Tips from a 40 plus year pool man - Part 1

Why am I writing this?  Well, I get multiple calls every day from all around the country from other pool industry folks asking me my opinion on lots of different things.  The “How do I keep my cost down” to the pool buyer is numero uno on the list.  So now let’s start to show the short list of my opinions: Swimming Pool Decks

1. The type and amount of decking material used on the new pool project is the single biggest factor in effecting the pool project cost.  There are many types of decking material available.  If the Buyer wants natural stone to be their choice, there goes the budget.  Cantera stone, flagstone, slate, etc. all typically require a base of reinforced concrete to be installed under the natural stone.  Commonly, dependent on the locale of the project and the quality of the stone product selected, you can easily spend $30 – $50 a square foot on a deck with these materials.  Let us see, simple math, a 400 square foot deck can cost $12,000 – $20,000.  I have to admit that these types of pool decks are not the norm so don’t grab your pacemaker pool buyers out there!

2. Concrete decks with overlay materials are very common.  Spray texture finishes, faux finishes that simulate flagstone, tile, and brick are what most pool builders are utilizing today.  These decks are typically much cooler to walk on than any natural product and look rather nice when properly applied.  What do they cost?  Depending on how intricate the overlay pattern becomes, the base concrete and overlay usually cost between $10 a square foot to $20 a square foot.  Easy math again please.  A 400 square foot deck should cost between $4,000 and $8,000.

3. Concrete, exposed aggregate (pea gravel), and traditional cool deck are not nearly as common as they used to be.

A. Concrete is not very decorative and is HOT to walk on during the swim season.

B. Exposed aggregate is rough to walk on, hot, and if a pebble pops out and you step on it bare footed, get ready to change religions!

C. Traditional cool deck is rapidly becoming a disappearing commodity.  All the old timers that applied it during the 50’s – 80’s have retired or passed away.  The materials by nature were extremely porous, stain easily, and often tended to flake off within a few years. In my opinion all items covered under number 3 A-C are passé.  There are much prettier and more cost effective types of decks to install.  What do they cost?  Usually $3.50 – $7.50 a square foot.

D. Patterned concrete is another option.  It is beautiful and virtually nothing to care for later if the work is done professionally and correct.  Make a mistake during application however and you will not be able to match any repaired or replace areas for color and possible texture.  It does get hot so try to stay with lighter colors of stains.  Cost?  $11.50 – $18.50 installed depending on the level of detail needed in the deck.

4. Wood decks are another option available.  I personally am not much of a fan for these.   Especially when the Buyers selects a poor grade of wood that will splinter and warp within a few years.  Sounds real inviting for your bare feet does it not?  Most of these type of decks I have seen in my travels are self-installed by the pool Buyer.  The composite decks are very nice.  Due to the nature of the material, it never rots, warps, or splinters and has no maintenance.  It is pricey to purchase but is worth the cost in my opinion.  Cost from the cheap stuff to the primo product, professionally installed is $12 – $35 a square foot.  I am a big fan of some type of wood deck being installed adjacent to masonry pool decks as an accent.

5. Pavers are the last common option.  Some pavers require a substrate of reinforced concrete, some do not.  The interlocking ones do not as they are installed typically on torpedo (concrete) sand.  Pavers are quite nice and some folks like to mix and match colors as well as doing custom designs.  The advantage of the interlocking pavers is that they can be pulled up, the sand leveled, and then the paver reset if you have a lot of ground movement.  Very classic looking and also pricey, but again a very rich look.  The cost can run between $15 – $40 a square foot depending on your choice of materials, design, etc.

So now that you have stayed with me this long, let me sum things up.  Want to save money on your pool?  Know in advance the kind of pool deck you want and also limit the amount of the deck as much as possible.  In my opinion, a 3’ – 5’ wide sidewalk around most pools is all that is necessary.  If you want a place to put a table, chairs, or chaise lounges, an additional 120 square feet (10’ x 12’) for all you PHD’s out there is all you need.  I do not recommend getting rid of all the grass in the yard and replacing it with concrete.  That is going to cost you $$$.  I would recommend low maintenance landscape, rock gardens, etc. if you don’t’ want the lawn mower near the pool.

