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Nothing beats a backyard swimming pool for refreshing and healthy family fun. But while water is the main focus, the decking you put around your pool can determine not just how well it fits into your landscape, but how long it will last without excessive maintenance and how comfortable it is under your feet in the sunlight.

This Old House show host Bob Vila, a trusted resource for many homeowners, offers his take on making safe, comfortable choices:

Poured Concrete
The material of choice for decades, poured concrete is durable and water-resistant, and, when finished with a brushed surface, allows swimmers to walk barefooted with little risk of slipping. It can be formed and poured in whatever form you like, and is affordable at about $5 to $6 per square foot for professional installation. Running a hose over it before swimming will help keep it cool underfoot.

Cement Pavers
Pre-cast cement pavers are available in a variety of shapes and in a handful of grey and earthen tones, making them a good choice for a stylish statement piece. They are non-slip and affordable at about $4 to $6 per square foot, and are professionally installed over a bed of sand or gravel to keep them moving or sinking.

Brick
Like cement pavers, brick decking must be installed over a bed of sand or gravel in order to maintain an even surface. Brick paving provides a classic look by itself or combined with poured concrete. Available in a variety of colors and patterns, it is slightly more expensive than pavers. Because dark brick absorbs heat and can be hot under the feet in very hot weather, prepare to cool it down with a hose.

Wood
Wood absorbs less heat and feels good underfoot, and choices like redwood, teak or cedar weather well and help repel water damage. Still, wood decking may need to be refinished and/or resealed every three to four years. Also, installation is expensive, at up to $15 per square foot, because the decking must be installed over a floor joist system constructed first.

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