Rock Salt finish on pool coping

alfred808March 11, 2010

Our pool was built in th 60's in Honolulu and we recently had it renovated, new plaster, waterline tile, concrete poured in place coping. I have no experience in pool renovations. All went well except for the pool coping. We asked for off white and settled for a light beige. the conteactor ordered the concrete 2 yards and when the truck came dumped two boxes of beige colorant in the truck. What started to come out and get laid into the coping forms looked like brown mud. The lead man said when it dries it will lighten. At that point I do not know if I could stop the job, or just be happy and accept the color or hope in the end the color would lighten enough to be acceptable. When it came time to put the rock salt finish on the spreading ended up very uneven and a lot of spots ended up looking like asphalt holes. There were two persons showing each other how to apply the salt and another trowelling it in. I was never asked if we wanted a light sperading of salt or a heavy spread. As a result the finish is uneven in texture and had very sharp edges after the salt was removed. I had the contractor come back twice to knock down the sharp edges. The first time they used their trowels and scrapped the high points off and made it a bit smoother and said that this was how a standard rock salt finish was supposed to be. The next time the came they took an orbital sander and sanded it a little smoother. The surface is unacceptable because it is the wrong shade, too dark and not light enough, uneven salt pattern and not a smooth surface.

I will try to include pictures. (how do I post pictures to this message?)

Any advice on how to fix this situation.

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The color will lighten over a 30 day period. The concrete is still green and the color will fade out. I like to order my color already mixed at the plant. That way it is computer controlled and less room for human error and it gets mixed properly before it gets to the job site. Most salt finishes I have laid have gone like this. After screeding, bull floating and troweling it down twice and before it gets to hard I throw the rock salt on and then press it down with a water roller. It looks like a asphalt roller except it is hand powered and is filled with water. The concrete is fairly hard by then and the salt only penetrates so far down and then you do not get the sharpness of the deep holes. I have only put rock salt deep in concrete when I do artificial rock work to make it look like lava rock. Even then we smooth it down before we paint it. The only thing you can do with your situation is rip it out and redo it. I have poured a lot of PIP coping and caps and once it is poured you are stuck with what you have. I was just in Kauai in January and you live in a beautiful state.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 6:19PM
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A swimming pool contractor was contrated to do this job. His tradeperson that was heading up the concrete team has 30 year experience in the islands and the contractor has some 20 years in the business. This was done more than three weeks ago and now we are in the aguement stage of the contract. Most of the work is complete except sealing of the concrete and I have stopped him from doing that because I(and the wife) am un-happy with the quality of work. The color maybe we can live with, but the badly scared coping surface is terrible, looks cheap and ugly.

What possible recourse do I have against the contractor?

Can I ask him to re-do the coping?

Resurface withsomething that we agree to? or something else, any suggestions.

File a complaint with the contractor's liciencing board. etc.

We held bacf about 10% of the cost which is less than $2000.

He wants his money for the job that he has done stating the rough and uneven salt parten is and industry standard and that we should accept it.

I would like to post some pictures to this tread, can anyone help in that matter.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 8:58PM
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I can't tell you what you can work out with your contractor. I'm sure you can file a complaint with your contractors board. Try to work it out with him. It will be less costly and less hard ache. You can put an overlay on it. Or one time on a remodel and the homeowner did not want to rip off the old concrete coping I had my artificial rock guy cover it to make it look like a gray granite. If we saw a picture that would help us see if it is industry standards. I would hold the $2,000.00 until he came up with a solution. I know I would redo it if it got screwed up and you were holding money on me.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 9:59PM
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I am so sorry about your coping. I hope it works out for you. Posting pics is easy, start a photobucket account. download the pictures. copy the 3rd URL choice under the picture. Paste it on your post.

