Sugar Land Pool Remodel-Please HELP!

PoolPlstrMarch 31, 2011

We have an aging white plaster pool and we are wanting to replace the white plaster with either a quartz based product (like diamond brite) or a pebble product (similar to River Rok or Pebbletec). We have a large pool, (approx 40,000 gal) so we know this is an investment and want to do it right.

I have had 4 pool builders out to give me bids but each of them seems to have some folks on this site that don't care for them. I am looking for feedback on Emerald Pools, Maddox Pools, Express Pool Plastering and Uno Plaster. Are there other Pool Remodelers in the Sugar Land area I should be talking to that are trustworthy?

The other concern is that each builder seems to use a different product so it is extremely hard to make any comparison. One quotes Wet Edge Luna Qrtz, one quotes diamond brite, one quotes 3m (for the qrtz products). For the Pebble, one quotes Pebble Tec, one quotes River Rok, one quotes Sunscapes and one quotes beadcrete. Are all of these products equally good?

Where does one go to get educated?

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I am trying to understand how a vendor could offer 3M quarts when they got out of the business over two years ago.

River Rok and Diamond Brite are both made by SGM.

River Rok and Diamond Brite have more plaster and cement than the Pebble, Wet Edge, or Beadcrete products. With these products, more is not better as this is what breaks down over time.

Beadcreate has polished glass. I don't like anything glass near a pool.

In terms of better, that is a subjective area. What are your criteria?


    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 9:39AM
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Thanks for the reply Scott. We had the same concern over the 3M. He didn't have a straight answer. Made us wonder what else we should be concerned about.

Our criteria is that we want a product that is going to last (the longer the better) is proven, won't have problems with a lot of black algae, won't become splotchy or look like crap after a couple of years. Just had a guy out that swears against Diamondbrite in any blue based color. He says the color breaks down in the sun, especially on the steps, and doesn't look good after a couple of years.

From what you are saying above, if we want to get away from the plaster, we should stick with the Pebble Tec and Wet Edge products. Is that a correct statement?

Any one have experience with any of the pool builders mentioned?

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 12:48PM
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Most of the blue in a pool is a reflection of the sky. It can be a lighter or darker shade or intensity as a result of the color of the finish.

WRT to the Diamond Brite Blues, there has been some discussion about the dye in the cement portion, not the aggregate. I haven't seen these colors offered/installed in my area so I can't offer 1st hand experience. I don't offer them to customers. I do have customers with Blue, Cool Blue and Super Blue as well as Onyx and French Gray and no fading problems that I know of.

The Pebble and Wet Edge product lines are both great when it comes to durability.

Black algae can happen to any pool. It is very difficult to kill. It can even come from behind the finish making it next to impossible to stop permanently without a significant actions like a chip out, or liner change with treatments when the liner/plaster is removed, etc...

I am not sure if huskyridor or womanowned serve your section. If they see this, I am sure they will chime in, either of which I would trust. Both have been absent as of late and I pray that that is because they are too busy building new pools.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 2:23PM
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Thanks Scott.
Very informative. I have seen a lot of good advice from Husky and womanowned on this site and was hopping to get some inoput from them on local folks that could handle this work.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 9:44AM
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I am still discussing resurfacing options with contractors but had a curios reply from one. He was recommending against any pebble product (Pebble tec, Wet edge, etc) His reasoning is that after 12 years or so, the pebbles begin "falling out" and you end up with piles of pebbles? in the pool. He also mentioned that you have to come back years after having the surface installed and have "honeycomb" coating added over the surface to protect it. I had never heard any of this and was looking for some feedback. Does this mean anything to the experts or long time pebble owners?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 6:03PM
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I have never heard one before. Press him for references to the products he is suggesting.

The more I think about it, the more doubts I have.


    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 5:52PM
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I'm sorry I've been off of the board for a spell due to some Snafu's with the computers talking to each other.
I can't eleborate on the pool builders but can on the products.
IMO, PebbleTec or Sheen is much much better than D-brite and River Rok.
The matrix of those finishes, especially the blues) have color degradation in a few years of SE Texas summertime sunshine (very high UV's)
I've seen some lightening of the grey in Tahoe Blue P-Tec but not as bad. The other P-Tec colors I haven't seen it happen on. Uno plaster does the Wet Edge pebble finishes not P-Tec.

