WaterShapes

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Durable Pool Plaster, Revisited

Five years ago, Kim Skinner wrote about what was involved in making pool plaster durable.  A lot has come to light and been studied and evaluated since then, he says -- more than enough to warrant preparation of a detailed, side-by-side update on the subject.
Five years ago, Kim Skinner wrote about what was involved in making pool plaster durable. A lot has come to light and been studied and evaluated since then, he says -- more than enough to warrant preparation of a detailed, side-by-side update on the subject.
By Kim Skinner

In December 2010, WaterShapes published “How to Make Durable Pool Plaster,” an article filled with what I knew about making reliable, discoloration-free pool plaster – including basic information about both proper and improper plastering practices.

It should come as no surprise that, since then, research has continued and our understanding of issues involved in the proper mixing and application of these cementitious finishes has continued to grow.

This article will cover these developments, discussing in greater detail the

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Recent comments

  • Guest - Richard Patterson

    Well written article on durable pool plaster. Full of technical guidelines but plain and simple enough for the non-plasterer to comprehend. Just in time for pending re-plaster and patching job ahead. Thanks,
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Elevated Engineering

Rooftop swimming pools and spas offer breathtaking views, writes Rob Holmer, but they also tend to come with an array of unique challenges.  Here, he discusses how knowing the forces at work on elevated concrete shells will help when it comes to getting things just right.
Rooftop swimming pools and spas offer breathtaking views, writes Rob Holmer, but they also tend to come with an array of unique challenges. Here, he discusses how knowing the forces at work on elevated concrete shells will help when it comes to getting things just right.
By Rob Holmer

I had a college professor who was fond of saying, “There are only two types of concrete in this world:  The first is concrete that is cracked, and the second is concrete that is going to crack.”  

That’s a good laugh line, but the tough thing about it is that it’s also true.  This is why the engineering design procedures for all reinforced concrete (pursuant to ACI 318 and 350, which are the key American Concrete Institute standards for concrete structures) allow for

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Recent comments

  • I heard that a glass swimming pool atop a building broke a while back! It goes without saying that such containers for water need to be more strong and sturdy in order to make sure that they are safe!
  • Thanks for this valuable information
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Expansive Errors

If there's one big mistake on a pool/spa installation, writes Scott Cohen, correcting the situation can be painful.  But if there are seven major errors -- as there were in the ill-fated project discussed here -- you can bet the pain will also include close encounters with attorneys.
If there's one big mistake on a pool/spa installation, writes Scott Cohen, correcting the situation can be painful. But if there are seven major errors -- as there were in the ill-fated project discussed here -- you can bet the pain will also include close encounters with attorneys.
By Scott Cohen

The lessons we’ve covered in this long sequence of articles have typically revolved around single, key errors and have generally called for commonsense (and often simple) remedies.  In the world of pool construction, however, there are situations in which the problems are far more complex, often rising from multiple missteps and clusters of intertwined failures.

This is one of those situations, and it has to do with a basic pool/spa combination in a brand-new housing development.  Although the pool contractor charged only $35,000 for the installation, the associated legal

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Recent comments

  • Well said Scott! I have been to many pool sites in my area in the Inland Empire where I have encountered the same issues. Some of the pools we have remodeled were constructed by big name builders who seem to quote low--ball prices in their pool construction. There is one popular builder in this area...
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Let's Do It!

'Breathtaking' is the best word to describe both this project and the leap Jimmy Reed took in persuading the client that the tile-installation part of this huge job -- which was to involve application of thousands of square feet of glass tile to ten unique pools -- was just a piece of cake.
'Breathtaking' is the best word to describe both this project and the leap Jimmy Reed took in persuading the client that the tile-installation part of this huge job -- which was to involve application of thousands of square feet of glass tile to ten unique pools -- was just a piece of cake.
By Jimmy Reed

Several years back, the luxury car maker Lexus described its corporate mission as the relentless pursuit of perfection, and I’m willing to step up and say that working with glass tile on the shapely, detailed interior surfaces of swimming pools and spas is just that sort of pursuit.