Also, I would not hold the money in your bank account if this goes to court. I would inform him in writing that you will place the money in escrow in x amount of business days until the matter is resolved in or outside of court. If he does not resolve the matter, Place it in escrow in both your names until this is resolved. You will get faster results that way and if he takes you to court, it will not look like you are trying to rip him off. I have only had a situation like this twice (about 10 years ago when I lived in NJ) and have never had to even get to the point of putting the money in escrow because the other party realized I wouldn't back down and settle for less than what we agreed upon and didn't want to go to court. I guess the letter and threat of escrow was legally intimidating in both cases because both times I had things finished out in 2-3 days.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 7:43AM
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Thanks for the helpful replys.

I have sent an e-mail to the contractor after his last visit stating our unhappyness about the job.

He sent a reply back and it seems that now he wants to charge me for the corrections, like grinding down the coping to a smooth finish to take off the ridges and to place some type of finish coat like s-- d---, when before I sent the e-mail he was willing to correct, but did not come up with good solutions.

He also suggested that we keep half the balance, pay him the rest and he walks away from the job.

And his last option was to take legal action.

All we wnat is to get what we ordered.

These replys are helping me write my second e-mail to him.

I will try to some place to post pictures and later post the url.

Thanks, or as we say in the Islands ..MAHALO

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 10:37AM
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placing some pictures or links here for you comments.

I have a lot more pictures, if you can review them do you think I have a complaint. Consider the contractor did not ask me how heavy or light I wanted the salt finish.

The tradesperson asked me after it was all done, spread in and trowelled in and at that point as I understand its too late, is that correct.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 1:49PM
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The color was a complete miss and the workmanship is unacceptable. Even if you did not specify heavy or light, it should of at least been one or the other. Looks like you have both on those pics. I don't know how you reacted but I would have blown a gasket if I came home to that and he told me it was okay. I would ask your PB if the contractor did that kind of work on his personal pool, would he pay for it and be happy? If he says yes, run away. The fact that he would settle for half and walk away from a job that looks like that tells me that he has no pride in his work and will cut corners if you have him fix it. I wouldn't give him any of that 2k back and get someone else to apply another surface on it.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 3:15PM
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I think I would rather walk on a cooled lava flow in bare feet than that. Thats not a salted surface, thats a mutilated surface and he knows it. If he had any clout with the mason/butcher that did this, he'd be all over them, not harassing you for that hack job. Your's looks like it was eaten by acid.

I grabbed this image of a Google search that led me to a builder's site with what I would call a perfect example of what a salted surface should look like.

You have every right to demand and receive what was contracted for. Anything less, and this is certainly less, he owes you compensation. That surface is a danger to you and your guests and has made you pool a serious safety concern.

When you've been in a pool for a while, soles and palms are much softer. This makes them much easier to cut and tear. This surface will do just that to them and to bathing suits and one's bottom as well.

As such, IMHO, the pool is unusable and unless he makes good on the contract, you are in the driver's seat and he knows it.

Those pictures, shown to a judge and jury, and others of what other properly prepared surfaces should look like (while all are unique, all have similarities), a judgment in your favor should be expected. Additional evidence should be presented with pictures from shown brochures during the negotiations of the initial contract and an accurate description in the contract will need to be entered.

Please note that colors in brochures are sometimes off due to the printing process. If you were shown actual samples of the colored concrete, that would help.

Mixed at the plant vs on site is almost always closer to a shown sample as was said earlier. The computers used when mixed at the plant batches are made can account for variations in the color of the ingredients that can't be done in an on-site addition to the mason's mixer or redi-mix truck.