I don't know if your the E-mail to me from Sugarland a week or so ago but if you are I'm sorry I hadn't got back with you. I've needed to respond to the e-mail but hadn't due to being very busy. If it was yours please post here it was or otherwise I'm going to let it slide. When we get busy like we are right now I only travel the the opposite side of town for direct referrals of existing customers or Gardenweb members.

See ya,

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 6:46PM
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My experience with the Diamond Brite is the same. Blue fading over time. Something funky in their blue dyes.

Doesnt happen to the Super Blue, Blue, or Cool Blue because the color is coming from the aggregate, not the base material. IE the base is white, the aggregate/quartz is blue. So avoid any selection with a blue colored base and youll be fine.

If you are going with a quartz based product, I havent seen the same issues with CLI products (Sunstone lines).

Agree with the other folks here though, nothing like a Pebble based product for consistency of color and finish.
Pebbletec or Wetedge have done well for me. In the Houston area, both installers of these products are GREAT companies, so it usually comes down to a color preference.

Another thing to remember, in order to install Pebbletec or Wetedge, your company has to pay some pretty major $$ to get licensed, trained and equipped. With most of these other products, any joker with a pickup and some cash can buy them at a pool supplier. No training on proper installation or startup. No quality control over the product once it leaves manufacturing. Just a thought.

Hope my $.02 helps.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 10:55PM
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Thanks to everyone, this is really helpful.

Kelly, yes, that was me that was sending you the request for a plaster job in Sugar Land. We have really had a battle trying to move forward. I have talked to 9 companies and most give me a wrong feeling in my gut or come to find out later, have a tough reputation for poor service. Gulf Coast Pools is coming out to give me a quote and Pool Design Studio is also giving me a quote. I hear good things about both so maybe we are getting on the winning side of this battle.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 4:38PM
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Hi PoolPlstr -

Are you just getting your pool replastered or are you having other work done? I am also in the Sugar Land area trying to get quotes for my pool remodel. I am having a very difficult time getting quotes back. One company hasn't even contacted me since coming out about 3 weeks ago (one mentioned in your previous posts). Have you made any progress? How long is it taking you to get the quotes after a pool builder comes out?

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 9:29AM
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We're in Houston, and we use The Pool Man in Tomball. We've been very happy with them...they have done some repair and maintenance work for us, and they also renovated our 40 year old pool a few years ago with PebbleTec. What a difference! Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 10:26AM
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Unfortunately, The Pool Man said they were not doing remodeling projects in Sugar Land.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 3:50PM
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Give scott from cy fair pools a call. my friend lives in telfair and she is getting a covered patio done from him. he buit our pool and we have pebble tec in pool and hot tub. 8324832279. he's a pool builder but does everything outdoors.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 7:05PM
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I had a hard time getting remodel quotes last year, even from Kelly (sorry, but it's true). We gave up and put it off a year.

Pool Works a/k/a/ Houston Pool Renovations (713-466-3300) is located off the Beltway and 290 -- closer to you than they are to me up in The Woodlands, and they started my pool today. Really nice crew and it's going fast (pool was emptied, tile removed, plaster prep done and scratch coat applied in half day). Can't wait to see the new tile go up tomorrow. They have several different lines, but appear to use a lot of Wet Edge. We decided on the Wet Edge Luna quartz because we didn't want a pebble finish for our pool (small, shallow and architectural rather than lagoon type).

I know they are getting busier, but try them and ask for Greg.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 12:30AM
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My suggestion would be to contact the manfacturer of the products. Tell them the problems you are having locating a installer. They will be able to put you onto a good builder.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 10:59PM
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FYI, my tile went in today and looks great. Another nice crew. The plaster goes on starting early tomorrow morning. I'm excited to see it going so fast and smoothly after waiting so long. I hope you can find the same.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 12:22AM
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Plaster went in this morning, acid wash this afternoon and we are filling now. I am so thrilled to get the pool done and have it look so nice. It all went faster and easier than I had imagined.

