Swimming Pool Renovation Guide
Pool Renovation Guide
This guide will he
lp you become be
tter familiar,
and more comfo
rtable, with the po
ol renovation
process, your op
tions and the resu
the clear choice in pool care
Renovation Indicators
of Conten
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Renovation C
Renovation In
omponents. . . . . . . . .
dicators. . . . . . . . . . .
Warranty Info
Renovation P
rmation. . . . . . . . . .
rocess . . . . . . . . . . . . .
FAQs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Anatomy of a
Pool. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Why AquaTh
ority. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The most common renovation indicators are displaced and
crumbling tile and/or coping, worn and pitted plaster, and broken
and disrupted decking.
Coping and Tile
Displaced and crumbling tiles and or/coping is usually an indication that
the coping is loose, first and foremost, with displacement of tile being a
chain reaction. This is what happens:
• the coping becomes loosened from its original cement setting and
is no longer secured
• the coping vibrates and disrupts the tile grout directly beneath
the coping
• the tile grout then crumbles and water then gets behind the tile
failing tile
• the freeze and thaw of climate change eventually dislodges
the tile
Like most home projects, a pool renovation may seem
to be daunting at first but once you become educated
and familiar with the process, it becomes manageable.
This Pool Renovation Guide has been created to
assist you in that context, and presents the pool
renovation basics objectively so that you can achieve
an appreciable level of understanding and comfort
and, hence, make an informed decision.
Renovating your swimming pool can be a matter of
simply restoring it to its original luster by replacing
all or parts of its coping, tile and/or plaster with
new and updated materials or, if you wish, it can
be an opportunity to upgrade your pool’s look and
functionality with new features, composites and
equipment. The decisions of what and how much
are entirely yours and should be defined in detail,
carefully considered, and completed by a reliable
pool company.
And that is the role of AquaThority. We will take
the lead with your pool renovation by personally
inspecting and assessing your pool’s condition;
educating and guiding you through your material,
finish and feature options; and, then, preparing a
written proposal itemizing the costs of material and
labor for each renovation task. Upon commencement,
we will be onsite to personally coordinate and manage
the entire project from start to completion and then
back-up our work with a 3 year warranty.
The homeowner tap-test: Using a hammer, tap the coping and the
tile. If the sound is hollow, then the coping and/or tile is no longer
secured and, essentially, loose. It’s just a matter of time before the tile
grout will crumble and the tile will become dislodged as previously
The remedies: If the condition is limited to a couple of spots, then
resetting the affected coping and tile is worthy of consideration.
However, if the condition is prevalent, then it’s likely that all of your
coping and tile needs to be replaced. It’s a waste of time and money to
repair or replace the tile and not the coping because the loose coping
will disrupt and dislodge the tile again.
pitted plaster
Worn, pitted and cracked plaster most
often is an indication of age. However, these
conditions can also be caused by poor water
chemistry because the prevailing cause of plaster deterioration is unbalanced and
deprived pool water. In many respects, pool water has an appetite and will become
hungry and aggressive as it leeches its food from the plaster and causes etching,
corrosion and scale. Please reference our Pool Plaster Guide or New Plaster Guide
for more information about plaster and our Pool Water Chemistry Guide for specific
water chemistry instructions.
o ld deckin
Broken and disrupted concrete decking is commonly caused by poor backfilling,
insufficient compacting of its earth base, erosion caused by storm water, an inferior
installation or abuse. This condition can only be properly remedied by excavation of
the existing concrete, correcting the factors which caused the disruption originally,
and then forming and pouring new concrete.
If some or all of these conditions exist, then it’s likely that your pool is in need of
some repair or renovation work, and requesting a free AquaThority renovation
inspection and written proposal will provide you valuable insight.
8 Step Renovation
Process Summary
#5: Demolition
#1: Inspection
A typical renovation begins with the
demolition of the tile and coping and
decking (if applicable). This entails the
jack-hammering of the coping and its
concrete setting; hand-hammering
of the tile; jack-hammering the
concrete decking (if applicable);
and, in all cases removing the
resulting debris.
