Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pool Deck Care: Moss and Mildew

I'm up in Oregon again for the holidays and I'm experiencing some of the weather the area is famous for this time of year.

This weekend the forecast calls for very cold temperatures, slushy rain, and snow tomorrow. Also, this is happening when a contractor has gone to work adding new footings to our units foundation.

This process requires the contractor to get under our deck here and remove some of it for a new pier.

Since the deck has been taken apart in some sections - and since the weather has been very wet lately - I decided to look underneath some of the 2x4's.

Since the decking lumber is treated it looks OK now. The biggest concern, of course, is wet or dry rot. At the moment I haven't noticed any obvious problems with rot.

Another possible problem that you should be on the look out for is moss or mildew.

Moss is very common around here, especially this time of year because of the rain and lack of sunlight. It grows out of the pavement here!

So far I haven't noticed any on my deck. But that does not mean it cannot become a problem later on... winter is still in the early going.

Should You Be Alarmed If You Discover Mildew on Your Pool Deck?

I don't think you should be panicked by mildew. If you see the black slime commonly associated with mildew it likely won't cause any structural risk like rot does.

But mildew does look ugly and can smell bad. Similar to mildew in your bathtub, breathing this stuff can aggravate your respiratory system or allergies.

So it's always a good idea to clean the mildew off you above ground pool deck.

You can do this easily with bleach. Also, sweep you pool deck regularly so sunlight can be a natural drier.

What About Moss?

Moss isn't the emergency that rot is. But, like mildew, it's a good idea to remove it from your pool deck at your earliest opportunity.

The chemical solution used to remove moss is a very complex one, compared to the mildew solution. I suggest asking your local home and garden store for assistance on this one.

Or, consider hiring a deck cleaning service. Spending a little on a qualified service will definitely save you time and keep you from having to do a little dirty work, unless you really want to.

As always, enjoy your pool!


Paul Ottaviano
How to Build an Above Ground Pool Deck

Monday, November 24, 2008

Give Thanks for Investment in Experience

To those of you from the United States I hope your Thanksgiving holiday is a good one. In many parts of the country it's a beautiful time of year and the holiday is always good for "relaxing" with family.

The way I see it holiday's are an investment in experience. In the long run it's the experiences - good or not so good - that we're likely to remember most. Each year Thanksgiving is one such experience - hopefully a good one for you - that you'll always think of fondly.

And that is basic value that I've tried to bring to you with this blog and our website

Whether it's the actual planning or building of your above ground pool deck... or enjoying the finished product... it's all an investment in experience.

Experience that hopefully brings good memories... or maybe good laughs in the face of innocent building mistakes, after the initial frustration... and in the very least it's a learning experience where you're challenged to accomplish something great for yourself and family.

All I've ever tried to do through this blog and our website is to help you have that kind of good experience while building your pool deck... and that kind of experience going forward when you use your pool deck.

Hopefully I've been able to do that for you. And because of people like you, I get to do something I love.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Paul Ottaviano
How to build a deck around your pool

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pool Deck Plans: Benches

If you're thinking of adding an amenity to your above ground pool deck then consider a bench.

More than likely your bench will be permanently attached to the deck, so go with this only if you're sure that you really want one and it's approved by your local building codes. For instance, codes may require a specific type of bench for your above ground pool deck.

Generally, a "backless bench" is best for a platform deck. So this option might not be compatible with your pool deck.

That said, a bench design that does have a back could possibly work for you.

This design will use rail posts you've already built for the deck as part of the bench framing. Also, the bench can fit into most rail designs and balusters can be left alone.

Here are some basic tips to remember:
  • Always be safe! Go "off the grid" at your own risk.
You may be tempted to cut corners because it's just a bench. That's understandable.

But, did you know that attached benches usually cannot have more than 4 inches of open space? Check your local building requirements before designing and building your bench.
  • Make sure the seat height is comfortable.
Remember, tall and short people will be using your pool deck bench.

Short people's feet should be able to touch the ground and tall people probably don't want their knees sticking into their chest. Heights of at least 15" and up to 18" should work fine.

  • Keep your backyard focal points in mind.
In other words, don't put your bench where your guests will be looking at a concrete wall or old fence. If you have a nice tree or rose garden in your backyard then have the bench facing that direction.

Planning for little things like focal points and seat heights can make your above ground pool deck a fun environment.

As always, enjoy your pool!

Best regards,

Paul Ottaviano

How to Build a Pool Deck

Friday, October 24, 2008

Building Codes Are Expensive to Ignore

My family has a vacation town home in Oregon. It's a beautiful place to be during the summer and fall.

It's a nice community outside of Portland. The grounds at this place are spectacular!

There are plenty of trees, large grass areas, and a wetland area within short walking distance where geese, ducks, blue herons, and other critters spend their time. It's like living in a park.

Now the buildings people live in are a different story. They were built about 30 years ago and they're some of the oldest residential buildings in the immediate area.

Don't get me wrong, it's a fine place to live and most buildings are sound.

But a crucial mistake was made 30 years ago. I'll get to that in a minute... but first what's happening now...

Many of the units in this community sit on a slope. Most of the units that do sit on a slope are flat top structures with a foundation that has only cement footings. The floor of each unit is about a foot or two off the ground. So the whole unit is held up by only four footings.