We even managed to keep our lab and her tennis balls inside so none wound up in the plaster. One of her greatest joys is getting anyone who come s over to play ball with her. I was only half joking about winding up with an accidental monument to personalize our pool. ;-)

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 10:36PM
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I'm also in Sugar Land and looking for a pool replaster. Lascatx, are you happy with their work? I was referred to Elite Pools or R&R. Have you heard anything on either of those? Which finish did you choose? Can you post any pictures?


    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 11:05PM
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DD, yes, I am happy, and relieved. I dreaded the pool job from the time we bought the house. The plaster was showing some pitting then -- not too bad, but we were told the plaster job was coming. We did all we could to prolong what life the plaster had left and avoid that day as long as possible. Well it wasn't as bad as I feared.

Our job went faster and easier than I'd expected. They started with the drain and demo on Monday. That was the only loud part -- they use gas pumps to drain the pool fast, and it does go quickly. They had the pool drained, the tile all removed and the chip out done, scratch coat applied, everything cleaned up and were gone in 3-4 hours. The next day was tile and then Wednesday was plaster in the morning and an acid wash in the afternoon. They were cleaned up and gone with hoses filling the pool before I knew it. By Thursday mid-morning, the pool was filled and I was adding acid.

We went with Wet Edge Luna Quartz. We chose Pacific (looks like they've just changed colors or names and it would be Aruba now). We like it, but I think we would have been happy with any of several. If they had changed their colors already, I might have gone with the Bermuda -- I like the color and the name. ;-)
I don't know Elite or R&R. My advise would be to look for a pool plastering/renovating company. First reason is that they know what they are doing. If you are picking a surgeon, you want the guy that does the procedure many times a week if not every day. Why not the same here? Go to the guy for whom the job is his bread and butter rather than the guy who might work you in if he has time, etc.

I started to post a photo, but after uploading it, the pool looks almost electric blue on my screen -- it isn't like that IRL. I may try again tomorrow -- but it's similar to teh Aruba -- a bit lighter, I think.

Here is a link that might be useful: Luna Quartz

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 12:28AM
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I have tried to upload some more photos to see if I can get a better color representation. I'm not sure what you are looking for in a photo -- look of the plaster or that the whole job isn't a mess. ;-) LOL This one gives you an idea of the color of the Pacific(Aruba?) in the sun, but try to ignore the roses still in pots behind the pool. We bought them to replace frozen plants and they were sitting there while we waited for the pool to be done and to start reworking our beds. It's bare now and won't look that wild when put back together.

We are past the first week now and things are settling in as far as the plaster curing, the pH getting more stable, the crystals appearing evenly. Everything appears to be textbook to this point. As I said, I have dreaded this job and the mess, especially after having other contractors working inside my house, but it went fast, easy, wasn't as messy as I feared -- really without a hitch. I haven't seen Pool Works mentioned here before (perhaps because they aren't on the forum themselves ;-) ) but I have no hesitation recommending them. I know they are up in The Woodlands every week, but they are located near 290 and Beltway 8, so they are much closer to you in Sugar Land. If you are still looking or deciding, call them and ask for Greg.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 11:15AM
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I can speak highly of Express Pool Plastering. They are very good and responsive.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 10:02PM
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Thanks for posting the picture. It looks great. I have 6-8 referrals (all different) so hard to know which way to go.

womanowned, do you know if Express works in Sugar Land?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 11:02PM
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I know what you mean. I'd look at which ones do plaster and remodel work as opposed to a full builder. I tried to get bids from builders who said they did replaster jobs and only succeeded in actually getting a bid from one. And he wanted to change out equipment and add on this, then add on that. It's easy to fall for the "while we're at it...." syndrome, but you don't need to.

One of the reasons I liked Pool Works was that neither Kevin nor Greg (the two I dealt with primarily) tried to up-sell me or add on stuff I didn't need. They didn't try to promote the most expensive finish and they didn't try to sell me stuff I didn't need. Greg came out to write up the bid and we asked about a couple of extras, which he did bid and answered my questions, but he didn't push them. When it came time for the work, they came when expected and did everything as expected or better.

Talk to people, but start calling. Pool business is already in full season and you could find it hard to get bids. Ca; and you will find out who answers phones, who returns calls and who gets back to you with bids and answers questions. You can have 6 or 8 folks to call and only get 2 or 3 who follow through. That was my experience last summer and why we put the job off until this year. Start calling so you can stop dreading it and enjoy your "new" pool. We already have.

