An old concrete guy once told me this. "There are only 2 truths when it comes to concrete. It will get hard and it will crack" .
This is especially true in the cold Wisconsin climate. We experience alot of ground movement throughout the seasons here in Wisconsin. Frost causes alot of ground movement and so does the predominantley clay soil.
That is why I typically recomend staying away from stamped and colored concrete. While although it looks beautiful it is expensive and hard to repair should it crack . We do put relief cuts (control joints) in stamped concrete in key areas to help reduce the chance of cracking or to promote the cracking to happen inside the releif cuts (control joints). Inevitably concrete has a mind of its own and may crack ramdomly.
Pool Pros also uses 1/2" rebar 24" on center to reinforce our pool decks as well. This give the concrete more strength a reduces the likelihood of cracking. Beware of anyone use mesh for concrete in Wisconsin. It will not hold up well at all. It's quicker and cheaper to work with but will not hold up.
Due to the cost of anywhere from $20.00 - $26.00 dollars per square foot we have seen a trend towards less use of stamped concrete. Pool Pros average pool deck is 1000 square feet so at a cost of $26,000.00 for concrete, it is unrealistic for some pool owners. Which is why we have seen an uptick in clients choosing to do a stamped concrete border around the pool and then a standard broom finished concrete for the rest of the decking. This gives the pool a beautiful accent around the pool at a craction of the cost of an entire stamped deck.
Stamped Concrete also takes longer to complete. Initially the concrete is installed and stamped, then the concrete and release color have to sit for 24- 48 so the colors soak in and can cure. Then the concrete has to be cleaned to remove the release agent. Then the concrete has to dry thoroughly before it can be sealed. It also requires at least 2 coats to cure properly.
While stamped concrete is beautiful it isnt feasible for the average pool owner to afford a large stamped pool deck. The trend is towards stamped concrete copings. Regardless of the type of concrete pool deck you choose, there are 2 truths with concrete, it will get hard and it will crack.