After 30 years and that many winters of Portland rain, you can probably imagine what is happening now. The foundation has weakened. Some homes have bend of up to 2.5 inches.

This makes a home difficult to sell here, and it's a safety hazard. So the association here is doing the right thing, it's getting it fixed.

Here's the thing though and the "mistake" that was made 30 years ago... not only is not up to code now, it was not built to code 30 years ago!

Now I don't know if someone working at the county building department back then was negligent, dumb, or corrupt... the original developer and engineer must have been one of those things too.

But in Oregon, the statue of limitations passed a long time ago for cases like this one. So the association is stuck paying the bill.

The contract now calls for additional cement footings underneath the units and helical piers around the outside. Units that need raising will be raised to the maximum recovery possible. This will bring the buildings up to code and reinforce the foundation.

The association did a fine job finding a good engineer and contractor who made a reasonable bid. But it's still relatively pricey, particularly for the younger residents or retired persons living on fixed income.

The moral of the story is this...

Building codes and dealing with building inspectors can sometimes be a real pain in the a**. And some building codes may seem like unnecessary bureaucratic clap trap... some probably are. So it may be tempting to cut corners, especially for something like an above ground pool deck.

But, most building codes are theoretically there for safety reasons and to protect the value of your home. So while it may be frustrating at times, you're usually better off going along with it.

Rest assured, if a building inspector notices you built something that was not up to code... or you try to include your pool and deck in a home sale and it's not up to code... the cost will likely be a lot more than what you may have saved by cutting corners.

And if you hire a contractor to build your pool deck or for any project, insist on seeing the plans and make sure the contractor followed codes before letting him walk away... and double check before the statue of limitations ends.

I imagine our place will be fine and our neighbors will be relieved once it's done. Heck, we might even get a new deck out of it. But it comes at a price and I'm sure everyone would have preferred to spend that money on something else... like a trip to Italy or Hawaii for instance.

So, once again, the point here is this...
bureaucratic rules are annoying, sometimes a pain, and some of my libertarian friends think they're totally unnecessary... but it's the world we live in right now and it's the law. Best to build your pool deck with that in mind.

As always, enjoy your pool!

Best regards,

Paul Ottaviano
How to Build a Deck Around Your Pool

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Floating Foundation for Your Pool Deck

A common question people have when planning an above ground pool deck is, "what foundation should I use?"

As many of you know, decks need a foundation for load-bearing posts. Pool decks are no different. What type of foundation you'll decide to use depends on a few key things.

  • How high will your deck be?
  • The materials you're using.
  • The ground's freeze depth.
  • How much weight can your soil handle?
Wood that has contact with the ground will eventually degrade. So for post support you'll need concrete footings that are above-grade.

If you decide on foundations that require digging a hole, be sure to dig according to local building codes, which could be up to 5' or more depending on your building codes and soil.

However, there is any easier way. Consider using the floating foundation for your pool deck.

Many above ground pool deck owners who build a deck use a floating foundation because it does not require digging and you won't have to worry about frost levels.

If you're looking to build a pool deck relatively quickly during the summer season... then the floating foundation is the way to go because the process is much simpler than mixing concrete, digging holes, and dealing with a more complex set of building codes.

The safety record of floating foundations is very good too.

Our eBook How to Build a Pool Deck, uses the common wraparound pool deck on a floating foundation as a step-by-step example because it is the most simple foundation for a pool deck.

Floating foundations are very popular for a reason and if you have limited time during the swim season to get an above ground pool deck up, then this is a very good option for you.

As always, enjoy your pool!

Best regards,

Paul Ottaviano

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Above Ground Pool Deck Photo's

To those of you who will spend the winter planning your pool deck and would like some visual examples, you can go to our website where you'll see some above ground pool deck pictures we've put together.

Once you're there just go ahead and click on the photo gallery link.


Paul Ottaviano

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Winterizing Your Above Ground Pool

For most of you in the United States and elsewhere in the northern hemisphere now is a good time to start thinking about winterizing your pool.

And for those of you in warmer or temperate climates this information may still benefit you. Here are some basic tips to help you get started.

Before you shut off and drain your pool for the winter, you'll first need to clean and service the pool. Make sure your water chemistry is balanced too.

It's unlikely that algae will be a big problem if you drain your pool. However, you don't need to risk an algae bloom while you're shutting down your pool for the winter. So go ahead and service the pool as you normally do before drainage. Also, consider adding more chlorination than normal or an algicide.

Also, remember that your water won't be circulating during the winter so don't leave chlorine tabs in the water once you shut the pool down.

Next you'll want to shut off the pump, any electrical sources, and gas for the heater if applicable. From there, you'll drain the pool. You don't have to completely drain the pool but it's recommended that you drain at least below the outlet and skimmer level.

Also, make sure you drain all lines and the plug them up for the winter. Don't leave water in your tubes or pipes for the winter. This protects your above ground pools equipment from freeze damage. So make sure you drain your equipment completely.

Once the above tasks are done, seriously consider covering your above ground pool. This will keep your pool clean and help prevent algae. Sheet vinyl is a good cover for the money. And to be on the safe side you may want to lock gates or fences that lead to your pool or deck.

