Inspiration from Taking a Break

Have you ever noticed that when you’re relaxed and and not working or thinking on a project you will magically come up with the answer to something that was concerning you? As a project pusher it’s a hard pill for me to swallow that at times we have to stop, take a break and relax in order to be inspired. Usually, I hate stopping when I’m in the middle of a project. I just want to charge right through and get it done. I’ve learned throughout a lot of our diy’s that it’s important to not only enjoy the process that happens during a project but also to take a break-no matter how small-and you’ll actually end up with something better than if you just rushed through.

After the coping Mike raised the rebar on the stools to the proper height. The next day we poured the concrete into 12″ tubes we cut to fit to form the barstools in the pool and after that we took a week and a half break from working on any projects. We went on a family vacation/roadtrip in our RV to Zion National Park and a few other beautiful spots throughout Utah and Colorado.

Seeing the natural beauty and architecture from ancient ruins was definitely awe inspiring. We found a gorgeous rock at a gem dealers store and can’t wait to show you what we have in store for it. It’s sad to think that if we hadn’t gone on our trip we wouldn’t have found this amazing rock to add to our project and bring back memories we made.

Before our trip we were feeling the drag of a project. It was looming over us and taking over all our free time. We lost the momentum to keep going. When we got home we were feeling rested and excited to finish our pool! We couldn’t wait to see how the barstools turned out. The first thing we did was take off the cardboard forms.

I’m looking forward to the “rock” project – but we won’t be able to do it until this pool is completed. So let’s do it!

DIY Coping Took 3 Days, but Who’s Counting

Before we could begin coping the bondbeam had to be waterproofed. We used a product called Super Blockade by Merlex – it was recommended by the coping manufacturer. I put two coats on. It mixes up like thinset. The first coat I used a 6″ wide coarse nylon brush and the second coat I used a 3/4″ thick 8″ nap paint roller.

It comes in a bag like this ^ 🙂 Just add water! This helps protect against hydrostatic water pressure from the dry side going to the wet side. In other words it keeps the glass tile from popping off. You only need to waterproof where there won’t be plaster coverage – since the plaster (in our case pebbletech/similar) is essentially waterproof. They also recommended applying to the first 3″ of bondbeam on the dry side.

The bondbeam has to be clean and free of debris and loose pieces – so Mike pressure washed it before I “painted” the stuff on.

The Super Blockade extends past where the tile will be installed by a couple of inches behind where the plaster will be – so that water sheds away from the tile.

We ordered the coping a couple of months ago at the recommendation of our concrete guy. He said that it would look great, be more DIY friendly and cheaper than if he came in and did poured in place coping. I guess he has too much work or something. We went with a company called Bellecrete. They are local and were very competitive with their prices and delivery time.

We chose dark gray in a sand finish with a modern profile. The sand finish keeps it from becoming slick and the modern profile is square. It arrived before we were ready and it sat on our driveway for a couple of weeks….like this…

We paid a small fee and they sent one of their guys out to measure and place the order for us. And I say measure very loosely because there is not a measuring tape involved…it’s more like templating. He came with a bunch of coping templates that look like coping made out of stencil material that he placed over the bondbeam. He started at the skimmer and worked clockwise around the pool to the bar top then from the skimmer counter clockwise, around the spa, to the bar top. As he went he would lay three coping templates down at a time – always keeping the last one down to place the next two in line then write down the “names” of the stone. The “names” (just alphabet letters like “A”, “B”, “C”…etc.) are stamped on the side of each stone – except for the straights those are unmarked. Each letter is linked to a radius as you go up the alphabet the radius gets larger. We have a bunch of “F”, “G” and “I” radiuses. So F is a tighter radius than I. When he was done measuring he drew a “map” (his words I’d call it a diagram but whatever semantics) based on the radius’ and straights he wrote down. He placed an order based on that and gave us the paper with his drawing. Since the templates were see through he would overlap them occasionally to get the right coverage later Mike would have to cut the stones during installation to mimic the overlap. For us it was definitely DIY friendly…for the average home owner without any masonry experience I would say – leave it to an expert. You have to mix thinset and a mortar bed and use multiple levels throughout the project.