While you are present, we – one of our AquaThority founders,
Tim DeMirjian or Bob Nask – will personally inspect and assess
the condition of your pool, measure its perimeter and record our
observations free of charge. On that occasion we will ask you questions,
offer you on-the-spot comments and guesstimates, and present you with
material samples, options, and a full-color multi-page coping and tile
catalog for you to keep and review at your leisure.
#2: Written Proposal
Several days following the pool
inspection, we will generate and
email or, if you prefer, mail you a
written pool renovation proposal which details our observations,
describes the relevant renovation components, and itemizes the costs
for the material, labor, features and equipment in which you
expressed an interest. We will follow-up with you in the ensuing days
to answer your questions, provide you with additional information
and seek feedback on your intentions.
#6: Installation
Upon completion of demolition,
the order in which a pool is
renovated is: coping first,
tile second, decking third (if
demo l
applicable) and plaster last.
Installing the coping and
the tile entails the setting of
forms and scaffolding on the inside of the pool
from where our masons will work. Decking installation requires
the setting of forms, distribution of crushed stone and the pouring of concrete.
The installation of plaster is done upon the completion of the tile and coping
installation, and decking installation when applicable. The final task is filling the
gap between the coping and decking with sand and caulk.
#7: Remediation
Upon completion of the renovation we will tend to any property disturbances
resulting from the renovation process, e.g. ruts, debris and dirt. We will also
power wash the pool decking as well as the area of the driveway in which we
were stationed.
#8: Start-up
#3: Material Selection
Upon commencement, we will personally guide you through your
coping, tile and plaster choices, and any other equipment or features
in which you express an interest. We will bring live samples of your
coping and tile selections to your home for your review and approval, and
when possible, show you photos of actual installations. For flagstone coping or
decking, we will accompany you to a regional stone yard where you will select
your flagstone lot. We leave nothing to chance and, therefore, take measures to
ensure that upon completion you are thrilled with the final product.
#4: Prep
getting started
In the days leading up to the renovation, we will remove the cover (if one
exists), drain your pool of its water into the street or perimeter of property (if
advisable), shut-off the filtration system and remove the hydro-static plugs.
With your assistance, we will also determine the best route for our foot and
equipment traffic to and from the pool during the renovation process.
remed iation
We will coordinate the delivery of pool water, and upon being filled to the
skimmer level an AquaThority technician will arrive to start-up your filtration
system and get the pool circulating
normally. Thereafter, you will be
advised to follow our New Plaster Care
Guide instructions (if applicable) and
balance the pool water per our Pool
Water Chemistry Guide.
ion Proces
8 Step
• In
• Installatio
• Written
n • Reme
• Materia
• Start-Up
• Prep
po o l fill
Anatomy of a Pool
Pool Renovation Components
Vessel Shell
A conventional in-ground swimming pool is comprised
of the vessel shell, bond beam, coping, tile, plaster (if
applicable) and filtration system.
The vessel shell is structural and
typically comprised of rebar steel
and either 2 types of concrete:
shot-crete or gunite. Shotcrete is
comprised of Portland cement,
sand, and stone aggregate. Gunite
is comprised of Portland cement
and sand.
vessel shell
Bond Beam
An integral part of the vessel shell’s
concrete structure, the bond beam
is essentially the wall of the pool.
The top of the bond beam is the
point at which the pool wall stops
and the coping is placed.
bond beam
Predominantly an aesthetic component of the pool, coping is set in cement on top of
the bond beam’s entire perimeter. Coping material can be formed clay bricks or stones,
natural stone, granite or travertine. Technically, a pool with decking which cantilevers
over the pool’s perimeter (known as cantilever decking), has no coping.