I've simply covered the basics here. But, by using the above information to winterize your pool you'll make the job of re-opening of your above ground pool in the spring much easier.

Enjoy your pool!


Paul Ottaviano
How to Build an Above Ground Pool Deck

Monday, September 8, 2008

Football Means The End of Pool Deck Season

When autumn football season starts here in America this usually means the end of pool deck season... unless you live in Arizona or someplace where the weather will finally be more compatible with outdoor home improvements.

Of course, there is nothing stopping you from building an above ground pool deck during the fall or winter unless the weather is very harsh. But for most of us the outdoor building season is past its peak and is nearing a dormant time of year.

For those of you who took on the task of building a deck around your pool this year I sincerely hope everything went well.

It was a busy summer for us at too. Many customers, and visitors with great questions. Thanks to the people who took the time to contact us - or took our survey - we learned more about what people like you want in regards to pool deck information.

In the meantime, some of you may not have moved forward with building a deck around your pool this year. But, you still plan on doing it.

You can visit us to get a start on the basics of your pool deck plans. And you can check back here from time to time as I still plan on posting content during the winter.

As always, enjoy your pool!


Paul Ottaviano

Monday, August 18, 2008

Better News from Lowe's

There was some encouraging news from home improvement retailer Lowe's today.

Well, I guess you could say that the news wasn't "as bad" as some were expecting. And in today's economic climate this qualifies as good news.
  • "2nd quarter net income dropped only 7.9% to $938 million, or 64 cents per share, beating analysts projections by 8 cents," said Lowe's.
  • Also, "sales rose 2.4%... and revenue rose for the first time in 3 quarters."
  • Analysts believe that tax rebates played a large role in the slight uptrend.
Now I'm not here to do a detailed analysis of tax or economic policy for you because there are online publications that do a great job of that... though I do have my opinions.

But the contrarian in me does see something positive here...

Saving and investing in yourself - by building a pool deck for example - is one of the best things you can do in any economic climate. Especially now.

Inflation and credit concerns are very likely to be big issues for awhile...

But, if Lowe's is doing a "little better than expected", i.e. less bad, then perhaps others are starting to realize the importance of saving and investing in yourself.

Building a deck around your pool is a productive venture.

You're using resources, many of which could be from here in the US... especially if you're using lumber... to build something that could possibly increase the value of your home.

Or these days maybe it just softens the blow...

Nonetheless, this is far different than borrowing against your home equity to purchase miscellaneous consumer items that depreciate... which is basically like recycling money to foreign banks for a negative return on investment and higher interest owed.

If you borrow against your home equity to build a pool deck or do any other home improvement - or if you pay out of your cash savings - you're borrowing or saving and then spending with the goal of being productive. Thus, making your own little infrastructure improvement.

This also benefits other productive ventures here in the US - like timber for example - and leads to increased domestic and personal savings... and this helps lead to more capital investment, production, and a rising standard of living.

This type of activity is the road to prosperity for the US and yourself. High levels of debt and over consumption of depreciating goods is not.

I can't tell you how to spend your money or credit.

But, if you're building an above ground pool deck or just thinking about it then pat yourself on the back.

You're not only doing something good for yourself and your family, but you're also an example of what independence and an appreciable standard of living is all about.

As always, enjoy your pool!


Paul Ottaviano

Monday, August 4, 2008

More on Pool Deck and Surface Repair

Many of you who started your above ground pool deck earlier this summer or spring are likely finished now... or close to it.

Those of you who just started recently will be finished eventually, likely before the end of summer.

So now is a good time to start thinking of how you'll maintain your pool deck and go about surface repair.

Hopefully - if you followed building code and used a guide like "How to Build a Pool Deck" - you're above ground pool deck is sturdy and generally safe.

However, like all things pool decks are gradually worn down over time by use or natural elements and will require surface repair from time-to-time.

But if you're paying attention and do your basic repairs as necessary your pool deck will remain a generally inexpensive and safe - and possibly valuable - addition to your home for a long time.

There are many pool deck repair issues to be on the look out for... termites, surface damage, loose railings, raised nail heads, and more...

That said, one of the most common problems and the most dangerous to your wood is moisture, i.e. wet and dry rot.
  • Wet rot will be colored black and has a spongy texture.
  • Dry rot is less dark but also has a spongy feel.
What causes this is moisture, so make sure your wood is dry before assembly. And consider painting it - completely.

Also, remember to sweep your pool deck regularly so that the air and sun can act as a natural drier and disinfectant for the wood.

If there is obvious compromising of a structural board - such as a joist or beam - you will need to replace it.

It's a little bit of work and some attention to detail is necessary. But it's much better than the alternative, which is ignoring your pool deck and not fixing a problem before it's very costly to fix... or too late.

That said, if you make it a regular priority - or even just an occasional chore - to care for your pool deck and do the necessary surface repairs then your above ground pool deck will remain safe and fun for everyone lucky enough to use it.

As always, enjoy your pool!

Best regards,

Paul Ottaviano

P.S. - Learn more about how to build a pool deck and pool deck surface repair here.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pool Deck Plans for Sale?

This week I received a call from a contractor who builds above ground pool decks for his clients. He asked if we had sample pool deck plans - or above ground pool deck blueprints - for sale.

