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The Art of Rock Design – Pool Magazine

Home | Op Editorials | The Art of Rock Design
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The Farrel’s of Placerville, California, were searching to add nostalgia to their backyard by
recreating the caves of the California foothills they had explored in college. This sounds
daunting, but when crafting the perfect pool design, the choices are as abundant as the
waters. The options are seemingly limitless, from creating clean, modern pools with
geometric precision to fashioning an idyllic oasis with water features and natural
embellishments. However, one constant challenge in pool design remains the choice
between genuine rock and its faux counterpart. In this ever-evolving arena, pool-
building professionals often grapple with deciding whether to incorporate natural or
imitation stone into their designs. The selection between the two is far from
straightforward and hinges on several crucial factors, each with unique advantages and
considerations.
Pool designs have included rock creations in them for decades. Bringing a seamless
blend of natural surroundings to the manufactured yard addition. How does a designer
or builder know which method to use in this age-old conundrum when producing these
designs?
There are various methods to install natural rock and faux rock. Naturally made stones
are carefully placed to give an authentic look to walls, fountains, and grottos.
Just like natural rock, faux rock creations have multiple methods. Some are made with
manipulated rebar into desired shapes, filled with gunite or shotcrete, and then painted
to that ‘just dug out of the earth’ look. Then, some are made with carefully cut foam into
perfectly shaped boulders of beauty, mortar product with fibers, then layered with a
mixture of mortar, Portland cement, thin set, fibers for carving and/or stamping and painted.
Rebar can be used with this method when needing to secure structure.
Genuine and faux rock take many hours of rock study to give the most natural look
possible. It is not unheard of for rock masons or sculptures to go out into nature to study
the rocks’ natural form and placements.
When looking at the design, if you are trying to utilize the natural stone in your yard as
inspiration, this could lead you to build your water features and ascents from genuine
stones. Places like Northern California have many varieties and a supply of stone
boulders at affordable prices. “You are using rocks native to your surrounding area to
blend in with your area. It will look like something more natural there,” said Steve
Spencer of Spencer Masonry. However, suppose you are looking to use a stone that is
not easily accessible to your area. In that case, this can become expensive when
transporting.
This would be an excellent opportunity to use faux rock instead. This is what happened
with Mrs. Farrell’s pool. Mrs. Farrell initially explained that they would use natural
sandstone for their cave. Unfortunately, they could not locate a large enough stone to
create their dream grotto locally. The next best thing was faux rock. Searching for a
large enough stone is not an issue with fake rock. You can create on-site whatever size or type you need. This also solves yard logistic issues, such as yards on cliffs with
narrow access points.
When creating rock designs for a pool and spa, asking your customers for images that
represent what they want is best. The Farrell family changed the whole look of the
cavern and slid from sandstone to granite, which looked like their favorite yearly
vacation spot in Lake Tahoe. Before finding granite boulders matching the image, they
were expensive and hard to find locally. With faux rock, the sculpture could add every
little detail, from shape, texture, moss, and even the waterline on the rock.
You can do some cool stuff with real rock. Real rock is amazing. It cannot be
manipulated like we can manipulate mortar,” Anthony Miranda with Poseidon Pools
commented.
The time it takes to create these rock wonders depends on how intricate the design is.
Natural rock takes time to transport, place, and secure, but a complete grotto with a
water feature could sometimes take a week. Faux stone can take up to three times
longer than natural rock because of the person-hours to cut, bend, mold, crave, and
paint it.
If you are looking for rock material that can last. Really, stone is the better choice. Since
it is naturally made, the chances of weakness in the wall are not there. Also, the
concern is that waterproofing is not required. Steve Spencer mentions, “I have seen real
rock structures last 20 years” Unlike natural stone, faux rock does need to have
waterproofing considered. Anthony Miranda found applying Mircoglass to the simulated
rock structure extends the life of his creations. Microglass is a deep penetrating water-
based product. It “chemically converts and displaces the soft, vulnerable calcium hydroxide with small but significantly harder glass-like silicates.” It fills the voids in concrete-based material to give a more durable and lasting surface.
