Baltimore Pool Build (with pics)

bobinbaltimoreOctober 9, 2009

After a lot of research here and elsewhere, we've begun our build. We'll complete the shell and rough work this month, do some of the hardscape elements over the winter, then finish up in the spring. All comments and critques are welcomed.

Here are the essential specs:

25 x 37 freeform shotcrete pool

660 sq ft of water area

3'6" to 6' deep

2 - IntelliBrite LED lights

2 - skimmers

3 - return lines tee'd to 6 jets (4 wall, 2 floor)

1 - dedicated cleaner in-wall return

2" plumbing all around

Dual main drains with VGBA compliant covers

Stub out for future water feature

Integral steps, two benches, a loveseat

Deck-mounted rail at steps

Bluestone coping

6" x 6" waterline tile

Pentair Clean & Clear Plus 420 filter

Pentair VS-3050 pump

Pentair EasyTouch Contoller and SWG

Pentair Legend Platinum Cleaner w/ Booster Pump

Five 120v lighting/outlet rough-ins around area

Conduit for low voltage (cable, phone, network) installed to house

1/2" water line installed to house

Overall Plan:

Pool Detail (hand-drawn adds):

Breaking Ground (destroying some nice lawn):

Nearly Complete Shape:

Looking Toward the Shallow End:

Deep end toward house showing grade cut:

Inside looking toward the shallow end:

Shots of steel and plumbing to be posted later tonight.

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poolguynj

Don't forget the drainage at the base of the retaining wall.
With the slope of the yard and the pitch of the deck, the wall base will be a valley where water will collect. It's got to go somewhere or there will be issues when it rains.

Scott

    Bookmark   October 9, 2009 at 4:13PM
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bobinbaltimore

Thanks, Scott. Absolutely. We haven't decided on the final form the wall will take (the plan shows boulders), but drainage is a key consideration. FYI, the cut (when the grade is finished) will be about 36" at the highest point, ranging down to a little less than 24".

    Bookmark   October 9, 2009 at 5:05PM
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bobinbaltimore

Pictures of the rebar work. Plumbing tomorrow.

View from Deep End Across:

Bench Detail:

Skimmer Detail:

Middle:

    Bookmark   October 9, 2009 at 8:39PM
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houndkeeper

Looking good.......you have a very lovely yard and surrounding farmscape. Please keep posting as your pool progresses.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2009 at 9:02PM
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Rack Etear

I never knew Baltimore looked so nice, I guess I should stop watching the wire.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2009 at 9:22PM
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bobinbaltimore

Ha! Well, technically we're north east of Baltimore in Harford County, but no one knows where that is. It is a beautiful area...we're on the civilized fringes of horse country up here.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2009 at 9:50PM
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bobinbaltimore

And here are plumbing pictures, before they filled in the tranches:

Equipment and Main Trench:

Main Drain and Floor Returns:

Trench Detail:

Future Water Feature:

View from Shallow End:

    Bookmark   October 10, 2009 at 6:26PM
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bobinbaltimore

Here are pictures of the shell shoot today. Everything went really well.

Work on Shallow End Wall:

Building the Sun Bench:

Completed Stairs:

Completed Sun Bench:

Completed Left Side:

Completed Right Side:

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 9:07PM
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bobinbaltimore

Sorry about the broken links. Here they are again:

Work on Shallow End Wall:

Building the Sun Bench:

Completed Stairs:

Completed Sun Bench:

Completed Left Side:

Completed Right Side:

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 10:30PM
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bobinbaltimore

Electrical went in today (pictures posted in the next day or two) and we're waiting on one more bid on the retaining wall to make a final decision on that. So far, so good!

    Bookmark   October 21, 2009 at 7:43PM
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bobinbaltimore

A few pictures of the electrical install:

Trench back up to the house. We had the electrician place a separate conduit for low voltage cable (two Cat5e and two RG6):

Pentair EasyTouch Controller Panel:

Trench Along the Side. We had 5 120v light positions pulled around the pool for post lamps.