The band of tile at the top of the bond beam just beneath the coping has aesthetic
and pragmatic purposes. While it complements the appearance of your pool, the tile
band also hides the inevitable scum line caused by the water’s surface and protects the
plaster from the ill-effects of exposure to open air, like drying and cracking (which
would be the case if the plaster continued to the point of coping in lieu of tile). Pool
tile is specifically engineered and manufactured to be freeze and thaw resistant.
The most common and superior finish for concrete inground swimming pools, white plaster is comprised of
white marble dust and white cement at a ratio of 2 to 1 and,
of course, water. Other plaster composites incorporating
quartz and pebble aggregates are comprised of said
aggregate and white cement at a ratio of 2 to 1. Colored
plaster is typically achieved by adding dye.
As defined in the previous section, Anatomy of a Pool, coping essentially
serves the aesthetic purpose of hiding the bond beam. But coping is
also friendly to sitting bathers and transitions nicely to the surrounding
decking to form a seamless meeting of the two surfaces. Set in cement
directly on top of the bond beam, coping will be level with the bond beam
but not necessarily with the decking as concrete decking has a tendency to
move with the freeze and thaw. In fact, the gap which separates the decking
from the coping is designed to prevent the movement of the decking from
disrupting the coping. We fill this gap with sand and caulk.
Today, the most popular and least costly coping material is coping bricks.
These clay-based products are manufactured in sizes which are ready-made
for installation on the majority of pools. Available in an array of colors,
these coping bricks are finished with a safety grip or bull nose edge. While
freeze and thaw resistant, on rare occasions, coping bricks are known to
randomly crack and crumble.
Alternative coping materials include: natural stones such as Pennsylvania
blue stone, indigenous to our northeastern region, and other flagstones;
artistic pavers comprised of a variety of composites and aggregates;
imported stone like travertine and granite; and many other natural
and manmade products designed and manufactured specifically for
coping applications.
brick copin
Available in irregular and pattern sizes as well as long treads, flagstone can be a beautiful and distinctive
appointment. But it also has its issues because natural stone coping can leech minerals (e.g. iron) which will
potentially stain the tile, grout and plaster directly below. While these stains can typically be treated with
chemicals, sealing the natural stone with a sealant can help prevent such an occurrence.
Serving the dual purposes presented in the previous section, Anatomy of a Pool, the band of tile which falls
below the coping at the top of the pool wall (bond beam) is always 6” tall with rare exceptions. That being the
case, all pool tiles are available in 6” patterns and increments.
Following the removal of the existing tile, the remaining surface
is chipped and cleaned in preparation for the new tile. Thereafter a
layer of cement, known as a brown coat, is applied to the surface of
the tile band in an effort to smooth, stabilize and prepare it for the
installation of the new tile, which is then set in white cement and
pointed with grout to match your plaster selection (the grout color
should always match the color of the plaster).
Filtration system
A conventional filtration system includes a filter, pump motor, valves,
drains, skimmer(s), and return(s). This system circulates and filters
the pool water by pulling the water through the drains and skimmers
and returning the water through the returns after filtration.
stone coping
If you’re interested in considering natural stone or alternative coping materials, then AquaThority will gladly
provide you with additional information, live samples and related costs.
Tile which is placed elsewhere in the pool is defined as either running tile (placed in
succession) or spot tile (placed independently). Typically, running tile is installed on
the façade of steps, love seats and benches. Whereas spot tile is commonly placed on
the top of steps, love seats and benches.
The components which are commonly the subject of a pool renovation
are coping, tile, plaster, bond beam, vessel shell, filtration system and
equipment, and decking.
Due to the inevitable residual of cement from the original tile
installation, the new tile will protrude slightly further than its
predecessor and the original plaster surface below. If your pool is
also getting plastered, then the new plaster will be finished flush
with the new tile. However, if your pool is not getting a new layer
It’s imperative to remedy the deteriorated spots of the bond beam
because it’s futile to install new coping and tile on a compromised
bond beam. In just a matter of a year or two, the new tile and coping
will become loose and dislodged as before. Conversely, a stable and
solid bond beam will ensure many years of coping and tile endurance.
of plaster, then the mason will feather the grout beneath the new tile into the existing plaster for a smooth
transition with a slight gradual step down.
