Hey all, I've had 3 people ask me my thoughts on the vinyl freestanding deck that we got for our intex 9x18 pool so I thought I'd do a post related to that.
Why I chose it:
1. Because it's freestanding and "not permanent" you do not need permits to set it up. That way, in case we decide to take the pool down we can easily move the deck. The township is a bear on these pools, they do not consider them portable if they are over 42" deep so you need to permit it like a true above ground pool. The electrical work cost me twice what the pool did.
2. I wanted something that was low maintenance and had the ladder door that's required by the township to prevent unauthorized access to the pool.
3. I wanted something that would fit at the short end of the pool and would provide enough area for a chair or bench.
4. I wanted vinyl vs. wood or composite as it doesn't get hot on the feet nor give you splinters and it's no maintenance and easy to clean/care for.
Research I did:
1. I hit all the sites for pool stuff, amazon, intex, this site, in the swim, spa depot, and the vinylworks website. I went to the local Pool store because they carry them. The one they had on-site was very rickety because they were moving it around, and after looking closer they didnt assemble it correctly which was why it was rickety. Besides that it looked good. However, we did NOT try the ladders on the one they had.
1. We purchased it from an online pool store. It arrived to us in two boxes with the address written on the outside saying "Return to: xxx.com Ut oh. someone already returned this to the store and they sent it to me after I paid 2K for it? Not happy.
2. I had the pool installers who set up my pool and did the landscaping set up the deck for me. It was missing several bolts that he had to replace.
1. After he got it set up we noticed that the top step going to the exterior ladder is actually cut in half. We assumed that this was done by the people who returned it. After about 2 weeks going back and forth we finally received a call from the manufacturer saying they do this on purpose to make it fit that size deck. WHAT??? I paid $2K+ for a deck that a piece is cut in half for installation?? thats BS as far as I'm concerned. Not happy.
2. The exterior ladder has a very odd angle to it. it certainly does not feel like steps when you're climbing it and the locking door is a pain in the butt. I'm trying to figure out a way to prop it open when we're going up/down it alot. The door does not close and lock properly, which is the whole reason for getting this type of ladder, you have to jiggle it to make it lock the door.
3. Coming down the exterior ladder is an adventure. Because the door always closes, and the stairs are at a weird angle it is not easy and I am very concerned that someone's going to take a spill. Besides having bruises on your shins from the darn door. I would have no problem paying extra for an "optional" stairway with gate that is at a better angle/configuration to access the deck. Coming off the deck is truly a scary adventure.
4. Deck is sturdy, I don't like the ridges they've put on the vinyl decking part to prevent slipping, its painful to the bottom of your feet and actually hurts. I'll be researching something to go over top of the deck to stop this.
5. Pool ladder into pool: The ladder can be attached anywhere on the platform to go into the pool. It's attached to the deck with 4 bolts. The ladder tends to float which is bending the plastic. When you stand on the ladder it sinks and because there's play in it it actually hits the curve of the pool bottom which concerns me greatly. I purchased a pad that goes under the ladder so the liner doesn't get damaged, but I'm going to have to rig something to keep the ladder away from the pool (or move the deck out further over the water). Not thrilled. (the platform is about an inch past the top ledge of the pool)
Knowing what I know now....
1. Would I buy it again? NO. I was actually considering buying a second one, taking down the rails to double the size of the deck but I am very disappointed with the ladder set ups and the decking.
2. Is it sturdy? YES. The deck itself is sturdy, but again, we don't plan on moving it so I bet that if its moved around it will become loose.
3. Many of the bolts are not rustproof, so we have several that we will have to change out to prevent rust from getting in the pool.
4. Ladders. EXTERIOR LADDER IS SCARY. I'm concerned with my parents and older friends trying to get down it. we'll probably end up building steps to the deck and getting rid of the ladder, its just not configured properly for anyone over 10. Interior ladder. I'm afraid it's going to pop my pool. it should not move as much as it does so we're going to have to do something to prevent it from hitting the sides of the pool.
5. Platform material - Its sturdy, but the ridges hurt your feet. Its also not easy to sweep off because of the ridges.
6. Railings - Sturdy railings, no issue there. We got the solar post tops and it looks really neat at night.
Assembly and install: $500
Additional costs I see in the next year:
1. Steps to replace exterior ladder: $500
2. Rigging/replacing interior ladder: $200
3. outdoor tiles to cover vinyl deck ridges so they don't hurt feet: $250
So, all in all the deck will cost me about 3K all said and done. I really had high hopes for this product and planned on getting a second one to "piggy back" to this one to double the deck size. Knowing what I know now, I would have just had my pool guy build what I wanted out of vinyl railing and use the composite decking for the platform. If I get a couple years out of it I'll be happy, by that time we'll probably be ready to replace the pool so we'll get a "real" set up at that point.
So I guess my final opinion is yes, the deck is sturdy, older people using it scares me because of the exterior ladder and I won't buy a second one to expand the deck size. The potential for having a great product is there, but the execution just isn't there, and for the cost, I expected higher quality than what we received. For 3K I could have had a MUCH better and bigger deck for my money. It really makes me sad and disappointed, I really hoped this would be a product I could recommend to others looking for an "easy" intex pool deck, but I'd say hire a contractor and build what you want, you can get what you want and can ensure that you don't have to worry about someone falling down the ladders.
I hope this helps and if you have any questions please feel free to ask!