Swimming Pool Blog
by Rob Cox, July 31, 2011
Extreme Pool Renovations
I was at a pool board meeting tonight for my community pool, and the topic came up of capital improvements. A motion was made to expand the current olympic sized rectangle into the shape of an "L", while moving the baby pool from it's present location. Major Renovation.
I'm also currently house hunting for a home with a pool, and several are in need of ~ a major renovation to be brought up to date. This has me thinking, what are the major types of major pool renovations? Given constraints of space and budget, what types of dreams could a pool owner give flight to?
This blog post will cover some of the more doable types of Extreme Pool Renovations.
1. Changing the Shape or Size of your pool.
This will involve a backhoe first, to dig behind the wall in the area that the pool will expand into. After excavation, the existing pool wall is cut with large saws and or hammers, and removed. For vinyl pools, the wall sections in that area are also removed, albeit a bit more delicately. Steel rebar is laid into the new area, tied together in a grid framework. This steel is tied into the wall, at the point where it was opened up. Then new gunite is shot into and over the steel grid. After curing for 30 days, the entire pool can be plastered and filled.
When the idea of giving our community pool a deeper shallow end came up, I steered the conversation away. It's a lot of work to dig a pool deeper, and of course the entire floor must be removed. But shallower, that can be easier to do. Many older pools in very bad shape may be extremely renovated by building a new pool inside of the shell of the old pool. Curves or new features can be added, as well as all new plumbing, lighting and even water features.
For vinyl liner pools, a concrete pool can be built inside of the shell, but not so effectively the other way around. That is, it can be difficult (not impossible) to install a liner into a concrete pool. A fiberglass pool shell can also be dropped inside the shell of an old pool, after a good bit of prep work is done.
2. Adding a Spa to your pool.
Ahh, who wouldn't want a spa attached to their pool? Remember the thrill as a child of jumping from the hot spa into the cool pool, and vice-versa? A built-in spa, connected to the same filter system, and sharing one heater (although a separate pump/filter/heater can be installed), really brings added value to your outside oasis.
There are pre-fabricated spas that you can essentially just plop onto the corner or side or end of your pool, after some considerable trenching, plumbing and wiring is done. These types are raised up above the pool deck by 6-12 inches and usually overflow into the pool.
Pre-fab spas work best for integrating with vinyl pools, and can be a fairly simple and cheap installation. Gunite pools (concrete pools), can have a spa added almost anywhere around the edge, but closer to the equipment pad will reduce costs for plumbing and electric runs. The spa can be raised up above the deck, or can be dug next to the pool wall, so that the pool and spa are on the same level. A popular method is to set the spa above the pool, with steps leading up to it, possibly on both sides, and overflowing into the pool.
3. Adding Water Features to your pool
Waterfalls, Cascades, Water Walls, and laminar deck or wall jets. Let your imagination loose! Would you like a cascading rock water feature, or colored jets of water pulsing to the beat of your integrated iPod? Lion faces, dolphins, planters or naked little boys, spouting into the pool? Perhaps a grotto style, rain effect, or maybe you want a classic wall of water, so clear that it looks like glass.
When installing water features, keep in mind the sound that it will make, too loud and you may find it annoying to carry on a conversation. A babbling brook is what most people have in mind, so make sure that it's adjustable. Water features can also help keep the pool cleaner, by creating surface agitation, which keeps floating debris moving around.
Many water features require additional pumps, but some smaller features do not. Most water features are using pool water, so that a separate source or containment is not needed. In terms of maintenance, rock cascades (where the water tumbles over rocks, rather than a overflowing waterfall), will need some attention to seal leaks that may occur over time.
4. Stone and Deck upgrades
Not uncommon in our area are flagstone decking. Out west, using a Kool Deck type surface, sprayed on top of broom finished concrete, is the norm. In recent years, interlocking pavers have allowed renovators to completely change the look of the deck, without the cost of milled stone. One of my favorite looks is a combination of exposed aggregate pool deck, with brick runners and coping, (or flagstone). Partial wooden decks; the contrast of stone and wood makes a nice effect.
Stone retaining walls are frequently used on one side of the pool, in some cases even if there is no earth to retain! Having a stone backdrop on one side of the pool adds a dramatic effect. Add some function to it, and you have a raised deck or spa on one side of the pool, to which many designers add a sheer descent waterfall, or other water features.
5. Pool Lighting upgrades
Well, OK, maybe not an "extreme" pool renovation, but while you're in there rootin' around, modern light effects can add a whole 'nuther dimension to your pool and spa experience. Vegas style lighting shows, choreographed with waer features, are now within reach of many pool owners.
Fiber optic lighting can run ribbons of light around your pool, LED color changing bulbs give a deep rich color to the water that a pool light lens cover could never probide. You can even light the floor of your pool with hundreds of tiny "stars", lighted tips of fiber optic strands, creating a starry night sky in your pool.
Pool lighting has become much more fanciful in the last 10 years. From soft glowing hues, to bright blues and pinks, we can not only light up the pool water, but the entire area, and also include fountains, and streams of water - which from a short distance, look like streams of light, which they are I suppose.
What would you do with your pool, if you had time, money and well; time and money. Leave your dreams below in the comment box!