Don't take it personally. It's just business to him. He is trying to get over on you as a business opportunity. You do need to fight back, but don't take it as a personal afront on your character. You are not a doormat and he needs to be reminded of that.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 4:43PM
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I always say try to work it out with the contractor first.
But I think you need this.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hawaii contractor complaint form.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 7:16PM
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Thanks for the pic Scott. That is a pretty good example of a salt finish. Salt finishes can vary due to concrete conditions and technique but they should all be pretty close to the same as the picture. I couldn't tell if that was a salt finish from the pictures or a bad kool deck job at first. The color could fade out over the next few weeks but it still looks like there is a lot of pink in the coping color versus the block color. The block could be to old to get a good color match to. If you knew the exact color from the block and tried to match the concrete to it, that could be hard to get an exact match. Even block mixed at different plants or at a different time will always be a shade or so off. Also when you rip out the coping to redo it, it would be proactive to use an expansion joint between the deck and the coping. If the dirt in Honolulu is like Kauai then it could be expansive clay and the expansion joint would help deter the deck from pushing into your coping.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 2:01AM
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The contractor did not ask enough questions on what we wanted and in turn we did not ask enough question to him.
The main focus here since its all said and done is " is the salt finish within acceptable industry standards?"

If the coping is taken out what procedure is used? will the waterline tile and the plaster have to be redone.

When the coping was poured the concrete went halfway down the waterline tile.

The original coping had an expansion joint between the coping edge and the deck edge with age and poor maintence this crack became bigger and in some areas shifted the coping and made several pieces loose and dangerous to walk on.
The contractor poured this with no expansion joint spacing.

Another thing when he first started with the old coping all removed he had one of his people drill a hole about every 2-3 feet, I assume to place a rebar pin, but at pouring time no pin was inserted. What is the norm for this.

The cinderblocks are more than 50 years old, three came from a neighbors wall that got torwn dow and on is new.
Thiw was a bad choice for the contractor to select as a base for his color match since all three are different shades.

Thanks everyone for all this new information. It will help me in this situation.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 12:12PM
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No, your finish is not in acceptable limits. You're the one paying, not him. Those limits are set by you, not him. As I said before, it looks like they were eaten by acid.

His incompetence is only exceeded by his audacity. This is furthered by his not adding an expansion joint between the pool and deck. This is not a canter levered deck that has a specifically made separator between the deck and bond beam.
I'll bet he didn't hydro blast the bond beam to remove bruised concrete when the old coping was knocked off or use a bonding agent between the bond beam and coping.

The mason wasn't a mason. I'll bet he was an inexperience laborer. He had to be. No real mason would have done all this. The contractor is obviously as incompetent as the guy he subbed this to.

As just-a-pb suggested, start that paperwork! I am sorry to say this but he's trying to shaft you. Stick it to him back with the bigger sticks you have.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 12:42PM
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After the old coping was chipped out with a chipper or jack hammer they just hosed it out several times to rmove the small debris. I did not see them apply any bonding agent or othe liquid before the concrete pour was made.
As it appears this PB did not manage or supervise his help and/or he was trying to cut too many corners.

Since most people, end users like me only go through this once in a life time we tend to rely on the contractors and other so called experts a little too much and there are those that will take advantage of the situation.

I know better now and will take the proper corrective action so we come out of this whole. Thanks

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 5:52PM
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"When the coping was poured the concrete went halfway down the waterline tile."

That is very scary.
So the water is at the same level as the break between the coping and the shell.
Your asking for big long term problems with that scenario.
What you will get at a minimum is tiles poping and water infiltration under the deck. Once that starts the deck will shift and heave ect. Unless it is in solid rock.

That said, to try and change what is there is a big project with alot of demo. All the tile, saw cutting around the pool, maybe damage to the plaster.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 6:22PM
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Unfortunately, in this situation, the contractor will be protected by the laws regarding completion of the contracted work.
This is how it will go down if you push it legally.
His counsel will ask you what part of the work is incomplete, then he'll ask you what part of that contract stated that he had to perform the work to your satisfaction. If the answer is that the work is complete and there's no verbage in the agreement that states completion is at the time you deem the work satisfactory he'll turn to the judge and say this case has no merit and ask for a dismissal.
You'll have much better luck with a jury trial because your counsel will appeal to them on the substandard workmanship. His counsel will present an argument that there is no sympathy to the law and the law is if the work has been completed to the intent of the agereement then the job is complete.
All the pictures in the world will not change these facts.