That’s not saying we hit the mark with placement of every single piece of tile across surfaces that frequently cover thousands of square feet, but we have

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Recent comments

  • Guest - Chuck Baumann

    I've known Jimmy for several years and I have to say that for as relaxed and always enjoying life as he is and does, he is by far the best craftsman that I have met in my 60 years in the pool industry. I have several pictures of this project up close and personal…. it is flawless and as good as it g...
  • Thanks Scott!
  • This amazing project takes high end to an entirely new level! Nice work Jimmy and all the team that was involved in this masterpiece!
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A Lesson in Communication

When he builds custom pools for fully engaged homeowners, Randy Beard usually has no problems with setting and exceeding expectations.  But here's a case where the client just couldn't absorb a key message about how to use the pool -- and therein hangs a tale.
When he builds custom pools for fully engaged homeowners, Randy Beard usually has no problems with setting and exceeding expectations. But here's a case where the client just couldn't absorb a key message about how to use the pool -- and therein hangs a tale.
By Randy Beard

This project is wonderful in so many ways that it’s tough to believe our clients could be anything less than perfectly satisfied – but, surprisingly, they’ve had a bone to pick with me.

It’s just gorgeous:  A great shape, beautifully detailed tile, a perimeter-overflow system augmented with a vanishing edge, underwater speakers, lush landscaping – a perfect Hawaiian-style plunge for

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Recent comments

  • Guest - Cal Stanley

    This should be a lesson in both communication and construction. A vanishing edge pool should be practical as well as beautiful. Part of the communication should have been what would happen if normal boisterous behaviour of children occurred. The overflow pump should always be on when the pool is ...
  • Guest - Cal Stanley

    There are several factors that seem not to have been considered in this pool. 1. The overflow pump must be operating at all times when the pool is in use. 2. The catchment pond must be of a size and at a level or of a width to collect the excess water that will flow over when the pool is being u...
  • Guest - Taylor

    I completely agree with the need to manage expectations regarding the homeowners or final users. Calculating free board on a catch basin is paramount to proper design.
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Heat of the Moment

Those who own or manage swimming pools know that heating the water can be a major expense.  But higher efficiencies and new technologies can bring those costs way down, says Mike Fowler, who leads a tour through the money-saving possibilities in this article.
Those who own or manage swimming pools know that heating the water can be a major expense. But higher efficiencies and new technologies can bring those costs way down, says Mike Fowler, who leads a tour through the money-saving possibilities in this article.
By Mike Fowler

There are two truths when it comes to swimming pools and heat:  Year in and year out, some months are colder than others and, year by year, energy prices tend to rise.

For a facility built around a heated swimming pool, those two truths are powerful drivers of the ongoing cost of staying in operation – and it’s safe to say that seasonal expenses related to keeping the water warm are never far from the minds of

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Happy Plaster

9-9-15KS0By Kim Skinner

Picture this:  You’ve just completed the installation of a beautiful new swimming pool – a real step up for the home and its backyard.  The clients had their hearts set on its dark-gray interior finish:  They’d heard it would help warm the water on sunny days, and they liked the thought that the pool would look more like a beautiful lagoon than a pale swimming hole.

The plaster crew

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Recent comments

  • Guest - Kim A Skinner

    Generally for typical residential pools, all of the bicarb can be placed into the barrel. For tap water that has about 200 ppm of calcium hardness, then place enough bicarb into the barrel that will increase the alkalinity to about 300 ppm. If the calcium level is 300 ppm, then raise the tap water...
  • How much bicarb is put in the barrel and how often is it replenished?
  • Guest - Kim Skinner

    Tim, Good questions. I strongly suggest that you place a plastic tarp (secure with sand bags or whatever works best) over the entire pool once the plastering is finished (over even during the plastering) to keep the plaster from drying out by the sun. That is a critical aspect of ensuring a properly...
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Iridescent Perfection