Unlike bathroom walls which are square, plumb and true, pool shells are irregular with sloping walls and outof-square corners, all of which create installation challenges. While AquaThority’s masons will make every effort
to install the tile plumb and level to the bond beam, spacing between the tiles will vary slightly as will their
alignment. And at the radiuses and corners, the tiles will have to be hand-cut and massaged to fit the odd space.
However, when it’s complete, the finished product will be truly beautiful.
Applied at a thickness of about a half-inch (.5”), white plaster has been and
remains the standard and most popular finish for pools and spas. It’s simple
combination of white cement, white marble dust and water make it an economical
choice as well as a desirable surface for swimmers because of its smooth and
durable surface, and its creation of a light blue appearance when filled with water.
water blast
Vessel Shell
crack re
Before the new plaster is applied, there is considerable prep of the existing surface.
If the surface is painted, then the paint needs to be removed via water blasting
which AquaThority will coordinate. Following the water blasting or beginning
with a pool which is not painted, the next step is to inspect, clean and prepare the
surface for the new plaster. This entails tap-testing the existing plaster for hollow
spots (known as pop-offs) and remedying as needed, acid-washing, and then
rinsing the entire surface. Thereafter, a cement-based product (known as a bondcoat) is sprayed onto the surface to create a toothy and rough finish to which the
new plaster will interlock and adhere.
The new plaster is delivered to the pool via hose and sprayed onto the surface as
plasterers hand trowel the plaster to an even, smooth and hardened surface. Because
plaster has unique traits and requires care by the pool owner, AquaThority has
prepared a New Plaster Guide which presents important and relevant information
which will help you preserve your plaster for many years of trouble-free use.
As presented in greater detail in AquaThority’s Pool Plaster Guide as well as the
New Plaster Guide, there are alternative plaster finishes to white plaster. In order
of expense, they are: colored plaster which is achieved by adding a dye
to the white plaster mix; quartz plaster which is achieved by adding
quartz aggregate to the plaster mix and, if desired, dye for color; and,
pebble plaster which is achieved by adding pebbles to the plaster mix
and, if desired, dye for color; and, there are others. If interested, then
AquaThority will gladly provide you with additional information, live
samples and related costs.
Bond Beam
step repair
While both materials can crack, shotcrete is known to be more prone
to such. And if cracks exist in the shell they should be remedied on
the occasion of the renovation. This entails grinding-out the cracks
and filling them with a bonding agent designed for this application.
Although this procedure helps to safeguard against leaking and the
crack recurring, it doesn’t ensure such. It’s not uncommon for cracks
to reappear or show-through the new plastered or painted surface.
There’s no warranty for such.
Other components of the shell can include steps, love seats, benches,
spas and spillover walls. And these features can also deteriorate and
crack with age. Remedied by excavating and forming new concrete,
these matters need to be tended to prior to installation as well.
Filtration System and Equipment
Typically comprised of a filter, pump motor, valves, drains,
skimmer(s) and return(s), filtration systems can need updating for
the reason of efficiency or upgrade as can heaters, pool cleaners,
chlorine feeders, lights, water features, automatic controls, etc. And
the period of renovation is the ideal time for consideration and
accomplishment of such.
With highly efficient variable speed pump motors and heaters
providing short-term paybacks through savings in fuel consumption,
the cost of replacement can be justified. Efficiencies and effectiveness
can also be realized by updating DE filters, chlorine feeders,
automatic controls and pool cleaners as they can make keeping your
pool sanitary easier and more cost-effective with less consumption of
chemicals and hassle-free maintenance.