And a bit of wetting down the gunite:

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 7:11PM
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bobinbaltimore

Early Winter Update: Shell has been winterized and partially filled. Nothing will happen until spring. Our landscape contractor has been working on what has become a rather substantial retaining wall. We're using EP Henry Coventry Wall, lots of 3/4" stone, geogrid and a lot of compacting to make it one very solid wall.

Depending on how the winter goes (how cold it is), we'll get the fence installed and prepare for deck, coping, plaster and pool house in the spring. I also have to finish one more part of our basement so we'll have a full bath down there for convenience. Since I properly permit everything I do myself, I need to leave a couple of months for that over the winter, too. Very busy.

Here are some shots of the retaining wall.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2009 at 7:03PM
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poolguynj

I love the wall. Did you use any construction adhesive om the wall? Is it just sitting on compacted gravel?

Will the outdoor lighting be controlled with the Easy Touch ?

Looks like a very high quality job! Looking forward to seeing the deck, coping and pool finish in the Spring.

Scott

    Bookmark   December 12, 2009 at 7:39PM
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bobinbaltimore

Thanks, Scott! The EP Henry system uses pins. We specifically looked for a pin-based system as they are multiples stronger than gravity or adhesive systems, since we do have a bit of a slope there and only want to have this wall built once. The cap and stair treads are installed using construction adhesive per manufacturer's instructions, as are some of the more interestingly shaped cut pieces and smaller units that can't be pinned.

The wall sits on 6 - 8" bed of compacted crusher run over fabric over virgin soil. Our landscape contractor also put in 2 - 2.5 feet of compacted 3/4 stone behind the wall, and he used geogrid for the runs at or slightly over 3 feet from base stone. (Other contractors we talked to were offering more like 1 foot of stone behind the wall, and no geogrid.) He compacted in layers as manufacturers require, but too many contractors ignore. French drain is down there, too.

The 120v outdoor lighting will be controlled by a separate system (basic timer), but we are looking to have the low voltage controlled by EasyTouch, including a couple of the Intellibrite Color Changing LED Landscape lights that came out recently.

Here is a link that might be useful: EP Henry Coventry Wall

    Bookmark   December 12, 2009 at 9:45PM
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bobinbaltimore

Here are a couple of winter shots of the pool and wall. Really neat with today's blizzard.

Where our stairs will be in the wall:

Long view of the wall:

Wall detail (amazing how stone-like it looks in the snow!):

And the pool itself:

    Bookmark   December 19, 2009 at 6:24PM
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arbisi

Dang that snow looks pretty! That last pic makes me want to go Ice Skating!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2009 at 9:32PM
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zuggy333

Bob, please don't forget to post your completed pictures. Everything looks great so far, and I'm sure I speak for many when I say we can't wait to see the finished product. By the way, my sister is in Ellicott City; is that near you?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 6:50PM
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bobinbaltimore

Well, spring is finally here! Our builder was out two weeks ago and installed the bluestone coping and tile. We picked NPT's Aztec Cobalt 2x2. Not super unique, but it ties very nicely in with both the coping and the retaining wall.

Deck grading, stone, steel and forms will be installed Thursday. Should be inspected Friday with the pour next week. We really wanted a paver deck, but the budget simply will not allow for that at the moment.

Aztec Cobalt 2x2 (from NPT website):

Coping just after installation:

Detail:

Detail:

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 9:15AM
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jcuviello

Your pool and retaining wall are gorgeous! I can't wait to see the finished pool. Would you mind sharing your cost for the retaining wall and french drain? How long is your retaining wall? I need something similar and I love how yours looks.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 10:08AM
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bobinbaltimore

Monkeyjac, the wall is EP Henry Conventry, which is a pinned system. It's about 120 feet long, peaks at what will be a finished max height of about 3 feet once the deck is in. All in, the wall was about $11K plus an extra $1K for the rounded stairs and geogrid tie-in. It was honestly about double what we wanted to spend, but we felt the additional length with the gently curved ends would make it better looking and the product quality is just excellent. The geogrid plus the massive amount of stone, compacted in layers, should mean this wall stands pretty much forever. Well worth it.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 10:23AM
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jcuviello