Regarding the oldest question in human existence, how much does it cost? Natural rock
can be more cost-effective. As was mentioned, faux stone takes time. Because of that
time, it is not always an economical option. But that is when you need to outweigh the
cost of what is best for the customer’s pool build.
Photo Credits: Anthony Miranda – Poseidon Pools – Sacramento, CA | Steve Spencer – Spencers Masonry – Sacramento, CA
Acid Washing Fresh Pool Plaster Can Be A Recipe For Disaster
Kelli Clancy is a seasoned pool industry professional and owner of Legacy Pool & Spa in Sacramento, CA. As one of the co-hosts of the hit podcast Talking Pools, she is a frequent contributor to Pool Magazine and one of the founders of PGP – Pool Girl Pro Industry Training Group.
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Acid washing freshly placed plaster is one of the most destructive things you can possibly do to the surface of a swimming pool.  Meaning that the difference between a pH of 13 and a pH of 0 is 1,000,000,000,000. Yes, you read that right, one trillion.  In this white paper that I wrote with Jon Temple of Tempool Inc. we’ll explore why acid washing fresh pool plaster can be so disastrous.
Freshly placed concrete has a high pH of 12.5-13. The high pH originates from the alkaline cement binder that creates concrete. The dissolved cement spreads this high pH throughout the matrix of the concrete. The same chemistry occurs within cement-based pool plaster.
Fresh concrete’s high pH makes it more volatile in response to chemical exposure. It is so sensitive to acidic conditions, that it even reacts with the carbon dioxide in the air, a process called carbonation. This process will eventually affect the concrete at deeper levels.
Washing virgin plaster or cement surfaces with an acid solution of 0, will be extremely detrimental to the lifespan of the concrete. The thinner veneer of plaster is even more susceptible to long-term damage by acid exposure.
When the pH of concrete drops below 9, the chemical nature of the cement has been altered so much that it begins to lose its ability to bind. This is most evident on the surface of the concrete, as it begins to chalk, flake, spall or release aggregates (etching). As these layers decay, they further expose the underlying layers to degradation.
To expose aggregates, a high pH solution should be utilized to minimize the damage to the cement. Even a rinse solution with a pH of 7.5 is better than one of 0, since the pH scale is logarithmic – that is each 1.0 change on the scale is a 10 fold change in the intensity. A final rinse with a pH solution of 13, will restore the surface of the cement to its natural pH state of 13.
Exposing and rinsing the cement surface with solutions that are closer to the 13 pH of cement will ensure that the plaster company does not prematurely damage or etch the cement surface.
Swimming Pool Expert Witness
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Let’s face it… quality help is hard to find. You cannot have quality pool construction without quality people, either direct reports or sub-contractors.
More than having specialists, the correct employee must be assigned to the tasks at hand. The job site supervisor must understand the project expectations and make sure that the right talent is assigned to the proper task.
The supervisor must have the knowledge of how to perform the tasks. They must have the ability and authority to train subcontractors and employees on the company’s expectations and methodologies. On-the-job training cannot occur if the supervisor themselves does not possess the requisite knowledge. You must invest in your employee’s professional development, in order to create a better product.
Employees with specialized skills and interests should be encouraged to further develop those skills. Employers should embrace industry seminars and manufacturer training to further hone these skills. After all, you cannot deliver quality projects without quality people.
Nothing dovetails together more than effective communication and quality control. You must develop a consistent means for everyone on a project to communicate expectations, project specifics & details, project progress and scheduling, job site safety & compliance, policies and procedures. A lack of communication often results in costly change orders of corrective measures.
Quality control needs to be included in every team meeting with employees and sub-contractors, to ensure it remains on the forefront of everyone’s mind.
Communications should occur on a regular schedule via a digital platform that records the messages, tasks and assignments. These construction messaging platforms ensure that there are no misinterpretations and that the collaboration is smooth and efficient.
These platforms standardize the communications channels, document the decisions and approvals, and ensure that the follow-through occurs.
Inadequate planning almost always results in poor quality, delays, defects, re-work, and cost overruns. On a fixed-price contract, these will affect the bottom line. Each year, billions of dollars are spent by US construction firms, simply because of inadequate project documentation.
