WaterShapes

The web site for all professionals and consumers who've made or want to make water a part of their lives

Edgy Issues


b_400_400_16777215_00_images_12-17-14cohenart_12-17cohen0.JPGBy Scott Cohen

Even after all these years, in which countless seminars and classes have covered proper techniques for designing, engineering and building vanishing-edge pools, I am still all-too-frequently confronted in my role as a construction-defects expert witness by installations that are just plain wrong in one way or another.  

The biggest problems usually have to do with the

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Burying Masterpieces

With watershapes, observes Jim Wilder, the beauty often often runs much more than skin deep.  To illustrate, he discusses twin works of the plumber's art -- with, by his calculation, more than 750 glue joints each -- that he knew would ultimately be hidden within tons of concrete.
With watershapes, observes Jim Wilder, the beauty often often runs much more than skin deep. To illustrate, he discusses twin works of the plumber's art -- with, by his calculation, more than 750 glue joints each -- that he knew would ultimately be hidden within tons of concrete.
By Jim Wilder

When I listen to people as they stare at a fountain, I often hear them say, “How wonderful!”  In witnessing that praise, however, I know for a fact that what they find appealing is the gracefulness of a sculpture or the beauty of the stone or tile finishes or the way the water flows – what I refer to as the fountain’s “façade.”  

In many cases, what’s behind that façade can be pretty mundane:  maybe a small pump, some simple plumbing, a cascade head or sconce and little more.  In other cases, however, what’s going on behind the surface is

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Spa Strategies

12-3 akins video artBy Lew Akins

For almost as long as I’ve been in business, people who are interested in swimming pools have also usually been interested in having a spa or hot tub to go along with it.  It’s always been a natural combination, and as watershapers we’ve found myriad ways to meet thegeneral demand.

In the video linked below, I offer a quick discussion of two key factors homeowners need to consider in

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Raising the Floor

Many renovation projects include lifting the floor of an old pool to make it possible to play games such as volleyball, notes Scott Cohen.  So it's a good idea to know what's really involved in the process -- and how to avoid the serious errors he describes in this article.
Many renovation projects include lifting the floor of an old pool to make it possible to play games such as volleyball, notes Scott Cohen. So it's a good idea to know what's really involved in the process -- and how to avoid the serious errors he describes in this article.
By Scott Cohen

In a great many of the renovation projects I come across, one part of the program involves raising the floor in the deep end of the pool to create the classic play-pool contour with a deeper area in the middle and shallower sections on both ends.  This retrofit brings these pools into line with one of the most popular features of today’s new pools, so many of which are set up for pool volleyball and other vigorous games.

The great thing about these sporty pools is that the shallower ends have a

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Recent comments

  • Another structural issue in the photo is the complete chip out of the plaster. Complete chip outs will remove some of the structural shotcrete along with the plaster. It also vibrates the structural steel. Micro fractures are present in every chipped surface and allow for a weaker bond for any new f...
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Waters of Paradise

Brought in to work on an oddly shaped property in Panama, Raymond Jungles did what came naturally:  He sized up the site, negotiated some key details with the homeowners and, using water, plants and stone, brought their secluded tropical retreat vibrantly to life.
Brought in to work on an oddly shaped property in Panama, Raymond Jungles did what came naturally: He sized up the site, negotiated some key details with the homeowners and, using water, plants and stone, brought their secluded tropical retreat vibrantly to life.

By Raymond Jungles

When I first became involved with this project, the property was little more than a muddy slope – a dramatic piece of Panamanian topography that nobody had ever considered developing before my clients came along and decided to build a large, custom home.

There was a reason it was available to them when they arrived:  The building site was a logistical nightmare not only because of the topography but also because of the configuration of the lot.  But they

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Pooled Ideas

10-22 akins video artBy Lew Akins

Lots of clients come to the design process for their watershapes with certain preconceptions.  Sometimes, they even have full-fledged and dearly held visions of what they want.  

Every once in a while, that can be a good thing; other times, however, not so much.  But what I try to do regardless, each and every time, is

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Seaside Luxury

Working around a prominent architect's work can be a treat, observes Raymond Jungles -- and it gets even better when the canvas you're approaching is an unusually large property set amid a tropical paradise.
Working around a prominent architect's work can be a treat, observes Raymond Jungles -- and it gets even better when the canvas you're approaching is an unusually large property set amid a tropical paradise.
By Raymond Jungles

Established as a wealthy man’s weekend playground, this scenic, seven-acre slice of paradise on the Atlantic side of Islamorada in the Florida Keys is routinely used as the setting for fashion photography, commercials and films because of the archetypal way it expresses the “Keys Lifestyle.”  

