledger boards around the lower edge of the exposed framing of the hole circumference. These ledger boards provided the support for the new deck perimeter and served to support the hangers and joists (the ribs) that in turn support the new floor boards. (note: The crosshatch framing in the foreground is a trellis that rests on the surrounding railing and is not part of the deck floor design)

Step 3: Stage Two - the Skin

The hard part is over and the deck boards are ready to be laid down, but the work is not done yet. The center rib is placed first and used as the guide for all other perpendicular boards. I used chalk lines to ensure my screws were neatly lined up (there will be quite a few of them). Working systematically being careful to space my boards evenly and using a few tricks I learned over the years helped ensure the boards lined up and were neatly placed.

When complete, I finished the original exposed end-framing with sections of wavy roof panels. Any material of choice could be used here or they could have been painted but I wanted something more stylish. The exposed and unfinished step edge was finished with 1x lumber to complete the look

And finally, rope lights were added beneath the step over-hang not just for visual effect but to bring to light that there is a step there (wouldn't want anyone falling into the "pool").

Step 4: Stage Three - the Finishing Touches

Stain or paint should be applied when the lumber has had a chance to dry out. I initially went with a lighter tone of brown to make it obvious there is a transitional change between deck sections so that someone unfamiliar with the terrain would take notice. As you can see the yard has undergone a few changes already with the addition of decorative fencing (maybe another Instructables???) and furniture rearrangement.

This year we cautiously chose to go blue expecting it to look ridiculous but actually we kind of like it. We are ready to dive in

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    3 years ago

    This is a great looking transition. Very good upgrade!


    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks for the feedback. I now love going to my pool deck because there's no skimming, cleaning or back washing. Just sit and enjoy.