My suggestion, work with the man in any manner possible while staying polite yet firm. You might even consider offering him a reduced price to redo the work. This will assist your cause if you try to pursue him because you'll be able to tell the mediator of your offer. The courts will schedule a mediation between the parties before it hits the docket.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help, and if push comes to shove I wish you luck in pursuing him with legal action.

See ya,

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 6:49PM
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Check his licenses. If they are not in order, then he is going to have some governmental concerns too if you let him know that he can fix it or you will let them know of this.
File complaints to you state's BBB bureaus. Bring pressure. If this doesn't bring him around, let your state's consumer affairs in on his practices.

One look at the end result by either a jury or a judge will see this as not even close to what was contracted for.

Kelly, did you see the pictures she linked? No one would ask for that. I am sure it was worse than what she had to begin with.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 8:53PM
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quote" Kelly, did you see the pictures she linked? "quote

Yes, my heart breaks for this quality of workmanship.

It still, unfortunately, doesn't change a thing.
The concrete coping is poured and the builder made a sincere attempt to remedy the situation.

Note to all readers,
Although it may appear I'm taking sides, I'm not.
I'm fullfilling a promise I've made to every member of every pool forum I've ever participated in, which in my introduction to the board's membership is always as follows:
""" I promise you guys I'm not here to spam for work, if you feel my replies are spamming bring it up immediately to the moderators and if work comes from my interaction on the board that's a great reward for my membership.
And equally I'll never sugarcoat the truth, I promise to call the situation exactly as I, and I alone, see it based on a lifetime in the pool construction industry. It may or may not be the answer you wanted to hear but it's my take based on similar situations over the course of my career. """

I've ran plenty of leads just like this member's and had to break the news to them in the same manner, i.e. presenting facts.
Some listen and some don't, they simply look for another pool builder to side with them.

I've seen plenty of other pool builders sued and have yet to see one in a position as her pool builder lose.
The Contract did not state that "job completion" was dictated at the time she said the work is satisfactory to her liking.
The man did come back and attempt to resolve the situation by slightly reworking the new coping's blemishes.
I'm sorry but the job is complete, and if it goes down a legal highway I doubt if the answer will be any different when the gavel swings to hit the bench with a ruling.

quote" My suggestion, work with the man in any manner possible while staying polite yet firm. You might even consider offering him a reduced price to redo the work. "quote

I'll stand behind this quote and offer it once again.

See ya,

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 7:52PM
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I wouldn't let that guy touch my pool with a 10 foot pole. He already screwed this job up twice. The definition of insanity is "to do the same thing over and over again expecting different results". I don't know what the legal outcome would be but I would have little confidence in his willingness to fix it correctly. I am sure he would do things differently if it was his own pool but he is going to sacrifice quality to protect his margin if you make him redo the job again.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 8:15PM
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Kelly is absolutely correct. Quality of workmanship is not something you want to take to a court battle. Even if the contract specifically addressed the quality of work and remedies for errors as in an AIA agreement the costs of litigation would far outweigh any judgement you might get.

Even if you could prove fraud or deceptive trade practices it wouldn't be worth the time and expense. Court TV is far from reality.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 9:11PM
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Thanks for the replys, now lts quit bashing the builder and the owner and lets come up with some workable solutions for my problem, Yea I am a gut too!

We want the finish to feel smooth and not have a plastic look and feel of plastic finishes .... With all your experience lets hear some real solutions to a real problem.

Thanks your suggestions will be appreaciated.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 11:21AM
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A knockdown acrylic concrete finish. I like the plain lace look.
Here's a link to the product I use.
If you like I'll look for some pic's.

See ya,

Here is a link that might be useful: sundek

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 8:40PM
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A simple carborundum handheld stone will smooth it out a lot. Just splash some water on the coping and rub out the rough spots, its pretty easy and the stone costs about $20. As the stone wears down it acts like finer sandpaper does on wood. If you don't use water it will scratch the surface.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 2:08PM
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