Monthly Archives: January 2012

swimming pool on MARS ?


TBC

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Swimming Pool Surfaces Whats It all About


We have been in the outdoor living arena for some 25 years. More than half our lives have been spent creating some of the finest outdoor spaces in Southern California and abroad. I would be remised if at some point we did not talk about the surface or to be exact, the plaster in your swimming pool and spa. So that’s my topic for today.
So you may ask why do we need to water proof the interior of a swimming pool? To start let’s be clear. Concrete is somewhat porous. Even the best applied material will “wick” or leak some water. I wont get into the pourisity of concrete right now but another day we will explore it I’m sure. To continue, Swimming pools / spas will leak without some water proofing applied to their interior. In this article we are going to speak about standard white and colored plaster surfaces. In a following article we will discuss exposed aggregate or commonly “Pebble” surfaces.
Standard plaster has a rich history. Dating back more than a thousand years. Plaster was used much as it is today to retain water in storage vessels and to line the interior of pools and spas used for recreation. In its simplest form the components for plaster are the same now as then, White or grey cement power, Aggregate and Water. With such a bountiful history why would you use anything else? The simplest explanation to describe why is the word “Style”. While standard plaster is stylish in the right setting, we do not live in a standard world. What would your Tuscany inspired outdoor living area look like with a beautiful white pool? I think you can understand my point. A darker pool would seem more authentic to the enviroment. The fact is we live in a wonderfully complicated world where everything you see has options. Approximately 30 years ago swimming pool plaster companies had a renaissance of sorts introducing color to their standard white mixtures. This trend caught on and to this day the colored or dark surface is dominate in the pool and spa industry.
If you have decided to proceed with plaster, your options are tremendous. Especially when we are talking about the aggregate and color used in the mixture. The standard and most affordable aggregate that has wide spread usage is crushed marble. While crushed marble is more afforadable than the rest it does have a drawback. Crushed marble dissolves over time in aggressive water. Which can be a problem is swimming pools and especially spas where it encounters the most amount of heat and chemicals. A better option is to specify that your plaster contractor uses a quartz aggregate. Quartz is diamond like in its hardness which is more resistent to harsh chemicals thus prolonging the surface life of the plaster. Color for plaster surfaces have a broad range as well. Colored pools look beautiful when filled with water, conditioned and properly filter. Colored plaster is commonly called out by articects in their project to give the enviroment a authentic and warm feel. This has lead to many residential projects following the trend. The most affordable color additive is made by “LiquiBlak“. Dont let the name fool you, they do have more than black. Their black dye however is the most commonly used colorant due to a wide range of effects you can acheive with it. With a small amount of black dye added to the plaster matrix, you can acheived all shades of grey in the light and medium pallets. Looking for the true lagoon feel then adding more black colorant will give you that look. When water is added and the reflection of the sky is brought in to factor you get a fanstastic effect that is enjoyed by many who see it. A word of warning here again. Plaster color is also affected by harsh chemicals. Consult your contractor on what should be expected over time. Most of the highend colors are produced by the Pebble Tec company. Pebble Tec has introduced “Pebble Fina” into it’s product line and has been getting some attention. Pebble Fina offers a premixed plaster that is available in 12 different colors and the aggerate is a propirety blend of silicas. To achieve better results, Only “authorized” applicators and builders can sell, promote and install Pebble Tec products. They have taken this step to control the quality of their finishes and warranties. Our company Simplypools and spas have endorsed Pebble Tec for 10 years and we pride ourselves on the ability to sell and market their products. Our we bias…YES. Pebble Tec’s products are researched and back by an established company. In the plaster business this is a rare.
Our belief is steadfast on pool and spa plaster. It’s a beautiful hand troweled surface and should only be installed by true artisans trained and familiar with wet cured surfaces. If you have a stucco contractor that says he can do this work, BEWARE! Swimming pool / spa plaster finishers are a rare breed. Before entering a swimming pool a new prospect will have to spend at least one year on the mixer getting familiar with the components that make up the finished product. It is only then that the foreman will start to introduce the basic fundamentals of finishing plaster with trowels. Apprentices start on the floor of the pool working their way to the walls and then on to the steps. It is only then after mastering these techniques that the apprentice will enter the tight quarters of a spa. Which is the proving ground for great finishers. I must say the best finishers come from areas where the most pools are built or remodeled. California and Arizona have lead this march due to the incredible weather and abundant work. Additionally standards in appearance are much higher in these states. I have had the distinct fortune to work across borders, building and remodeling swimming pools in different countries as far away as the Turks and Cacios islands. These clients tend to be very wealthy and demand only the best. It was standard practice to call in the troops from my home state of California when superior quality was in demand.
The last surfaces too discuss are the Pebble and Beadcrete options which I will write about on my next blog. Look for that soon.

