Expert Advice on Deciding the
Best Pool Type for you
By: Paul Plummer
Most homeowners can tell you exactly when they decided to stop dreaming and start swimming. They also can tell you that making the decision to build was the easy part – choosing their type of pool and the specific builder required more time and consideration.
Many might agree that if they could have invited some top pool-building professionals to their homes for an information session, the process would have been smoother. With that in mind, Pool & Spa Living went to some of the country’s foremost pool experts for insight into their specialties: concrete, fiberglass and vinyl-lined pools.
Each type has distinct advantages, but all can incorporate sought-after features such as waterfalls, in-pool barstools, beach entries and accompanying spas.
Concrete pools, the most popular type, cab be formed into virtually any shape and size – even when homeowners have an atypical backyard or ask for a seemingly impossible design. “With concrete, you can build any style pool anywhere, including on the side of a hill. Concrete provides freedom of choice,” notes Thomas Brown, vice president of Aquatech, Society of Pool-Building Professionals, in Costa Mesa, Calif. “With concrete, if it can be conceived, it can be built. From all-tile to pebble finishes to built-in mosaics and spas, anything can be achieved within a customer’s budget.”
Fiberglass pools, made from fiberglass-reinforced plastic and molded into a specific shape at the factory, and now available in a wider array of shapes, sizes and colors than in the past. Because the ultra-smooth surface of fiberglass is nonporous, algae and dirt cannot penetrate it, making it very easy to clean and maintain. Fiberglass is also extremely flexible, easily adapting to freeze/thaw cycles, making it an increasingly popular choice in colder climates. “True, homeowners in the warmer climates have always chosen fiberglass pools,” says Kirk Sullivan, president of San Juan Products of Lakeland, Fla., a manufacturer of fiberglass pools. “But customers in colder climates, such as Canada, are discovering the benefits of fiberglass. In fact, the University of Winnipeg did a detailed study showing that fiberglass’s flexibility is the best product to handle the freeze/thaw cycles,” Todd Stahl, president of Composite Pools in Jane Lew, W.Va., agrees: “Fiberglass pools can be installed virtually anywhere, and they hold up well in climates with drastic freeze/thaw conditions.
Vinyl pools, long known for being the lowest-cost option, are now gaining popularity for being as customizable as their concrete counterparts: Replacing the outer liner costs about $600 – $800 plus installation, so they can get a wallet-friendly facelift for a totally new look. Vinyl pools are also very smooth, eliminating the risk of skin scrapes, and they flex with temperature drops. “We find that here in the Northeast section of the country, vinyl-liner pools perform better because of the freeze/thaw climate,” says Bill Renter, owner of Deck & Patio Company in Huntington Station, N.Y., which constructs vinyl-lined pools.
The Facts about FAQs
Once you settle on a pool type – with advice of your builder, no doubt – what can you expect?
How long will my pool take?
The answer to that is tricky. “Timing is dependent on the intricacy of the design, the season, sub-contractor scheduling and the difficulty of the terrain,” explains Brown. “Some projects can take as long as six months to complete, but generally speaking, most concrete pools can be finished in about six to twelve weeks.”
For vinyl-lined pools, expect construction to take, on average, about three to five weeks, says Renter. Meanwhile, because a fiberglass pool is delivered on-site in its “finished” shape, installation additional two weeks or so for the decking, landscaping and general cosmetic detailing.
Are repairs easy to make?
If there’s a nick, crack or tear on your pool later on, they usually can be repaired. Concrete can be fixed, but that degree of difficulty is based on the cause, says Brown. Vinyl can be easily patched or changed, says Renter, while fiberglass, because it’ white, can be seamlessly repaired. “We offer non-prorated structural 25-year warranty, but the great thing is that you should never have to use it,” says Sullivan.
What if I want a new look?
Styles are ever-evolving, and most types of pools can accommodate a homeowner’s need to update. No matter your preferred pool type, laying a new deck or freshening the surroundings landscape can magically transform a poolscape for a bold, new look, while new finishes or plastering can change the look of a concrete pool. With vinyl, a re-do is very easy: “There are numerous color choices in vinyl,” says Renter. “In fact, earth tones are becoming popular. And, we are working with a supplier to create returns, skimmers and main drains to match the pool’s vinyl. That way, they are not a distraction.
