"My pool deck is too hot!" We often hear this complaint, especially when summer is in full swing. It's concrete and the sun just scorches it. Customers are always asking us if we can do anything to remedy this. The short answer is, "Yes," but you have to be willing to accept some compromises. We got that very same request from this Grand Prairie, TX homeowner who was also tired of how hard it was to walk over the exposed aggregate pool deck (stones sticking out of the concrete). The solution? A skim coat cement overlay that remedies both problems.
It was easy to tone down the stone texture on the pool deck. Once we applied the skim coat cement onto the deck, it covered and filled in the spaces between the stones, softening the texture to make it easier to walk on. That took care of the "hard to walk on" problem, but we still had to deal with the heating effect. A plus of skim coat cement products is that they have reflective properties, i.e., they will reflect some of the heat that hits it instead of absorbing it, keeping the floor cooler.
I can personally attest to this in a test we did a few years back when we were applying the skim coat cement to a part of a patio. It was summertime with a blazing sun and we were getting ready to stain the floor. Out of curiosity, I took off my shoes and socks and straddled the floor with one foot on the part that had been skimmed and the other on just plain concrete. The test lasted just a couple of seconds, ending with a lot of yelping and hopping around on one foot, specifically away from the bare concrete part and onto the skimmed portion of the pad. The temperature difference between the two sections was that noticeable.
Now for the caveat—when we apply a skim coat cement product onto a concrete floor, we tint it a very light color, just enough to give it a base color that is further enhanced during our staining process. We have noticed that if the client asks for a dark floor, we tend to lose a lot of this cooling property as darker colors tend to absorb heat instead of reflecting it. Alternately, if they stay with lighter colors, we retain more of the cooling effect.
We certainly don't recommend going with white; it's hard to keep clean and in bright sunlight it will just about blind you, but it's just as important to stay away from very dark colors or you will never be able to walk barefoot over your patio during the summer.