When the goal is glass-tiled perfection, says Jimmy Reed, there's no substitute for the hard work that goes into ideal surface preparation.  And that's especially true when, as in the case highlighted here, the project involves resurfacing an old, deep pool and its odd set of coves.
When the goal is glass-tiled perfection, says Jimmy Reed, there's no substitute for the hard work that goes into ideal surface preparation. And that's especially true when, as in the case highlighted here, the project involves resurfacing an old, deep pool and its odd set of coves.
By Jimmy Reed

In my career, I’ve applied lots of fine finishes to swimming pools, spas, fountains and other types of waterfeatures.  Most often we work with glass tile, but we also keep our hands in a variety of ceramic or porcelain tiles, various mosaics and, generally, what most would call classy, top-flight materials.  

No two projects are ever quite the same, but the procedures we follow are:  In every case, we at Rock Solid Tile (Calabasas, Calif.) end up having to work through imperfections in the concrete shells left for us by builders and their concrete crews – and that’s true even if they’re experienced and have

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#20: Organic Spa

8-5 farley video artBy Mike Farley

I’ve been working as a watershape designer long enough to have seen big trends emerge and really take hold.  It seemed for a while, for example, that vanishing edges came up at some point in just about every initial client conversation.  

More recently, I’ve found myself discussing lots of geometric pools – rectangles and various other squared-off perimeters – and that’s great, because it gives us plentiful ways to

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Picking a Path

7-22 skinner feature artBy Kim Skinner

Once a new swimming pool is filled with water and turned over to its owners, the designer and builder have completed their work:  Let’s assume that the results have met or exceeded the clients’ expectations and that everyone is pleased by the outcome.  

If all has truly gone well, little will occur in subsequent weeks to change the general sense of

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Eastern Sensibilities

His clients wanted a home that reflected their refined tastes, writes Randy Beard.  The fact that, for a change, others were focused on the challenge of working on a difficult slope freed him to get everything just right with their large spa and understated entryway fountain.
His clients wanted a home that reflected their refined tastes, writes Randy Beard. The fact that, for a change, others were focused on the challenge of working on a difficult slope freed him to get everything just right with their large spa and understated entryway fountain.
By Randy Beard

It’s rare, but it happens:  Every once in a while, a client’s desires align perfectly with the capabilities of a watershape designer and builder – so much so that the collaboration becomes a study in how powerful creative harmony can be.

This sort of synergy was a hallmark of the hillside project under discussion here.  Early in the process, we were brought aboard to work on an unusually large spa as well as a small

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#19: Built-In Table

6-24 farley artBy Mike Farley

It’s not what I’d call a common request these days, but every now and then I come across homeowners who want to be able to sit in the water to enjoy a cool drink or even a meal.  It gets hot in Texas, after all, and these folks figured that relaxing under an umbrella around an in-pool table would be a great way to beat the heat.

It’s actually a decent concept, but just as is the case with the stools we sometimes set up for swim-up bars, the designer or builder needs to

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Subtracting a Deck

If a client asks you to get rid of an old deck all the way up to the coping without adding a new deck, you should think things through before taking the job.  If you don't, advises Scott Cohen, things can go very wrong  -- and you might be on the hook for a substantial shell-repair bill.
If a client asks you to get rid of an old deck all the way up to the coping without adding a new deck, you should think things through before taking the job. If you don't, advises Scott Cohen, things can go very wrong -- and you might be on the hook for a substantial shell-repair bill.
By Scott Cohen

Lots of pools built in the 1960s and ’70s and even through the ’80s were surrounded by ribbons of concrete decking of uniform width, all the way around.  Frequently, those decks were too narrow to make them of much use for more than walking around the pool:  lounge chairs are too long to be set up facing the water, and a poolside table and chairs cover far too much ground to be included.

The solution that runs through the heads of lots of homeowners is simply to

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