Stahl explains that one of the easiest facelifts a homeowner can do to a fiberglass pool is to replace the perimeter tile. He says, “This cab be done easily by a trained professional.”
Both Brown and Sullivan agree that sometimes just changing the peripherals can have the same effect as digging up the old pool and putting in a new one. “New pavers, replastering, new coatings, new deck, new slides, all combine to change the look of a pool,” explains Brown.
Adds Sullivan: “Even though you can’t change the shell, you can change everything around it to make it look different.”
Bottom line: Pools are deeply personal, and all homeowners, along with the pool builder, have to determine what is best for their backyards. Be it vinyl, concrete or fiberglass, the final product has a lot to live up to. But, if the homeowner makes all the correct decisions up front, then the pool will have no trouble living up to the hype. And, in the end, that is what a pool owner really wants: a no-hassle good time right outside the back door.
The Future is now
Once upon a time, when you anted a pool, you got a nice, plain rectangle in the backyard. But, as the years went by, homeowners demanded more – and pool builders stepped up to the challenge. Today, the only limits are set by the human imagination. Want an interior spa in a fiberglass pool? No problem. Like the look of barstools for you vinyl-lined pool? It can be done. Interested in solar panels to heat your concrete pool? The technology is available. “We have to be forward-thinking,” says Bill Renter, owner of Deck & Patio Company in Huntington Station, N.Y. “We have to be willing to work with a client to get a desired effect, no matter what.”
Sullivan states, “In the past, homeowners were limited to what shape they could craft from fiberglass, but today, more styles are possible, including built-in spas, vanishing edges and perimeter overflows.” Stahl adds, “With more and more people concerned about our environment, our eco-friendly pools are already the pools of tomorrow. Fiberglass pools are natural insulators. Your filter and heater will potentially run dramatically less.”
Meet the Experts
Thomas C. Brown
Vice President- Aquatech, Society of Pool-Building Professionals
Thomas Brown has been with Aquatech since 1997. Before joining the society, he was general manager of Crawford Products, a premier paints and coatings company. Prior to that, he was a project engineer for an architectural firm. Mr. Brown holds a B.S. in business management.
Owner- Deck & Patio Company
Bill Renter founded The Deck & Patio Company in 1992. In addition to his degree from CW Post, Mr. Renter has received many industry certifications. He holds memberships in a variety of professional societies, including the Association of Pool and Spa professionals. Mr. Renter and his company have won many awards over the years, including the 2007 Gold Award from NESPA for Outstanding Achievement in Design & Building Vinyl Liner/Fiberglass.
President- San Juan Products
Kirk Sullivan has 24 years of experience in fiberglass manufacturing, installation, sales and marketing. He is one the Manufactures Council of APSP and has been a judge for the organization’s numerous design awards. Mr. Sullivan obtained his master’s degree in business finance from Northeastern University.
President- Composite Pools
Todd Stahl stepped into the family pool business in 1989 as vice president to assist his father and president, Alan Stahl. In addition to managing several retail stores, Todd was directly responsible for the operation of each of the company’s manufacturing facilities. In 2005, Latham International acquired the business, and Todd was appointed president. The company has experienced incredible growth over the past few years and now includes Viking Pools, Composite Pools, Crystal Palace Pools, Liberty Composite Pools and Hydro Zone.
By: Susan Morris Novick
Water elements enhance this season’s landscape designs: Forget the traditional rectangular swimming pool and look for free-form organic pools that merge with the landscaping around them. “Almost every pool we’re building is in some sort of free-form logoon shape, with dark interior finishes,” reveals Dominic Solitario of Blue Haven Pools. “Clients are looking for a more natural look. Interior finishes of grays and blacks make the pools look more like grottoes and lakes.”
Changes in pool care technology have freed homeowners from a lot of the maintenance and management worries of the past. Wireless computerized remotes work from a handheld control panel, so you can turn on the spa or change the water temperature without having to go back inside the house or behind the shrubs, where the pool equipment is hidden. Computerized salt generator systems can monitor and maintain a healthful, bacteria-free environment without the use of chlorines and other chemicals. The new and quiet electric heat pumps are energy savers and more economical then gas or oil heaters.
A wide range of lighting and water effects can turn you pool or spa area into the life of the party. Although a vanishing-edge pool makes the water appear as thought it is going off a cliff in the distance, it actually creates a natural waterfall below that can be used as a dramatic seating area.