And just in case our blue, blue pool makes you nervous -- we're the only pool they've done with that tile. It's not as intense as it looks in photos either. I'm adding their web link so you can see some more of their pools that aren't so blue. ;-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Pool Works

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 1:16AM
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Thanks for posting the picture. It looks great. I have 6-8 referrals (all different) so hard to know which way to go.

womanowned, do you know if Express works in Sugar Land?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 9:17PM
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DD, womanowned is a pool builder -- probably very busy this time of year and not following every post on every thread. If she posted their name for this thread, I would think it fair to assume that if she were building a pool in Sugar Land she could have them come plaster it. Would they do the same for a homeowner? Probably, but unless you start talking to some of these folks, you aren't going to know their availability, you won't figure out what choices you want and you won't get on anyone's schedule this summer.

I'm telling you this as someone who went through that last summer. Even one of the PBs here who is located very near me and apologized and promised to reply, get me a bid, etc, never got to it. Some don't answer their phones in the summer. You might call 8 and never talk to half of them.

Your eyes will probably glaze over with choices to be made -- different finishes, brands, textures, colors, warranties, etc. If you throw in tile or coping or other improvements, the choices multiply. Unless you are absolutely set that you only want white plaster and would never consider anything else, there will be a lot to sift through, and you have to get started sometime. I'd suggest calling all of them and getting bids from at least 2 or 3 you have good references for and feel good about talking to. You will know which way to go when you start talking to them and start getting bids and the questions and comparisons answered.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 12:43PM
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Hi, I posted under DD earlier, but now I can't get into that account...just wanted to say thanks VERY much for the help! We went with Express and white plaster (upgraded to the 5 year type). They finished in 2 days (we didn't change the tile).

But the startup is causing us some consternation. They gave us the wrong startup instructions (the one for the quartz) so my husband talked to a friend and googled around for the "official pool replaster society" startup. It is going pretty well.

We have to brush the pool for a week (or two depending on the source), but the Express lady told us not to swim "until the startup was complete".

The startup could be construed as the first 7-14 days or as the entire 28 days it supposedly takes for the plaster to totally harden. Did you guys wait the whole 28 days before swimming?

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 8:03AM
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Yes, Express Pool Plastering does work in Sugarland. There is some aversion to doing work in Sugarland by some contractors because the city can be a pain in the neck to deal with. This IS the busy season for pool builders, but a PB should still be responsive and return calls promptly. I am guilty of not checking this forum as often as I should, but I am still here and ready to offer advice, help or whatever.

If you are in the Houston area, here are a couple of things to keep in mind: PebbleTec can only be applied by two companies here - Modern Method and Adams Pool Plastering. They have been trained and certified in the application. No one else can offer you PebbleTec. Pebble Tec has 3 products: PebbleTec, Pebble Sheen and Pebble Fina. The first 2 have a ten year warranty and are very good products, although the most expensive choice. PebbleTec are larger pebbles. Pebble Sheen is smaller pebbles that are buffed to a smoother finish. Pebble Fina is has a 5 yr warranty and has pebble "dust" rather than pebbles.

Some PBs will tell you they are giving you PebbleTec, but it is actually one of the other products out there that sprung up after PebbleTec. WetEdge Technologies is an offspring of PebbleTec and is similar. WetEdge has Primera Stone, Pearl Matrix (large pebbles), Satin Matrix (small pebbles), Altima and Luna Quartz. This product also is applied by only certified technicians. In Houston, those authorized applicators are Express Pool Plastering, UNO plastering and one other that escapes me at the moment. Wet Edge is less expensive than PebbleTec. There is one major PB in Houston and some others that are including a white pebble plaster applied by UNO. UNO is a good company, but this pebble is actually applied like a quartz product and not the same as a true Satin Matrix. It is mixed and applied differently. I don't know how it holds up and have nothing negative to say about it except to warn that it is not the same as the real thing. Anytime your PB offers you a plaster with their company name in it, you can probably be sure it is some special mix to get the price down to the PB.

Diamond Brite is good, but expensive. I don't care for Quartzscapes because it is mixed onsite (unlike Diamond brite which comes premixed) and I have found the color to be inconsistent. It is a lot cheaper than Diamond Brite.

My opinion only...

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 4:43PM
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