Bobinbaltimore, thanks so much for the info. That's less than I would have guessed actually. I was thinking it was around 20k. For such a beautiful wall that will last a lifetime, it's well worth it. It certainly enhances the overall look. Please continue to post pics!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 10:38AM
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bobinbaltimore

Thanks, Monkeyjac. We had quotes for the same or similar that ranged from about $10K to 17K. We went with a landscaper we had used previously and he did an excellent job. Funny how the wall makes the pool! More pics later this week after forms and mesh are in.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 9:02PM
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larryt_2010

Who is your pool builder if I may ask?

Thanks
Larry

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 10:03PM
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bobinbaltimore

Larryt_2010, happy to answer. We're using Elite Pools, working with Mike Shaffery. We looked at a number of builders - big and small - and it came down to Pleasure Pools and Elite. Very similar approaches, high-quality results and very clean BBB/MHIC records. We were just felt that Elite's package was a bit better suited to our requirements.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 8:36AM
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nypoolnovice

Bob ... it look fabulous! I've been following your pool as it is a similar shape to ours, and now I see you have almost the same tile ... what did you use? Ours are 1x1 golden white quartzite, we are using the 2x2 on the sunshelf.

My hubby is just cutting all of the coping and once the sealer cures, we can get it on. Looks like you are also ready for plaster - what did you decide to go with?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 11:31AM
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bobinbaltimore

NYpoolnovice, we used NPT's Aztec Cobalt 2x2. Not super unique, but it ties very nicely in with both the coping and the retaining wall.

On the plaster front, we always knew we couldn't afford PebbleSheen or PebbleTec...such a huge cost. We were looking at DiamondBrite, but are now thinking just plain old white plaster. We'd like to put the money into a nice pool house and other amenities that improve the out-of-water entertainment as well.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 6:27PM
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amy_texas

Bob,

My advice on the the white plaster...you will regret it. I have built 2 pools. The first we saved on the budget by putting in white plaster; hated it. It seemed like every little thing that fell into the pool left a stain on the white plaster. After living with this for a few months I sure wished I would have splurged for an upgraded plaster.

My second pool, didn't think twice; automatic decision of pebbletec. Love it, love it, love it.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 12:29PM
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tresw

Bob, it's looking great so far! On the plaster, have you priced quartz plaster? It's between regular plaster and PT in price, but wears better than regular plaster and offers you lots of color options. I have a friend who, like Amy, really regretted going with white plaster because it always looks "dirty".

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 6:21PM
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nypoolnovice

Bob, we are also going with the regular plaster ... I've re-read a few past threads about plaster and it seems some of the experts have had great success with plain old plaster, but we are going to add some color, maybe a dark grey, but I also read about this silicone shield that we want to add - it seems to add longevity and possibly help with the 'dirty' comment above. Do you have a date for your plaster?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 10:09AM
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bobinbaltimore

Thanks, @amy_texas, @tresw and @nypoolnovice. We've been talking a lot about this. Looks like it would be about $2,500 for Diamondbrite (we totally can't afford PT or PS at the moment so they are out of the question), and we're not sure we like the idea of that much texture anyway. I grew up with plain old plaster pools and never felt the poorer for it. :-) I think the compromise might be adding color to the marcite...just a light gray or medium blue. The potential swirls and mottling don't really bother us as it will just add interest. Our goal had been a stage picture that was somewhat rustic anyway. If we were building a Greco-Roman palatial pool or something ultra-modern, it would be a problem.

Any suggestions on coloring methods, additives, etc? Obviously, we want to ensure that it's a quality job all around.

Concrete guys are here today placing forms and steel. I'll post pictures later. Very impressive crew.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2010 at 9:16AM
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tresw

Quote: "The potential swirls and mottling don't really bother us as it will just add interest."

Yes, I agree completely! Ours is quartz plaster and it does have some swirling in it, I actually like it! Really you can't see it anyway, unless the pump isn't running and there's no wind (IE, surface like glass).