Hidden laminar deck jets shoot arcs of water in a solid stream into the pool and can be illuminated with LEDs and multi color fiber-optic light displays. “It looks like a glass tube of light, that’s how perfect and fine it is,” explains Solitario.
With all this style, comfort and drama in your own backyard, you may decided that this summer there really is no place like home.
Dramatic 56-Ft. Water Slide
Graces Inground Vinyl Liner Pool
By: Ron Derven
This magnificent inground vinyl liner pool is located on the North Shore of Long Island in the town of Centerport. The pool captured a Gold Medal in NESPA’s 2009 Design Awards competition, a Gold Medal in the Association of Pool & Spa Professional’s competition and Gold in the Long Island Pool & Spa Association’s Design Awards contest.
The builder is True Blue Swimming Pools, Dix Hills, New York. Owner Michael Truehart got into the pool business in high school. The father of the girl he was dating got Truehart a job installing pools for him. Truehart installed pools during the summer while he was in high school and in college. After college, he worked for a firm for about ten years and then, in 1991, he opened his own business.
“The business started with me, a van and a helper,” he said. “We eventually took on another helper then another. We grew to the point where we were established pool and spa company,” said Truehart, who is now in his 20th year in the business. His wife, Patty, who he met while building a pool for her parents, works in the business part time.
True Blue builds, renovates and services mostly inground pools. “We are primarily builders, although lately we have been gearing more toward the service and renovation end of the business,” he explained. “We do not have a retail store. I have looked at it a few times, but have never gotten into it. The company has 10 trucks on the road today to handle the service and building end of the business. Its marketing area is all of Long Island, except for the East End.
“We build mostly vinyl liner pools with concrete walls and some gunite pools. Vinyl liner pools are the market in out area for the most part,” he noted. “We typically build between 80-100 pools a year, which makes us a medium-sized company. I work mostly on referrals rather than advertising. I get a lot of my leads from landscape companies, architects and, of course, my own clients send a lot of work to us.”
The Centerport customer lived in a large home located on one-half acre of land. When Truehart first visited the customer about the pool project, the main element that the client seemed to focus on was a large water slide. As Truehart wrote down the information, he envisioned a large 15-16 foot slide gracing the pool. When he created drawings for the project including this slide, the client looked at the drawings and said the slide wasn’t big enough. In the next version, Truehart incorporated an even larger slide-20-30 feet. The client looked at the drawing and said: “Not big enough!”
“Finally, the client seemed to be satisfied with a 35-foot slide, but as we were about to order materials, he said it was still not big enough,” recalled Truehart. True Blue then designed the largest slide it could into the space – a 56-foot water slide! The customer was thrilled.
The pool itself is only about 30-feet long by 30-foot wide. Eight feet deep, it was specified in accordance with the slide manufacturer specs. The pool was kept at the 30-ft x 30-ft. size because the customer did not want it to cover his entire backyard.
Incorporating into the pool is a sun tanning ledge, or sun shelf; an added feature that True Blue is building more and more of on its jobs on Long Island. The sun shelf has about four to six inches of water on it when the pool is filled. It is even with the top step of the pool. Sun bathers can place a foam rubber float on the sun shelf and lie on it, summing themselves while partially submerged in the water to stay cool. The sun shelf is 8-feet by 12-feet. True Blue custom built the sun shelf out of concrete, then wrapped it in foam padding. The pool’s vinyl liner then went over the top of the shelf.
It’s one thing to draw a 56-foot slide on paper and quite another to build it. True Blue began with a relatively flat half-acre site on which to incorporate the pool and large water slide. The decision was made to create a hill so that the slide fit into its surroundings. Hundreds of yards of fill were trucked into the job site to create the hill.
Angry neighbors were another challenge. Prior to installation of the pool, the lot was heavily wooded. In order to install this particular pool and slide, almost all of the land had to be cleared. Although the client always intended to re-screen the property, the neighbors were extremely unhappy about what was taking place.
“When we began constructing the slide – it was 10-12-feet high at its highest point and is supported by three-foot wide concrete columns – neighbors really began to express their concern,” said Truehart. “One of the neighbors made it difficult for the township that had approved the permit for the job – mostly regarding the retaining walls. At the end of the day, the job was completed, all the requirements of the township were met and the property was re-screened.”