He didn't need to learn how to build a pool deck. He just wanted some example plans he could show his clients. That way, he thought they would have an easier time deciding which pool deck design to go with.

Currently, our eBook "How to Build a Pool Deck" guides readers on how to make their own plans and references decking software they can use to make their own plans. Also, it educates people about planning so they can communicate more effectively with a contractor should they hire one.

Also, we've listed on our website an article I wrote about the basics of above ground pool deck blueprints.

That said, we don't have actual sample plans or blueprints for sale.

The reason for that is everybody has a different backyard. Some have many plants or trees, others don't. Some have obstacles or slopes that others don't. Some towns or counties have different building codes than others.

Since it's difficult for us to know what your backyard is like - or what a "standard" backyard is like - making up sample plans for sale didn't strike me as the responsible product offer.

We do have a PDF photo gallery of above ground pool decks at our website. But at this moment, no gallery of sample pool deck plans is available.

With that all said, I'm wondering what you think. How many of you are contractors or would like to see a gallery of sample pool deck plans? Is this something that you'll find helpful?

If you would like to let us know these things, please go to our contact page and send us an email.

Also, we have a survey link on our website home page where you can share your thoughts as well. You can get a free bonus eBook on decking lumber for taking the survey.

When you share the things you'll find helpful with us, that helps us create new products that you actually want and helps us improve existing content to your benefit.

As always, enjoy your pool!

Best regards,

Paul Ottaviano

Friday, July 18, 2008

Do-It-Yourself Fountain for your Pool Deck

By now many of you who are building a deck around your pool are likely almost finished... or already done.

If this is you, then pat yourself on the back for a job well done. But you can do more. And it won't be nearly as much work as the pool deck.

A do-it-yourself fountain can be built quickly in one afternoon. It will be an inexpensive way to add a refreshing new dynamic to your deck.

Also, it can be a focal point or used to cover up a knick or two left over from your above ground pool deck construction phase.

Essentials for a Basic Fountain

You'll really just need a bucket or plant container, submersible pump, metal conduit (if necessary), and a water tube long enough to reach from the fountain to the pump. You can also use rocks to hide the pump and make your fountain more pleasing to the eye.

For a fountain of this size, you'll likely just need a submersible pump that can recirculate up to fifty gallons. That pump will be plenty good enough.

We have more on this in our bonus to "How to Build a Pool Deck".

A fountain is something that is easy to do, inexpensive, and will give your pool deck a refreshing new appearance.

As always, enjoy your pool!

Best regards,

Paul Ottaviano
How to Build a Pool Deck

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Half-Way Through Deck Season

It looks as if we're now past the mid-point of above ground pool deck building season. No doubt many of you are close to starting a DIY pool deck project or perhaps you're in the middle of one.

If you want an above ground pool deck and you currently have the means, but you don't have one built yet... then I think now is a great time for you to get started!

Summer is full swing now. And the bizarre weather that many places had during late spring or June appears to be mellowing.

But before you know it, it will be post Labor Day. The kids will be back in school. The weather will be changing. And any outdoor home improvement project you were thinking of will likely get postponed until next year.

But why wait that long? This time of year is the perfect time to build your pool deck!

Best regards,

Paul Ottaviano

Monday, June 16, 2008

Pool Deck Edge: Above or below the pool line?

A reader named Erica wrote and asked me a good question last week. To paraphrase, "Is it better, and safer, for the pool deck edge to be just above the above ground pool or just below? I've seen both."

I replied that you should always check your local building codes before moving ahead with any pool deck design.

That said, it strikes me as safer to build the deck edge just above the pool. A deck edge just below it could easily trip people.

Also, imagine yourself sitting on your above ground pool deck... dangling your feet in the pool. Would a deck edge just below the pool be comfortable for you here?

And many people do build the deck just above the pool edge because they think it simply looks better, even if their local codes don't specify.

As always, enjoy your pool!

Best regards,

Paul Ottaviano
How to Build a Pool Deck

P.S. - For those of you who also visit to view additional content there, you can now view a site map here so stuff there is easier to find.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pool Decking Dictionary

When you're surfing the 'net looking for above ground pool deck help, you're likely reading a lot of technical terms or phrases that you may not be familiar with.

Those of you with some DIY experience may know some of these words from the pool decking dictionary. If you do, it still helps to have an easy reference available.

That's why we decided to post a pool decking glossary for you. There you will see some of the more common decking terms.

So if you're searching the 'net and coming across technical sounding words, you can reference our glossary so you'll understand what things mean. Once you start learning the language, any "how to build a pool deck" guide - including ours - becomes much easier to use.

This isn't an inorganic list... meaning if we missed some words feel free to contact us and suggest an addition to the glossary.

With that said, I think there is already plenty there that you'll find helpful.

Best regards,

Paul Ottaviano

Monday, May 19, 2008

Home Improvement Centers at the Closing Bell Part 2: How this could work for you

So in my last blog post - regarding The Home Depot closing some of their stores - I made the comment, " wouldn't surprise me if Lowe's announced something similar."

I hoped not. But today they did.

Now if you just look at the numbers, and think of nothing else, it indeed seems scary. Lowe's reported an 18% drop in fiscal first quarter profit... ouch... net sales dropped 1.3% despite adding 150 new stores in the last twelve months... ouch again.

