Fair warning about pebblesheen

dptbonesSeptember 26, 2011

I posted a long message on a previous discussion about pebble sheen. I have always come to forums when making decisions about major investments as I found the information useful. You always read some really negative opinions and some really positive ones and I try to realize that some people have unique experiences. I really hope mine is unique, but I think you should hear it. Below is my original post.

I would be very careful about using pebbletec. We have had an absolute nightmare. We put in Ocean blue last fall and within 2 months had dark spots that looked like rust show up in the finish. Prior to that I had several problems with the installation. The boxes that were placed on the lawn killed several square feet of grass, they spilled blue concrete on my travertine and didn't clean it and also spilled a fair amount in the front yard. When the spots appeared we were informed in was a national problem involving the black stones and a chemical treatment would take care of it. THey did this and sure enough it took the spots away within minutes. The spots came back a few months later and they proposed yet another harsher treatment. At this point I was losing my patience and demanded that they replace the finish. After several weeks they agreed. When they came to prep the pool I found out that actually all they would be doing is chipping out a few inches below the tile and then rebond coating and then just putting another layer over the top. They chipped several tiles (49) which they marked for replacement. Then the fun started. The tile store had no more tile in the country and told us it would be a month and no quarantee it would match exactly. So the installer told us they would remove all the tile and WE could pay for new tile. Not sure why I would have to pay for it, but we eventually agreed to pay for the tile and labor for the spa and they would do the pool. Meanwhile I called the national pebbletec number and I've got to tell you that I've never ever ever in my life had someone be so sarcastic and rude to me on the phone. Practically called me a liar and accused me of exaggerating the problem. I just sat there with my mouth open on the phone barely able to believe my ears. I mean I spent several thousand on the pool surface and it had rust spots and I've been dealing with this pool for months and she's yelling at me and accusing me of exaggerating??!! So our pool still sits empty waiting for the tile and respraying. But there's something else.

We chose this surface over others because of all their marketing about the extensive training and spot checks of their installers. That they buff the pebble sheen and no one else does that. They also state that you have to brush the sides every day and pay CLOSE attention to the chemical balance for the first several weeks. However when I called national I asked about the buffing because they did not do that the first time and I was told that was only for pebble tec because it was rougher. When I told them that my neighbors had pebble tec installed just a few weeks ago and no one buffed that they said it just wasn't necessary anymore. Then I asked who would be coming by to brush the pool they again said it really wasn't that important. They did say that they would take care of the chemicals, but I'm not holding my breath.

So you can see its probably better to go with another product. I wish I had listened to my contractor who recommended another (cheaper) product. I would be swimming today.

David Thompson

As you can see I signed it with my name so as not to come across as an anonymous idiot. To clarify a couple points that were rebutted by another member of the forum who is an installer.

The boxes were for the overflow and were kept on the grass for two days. After they were removed there was a thin skin of the plaster on the ground that effectively killed the grass. They NEVER came out and removed the skin of plaster. I finally did it myself.

The problem with the spots WAS a national problem is was told. Certain of the darker colors had some type of contaminant in it. They ended up having to resurface ALL the pools affected as their chemical treatments never permanently solved the issue. The were some pools that had so few spots that they could dig them out and spot fill them, but most had too many. Its turns out that I never had to insist on the resurface, it was going to happen anyway.

So when they came to resurface the pool as you can see I had a problem with the tile being chipped. The installer FINALLY agreed to replace all the tile, but still refused to do the spa so I had to eat $600 for that. I really didn't think it was reasonable to have the spa tile not match the pool tile, but apparently the installer did not agree.

I spoke to the installer and reminded him that my original contract with the pool contractor was to monitor the chemicals for the first month. I also reminded him that they should pay for the chemicals as well as the water. (which was around $400 for both). He agreed.

The problem is that after adding the chemical on the first day the pool was filled they never came back to brush, check chemicals or add anything. I finally called the Pool contractor and he agreed to do it since it was in my original contract, but they only came by once a week. The bottom line is that now I have some different type of stain that the installer says is due to scale from not keeping the pool in balance. I tried to remind him that that was his job for the first month, but he ignored me. The pool contractor has agreed to pay for some type of chemical treatment to get rid of the stain (hopefully), but only after I hired a lawyer to write a letter to him.

Now I've been waiting for a month for them to come and do the treatment. Meanwhile I have been checking my water twice a week for pH and chlorine and once a week for everything else. I use that formula and yes I do add the metal control agent they recommended.

I would never use this product again. The warranty they give isnt worth the paper its printed on since they will just claim the YOU didn't handle the chemistry correctly. Look at my problem. I've only had my surface in for four months and one of those months the installer was supposed to balance the pool and they didn't and they already aren't honoring their warranty. Imagine if it had been a year from now.

One final point I would like to mention. When we had the surface put in originally both my wife and I didn't think it matched what we had picked out. We were told that many things go into the final color of the water and I do agree that the pictures of the pools online vary quite a bit. So then I looked at the closeup of the surface on the pebbletec website and it really wasn't like ours at all. I contacted the installer and asked how the mix was made and he said that the ocean blue was mixed with black stones and then a dye added to the plaster. I asked if it were possible that they had made a mistake and he said no. Well when the redid the surface I watched the bags that they used in the mix to verify. I will tell you that now the surface looks exactly as the website depicts it in the closeup and my wife and I have gone from hating the surface to really liking it. I would like to say that we love it and in truth we really do its just hard to love after all we've been through. I have pictures of the surface in closeups for both the original surface and the second and the difference is significant.

So...Caveat Emptor.


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I had a problem on my old pool where we used Pebble Tec above the waterline instead of tile. At the time, maybe 2003 or 4, Pebble Tec marketing info on their website and brochures showed fabulous photos of the finish outside of the water. I think there were even photos of it being used as a finish for decking.

Anyhow, Cracks showed up in a few years... getting gradually worse and worse. I called Pebble Tec and they informed me it was installed improperly and that it should never be used above the waterline. Huh? I went back to their website and, sure enough, all the outside of the water application photos were gone.

So... there is nothing special about Pebble Tec. It's all about quality of the crew doing the application and Pebble Tec is just another material.. albeit one that is marketed a bit better. Unless you're getting a deal I'd go for some other exposed aggregate finish. I think their warranty and installer validation process is marketing magic.

Hey... Let's turn this into a bash Pebble Tec thread. Pile on. :)

    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 1:32AM
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I am just starting a pool build and I am not getting pebble tech or pebble sheen. And it really isn't about the cost. I don't get the obsession with exposed aggregate in the pool or around the pool. It seems like it was all the rage in 1970 and then people starting tearing it up and putting down other materials that were easier on the feet. I do love the way the Pebble Tech products make the water look but I want to SWIM in my pool not look at it. Anyway, I am not bashing because it certainly looks nice and I have heard that it lasts longer than regular white plaster. I guess I don't get the new exposed aggragate rage. I prefer something softer on my feet.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 12:58PM
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dptbones' seems to primarily have a beef with the installer. PT provided the replacement material. I am sure they have noticed this situation and this installer's methods. Whether this installer is authorized in a year is another matter.


    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 7:25PM
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