Behind the slide there are two retaining walls that face the property line. Rather than install massive, high retaining walls, True Blue created two-foot retaining walls and then sloped up the earth to the top of the slide. From the four-foot elevation to the 10-foot elevation was a simple grading. Boulders were brought in for aesthetics and to stabilize the earth.
There were not ground conditions to be dealt with, but the builder did run into problems storing soil. The job had to be coordinated whereby the soil was delivered to the job after the slide was constructed. The job of placing the soil around the newly constructed slide had to be done carefully.
Dolphin Water Slides of Adamsville, Tennessee, manufactured the slide. Dolphin was supplied with schematics and then broke out the slide into three- or four-foot increments. The sections were delivered to the job site and bolted and gasketed in place while being supported by the concrete columns.
“That was one of the more difficult parts of the job because concrete footings were placed beforehand based on just the schematic,” said Truehart. “It would have been far too difficult to try to install the slide by putting it together, holding it up in place and then adding the columns. We took careful measurements, starting at the pool and working our way back. The footings were almost dead on with only one needing slight adjustment.”
A critical part of the job was placing the fill around the columns and slide without hitting anything with a 7,000-pound piece of equipment. Truehart was on the job through this whole process to make sure it was done right.
The customer wanted lots of water cascading down the slide, so True Blue added two three-horse pumps to supply 300-plus gallons a minute to the slide (which is what the slide manufacture specified.) About two thirds of the way down the slide is a water fall that spills more water off the rocks and into the slide.
The deck around the pool is Techo-Block pavers. The Deck and Patio Company, a Long Island firm, worked with True Blue on the deck, landscaping and placement of the rocks. There is a natural timber railing and stairs that lead from the pool to the slide entrance.
The job took between three and four months to complete.
PRODUCTS & EQUPIMENT
Besides Dolphin Waterslides equipment, True Blue used Jandy pumps, Jandy filtration and Jandy colored lights on the job. There is a dual heating system on the pool, a conventional, natural gas heater and heat pumps. Truehart uses the same system on his own pool. True Blue used Loop Loc liners and a Loop Loc safety cover. Because of the location of the rocks around the pool, True Blue service people use an inflatable boat to place the safety cover at the end of the season.
Formations Build Beauty
By: Ron Derven
Editor’s Note: William Renter, owner, Deck and Patio Company, Huntington Station, New York, has won numerous awards in NESPA and APSP design competitions for his outstanding pools, spas and water features. A signature theme of many of these projects has been beautiful rock formations mixed with vegetation and water. Recently, we asked Bill about his use of rock and how he goes about designing these formations into his projects.
The Edge: Where do you get your inspiration for your rock formations?
Renter: I get my inspiration from nature. I have a ski house in the Catskill Mountains and on days when its pouring rain, I love to hike up to the waterfalls that are near my place and watch the streams, and waterfalls and the way that water flows over rocks. There is one waterfall near me named Kaaterskill Falls, which is a spectacular two-drop waterfall that cascades a total of 260 feet, making it one of the highest waterfalls in New York State and on the East Coast.
The Edge: How do you apply what you find in nature?
Renter: I like to make rock formations look like they do in a natural setting. On Long Island where I live, we do not have a great deal of rock formations because it is an island that was created mainly out of sand. We do not have rocky ledges like they do in New Jersey, New York or Connecticut, so we have to bring in stone that looks like it comes out of the forest. Our materials are from Pennsylvania. We try to make our rock formations look like rock outcroppings. We do not want to make the formation look like a necklace of boulders; it is about making the rock formation look natural.
That can be achieved by grouping boulders together and doing plantings around them. The key is grouping you boulders together to make them look like a big piece of stone. You can do this when you group smaller pieces of stone together tightly. Avoid making it look like a retaining wall–that is, similar sized boulders all in a row. That is a key. We have done this successfully.
The Edge: You don’t like retaining walls?
Renter: I have made a career out of avoiding retaining walls. I use natural elements such as plants and boulders to hold back soil and to hold back the grade. We use boulders on the edge of pools that overhang a little.
The Edge: What about using rocks to create waterfalls?
Renter: To create a beautiful waterfall, you need to use support boulders – boulders that are not part of the waterfall itself, but rather part of the landscaping, so that the project does not look like the waterfall just fell into place and there is nothing else around it that makes sense. The support boulders, or “accent boulders,” as we call them, are as important as the waterfall itself.