"Many consumers remain hesitant to begin big-ticket projects," said the Lowe's Chairman and CEO Robert Niblock.

Which brings to mind a question to those of you thinking of building a deck around your above ground swimming pool.

Just how "big ticket" is planning and building your own pool deck?

Now, I'm not there to look at your backyard and I won't guess as to what design you're considering. So I'm not going to give you a definite cost analysis. But as to what your deck budget could be, ask yourself some questions.
  • How much does it cost to plan your pool deck?
The answer is not much, if you plan it yourself. For this, your biggest expense will be time. That said, this can be done relatively quickly... like on a Saturday afternoon lets say... and it can be fun, something you do with friends or family or by yourself with a pencil and sketch paper.

Several of our opt-in newsletters offer tips on how to plan effectively and efficiently. And we posted a basic step-by-step guide regarding above ground pool deck blueprints.

But, if you want deck planning software this can be had for up to only $40 USD. Some are less than that. This is certainly reasonable if you're serious about building a pool deck.
  • How much are the tools and supplies?
How much do you already have? Look through your garage or tool shed. I bet you'll be surprised by how much you already have available. And I bet you'll be very pleased to learn that you won't need an arsenal of tools to complete the project.

If you're not sure of what tools are really necessary and you visit a home improvement center admitting your lack of knowledge, you're immediately at the mercy of a salesperson.

Do you really need to buy that super deluxe power saw? Can you just rent one?
Or do you already have an older one that works just fine, or is there one you can borrow?

Yes, your salesperson could be a good guy or gal who won't insist on loading you up with tools or supplies you really don't need. Then again, wouldn't it be better to know some things before hand?

As for supplies, like fasteners for instance, you'll know what's necessary once you plan and you can budget accordingly. I don't recommend being too much of a bargain shopper here, since I'll assume you'll want your pool deck to be safe and hold together.
  • How much will lumber run me?
Well, Lowe's also reported they were having difficulty passing along price increases to consumers... for things like lumber. But that may only last for so long. As the economy starts to improve they will eventually pass along prices.

So the contrarian in me thinks now may be a good time for you to find high quality lumber at good prices. There may even be some sales.

Also, if you learn how to spot defects in lumber you'll only get the best quality lumber available.

Knowing this ahead of time will save you money, and time, because your lumber will be strong enough to last and you won't need to discard weak lumber you've already acquired while you're building your deck.

With that all said, let me just remind you of something important...

Since home values are declining in many areas, now is actually a very good time for you to build an above ground pool deck. As I'm sure you know, anything that is up to code and adds value to your home is always a good thing... especially during times like this.

Also, according to the National Association of Home Builders you can recover up to 75% of the cost of your deck construction when you sell your home.

So if you're seriously thinking of building a pool deck... and if you already have the resources, plus you discover ways to build it efficiently so you don't have to make a huge investment... then my suggestion is you ignore the latest reports from places like Lowe's and just build it.

As always, enjoy your pool!

Best regards,

Paul Ottaviano

P.S. - Learn more about how to build a pool deck efficiently.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Home Improvement Centers at the Closing Bell: “Pool deck it yourself”

By now I’m sure some of you have heard the news that Home Depot is canceling 50 stores they had slated to open and they’re also closing 15 existing stores.

There is little doubt this move is related to the current economic challenges… particularly the credit markets which likely drive much of the home improvement spending.

As of this writing, I haven’t seen or heard other home improvement chains like OSH or Lowes make any announcements similar to Home Depot’s.

And without sounding any unnecessary alarm bells or starting false rumors, it would not surprise me if they did… I hope not… but it goes without saying there is a lot of corrective action being taken in the market right now.

What does this mean for us DIY builders and your above ground pool deck project?

Well, while things might sound really tough… the actual numbers don’t forecast endless gloom and doom.

Much of the deep pain has already been priced into many of the financial, homebuilder, and home improvement retailer stocks. There could be some additional bumps in the road ahead, but the worst appears to be over.

Home Depot, for example, still plans to open 55 new stores this year. For 2009 and beyond, they still plan 1.5% growth in square footage. True, it’s less growth than 2007 but they’re still growing. Which is of course preferable to the alternative.

The company will reduce capital spending by $1 billion over the next three years. This puts them in a healthier position moving forward to preserve capital and spend it in ways that ultimately benefit you, i.e. enough quality tools, supplies, and lumber to still help you build a good deck around your pool for a reasonable price.

So what else can you do?

Remember, in addition to places like Lowes and OSH, there may be local lumberyards and smaller home improvement stores in your area... and the Internet. It’s always a good idea for you to shop around for the highest quality product with good prices, but now that’s especially true.

Challenging economics may make it seem like now is the wrong time for you to do something… like build a pool deck. But if you think about it, you can paralyze yourself with analysis at any time… strong economy or not.

Also, while a lot of people are understandably concerned about the economy… unless you’re a Home Depot employee, investor, or live near one of the closed stores their recent announcement isn't going to affect you much.

There will always be companies there to supply your need for quality DIY products.

With that said, if you’re reading this then it's safe to say you’re likely very interested in building a deck around your pool. So if you think the time is right for you, you should go for it!

