WaterShapes

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

Overbearing Rockwork

A swimming pool is made of steel-reinforced concrete, right?  So the shell will be fine if you pile lots of weight on top of it, right?  Wrong, Scott Cohen says emphatically -- and here he explains why no sensible builder should ever make such a potentially disastrous mistake.
A swimming pool is made of steel-reinforced concrete, right? So the shell will be fine if you pile lots of weight on top of it, right? Wrong, Scott Cohen says emphatically -- and here he explains why no sensible builder should ever make such a potentially disastrous mistake.
By Scott Cohen

It happens more often than it should:  Even in times when trade shows and educational enterprises such as Genesis 3 all stress the importance of knowing the basic forces at work within and around pool shells, I am all too often called in to investigate cases in which a builder has made a large and careless mistake that can have disastrous consequences.

The point these contractors are overlooking is that the bond beams of many (if not most) pool shells are engineered in such a way that

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Recent comments

  • Guest - Todd Mackenzie

    Curious how the city allowed the pool so close to the slope without a retaining wall.
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Pumped-Up Savings

1-7 fowler art 2By Mike Fowler

Through the years, professional watershapers have learned that good hydraulic design can significantly increase system efficiency while lowering the ongoing costs of operation.  Now they’re also recognizing that achieving these efficiencies and finding these savings are perceived as “going green” – a key to helping

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Burning Sensations

12-17 benedetti artBy Paolo Benedetti

If you’ve been a contractor for any length of time, it’s likely that you’ve installed more 500-watt incandescent lamps (and the niches, rings and glass lenses that enclose them) than you can easily count.

These fixtures aren’t installed as commonly as they once were, but there are

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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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