Renter: I want water to change direction in my waterfalls, not simply flow forward. On some of our jobs, the water does flow forward, but then it hits a rock and bounces off. When you think about a stream in nature, the water does not go straight down like a set of stairs, which is typically what we see on waterfalls that do not work well. The tricky and complicated part is when you start to build it, you must begin at the bottom and work you way up. You must identify all of the placers where the water will hit the rocks. Don’t let water simply spill forward like a set of steps.
The Edge: Besides the rocks in a waterfall, you add plants. Why?
Renter: We find that when many people build waterfalls, they do not think about the plants and the water – two critical design elements. We leave pockets for plants where we have plants almost touching the water. Planting in the rock will soften the rock, which sometimes can become overwhelming.
The Edge: What about leaks in waterfalls and water features? This is an ongoing problem in many projects, is it not?
Renter: When you put water on rocks, leaks develop. To create a leak-proof waterfall, we start with a 45 mil EPDM flexible rubber pond liner. That liner is placed on top of the wall of the pool and actually overhangs the pool by an inch. Any water that makes its way through the waterfall, the rock or the cement will hilt the liner, which is overlapped over the beam of the pool, and it returns the water back into the swimming pool or water feature. Some clients complain that they do not want to have the liner showing and we doe our best to hide it, but it does have to overhang. If you were to cute the liner flush with the edge of the pool, the water tends to cling to the liner, goes under the liner and behind the pool, which creates other problems. So letting it overhang by and inch creates a kind of drip edge where the water will roll off and into the pool, not cling to the liner.
The Edge: How do you keep your waterfalls from flowing like a water main break?
Renter: What we like to do is use something from a company called Aquascapes, our equipment supplier. The product is called Biofalls. This is almost a settling tank. It is roughly a 20-gallon container where the water from the pump goes into it and slows down. We want a heavy flow of water, but we want the velocity to slow down.
The Edge: You are an expert on rock formations, but how do you communicate it all to the client who may not know that much about them?
Renter: I take a lot of pictures of streams and waterfalls. I have thousands of pictures. I am not artistic when it comes to drawing and perspective, but I am creative when it comes to shapes and landscape design. I do a lot of my own landscape design. People hire me because I show them what I like, and hopefully they will like what I like.
I also suggest they go to our website, www.deckandpatio.com, and watch our video titled “It starts with a plan.” That is our theme when we meet with a client. We draw plans on auto CAD to show the shapes and sizes of spaces and where things will go and the viewing angles. The last thing we use to blow clients away is design software called Pool Studio. But we charge for this service. Our people will spend up to 25 hours working with this program to create a design.
The Edge: What about the hydraulics of waterfalls?
Renter: You need to understand the basics of hydraulics. The greatest failures in waterfalls and rock formations are when you are all done and you have a pile of wet rocks because the builder did not supply enough water to the waterfall.
The Edge: Where can one go to learn and understand the complexities of hydraulics?
Renter: You need to create a “weir,” a small overflow. When you have a rock and you want the water to release and spill off the rock, that is a weir. Further, you need to have thicker water run over your weir when using natural stone and boulders. The diameter of the pipe and the size of the pump or pumps need to be carefully calculated. On critical thing I have learned in this business is that big pipe is good. A builder can always change a pump if the waterfall needs more water, but if the pipe is not large enough, no matter how big a pump it its, it simply won’t work.
The Edge: How important is rock selection to the overall design success of a project?
Renter: Sometimes customers will say “Our patio is a reddish stone so why don’t we make the waterfall reddish stone?” I will suggest to them that it does not look quite natural. We found two types of stones that we typically use. One is called Long Island Boulder, a rounded stone without a lot of cragginess to it. Theses stones look like a big round bowling balls or dinosaur eggs. We do not use them all that often. We specify the shape and size of the boulders we want, and we use very simple terms to order them, such as “I want rocks that look like basketballs” or “I want rocks that look like a box that is three feet by two feet by three feet.” We also use beautiful moss rock that comes out of wooded areas in Pennsylvania. It is craggy and very interesting material. We do not go so much on color. We want rocks that came out of the woods or a stream.
The Edge: It must be quite difficult handling large boulders and placing them where they need to be on a job.
