The surface around a pool is subject to slightly different conditions than other areas you might decoratively paint or stain; a pool deck is frequently exposed to moisture, it's a surface where children regularly walk, and in many cases, it's exposed to the elements. Nonetheless, with the right materials, there's no reason you can't fashion the area around your pool to your own tastes, including a trompe l'oeil effect emulating red brickwork.
Paint vs. Stain
To give your pool area a brilliant red color, you can purchase either paints or stains intended for high-moisture surfaces. Whereas stain is designed to penetrate into material, like a dye, paint forms a layer on the surface of whatever it covers. Therefore, painting a deck is more likely to result in chipping or flaking, especially if you do not completely abide by the manufacturer's application instructions. Because stain goes into the pores in a concrete deck, it cannot flake or chip. On the other hand, some deck paints include tiny grit to add traction to the deck surface. Using these textured paints can improve the safety of your pool by reducing the chances of slipping on a slick surface. If you opt for stain, you can choose between either acidic or acrylic materials, depending on your deck material.
In practice, your creativity with your pool deck is somewhat limited by the range of colors available for pool deck paints and stains. While bright red tones are easy to find for interior or even exterior house paint, the selection of colors for specially formulated deck paints and stains is far more restricted. Instead of bright brick red, you can still create the effect of brickwork using a combination of buff and tan, taupe or sand colors. While you may like the idea of red brick around your pool, remember that colors become more intense when painted over a large area, such as a pool deck. Consult with a decorator or landscape designer to develop a pleasing palette based on available colors. Use plantings or furniture to add dashes of brighter colors.
Depending on the material you choose, your pool deck paint or stain may offer a slip-resistant texture or protection against UV rays and weathering. In some cases, no primer is necessary, whereas other paints require that you prime the deck before application and use a sealer afterward. Typically stains require a sealant.
If you haven't yet laid your pool deck, consult with the deck laying company about textural options. At this stage, instead of painting, you can create the look of brick or pavers with imprinted concrete, which gives the illusion of other, more expensive deck materials. You can also select colored concrete, which comes in a range of pigments, including unusual options such as brick red or terra cotta, far less common among standard deck paints and stains.