On the two colors you're considering, if possible see if you can look at filled pools done in the same color. The colors look quite different once the pool is filled, it's hard to tell when looking at samples what you're going to end up with.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2010 at 11:37AM
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bobinbaltimore

Most of the deck prep is complete. They'll finish some tomorrow, get through inspection and pour on Tuesday or Wednesday. We thought we'd be getting 700 - 800 sq ft. We ended up with more than 1,200 sq ft. Once you see the forms laid out, everything changes!

Walkway from house:

View back toward house:

View of what will be the adjacent grassy play area:

Looking from about where the pool house will be:

Deep end:

Far side:

    Bookmark   April 15, 2010 at 8:18PM
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houndkeeper

BobinB,
I think your project is coming along quite nicely! It is obvious that much care was taken in planing this pool especially in how it compliments the living area edifice you live in. One question: why is the walk way path to your house not lined up with (as in 90 degree angle) those beautiful stairs? The overall effect is still gorgeous, though. Your family is sure to enjoy the finished project.....well done!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 9:54PM
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amy_texas

I love the tile. It looks absolutely fabulous and matches so well with the coping. Great choice! Can't wait to see it with water.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 10:06AM
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bobinbaltimore

And we're back. Great progress over the last two weeks.

We went with plain brushed concrete for deck...1280 sq feet of it which is about double what we originally intended. We were aiming for pavers originally, but were 1) concerned about how busy that might make things look with the texture of our tiles, coping and the wall and 2) frankly, are watching the budget carefully. At any rate, the concrete guys did an excellent job and the deck looks great. It is plain, yes, but our conclusion is that it fades into the background and allows the natural stone of the coping matched to the tile to stand out.

On the plaster, based on advice received here and after talking with our builder, we went with a light blue-gray color additive to the plaster. We want a fairly natural look so swirls and such are no problem for us. Plaster was installed yesterday and the result is.....GREAT. It is PERFECT. We love it.

Pictures of both of the above to come shortly.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 10:11AM
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bobinbaltimore

ere are pictures of the decking. Also shown are the post lamps we selected. The posts are 7 ft cast aluminum, the lanterns are 18" high themselves with a nice thick glass lens that has a train lantern look that we were going for. With the height of the post, the oversized lanterns really work well.

Deck from stairs:

Deck on far side, showing three of the post lamps:

Deck from far side, looking back toward steps and wall:

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 10:21AM
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bobinbaltimore

And here are pictures of the light blue-gray plaster installed yesterday. We snapped a few before the water trucks began filling. Again, I know the mottled look is not everyone's cup of tea, but it is really perfect for our vision. Just naturalistic enough, and the color (especially with water in) is a perfect complement to the coping and tile.

The water quality of the trucked water is great, so we ran the Intellibrites last now...just beautiful. We'll get some nighttime pictures in the next few days.

Plaster from the stairs:

Plaster from far side looking back toward stairs:

Plaster from deep end:

Plaster looking from shallow toward deep:

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 10:28AM
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nypoolnovice

Bobinbaltimore - It looks great! I'm so excited for you. We should be ready for our plaster in about a week ... what type of blue additive did you put into the plaster. We are also going with the greyish plaster ... everything else seems like a budget buster!

I know you were a DIY like us, did you clean out the pool for the plaster or did your plaster company do it? Nice job!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 10:39AM
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zuggy333

Bob, thanks so much for your continued pictures and posts. Our pool dig will start on June 1, and so often I'm looking for updates from people, and they seem to discontinue their postings after a certain period of time. So, I am eagerly awaiting the posts of your night time pictures. I also hope you'll plan to post pictures after everything, including landscaping is complete. Your pool is absolutely beautiful! By the way, my sister is in Ellicott City - how far are you from that area?

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 10:48AM
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bobinbaltimore

@nypoolnovice...while I've done some of the work myself, and have parceled out some of the projects (retaining wall, landscaping, etc) I did use a builder for the pool. Apologies if I gave you a different impression. I used Elite Pools and they have been great. The plasterers did the clean-up, acid wash, and neutralization. I will find out what coloring product they used.