Renter: We tried a couple of different handling methods. We now use slings to lift the boulders. We can pick them up and turn them around and twist them and get them just right. We recently purchased a mini excavator that has the ability to pick up a 2,000-pound rock. When we put a sling on it, the excavator has such a good reach that we can do our work safely and correctly. You have to pay attention when positioning rocks. On small waterfalls, we pick the rocks up by hand and place them.
The Edge: How big is a 2,000 pound rock?
Renter: A 2,000 pound rock is about three feet by four feet by eighteen inches to two feet deep. We get twenty-five tons of rock in a 20-yard dumpster container and use about three containers a week on our jobs.
When it comes to creating award-winning backyard landscapes, all homeowners can learn from this Renter.
Even as a young boy, Bill Renter was interested in transforming landscapes. He built quite a few treehouses in his youth, an enterprise that has served him well in the ensuing years.
Today, Bill runs his own landscape contracting firm – The Deck and Patio Company of Long Island, New York – and still enjoys the challenge of helping a client turn his backyard into an oasis. From breathtaking waterfalls to beautiful maintenance-free decks, he has the kind of ideas that can help you create the backyard of your dream. And he has the awards to prove it.
For two years in a row, Bill and his staff have won first place in the prestigious North American Decorative and Durable Pavement Awards, which are organized by Concrete Products magazine and co-sponsored by the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI) and the Decorative Concrete Council of the American Society of Concrete Contractors. Selected in 2004 and 2005 from dozen of leading landscapers nationwide, The Deck and patio Company’s winning entries, both in the Residential category, make extensive use of water and multi-level structures to create an idyllic outdoor environment.
If you’re like many homeowners, you many already have a landscaped backyard, possibly with a pool that’s been through a number of summers. You’ve probably considered doing something with it, but what? Take a look at the pool renovation project that helped Bill capture the #1 ranking in 2004.
“As the mason contractor on the job, we were dealing with a 20-year old pool with similarly-aged coping that was surrounded by grass, and had never had a patio,” he recounts. “There was also a concrete spa that was never used because it was uncomfortable. We began by demolishing the old spa and replacing it with a new acrylic one. Then, using Techo-Bloc Creta wall stone, we created the face between the raised acrylic spillover spa and the swimming pool. Techo-Bloc stones were also used to create the steps and retaining walls, as well as a patio around the swimming pool.”
The fact that the clients really loved the existing pool coping make Bill’s job even more interesting. After visiting several mason suppliers and finding it impossible to obtain the original coping, he turned again to Techo-Bloc to make a match. “The coping had tan and grey tones, and Techo-Bloc’s sandalwood paving stones were an extremely good complement,” Bill states. “The results were tremendous, winning our firm a national award and, more importantly, making our client very happy.”
Those contemplating a rear deck for their home should check out the design that brought Bill first-place honors again in the 2005 contest, in addition to awards from two national pool and spa associations. Like his client, you would probably shudder at the thought of maintaining a backyard deck. “This couple came to me and said ‘we don’t want to deal with any kind of maintenance. We don’t want to clean it, waterproof it, or anything.’ The answer was a raised patio.”
The challenge for Bill and his crew was the relatively steep slope in the backyard that ran away from the house. In the original design, there was a significant elevation change from where the pool was going to be to the proposed location for the sliding rear glass door. The deck was to come out of the house, with steps leading down to the pool patio.
With the change to a raised patio, it was necessary to put solid compactable materials underneath to avoid settling issues later on. Then they constructed a retaining wall and masonry steps down to the pool patio. The finished design featured a five-level patio all around the swimming pool. “It was a bit more than what a deck would have cost, but the savings in maintenance will pay for it over time,” Bill asserts. “And the end result is really beautiful.”
Bill’s early interests led him to the landscaping industry, where he learned the simple way: by doing and asking questions. Even after studying landscape design at the State University of New York at Farmingdale on Long Island, he’s never ceased his quest for knowledge. In 1980, he started his own landscape contractor business, and later opened The Deck and Patio Company in 1992. Today, he still loves going to work and coming up with new ideas.