I could drone on for months about the importance of detailed plans, sections, scaled drawings, written specifications, MEP schematics and material lists.
One of the most common causes of errors and losses beyond having inadequate plans, are the slow response to RFI’s and change orders. Work often must cease or efforts shifted, while the approvals or clarifications are received. Sometimes the work proceeds without approvals or clarification, which may not eventually be a correct decision.
Even the simplest project will incur deviations from the original project plans or intent. Short delays in change order approvals or RFI responses often result in scheduling delays, deficient quality, or remediation.
Implementing a document management program is critical for the success of any construction project:
1. The centralized document database must be word-searchable. It should identify each document in which a word/phrase appears.
2. Hierarchical access should be provided to all stakeholders.
3. All project documents should be archived (proposals, plans, revisions, RFI’s, change orders, shop drawings, punch lists, etc.).
4. Archive access should remain available throughout the project.
Document management through a digital archive will result in better quality control, swifter communication, fewer miscommunications and improved project quality.
Swimming Pool Expert Witness
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Water, the essence of life, can harbor imperceptible perils in the form of waterborne diseases. Within the United States, a multitude of cases of waterborne infections are contracted annually, imposing a substantial toll on public health. Pseudomonas and the RWIs (recreational water illnesses) derived from them are one concern in particular that swimmers need to be aware of.
Pseudomonas is a type of bacteria, specifically the genus Pseudomonas, which includes various species. One of the species within this genus that is relevant to RWIs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common environmental bacterium that can cause infections in humans under certain circumstances. It is known to be an opportunistic pathogen, meaning it primarily affects people with weakened immune systems or those who are already ill.
When it comes to swimming pools, Pseudomonas aeruginosa can be of concern because it has the potential to cause a condition known as “hot tub rash” or “hot tub folliculitis.” This condition is characterized by itchy and sometimes painful red bumps or rash that develop on the skin after exposure to contaminated water, such as in hot tubs, pools, and water playgrounds.
The reasons why Pseudomonas aeruginosa can become a problem in swimming pool settings include:
A revolutionary study titled “Assessing the Burden of Waterborne Infectious Diseases by Exposure Pathway in the United States, 2014” has illuminated the magnitude of this concern, particularly concerning diseases emanating from swimming pools. This piece delves into the pivotal discoveries of the research and spotlights the profound insights shared by microbial physiologist Roy Vore and chemist Jenn Huang in an exclusive two-part episode of the Talking Pools Podcast on July 28, 2023.
The study’s staggering figures reveal that in 2014 alone, the United States witnessed an excess of 7.15 million instances of domestically acquired waterborne infections. Tragically, these infections culminated in 120,000 hospitalizations and 6,600 fatalities. Such data underscores the exigent necessity to effectively address waterborne diseases.
A key facet of the study was the meticulous breakdown of disease incidence according to diverse exposure pathways: recreational water, potable water, and non-recreational non-potable (NRNP) water. Recreational water, encompassing pools, hot tubs, and natural water bodies, constituted the source for approximately 5.61 million illnesses, securing its place as the predominant exposure route.
Potable water, drawn from public systems, private wells, or commercial containers, accounted for around 1.13 million illnesses. NRNP water, employed for non-leisure activities like agriculture or medical applications, contributed to roughly 407,000 instances of waterborne ailments. Acquiring a comprehensive understanding of these exposure routes is pivotal in directing preventive actions and optimizing resource allocation.
The study also underscored the prominence of biofilms in waterborne infections. Biofilms form as thin layers of microorganisms on diverse surfaces within water systems, such as pipes and filters. Pathogens ensconced within biofilms present formidable challenges for eradication, serving as a substantial source of infections.
In the episode of the Talking Pools Podcast, microbial physiologist Roy Vore and chemist Jenn Huang shared invaluable insights. They emphasized the necessity for water management initiatives to combat the proliferation of pathogens within biofilms, particularly within recreational water venues. Additionally, public health campaigns are pivotal in averting biofilm-related diseases and safeguarding community well-being.
Learn more at CPOClass.com:
https://cpoclass.com/swimming-pool-diseases/
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