And if you’re looking to add some pizzazz to your pool and its
environment, then adding water features such as waterfalls, laminars
or water jets may give you the wow you seek; as can light features
which deliver a brilliant aura with colorful underwater LED lights
and coordinated landscape lights.
As defined in the previous section, Anatomy of a Pool, the bond beam is an integral part
of the vessel shell’s concrete structure: the bond beam is essentially the wall
of the pool. And it’s the top portion of the bond beam – the point at which
the pool wall stops and the coping is placed – where problems can exist and
won’t be known until demolition.
Comprised of a type of concrete (usually, either shotcrete or gunite) and
rebar steel, an aged bond beam can deteriorate and breakdown at its top.
Although uncommon, AquaThority’s masons look for these conditions.
Most repairs are minor and require the excavation of the compromised
concrete and the forming of new concrete. In rare cases, expansive portions
of the bond beam need repair.
The vessel shell essentially contains the water. And as presented in
the previous section, Anatomy of a Pool, it’s typically comprised of
rebar steel and either 2 types of concrete: shotcrete or gunite. Both
are commonly used in the northeastern region of the country and
dictated by the pool builder.
beam r
Pool safety is always a concern, and your pool renovation is the
perfect time to address safety issues and concerns such as suction
entrapment, barriers and alarms. AquaThority’s Pool Safety Guide
is a must read for all pool owners as it presents important pool
safety information such as the Virginia Graeme Baker Act, which
addresses suction entrapment, as well as other pool safety safeguards
and measures.
beam repai
pump repair
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Technically, pool decking is the area adjacent to, and surrounding, the in-ground swimming
pool but it can also expand to include patios, house decks and the like. And while many forms
of pool decking exist, the most common form of original pool decking is concrete. Commonly
installed at the time the pool is constructed, concrete decks typically are comprised of a base of
4" crushed stone and 4" of concrete.
Just like the pool, concrete decking can become unsightly and disrupted overtime and be in
need of repair or replacement. Decking which was not properly installed or backfilled, or lies in
the path of water run-off, is vulnerable to movement and displacement especially if it’s “floating”.
Decking which does not have footers is constituted as “floating”. And nearly all pool concrete
decks are of this nature. A floating concrete deck is prone to move with the freeze and thaw
of the northeastern region. So, it is common for concrete decking to heave, crack and become
displaced from its original setting, causing unsightly and tripping consequences.
o ld decking
Although there are numerous decking replacement options, AquaThority provides three basic
decking solutions: application of a colored and textured veneer known as “spray deck” or “cool
deck” for changing and improving the appearance of existing concrete decking which is stable;
replacement of existing decking with new concrete decking; and, replacement of existing
decking with wet-set flagstone decking such as Pennsylvania blue stone.
Warranty Information
The warranty for new plaster, coping and tile is 3 years for labor and material, although
damage resulting from negligence, misuse or abuse, environment circumstance or incident,
and preexisting conditions is not covered by the warranty.
A: Yes, for coping, tile
and/or plaster renovation
the pool needs to be empty.
Should I empty my
pool weeks prior to the
A: No, it is unhealthy
AquaThority provides warranties for those materials and services fate we can control.
Unfortunately, the elements of the outdoors, the impact of preexisting conditions, and the
variable of responsible pool ownership make warranty policy difficult. That being said, we do
warranty our work per the following.
Plaster, Coping and Tile
Does my pool need to be
drained of all of its water
for pool renovation?
for a pool to be empty for
any length of time.
Gap Filling
There is no warranty for the caulk material and labor employed in filling the gap between the coping and
decking. This is a non-warranty item due to the nature of decking to move from freeze and thaw and the
instability of a floating slab. Such movement can cause the caulk to separate and/or crack.
The warranty for concrete and wet-set flagstone decking is 3 years for labor and material although damage
resulting from negligence, misuse or abuse, environment circumstance or incident, and preexisting conditions
is not covered by the warranty.
Can you reuse some of my
coping and tile for a repair?