As always, enjoy your pool!

Best regards,

Paul Ottaviano

P.S. – For those of you wondering which 15 stores are being closed, here is the list, as announced by Home Depot:

Store #2015 East Fort Wayne, Indiana

Store #2032 Marion, Indiana

Store #2310 Frankfort, Kentucky

Store #379 Opelousas, Louisiana

Store #2819 Cottage Grove, Minnesota

Store #6901 East Brunswick, New Jersey

Store #6904 Saddle Brook, New Jersey

Store #6171 Rome, New York

Store #3702 Bismarck, North Dakota

Store #3874 Findlay, Ohio

Store #3865 Lima, Ohio

Store #4552 Brattleboro, Vermont

Store #4932 Beaver Dam, Wisconsin

Store #4933 Fond du Lac, Wisconsin

Store #4913 NW Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Monday, April 28, 2008

Building a Deck Like a Pro

I've been asked by people, "how do I build a pool deck like a pro?".

My response is usually something along the lines of, "that's a weighted question because while there is a generally accepted building technique each pro likely has their own methods moving through that process... especially during planning."

But that is the one unique thing about professionals, they always plan their above ground pool decks. And you should too.

My mother remarked to me recently that, "most DIY'ers don't want a lot of instruction and they don't want to spend more than necessary. They would rather do it all themselves - and if they get it wrong - so be it. At least you did it yourself."

I'm not sure where she got this general stereotype from... perhaps my DIY cousins in Virginia who very much represent her conclusion. But I don't completely buy it.

Yes, there is very much a "can do" and "on my terms" spirit to being a person who builds your own home improvements.

But with that said, why wouldn't you want to do it yourself and get it right? Now that would give you an even greater sense of accomplishment.

So, back to the question "how do I go about building a deck like a pro?"

The biggest advantage a pro has over the average do it yourself enthusiast is experience. This means they can build a pool deck up to code much faster than you. And they likely have the technical process licked.

Unless you already have a lot of experience and skill with home improvement projects or contracting, it's unlikely you will be able to match the speed of a professional construction.

That said, you can absolutely make your finished above ground pool deck look just as good!

How? With one key element before you begin construction. And that's planning your pool deck.

It sounds simple doesn't it? But you would be surprised how many people overlook this key step in the process.

Here's how you'll benefit from planning your pool deck, so you can then build a deck like a pro:

  • It gives your the opportunity to envision and sketch at least several different design ideas, so you can mix and match the best elements into one master plan... or find the one plan that really works for you and will best match your swim lifestyle.
  • You practically ensure that your plans and deck will be up to local building codes. This means a safe and secure pool deck, and one that can boost your property value if you ever choose to sell your home.
  • You'll know ahead of time precisely what materials and tools you'll really need, plus if you need to hire out some parts of the job. This is an obvious money and time saver for you.
  • You can schedule your building days and know in advance how much time you'll need for each step in the deck construction process. This saves you time by making sure you don't start building... then realize you forgot something, so you have to double back... and so on.
Other than good planning, you'll need a good step-by-step guide on how to actually build a pool deck like a pro.

Also, know that since a pool deck is built in sections and the contracting principles are generally the same... you can use just about any design example for your own step-by-step process. The most common is a wraparound design with a floating foundation, and that's the example I use in my eBook.

Remember, people can only give you a helpful guide and the best information possible on how to build a deck like a pro. Ultimately, it's up to you to study those resources and then apply the information towards your own project.

As always, to your success and enjoy your pool!

Best regards,

Paul Ottaviano

Monday, April 21, 2008

Building Deck Idea for Your Pool

I've noticed that many of you are searching for an above ground swimming pool deck idea. Truth be told, as long as you're up to code the details of your ideas are probably limitless.

You can build a wraparound above ground pool deck, or a multi-level pool deck. It can attach via ledger to your house and be compatible with the room it attaches to. Or it can be out in the middle of your yard, surrounding just part of your pool providing a safe entrance and exit to your swimming pool.

Your above ground pool deck could have a focal point facing west, so the setting sun shade illuminates it. You could set up a fountain in one corner of the pool deck as that focal point, or install deck benches so your kids and their friends have a comfy place to sit.

As you can see, your above ground swimming pool deck ideas are limitless.

What is most important is that you:

1. Build the above ground pool deck you want and it's compatible with your intended use, lifestyle, and your climate.

2. Make sure the pool deck is compliant with your local building codes so it's safe for continuous use.

3. Plan before your start building so you know whether or not your idea will work.

One good way to start coming up with some above ground pool deck ideas is to take your camera outside. Start snapping some pictures of your backyard and pool from different angles. Imagine what a pool deck would look like on that side... or this side... or with a full wraparound design....

Write down your ideas.

Then go back outside and use a rope, or water hose, and use it to lay out the outer dimensions of where your above ground pool deck might be. Use outdoor furniture you may already have to get a sense of where benches or fountains may go on the pool deck.

Sketch your vision down. And then rearrange it until you find a look that works for you.

I've listed some basic tips on how to make above ground pool deck plans.

Perhaps the most simple building deck idea for your pool is also the most common and easiest to build, other than a pool deck kit - and that is a wraparound deck with floating foundations.