I was brought on board by Steve Siskind, the architect who designed the house.  (He’s done some spectacular residences through the years, but interestingly, he’s never lived in a house and instead

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#15: Hidden Spa Spillway

9-24 farley artBy Mike Farley

The trouble with conventional approaches is that they can take the creativity out of watershape designs.

Almost always, for example, spas are placed directly adjacent to or within the walls of a swimming pool.  For a couple generations now, this has led designers to specify open spillways to move water from the spa into the pool, thereby creating a single body of water so far as

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Recent comments

  • Guest - Deb Spencer

    Hidden Spa Overflow - Nice technique! Wondering if you have pipe size gravity return guidelines to use when setting the spa fountain flow rate?
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Plastering When It's Hot?

9-24 skinner art 0By Kim Skinner

In several of the articles I’ve prepared for WaterShapes, the point has been made that it’s not a great idea to apply plaster as the interior finish of a swimming pool (or any other watershape, for that matter) in spells of hot, dry weather – and I thought it was time to dig in a bit deeper and explain the reasoning behind that assertion.

Basically, when a layer

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Custom Packages

Technology has enabled vinyl-liner pools to catch up big time when it comes to the sorts of resort-style features homeowners crave.  Here, Eric Gohn explains what's happened to facilitate these key changes.  (Photo courtesy Johnson's Pools & Spas, Owego, N.Y.)
Technology has enabled vinyl-liner pools to catch up big time when it comes to the sorts of resort-style features homeowners crave. Here, Eric Gohn explains what's happened to facilitate these key changes. (Photo courtesy Johnson's Pools & Spas, Owego, N.Y.)
By Eric Gohn

When vinyl-liner pools first appeared more than half a century ago, they were offered as “standard” pools for middle-class consumers – plain, simple and relatively inexpensive compared to their concrete cousins.

Back in the 1950s and ’60s, these vinyl-liner packages had squared-off shapes, but as time passed and consumers demanded greater variety, models emerged with oval forms or Grecian-style ends; before long, there were kidney-shaped packages and even some

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Add a Spa, Save a Home

It didn't take Paolo Benedetti long to notice that his prospective client's house was giving way on a slowly collapsing hilltop.  Armed with a fresh soils report, he designed a spa and stone deck that alleviated the slope's creeping -- and the homeowner's worries as well.
It didn't take Paolo Benedetti long to notice that his prospective client's house was giving way on a slowly collapsing hilltop. Armed with a fresh soils report, he designed a spa and stone deck that alleviated the slope's creeping -- and the homeowner's worries as well.
By Paolo Benedetti

Not long ago, I received a call from a young electronics entrepreneur who asked me to come and meet with him about the possibility of adding a swimming pool or spa to his multi-million-dollar hilltop property.

The home had been built in the early 1960s, he told me, and he’d just completed a major remodeling project.  He also indicated that he knew I was expensive, but that he’d already met with a number of other contractors and wanted to

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A Private Paradise, Revisited

It's not often that a designer gets to return to a past project and update it for new owners.  But that was the opportunity Raymond Jungles was offered with this property -- a Mid-Century Modern showplace in the Florida Keys.
It's not often that a designer gets to return to a past project and update it for new owners. But that was the opportunity Raymond Jungles was offered with this property -- a Mid-Century Modern showplace in the Florida Keys.
By Raymond Jungles

In many ways, this project is a study in personalities:  of the original clients, of the home’s architecture and, ultimately, of subsequent owners who purchased the property and called me back to it years after my initial work had been completed.  

The first time through, the owners were close friends of mine.  We had remarkably similar tastes, so my basic charge was to do exactly what I thought needed to be done, much as if it were my own home.

The house is a beautiful example of Mid-Century Modern, a style that fits well in the special environs of the Florida Keys.  But when I first visited the site, I could tell that someone had tried to turn it into

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Preventing Plaster Dust

8-6 skinner art 2By Kim Skinner

For more than 50 years, lots of swimming pool builders, plasterers and service technicians have operated under the assumption that the plaster dust they commonly see during the first two weeks after plaster application is normal, unavoidable and acceptable.  None of that is

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Recent comments

  • High humidity is beneficial to curing pool plaster, which is often the case in Georgia and Texas during the summer. However; when it is hot and also very dry (as is often the case in Phoenix), plasterers should consider “tenting” their pools. They should also consider using an evaporative cooler t...
  • Guest - Rob Lane

    Our idea was to start filling the pool 10 min. after the final troweling. The water welled up from the bottom, gently. The thought was that shrink cracks could be minimized by quick filling. Typically, the top step would show some shrink cracks, because it was the last to be covered.
  • Guest - GORDON MACFARLANE

    How do you not plaster in hot or dry conditions in Georgia or Texas?
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