Pool Remodeling the Homeowner Guide

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The process of remodeling your swimming pool is considered to be a stressful and overwhelming one. This is because there are so many different factors that you would need to think about. Your ultimate decision would be filled with layers of choices, not only about the color or layout, but also about your budget and picking which company to do the project.

So, as a homeowner, you would need to overlook all these aspects in order to make sure finished project will meet your expectations and requirements. So to make it easier on you, take a look at step by step guide to remodeling your swimming pool.


 Remodeling Process: Step-By-Step 

 The estimated start and completion dates on the contract are the best estimates.  Even if everything goes smoothly and as expected, the project may not always finish by the “approximate completion date” on the contract.  This is because pool remodeling professionals work on these projects nearly every day, so if something unexpected happens at one of our other jobs, it may push yours back. They will do their best to anticipate this and work around it, but will appreciate your understanding as it’s hard to always predict how each job will transition.

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An average remodel progresses with the following steps:

Step 1:  Drain the pool 

Simply place a submersible pump in your pool and run a hose to the street.  This typically takes about 6 to 12 hours, depending on the pool size.  If you have a spa, they drain the spa on the same day that they chip out the pool. 

Note:  once the pool is empty, our pump may continue to run and make a loud “slurping” sound.  If it does, you can simply unplug the pump’s power cord from the wall outlet and it will stop

Step 2:  Chip out 

This is where they chip out your surface (and tile if requested).  This is the loudest part and typically takes about half a day.  When this is finished, they thoroughly clean up and your concrete (gunite) shell will be exposed.

Step 3:  Tile

Here apply your chosen tile and apply the grout.  Depending on how much tile you have, this typically takes 1 to 2 days

Note:  If you have chosen a plaster finish, they generally (not always) add the trim tile to the steps during the plaster process on the last day.

Step 4:  Surface application

For the surface application, you will notice one of our trucks out front where all of the plaster and/or pebble is mixed.  It is then pumped with large hoses to your pool where our plaster artisans hand trowel the surface.  This takes about 4 to 6 hours.

 Step 5 (pebble only)  

Following the pebble application, they will do an acid wash over the surface as part of the pre-fill startup.  Generally, only a couple of hours is needed for this.

Step 6:  Adding the water

Upon completion of the plaster (or upon completion of the pebble acid wash), they will begin adding water.  As the home owner, it is your responsibility to manage the water fill process and turn off the water once it has reached about half way up the skimmer opening (above the tile line).  DO NOT turn off the water before the pool is completely filled, or it may cause a water line to appear around the inside of the pool.  You can slow down the rate at which the water flows and fills the pool, but please don’t turn the water completely off.  Depending on water pressure, this could take anywhere from 12 to 48 hours.

Step 7:  Post-Water Chemical Startup 

Pebble:  With a pebble application, they will clean the filter, balance the chemicals, and thoroughly brush and vacuum the pool.  This is done all in one visit.

Plaster:  For a plastered pool, they perform the same duties as the pebble startup, but it is done over several days instead of during one visit.  This is because plaster is more sensitive than pebble and requires the water to be closer to an acidic level for a longer period of time than pebble.


Your Role as the Homeowner

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Manage the water level while the pool is being filled.  Do not turn off the water until it reaches about half way up the skimmer opening (above the tile line).

If you have chosen colored plaster as your finish, it is always a good idea to be home to ask our plaster mixer to see a sample of the color before he begins pumping it out to the pool.  Although they do a very good job at matching the color you’ve requested, it’s always a good idea to give it a final seal of approval if you are able to be home during that time. 

Hire a reputable pool service professional for weekly service and double check to make sure the chemistry is always in range.  You can either purchase a test kit/test strips yourself, or you can take a water sample to your local pool store and have them check it for you. 


The Final Product:  What to expect

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Applying a pebble or plaster surface is a hand-troweled process.  There may be slight imperfections because the process is not done by a machine…it is essentially hand made.  Therefore, you may notice unevenness of the color and surface. 

The various surface samples (plaster, pebble, etc.) that you have looked at in the showroom to base your finish choices on will look very similar to the final product.  However, since the application process is hand-troweled and since the showroom sample only shows a small section, it may not be a completely perfect match to the sample. 

If you have any copper plumbing (above or below ground) or copper based products (e.g., Nature 2 system), you will eventually notice green staining on the surface of the pool because copper deposits on the pool surface are green in color.  These stains are most noticeable with plaster and lighter colored surfaces. 

A pebble surface consists of tens of thousands of pebble stones.  You will notice some pebble fall-out as the curing process progresses…especially during the first month.  These pebbles can be easily vacuumed by your pool service

Over time, you may notice staining on the pool surface.  A variety of materials cause stains – leaves, sticks, dirt, metal, certain algaecides, etc.  There are several different methods to remove these stains (e.g., Super Stain Out, acid washing, etc.) and is a natural part of having a pool that is exposed to various minerals and outdoor elements. 

You may notice small, superficial cracks in the surface.  These cracks are most visible in the top steps because they are the last portion of the surface to be covered by the water.  These superficial cracks are not harmful to the final product. 


On-Going Pool Maintenance Care

You have just spent a lot of money on your pool and want to keep it in good condition for as long as possible.  I recommend considering spending a little bit more on monthly pool service to receive a more detailed and thorough weekly service.  The difference of $20/month for service in the pool industry could mean the difference between a “splash and dash” service vs. a thorough and detailed visit.  Take your time on choosing the right provider. 


Author Bio

My name is Eric Stanton, owner of Valley Pool Plaster. With over 10 years of experience in all aspects of the pool remodeling business, I take great joy in sharing that knowledge to educate people to help them make informed decisions that will impact their lives.