As you can now tell, there are many above ground swimming pool deck ideas out there. People like me can give you some helpful tips here or there.

But ultimately it's up to you to discover more than several ideas that will work for you, and be compatible with your backyard. Best of all, it's something you can have a lot of fun with!

Enjoy your pool.

Best regards,

Paul Ottaviano

Learn more about building a deck around your pool.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Pool Deck Ideas

Many of you have asked me for more pictures of above ground pool decks. I like to think of myself as someone who listens and acts on smart feedback. So I went ahead and published some above ground pool deck photos. I hope this helps you get some good pool deck ideas of your own going.

Building an above ground pool deck is simple in concept but you must focus on the details, if you are to build the deck you envision. So it's as much a visual project as it is a physical and technical one. Especially when you're making your pool deck plans.

If you would like to see the pool deck pictures I've posted on my site, check them out here.

Also, the photo gallery is currently in PDF format so you'll need Adobe Acrobat reader.

I see our pool deck photo gallery as something that can gradually grow. So if any of you have photos or diagrams you would like to share please do so!

For those of you still planning your pool deck or just thinking about building one, I think these photos will help you get some visual pool deck ideas going.

Best regards,

Paul Ottaviano

Monday, March 31, 2008

DIY Above Ground Pool Deck Survey

I've launched an above ground pool deck survey on Survey Monkey. This will help me provide the absolute best pool deck information for your needs. The survey will only take a few minutes of your time and you'll receive a free bonus as a token of gratitude for completing the survey.

Click here now to share your opinions with us.

Best regards,

Paul Ottaviano

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Word on Free Pool Deck Design Software

We are nearing pool deck season and now is the time for you to really get focused on your above ground pool deck plans if you haven't started already.

I've been asked what I think about pool deck design software and if it can help people plan their deck layout easier.

My answer is always that pool deck design software can definitely make drawing up your pool deck plans much easier, if you're worried that you don't have the skills to do them by hand.

And, software can make your plans look very professional... likely impressing your local building inspector as long as your plans show your deck will be up to code.

That said, I can't endorse or criticize one specific software product. Several good ones are referenced for your consideration in our eBook "How to Build a Pool Deck" but only you can decide which program is best you.

What I will do is give you some general pro's and con's regarding the free pool deck design software that's available to you. The easiest place to find these free programs is likely at your local home improvement center.

The nice thing about them is that they're really fun and easy to use. I like to play with them myself from time-to-time because they're great for quick brainstorming. You can easily adjust dimensions and within minutes of completing some basic steps a 3-D diagram of your deck plan pops up on a computer screen.

The downside is that because it is free it's limited in function. What I mean by that is the free pool deck design software I've used doesn't give you the ability to get a layout of a deck built completely around a pool, or even half way.

The best I've seen is that it gives you the ability to plan a deck that goes about 1/4 of the away around your above ground pool deck. This may be what you want. And if so, this type of software could work for you. If you want more, then it likely won't work for you.

If you're planning on building a deck for your spa, some free software I've seen is great. For a pool deck... specifically above ground pool decks... the free software limits what you can do.

Another "possible" downside, is that if the free pool deck design software is at your local home improvement store they'll likely leave it limited intentionally so you'll ask them more questions... and thus a bit predisposed to sales talk that gets you to buy tools or materials you may not really need, or could just rent.

Plus they may try to refer you to a in-house contractor. This might be OK if you decide that building your own pool deck is not for you. This isn't a bad thing in itself but as a DIY'er I would prefer not to be initially pushed in that direction - unless I just wanted some consultation on my pool deck plans.

That said, free software can be a fun way to introduce you to planning basics if you're a novice DIY'er. And it's a great way to see the anatomy of a deck.

Best regards,

Paul Ottaviano

P.S. - Many times I've seen free "how to" information that goes along with the free software. But...

While it offers a few general tips here or there, this information is usually written for the advanced DIY'er and it is not pool deck specific. Typically, it's limited information that's designed to get you back in the store and asking questions, and once again supposedly open to buying more stuff than you might need.

Learn how to build a pool deck without confusion and what tools are really necessary to complete your project.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Building a Deck Around a Pool: Floating Foundations

I received a great question today from a reader named Ed who asked:

"I'm going to build a deck 1/2 way around my pool - I'll e-mail my layout. Will your book help guide me on how to install step by step , from beginning to end , the deck? I'm pretty handy; however, I'm just in the beginning/initial stage and need a good guide. I was considering buying software and have it do the layout for me? What are your thoughts? I was also considering floating w/out footers. Any advice?"

My answer, summed up for the blog:

"Yes, our book will help guide you step-by-step and can help you with any deck, because the general building principles are the same. If software will help you make your pool deck plans easier than I certainly recommend using them. We list several for your consideration in our book..."

But the question I really got excited about was regarding the floating foundation.

A floating foundation is usually the safest and fastest way of building a deck around a pool. It requires no digging and the concrete can withstand most any sort of weather.

So if you're in a situation where you have to build a pool deck relatively quickly this summer, then this type of foundation might be for you.

Also, if you just want to use the pool to cool off but your spouse thinks the above ground pool looks tacky without a deck - and the kids are difficult to watch swim without a deck - in other words, you're basically going to have to learn how to build a pool deck... and you want it done as easily as possible... a floating foundation just may be for you.