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A BBQ That Cooks the Perfect Steak or Grilled Pizza with Goat Cheese, Tomatoes, and Thyme



Outdoor BBQ have made massive steps in the right direction over the last 20 years or so. While some still enjoy cooking with charcoal briquettes, The vast majority of us have moved into natural gas systems. Those that have deviated from the original course have been rewarded with higher quality backyard gourmet that are reviling restaurant quality meals. Higher end BBQ manufactures like Twin Eagles and Lynx (Viking) lead this race. Their BBQ’s are double walled which encapsulates the heat far great and allows food to cook evenly. This produces a true oven quality experience that even Chefs are raving about. Their grill tops are known to cook evenly also, so even if you are cooking a simple hamburgers, you will experience less hot and cold areas. If your cooking a fillet then again the rewards don’t stop. Additionally they have really taken the lead using only the highest quality stainless steel available and backing up their units with outstanding warranties and service. If these units are out of your budget not to worry. The new “Turbo” grill made by BBQ’s galore is a winner. While not being doubled walled which offers that great oven experience, It does have a fantastic grill that keeps up with the big boys. This unit also incorporates a rotisserie with a rear “sear” zone which is great for cooking that roast or whole chicken to perfection. Quality stainless steel construction will put a smile on your face and give you years of grilling bliss. Here’s a quick, important, mandatory tip. Always cover your grill! None of these units come with a cover. Excessive sun, grime and dust can ruin even the finest BBQ. Now go grill something yummy…! Here’s a link I find useful when looking for great BBQ recipes. http://www.delish.com/entertaining-ideas/parties/barbecue-grilling/gourmet-grilled-recipes

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Egyptians, Falling Water & Calming Spaces


The Egyptians used water to cool the interior of their homes. Through the use of “runnels” they were able to allow warmer wind to blow over cooler water gently cooling the home. You must be asking yourself, where is he going with this right?! Well this runnel had to make predetermined drops to steadily move the water. Additionally “The drop” gave the interior two distinct features for the period that still hold up today. One feature was the sound of falling water. This sound has been accepted to relax and calm the mind. The second distinct feature is watching water fall or drop. This gives your eyes visual stimulation. Through sound and vision we are able to create unique area around the home to stimulate. It maybe a small water feature in front of the home to invite and calm guest as they enter your home. A water feature in the backyard can cover up or mask the sounds of barking dogs, traffic noise or the occasional lawn mower.
My wife loves this little fountain in our master bedroom. It’s a simple tier waterfall that sits on a pedestal in the corner of the room. She has acknowledged a total change in the way we sleep. She has noticed my sleep habits to be much calmer with less movement. While I thought it was overpowering and loud for the room I did get use to it quickly.
I have been in many situations where there is too much noise So noisy in fact that I noticed everyone had to increase the volume in order to hear over the crown. For this fact I’m not a big advocate of huge rock pools with water features. They are just too noisy in the average backyard and the house reverberates the noise back at you making it uncomfortable for casual conversation. So be cautious when selecting your water feature for the home. A good option is to visit your local fountain supplier. They usually have a host of water features all running at the same time for your inspection.

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Light up your pool life


Lighting is often a neglected piece of the swimming pool puzzel. Most swimming pools are equiped with a single 500 watt light and the spa is downgraded using just a single 100 watt light. Depending on size, shape and surface color (plaster/pebble) the lighting system just mentioned might be just fine for your taste. However it has been my experience that this is not adaquite as dark or under-li…t areas are very common issues. Additionally the popularity of non-refelctive, darker surfaces actually absorb light rays. So with that said, It is now common pratice for us at Simply Pools to use a minimum of two lights equaling 1000 watts in the pool and 300 watts in the spa. Eliminating most or all of the lack of light issues, On a side note, The new LED lighting systems are getting alot of notice these days. They are installed closer to the surface than normal underwater lights and actually use the surface like a mirror to distribute the light. This gives the surface an outstanding glow and provides more perimeter lighting which bounces off the walls, house and trees. This option is abit more money and uses significantly less energy to operate. The life span of these LED systems is massive and a number of our clients now have their LED lighting systems running nightly

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A simple tapestry made in stone and plant



Today we present a very simple and clean front yard. One that is comfortable and affordable. I love this entrance. Like I tell everyone the details are in the color. There is no forced gray here. The little “gray” that you do see is in a natural state as part of the materials. It was not planned which makes it blend like a tapestry. The stone pathway is a dedicated approach drawing your heart towards the safety of the home. Notice the details as your eyes travels up the pathway like the tiered waterfall, the dark colored pot with spiraling plant and the copper rain gutters, which will patina and look even better as it ages. A small tapestry in your front yard. Can you sense I love the word “Tapestry”

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Firepits!!!-???


I mentioned to my business partner #Kris Heftved how interesting it was that a #firepit was the most requested item in a new backyard project. Not a swimming pool or spa, not a BBQ or even a putting green! This fact was provided to me while attending a seminar from The Old Castle Company which is one of the largest concrete manufacturers in the world. Personally we’ve had a #firepit in our backyard forever. So it got me to think just how often we use it. After doing a small calculation of use I was somewhat blown away. Last year our firepit ran 27 nights. That’s a lot of use! We sit by it to talk, cook over it, look at the stars, drink a glass of wine/beer etc… This is something I have definitely taken for granted for some time. As a company we’ve built so many of them that I have forgotten how valuable they are to our clients outdoor experience. So my News year’s resolution has just changed. I’m going to promote the #firepit like never before. Were in the business of providing outdoor comfort and a #firepit is a very inexpensive option for our clients. If space allows, I think a #firepit is even more useful than a fire- place. A #firepit allows you to sit around the whole unit thus sharing with family and friends. Let’s build one!!!

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