Well there you are!  I’m sure that some of you are saying there may be deck material options I did not mention here.  You may be right but I think I covered what 90% of pools being built have around them for decking.  Any opinions that any of you have?  I will be pleased to hear from you.  Just click on reply and give me an ear full.

Swimming Pool Resurfacing

San Jacinto

 

Fiber Glass Swimming Pools

San Marcos

50 Responses to “Tips from a 40 plus year pool man – Part 1”

  1. Rob Britton says:

    I am a retired pool builder from the Sun Shine State.
    The things you wrote in this article were the same for me going back 30 years ago. Guess somethings don’t ever change.
    I still keep up with a lot of my old clients I built fiberglass pools for over the years.
    The fact that they are all still happy with the pools means a lot to me.
    If I were still in the pool construction business today, the only type of pool I wuold build is fiberglass.

  2. F. Valincia says:

    Wish I had known this stuff before I bought my pool a few years back. We have a fiberglass pool that was installed 19 years ago. The pool has worked out great and has performed as advertised. The pool guy was a piece of work that was hard to deal with after he got his last check. In fact that is the last time I saw him when I put it in his hand.
    Looking back, I would have been better off if I had worked with a BBB member. The pool guy had a bad reputation in another state.
    So long from Georgia……

  3. Steve Willingham says:

    Makes sense to me. Large pool decks are pricey. Best to pour only the amount of deck you need. Always can come back later with wood,pavers, etc. if you feel like adding more deck.
    To you sir, sound advise as usual……….keep it comin’ !

  4. Merrilee Garrido says:

    We are so pleased with our new American Pool. We followed your suggestions to a tee & everything happened fast & came in on budget.
    Please accept our heart felt thanks Wayne!
    You may use us as a reference any time you like!

    • R. Wayne Stringer says:

      You folks were so nice to assist with a beautiful, affordable, VERY LOW maintenance American Fiberglass Pool. It’s people like you that makes it so much fun to be in the pool biz.

  5. H. T. says:

    I am a pool builder from Colorado. Selling extra pool deck to customers is a great profit center for myself and other pool builders. I cannot acept your theory that less deck is better for that very reason.
    I believe in providing pool buyers with all that they want, this way it makes me and the pool buyer happier.
    Perhaps you should keep some of your opinions to yourself sport.

    • R. Wayne Stringer says:

      Sport? Think I am a little old for that term but I respect your opinion. I hope you will be courteous and respect mine too! Especially since this is our blog.

  6. B. Cooper says:

    Wayne, you seem to believe that pools should be kept affordably priced. I agrre with you!! You are doing the pool industry a favor with the opinions you have shared in this blog.
    Keep it up!!!!

  7. J.T. Rothers says:

    Got to agree with you Mr. American Fiberglass Pools. The more affordable and quality built pools are the more people will buy them.
    Some people don’t care about the quality unfortunately, only the lowest price. These are the genesis of the pool nightmares that sometimes occur. Quality is King, the lower price should be secondary!!!!!!

  8. C.H. Myers says:

    Very much enjoy your insights and obvious values. I have read your blog every week for 4 months. You spend a lot of time to make things interesting. Keep up the great work……..C.H.M.

    • R. Wayne Stringer says:

      Please accept my thanks for the nice words. I will keep on trying to provide interesting blogs.

  9. Wooly Bully says:

    My 4yr old gunite pool is cracked. The crack is about 30ft. long and runs right down the center of the floor from end to end. I need help! What should I do? I do not want to replaster it again since the crack is already in the existing plaster. What are my options and can I fiberglass the surface since the fiberglass is so much stronger?
    We live south of Houston in the Brazoria/West Columbia area. Help! one more time!