“That’s the fun part of my job…the creativity,” he admits. “We’re always looking for exciting new and better ways to do things. For example, we’ve started using natural gas ‘firepits’ around our pools to create warm areas on the patios especially on cool evenings, as well as wireless outdoor speakers. Instead of placing a single speaker in one spot, we place as many as ten throughout the project area so our clients enjoy a subtle, consistent sound all around them. With recent advances in landscaping, swimming pools, and technology, virtually anything you can conceive of should be discussed with an experienced landscape and mason contractor. With a little imagination, the sky’s the limit.
“That’s why I use Tech-Bloc in so many projects,” Bill continues. “It’s not only cost-effective, but so flexible and adaptable. Techo-Bloc was the first paging stone that doesn’t look like one…it looks like natural stone. Just as important, they have so many different sizes and shapes, and a broad range of colors, which makes my job a lot easier. You can put them down and they look both natural and eye-catching. Instead of simply one brick that repeats throughout the entire patio or retaining wall, you get an attractive random-looking design, so you don’t just see straight lines and flat images. Then the block I use for the patio can be matched for the retaining walls, the steps, risers, coping…whatever.”
As any good businessman, what’s good for his customers is good for his home, as well. In fact, for 2006, he’s entering his backyard in the ICIP-sponsored contest in the hopes of a ‘three-peat.’ There are five different patio levels around the pool, all comprised of Techo-Bloc. The design features cascading water, a hot water fall into a new spa, then a spillover from the spa five feet above the main pool. In total, there are five waterfalls, plus a swim-up bar in the pain pool that features stunning granite countertops. From the highest waterfall to the lawn below in an elevation change of twelve feet, all with a different grades. Bill was able to integrate natural moss rock stone in with Techo-Bloc colors that blended beautifully.
Obviously, Bill’s come a long way from his days in the trees. If you’re interested in creating your own backyard paradise, whatever the size of your space, remember that a little creativity goes a long way.
APSP Quarterly Gold Awards
Deck and Patio Company
Huntington Station, NY
This large vinyl pool and spa worked well with the existing contours of the rear yard. The pool and spa feature four waterfalls: one large waterfall into the pool, two waterfalls on the spa and a large pondless waterfall near the raised patio. There are four different patio levels and lush landscaping.
Deck and Patio Company
Huntington Station, NY
This pondless stream and waterfall is a sustainable water feature. The patios are pitched toward the gravel-covered matrix so that rain runs off into this reservoir and is used to refill it. This system is a form of rainwater harvesting.
Deck and Patio Company
Huntington Station, NY
This 1800s estate was purchased with a stone bridge and tunnel that originally served as an entrance to the property. The homeowner wanted to accentuate the beautiful structure with a reflecting pond. To allow the entire stone gazebo to reflect in the water, the pond would have to be more than 250 feet long and 45 feet wide. To aid natural filtration and circulation, a bog filter was installed with the waterfall. At the other end is the weir for the pondless reservoir that holds about 5,000 gallons of water and serves as a rainwater harvester and a skimmer. This system allows the flow of water (slowly) and keeps the water crystal clear.
Cutting-Edge Vinyl Marvels
The Deck & Patio Company draws on the latest in design concepts to create luxurious pools and spas. Although the company designs and builds gunite in addition to vinyl-lined pools, many of its clients prefer the padded, smooth, soft feel of vinyl.
“Vinyl-liner pool styles have become almost limitless due to new robotic technologies that cute a liner to conform with any in-pool features,” explains Bill Renter, owner of The Deck & Patio Company. “Vanishing edges, swimouts and beach entries have entered the realm of reality.”
Company designers begin by asking customers about their plans for a pool, their lifestyles and their children’s needs, then come up with a unique concept to fulfill every desire. The Deck & Patio Company uses CAD drawings, digital imaging and a 3D animation video on a flat screen television to
show clients how the pool will look with the existing home and environment.
Pools by The Deck & Patio Company combine structural stamina with standout style. Under the glamorous surface, 10-in. thick steel-reinforced poured-concrete walls support the pool. Once built, the company’s fitting crew spends an entire day obtaining precise measurements of every aspect of the pool, including loveseats, tanning shelves, barstools or benches, before ordering a perfectly fitted vinyl liner. The company installs a quarter-inch padding between the vinyl liner and the concrete, giving the steps and walls a cushiony feel. The latest equipment and technologies, including variable speed pumps and automated computers, are recommended to ensure ease of maintenance, energy efficiency and years of enjoyment.