A: Yes, in some
cases it can be reused if it’s
Does my pool need to be
drained of all of its water
for pool repair?
A: No, for some
coping, tile and/or plaster
repair work the pool need
not be empty.
Can you reuse my coping
for a renovation?
A: If natural stone,
yes, but most conventional
coping will be destroyed in
the demolition process.
Do I need tile?
A: Yes, your tile hides
the scum line and protects
the plaster.
Can my pool water be
saved or sold?
A: No, there is no
viable way to save or sell
the water.
Can you reuse my tile for a
A: No, your tile
will be destroyed in the
demolition process.
Can I fill my pool with my
garden hose upon completion
of tile and coping renovation?
A: Yes, you can if you
have sufficient water supply.
There is no warranty for paint work because a painted pool’s surface is inherently flawed due to the unstable
nature of paint applied to a concrete or plaster surface. New paint is also vulnerable to the preexisting
conditions as well as the deterioration caused by ill water chemistry, weather, etc.
Warranty Disclaimer Examples
Examples of negligence, misuse and abuse which can cause damage: poor water chemistry; failure to keep
water level below tile in the winter; aggressive dogs or pets; metallic foreign objects, etc.
Examples of environment circumstance or incident: decking which expands and contracts thus putting
pressure on the coping; poor storm water control; debris such as leaves, branches, berries, etc.
Examples of preexisting conditions: cracks in the pool shell or bond beam; loose or compromised coping and/
or tile; cracked or compromised decking, etc.
Can I fill my pool with
my garden hose upon
completion of plaster
A: No, we highly
recommend that pool water
be trucked-in to protect the
new plaster ASAP.
Can I renovate just my
coping and not my tile?
A: No, coping
cannot be removed without
destroying the tile.
Can I renovate just my tile
and not my coping?
A: Yes, in most
cases provided the coping
is secure.
Why AquaThority
Since the inception of AquaThority Pools and Spas, LLC
in 2005, founders Bob and Debi Nask, and Tim and Jackie
DeMirjian have been practicing what they preach to their
employees and customers throughout the counties of Chester
and Delaware and, now, parts of Montgomery: show-up when
you promised, honor your commitments, and do it as though
it was your own.
While this mandate is always welcomed and refreshing in
the home contracting business, it has proven to be especially
appreciated in the swimming pool business where a
homeowner’s experience with pool companies, and contractors
as a whole, too often are negative due to no-shows, poor
performance and lack of trust. AquaThority is different. We are
considerate. We are accountable. We are honest.
Whether it’s a routine pool opening, closing or service call,
or a more involved pool repair, equipment installation or
renovation, AquaThority honors its commitments by showingup and performing the work as promised. Do we have our
off days? Absolutely, but we don’t run and hide, rather we are
forthcoming and honest. We call if we’re running late, we bring
to your attention concerns we discover during the process of
service, and we always put your interests first.
Founders: Tim DeMirjian
& Bob Nask
Sounds good, but is it true? We encourage you to call our
customers to seek their personal experience with, and opinion
of, AquaThority. Our reference list not only includes the
contact information of the homeowner, it also describes
the work performed so that you can ask questions, if you
so choose, which are relevant to their pool renovation and
possibly yours.
Please remember that AquaThority is not only in the business of pool renovation, our core business is
servicing in-ground swimming pools. So, unlike contractors who only renovate and are therefore “one and
done”, AquaThority will always be in the neighborhood providing the ongoing pool services for which our
customers have come to rely. For those homeowners who have had trouble tracking-down contractors in the
past, this may bring peace of mind.
We appreciate your consideration and hope that you’ll choose to work with AquaThority Pools and Spas, LLC,
the clear choice in pool care.
tive Guides
ides at
ative AquaThority gu
e additional inform
Please reference thes m or request a hardcopy from our office.
• Pool Safety Guide
• New Plaste
ol Water Chemistry G
• Pool Plaster Guide
the clear choice in pool care
888-400-AQUA (2782)
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