    • R. Wayne Stringer says:

      Cracked gunite pools are very common down in the area you live in. We call it “black gumbo” soil. It is very expansive and tough on everything constructed with concrete. My suggestion is for you to call your pool builder and request warranty. You should be within the warranty period. If that does not work, call me at my office at 800-324-7665.

  10. Senceless says:

    That is right, I have lost my mind due to the total abandonment of my pool builder after we paid him in full. I live in the Novi area in Michigan. We bought a ****** Pool from ********** Pools, owner **** ***** in 2005. We have not been able to swim now for almost 4 years. We can get no assistance from ****** Pools that manufactured the pool ,or **** ***** the installer that is now in Texas somewhere living the high life and buying his wife a Mercedes convertible instead of repairing my pool so my family can finally swim .Can you suggest what we can do to right this situation? Please……?

    • R. Wayne Stringer says:

      Sad to hear about your problems. I know the company and pool builder you used, not personally but from all the stuff I hear from past clients. I suggest that you retain an attorney and get paid for legal advice. If you need me as an expert witness to bolster your case, just let me know.

  11. Sad in Michigan says:

    We live in Fenton,Michigan and deperately need some advice or help with our ****** Pool that was installed 8 years ago by a crook **** *****. The pool structure is failing, has many cracks, and will not hold water. We were unable to swim last summer and looks like the same will be for this year. The company that built the pool, ****** Pools, tells us the pool is not under warranty since it is obvious that ********** Pools, the installer did a poor job on the installation of the pool shell. Can you offer some advise on what we can do? Better yet, can you possibly help us repair the pool or even replace it with one that your company makes?
    I too saw the Mercedes convertible on Facebook that **** ***** bought for his wife *****. It is a sad day indeed that they are living it up down in Spring,TX while some of their old customers are left high and dry in badly jnstalled, busted pools!

    • R. Wayne Stringer says:

      Wow! I always feel for people like you and Senseless. I recommend the same course for you as I gave him or her.

  12. D. O. says:

    I have built fiberglass pools in Louisiana for almost 20 years. I agree that every effort should be made to try to hold down the cost of pools to the consumer. The consumer must accept that a cheaply built pool is not going to be the best pool if they want things built to last. There is a fine line for a pool guy to be competively priced plus offer quality. I suggest that pool buyers be VERY aware of a pool builder’s past in other cities, states, or even other names that they have operated under previously.
    Sounds like people in Texas should be especially careful based on some of the replies to your blog.
    D.O.

  13. Emory says:

    Education leads to knowledge. Your blog is a powerful tool for pool buyers to use. I too am a pool guy for almost 25 years. I whole heartedly agree with your approach to sell pools that are affordable when ever possible. More pools built means more happy swimmers and more friends and family to construct new pools for. Em

    • R. Wayne Stringer says:

      Wish you were in the biz in our area. We need more old timers with horse sense in the pool industry here.

  14. Gary D. says:

    Do you recommend doing a salted concrete finish around a pool?
    If not, why not?

    • R. Wayne Stringer says:

      Hi Gary. Salt concrete is big in only a few markets. I have visited such as Arizona, Nevada, and Florida. I personally don’t think it is very decorative and that overlays are much better.

  15. Ne Ne says:

    We have heard that some types of pool decks are hotter than others to walk on.
    Which types stay the coolest and last the longest?

    • R. Wayne Stringer says:

      Hi Ne Ne, Todays deck overlay products will give you 12-15 years of service if properly applied and will be cooler than all other deck options.

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    • R. Wayne Stringer says:

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  29. CDL says:

    We have enjoyed our fiberglass pool for 22 years. But the one thing my wife really wants to change is the exposed aggregate pool deck. While the deck is still in very good shape, it gets very hot here in south Louisiana and it is rough on bare feet. Do you have any recommendations regarding some type of overlay solution that might help with those 2 issues?

  30. Jack Williams says:

    I have pea gravel around my pool but would like to cover it with something to make it smooth. I have painted it a few times but it is still rough. Any Suggestions?

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