A recipient of more than 70 regional and international design and pool construction competitions, The Deck & Patio Company constantly innovates, bringing every homeowner a poolscape with everything from pergolas to colorful plantings and moss-covered boulders to the relaxing sound of a babbling brook or other water feature.
Deck & Patio
The owners of this Hauppauge property wanted their pool area to have a “resort feel” to it. They brought this request to Bill Renter of the Deck and Patio Company and hew as able to give them exactly what they wanted.
In order to fill this request, the vinyl pool was designed with sweeping curves, interior stairs and a love seat. An eight foot high moss rock waterfall with two-horsepower pumps moves 250 gallons of water per minute to help perpetuate the resort feeling. A large brim complete with lush landscaping provides the color.
A white pergola with 10” round columns adds a room-like feel to the patio while adding height to the once a flat backyard.
The project was finished off with landscape lighting which adds a sculpture during the day and provides indirect lighting at night.
The Deck and Patio Company has successfully created another beautiful environ. These clients in Hauppauge now have the private resort of their dreams.
Deck & Patio Provides Colorful and Unique
This 22-year-old gunite pool needed a facelift. A nonfunctioning waterfall, uncomfortable spa and grass as its patio were the reasons the client called Bill Renter from the Deck & Patio Co of Huntington Station.
The first step was to demolish the existing spa, waterfall, wood retaining wall and rock coping. Next, the new acrylic spa was installed. A seven foot high moss rock waterfall and boulder coping were installed beautify and retain the sloping woodland behind the pool. Because of the natural setting of the pool, careful consideration was given to the patio material. The designers suggested a tumbled pavingstone and wall system called techno-bloc. The colors of the patio were a blend of a tan color and a natural grey color to tie in with colors of the boulders used. The patio has the look of natural stone, but it is cool even on hot summer days and has the durability of a paver patio. This new technology in the paving and matching wall systems insures a life time of easy car for these surfaces.
Deck and Patio Takes a NESPA ‘Gold’
This 8’x10’ custom vinyl in-ground spa/waterfall project originally came about when the homeowners approached The Deck and Patio Company with an interest in having a water feature, possibly a fish pond and waterfall, installed in their backyard. During the initial design consultation, the clients expressed their dream to install a pool but knew they did not have the room to do so. The idea was to create a pond/waterfall feature that could be used even in the winter. After reviewing the customer’s desires and property
specifications and taking numerous photographs and measurements, the designers at the Deck and Patio created an accurately designed plan. The criteria changed gears to install an in ground spa with waterfall and the designers produced a water feature concept that was functional and beautiful. Allowing the homeowners a place to soak and relax without the size and maintenance of a pool, the spa features a waterfall that flows into the spa to keep it cool in the summer time and hot during the evenings or cold winter months.
A warm yet elegant 1100 square foot patio composed of Techo Bloc’s Elena Sandlewood in curved sweeping lines surrounds the spa creating an inviting hideaway to melt away the stress of the day. The spacious patio allows ample area for furniture so that guests can mingle while admiring the beauty of this unique water feature.
Another attractive element is the natural gas camp fire which brings to the area a soft and welcoming glow and added warmth. With a natural gas campfire, the residents can enjoy
the warmth of a cozy fire without the hassle of smoke and other inconveniences of having to build one by scratch. Outdoor breezes blow across the flames creating warm puffs of air and soft flickering light.
Landscaping would be needed to finish off this project and give it that star quality. Marc Wiener, ASLA landscape designer for Deck and Patio was brought in to carefully select the proper plantings to perfect this design. One of the main issues that needed to be addressed was exposure. The property was open on three sides and in full view of four homes. Through artistic use of evergreens such as Skip Laurels, Leyland Cypress, and Cedars, an attractive privacy screen was created. Texture and color were brought in to the buffering divider by incorporating flowering deciduous shrubs. Creeping evergreen ground covers cascade and wind over and between the rocks. The well thought out selection of plants displays color from April through October and the whole design flows beautifully into the back property.
The harmonious blend of the design staff and construction team resulted in the creation of a large livable space that catered to the client’s need for tranquility as well as their social entertaining needs.
The hard work and imagination of The Deck and Patio Company paid off when the company proudly accepted a Gold Medal in the 2005 Northeast Pool and Spa Association’s Design Awards and a Silver Medal in the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals 2005 International Award of Excellence for this project.