A few stones in place…

Trying to do a project while still entertaining kids.
At the end of the first day 13 in place.

The end of the 3rd 51 total stones in place.

I helped Mike by mixing the thinset and mortar and basically being his gopher. He had to cut a lot of the stones so that the overhang and joints would all be equal. They were too heavy for me to lug around. Poor Mike had to carry every single one of them from the driveway to the bondbeam then to the cutting station then back to the bondbeam…but at least I was there for most of it to help him mix the mud! 🙂

The next few days will be spent tying in the electrical and the gas, putting in the french drain, fabric, and rock behind the retaining wall and watever else needs to be done so that we can call for inspection. Mike wants to be able to pour the equipment pad so that he can get that in place but we can’t do that until after our next inspection.


Gunite – our pool actually is starting to look like a pool

The weather the last two months has been full of rain. We’re in a drought. I’m not complaining. I also think it has been great for our pool shell. Rain helps slow down how fast the gunite cures and the slower it cures the harder it gets. The shell has been done for about a month now and they  came back out and shot the back wall of the swim up bar a couple of weeks ago. We’re just waiting for our pool coping to be delivered so that we can move on to the next step.


We are now proud owners of a cement pond.

We just picked up all of our pool equipment – it’s sitting in the garage at the moment.

We also have all of our tile sitting in our entry way. The aqua iridescent tile will be used for the waterline and spillover in the spa. The white octagon tiles are for the swim up bar counter top. The Bellecrete square you can kinda see under my hand is a sample of the coping that we ordered. It is pre-cast concrete with a sand finish, modern profile in dark gray. They make it in all different radius’ so it works for us even though we have a free-form pool. It should be here Tuesday. It’s the next step and Mike and I plan on installing it ourselves.

We spent a few days just cleaning up all of the mess from the gunite. It started raining both times they came out so we ended up with tons (literally two full trailers worth) of concrete we had to haul out. I filled the wheel barrows and Mike loaded them into our dump trailer. Then we took family trips to the dump. So fun.

Lately, Mike has been filling the plumbing trenches with sand and leveling out the ground to get ready for pre-deck inspection. We are renting another bobcat Tuesday to move more dirt out of the yard, but this time it’s to get ready for the deck we are putting in. I’ve been drawing up plans for the deck and new patio cover we are thinking of building. After he levels and moves some dirt, we need to waterproof the retaining wall and bondbeam. Then, Mike and I will install the coping, pour the counter for the swim up bar and bar stools, and install the waterline and counter top tiles. Unlike the addition where we wanted to get back into our house as soon as possible, I don’t think I have been as pushy about getting the pool done. I just want it done by summer – I think that is a relatively achievable goal.

DIY Inground Pool Rough Plumbing and Electrical

Originally, to save money, Mike had planned on doing the rough plumbing and electrical himself. However, on a whim Mike called a plumber who had done our friends pool just to find out how much he would charge to do the job. He gave Mike and offer he couldn’t refuse. I was a little relieved because Mike still needed to finish our yard drains and we were really hoping to get the shell done before we got any more rain. The plumber worked quickly and was very clean. You can see how well he planned out his runs and everything. We have three bubblers in the baja shelf and he plumbed each one on a separate line rather than one long run. This will allows us to taper each bubbler individually so that they can all be the same height. He also plumbed the spa jets so that they won’t need a blower – this was big for us. Our pool equipment is close to the spa and we are already looking for ways to keep the sound down. Mike still plans on doing the finish plumbing and electrical, but this was a big time saver and we came in under budget.

See how nice and clean each runs is? Plus, he put in Jandy valves, which make fixing a problem later a lot easier as you don’t have to cut them out. He also plumbed everything higher off of the ground so that we could work on it without braking our backs later on. Mike seemed really impressed with his work ethic and knowledge and I think he’s pretty pumped that he decided to have him do the roughing in.