@zuggy, Ellicott City is probably 40 miles from here on the other side of Baltimore, so it is in the general neighborhood. We're northeast, they are southwest of Baltimore.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 10:25PM
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bobinbaltimore

Here are some night pictures. I admit that I was too lazy to get out our good SLR camera, so these aren't the crispist pics. Caveats: it's been windy as heck here today, so these are not placid water pics; ignore the surface debris, please; and the water chemistry is still raw, so the color correctness will improve. I'll do comparative color shots as the Intelibrites cycle through next week.

View as you approach:

View across the surface with lights on white:

View looking back toward stairs:

View from deep end, lights on white:

View from deep end, lights on blue:

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 10:34PM
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bobinbaltimore

A couple of people have asked for pictures showing the final water color with the gray finish. Here are a couple:

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 8:55PM
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plumberbaltimore

wow! that would be a great job for the Plumbers and contractors who work on that Pool.

Here is a link that might be useful: Plumber Baltimore

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 5:38AM
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poolguynj

Congratulations plumberbaltimore. Most people here refuse to use spammers. If you want to advertise, pay for it. Don't free load. Besides, it violates the terms of use you acknowledged.

Scott

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 6:49AM
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jscozz

bobinbaltimore,

Did you ever finish the cabana? Your drawing at the top of this thread looks somewhat like what I am trying to design... an open area with roof and closed areas for bathroom and pool supplies. I'd love to see some pictures of how it worked out if you built it.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 1:01AM
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MyFirstPool

This looks GREAT! What a nice job and looks like a great pool. Thanks for sharing and hope you and your family enjoy the heck out of it!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 4:35AM
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bobinbaltimore

Pool house is still in-progress, but almost done. Here are a few shots, and a link to more below.

Overall view:

Front:

Interior In-Progress:

Ceiling In-Progress:

Here is a link that might be useful: Pool House Build Photos

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 8:19AM
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jscozz

Cool!!! I like how you built it around the equipment pad! I would like mine inside also... but the pool house will not be built until after the pool is operational.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 11:51PM
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azmp1

Hi, pool looks great!!! Are you still happy with the work done by Elite pools? I'm in the prices of finding a builder and they're on my list.
Thanks
Alex

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 1:00AM
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bobinbaltimore

Yes. The build is solid, and I've had them come out and do a few things for me over the last few years. Always responsive. While not the least expensive, I feel we got a good value from Elite.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 12:19PM
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azmp1

Thank you for your responce. I will have an appointment schedulede with them. Its so frustrating... just abouut all the builders i talk to, once i check them out, there are horror stories. Its great to get someone's first hand feedback.
Did you by any chance evaluated other builders and if you don't mind can share the experience, so i don't end up talking with someone i shouldn't. Please message me if you'd rather give me the info in private.
Thanks again.
Alex

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 1:44PM
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jscozz

How do you like the bluestone coping? Especially the hard edge? I see it is not bullnosed or even slightly rounded over on the edges. Have you found that to be a problem getting in and out with that?

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 4:42PM
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bobinbaltimore

The coping has been no problem at all. The edges are not sharp, though the are squared, as you note. Our builder used a very good quality stone...no flaking or odd movement through three years now. We've had no cuts, bonks or other issues. I was originally concerned and asked about bull nosing. The cost was pretty off-the-charts relative to my perception of the benefit. Of course, having rounded edges would definitely be a more refined look, so if you can afford it, go for it!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 9:56PM
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bobinbaltimore

Quick update. Pool house cabinets and counters are in, all interior trim is done. I'll build the sliding door to the changing room in the spring. It will hang from a barn door-style apparatus I got earlier this year. So, aside from a thorough cleaning, gutters, a few touch-ups and minor items, we're done.

Floor tile:

Changing room pebble tile:

Kitchen window with 8" sill:

Changing room window:

Looking back toward the front door and changing room:

Exterior with trim painted:

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 9:01PM
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