By Tim Long
In a recent renovation project, we had the opportunity to completely change the appearance of a pool by both the choice of our material, and by the attention to detail in its application. Originally the pool was surrounded by red brick. There was red brick everywhere, as coping to the pool beam and as a face to the wall of the pool. While I like brick as well as the anyone, in this application, it was not only dated, but very over-powering. It also created maintenance issues as the brick absorbed water from the spa spill-over, which left white calcium deposits and algae. Finally, the installation was less than stellar, in that they created a “reveal” on the face of the riser next to steps which had no such reveal. The placement of the reveal, which is the shadow line created by materials cantilevered, overhanging other materials, is important. It is often used to “reveal” elevation changes, or simple for the architectural value it visually creates. In this case the builder’s choice resulted in leaving an ”unfinished” face of the brick exposed, making me wonder, what were they thinking?
Our choice of material was travertine, which is one of the best materials to use around pools. Not only does travertine typically have a high compression strength, but it is one of the few materials whose traction coefficient increases as it gets wet. This means you are less likely to slip on the travertine when you exit the pool dripping wet, then when you entered dry. Rather than install the travertine in the same way the brick was installed, we decided to install the coping on both the horizontal and vertical surface of the risers. The stone was cut on miters for a simple clean, continuous look of the beautiful stone.
The resulting finish eliminated the reveal, making the surface flush with the face of the seeded aggregate deck work. Now the deck and coping are consistent with no unfinished sides exposed. Most materials are finished with sides that intended to be exposed and sides that are “unfinished” meaning they are intended to be hidden because they will be masked by the bonding agent or where they but against joining materials. This was not true before in our original pool and was corrected in the new coping work.
The reveal is now on the pool side and is consistent with the rest of the pool coping. Travertine is a material that is usually cut and polished creating a smooth and clean appearance. Our installation emphasized that detail, played off it and the overall result was impressive!