As always, please check with your local building inspector before starting deck construction of any kind.

To your success,

Paul Ottaviano
More on How to Build a Deck Around a Pool

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Home Depot Looks Busy

For the all talk of economic gloom and doom, I'm actually very optimistic about the "economy". There is no doubt the "economics" of the moment are troubled - housing, banks, the almighty greenback, etc.

This morning I stopped by Home Depot to pick up some plastic drop sheet for a current home project. Based on all the latest financial news I half expected the place to resemble a ghost town and I would be the only guy walking around the store - trying to have conversations with the automated self check out lane.

But, the exact opposite was true. The place was busy.

And people were buying a lot more than the $3.20 plastic I was.

Now I admit I'm not following each and every HD earnings report. But if today was any indication I think the "economy" is doing fine. The "economy" in this instance being small business, large businesses that don't include the word bank, employment numbers, and people spending money on things that can appreciate in value or bring them genuine happiness... like their homes.

Or their above ground pools.

I'm guess what I'm trying to say is that regardless of what the financial news is from Wall St... there are still many good reasons to build your above ground pool deck. So if any of you are thinking that now might not be a good time because of what you're reading in the business page - I say don't be intimidated out of giving yourself and your family a gift.

That said, I of course can't make that kind of decision for you. But chances are if you're reading this you're very interested in building a deck around your pool. So for those of you considering what kind of personal value a pool deck will bring, consider this quote:

“In the best of times, our days are numbered anyway. So it would be a crime against nature for any generation to take the world crisis so solemnly, that it put off enjoying those things for which we were designed in the 1st place: the opportunity to do good work, to enjoy friends, to fall in love, to hit a ball, and to bounce a baby.” - Alistair Cooke

Now I admit that I don't know a lot about Mr. Cooke but I loved the quote. I think it's appropriate for those of us who continue to want to do good works and enjoy it too, despite any Wall St crisis.

And I think if you were to run that quote by people this summer as they enjoy their above ground pool deck, they would probably say "Yeah?".

To your success,

Paul Ottaviano

Monday, March 10, 2008

When Ducks Land: Pool Deck and Surface Repair

Every spring a duck couple - and I do mean "couple" in the husband and wife sense of the word - treats our backyard like a spring vacation home.

The ducks sleep on the deck and when awake swim freely in the swimming pool. They're funny to watch. She leads, he follows. She floats around, he will show off by diving under water and then come up ten feet away. If they sense potential trouble he will start making noise and posture like a protector.

And then they fly away for a reason that's beyond me, only to return again that night or the next day.

On one hand, I take it as a compliment that they see our pool and deck as a relaxing safe spot. On the other hand, it's our backyard and the ducks are no longer "cute" the minute I see the mess they have made on the deck.

And when I say mess, I mean "mess". You know, the kind of thing we put up with from our pets but not uninvited guests like our ducky free loaders.

Luckily their kind of mess cleans up fairly easily. Water and a little scrubbing usually does the trick. I'll use mild detergent or deck cleaning product if necessary.

That said, there probably isn't much you can do to prevent a duck landing on your pool deck - other than have a dog who chases them away (ours prefers to sleep on the job).

But, there are some general things you can do to make sure your above ground pool deck is maintained and clean. You should re-coat water repellent deck finishes at least one time each year. Periodically clean off dirt with a broom or hose. Or if you want to go big with your cleaning, use a power washer.

Also, selecting the right finish for your climate and lumber can go a long way towards maintaining a clean pool deck too. Key ingredients in deck finishes include water repellent, preservatives, UV stabilizers, and pigment.

Remember that building a deck around your pool is one thing, but once that is done you'll want to keep it looking clean so it's something you enjoy using often.

Know your pool, enjoy your pool!

Best regards,

Paul Ottaviano

P.S. - Learn more about how to build and maintain an above ground pool deck.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Above Ground Swimming Pool Deck Season

Well, it's already March. It's hard to believe how fast time flies. But take heart! March means that spring and summer are right around the corner. And this also means that peak swim season is almost upon you.

With that being said, now is a great time to start seriously thinking about your above ground pool deck building project. In fact, if the snow is starting to melt and the air is getting a bit warmer then now is a great time to start working on your pool deck plans.

The usual "above ground pool deck building season" is around mid-April (or whenever the weather starts to cooperate in your climate) through August. That's certainly when I see a lot of activity. And it's probably the time of year when you swim in your above ground pool most often, or when you're most likely to do any outdoor home improvements.

For me, I'll be working on a drain underneath my pool deck clogged by a young palm tree of all things. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's time to start shaking loose the cobwebs of the winter cold and start preparing to have fun this summer.

Speaking of "pool deck building season", why wait until June to get started? Depending on the type of deck you choose to build, you might not have it finished until August. And then you'll have only one or maybe two months left to really enjoy it unless you live in California.

(Yes, people do have above ground pools in California! In fact, 15% of above ground pool sales in the US are in the western states).

Start planning now and start doing the steps that will help you get your above ground pool deck blueprints together. This way, you can be ready to start building by May or June. And depending on how quickly you complete your project you'll have most of the summer to enjoy using your new pool deck... well, don't go too fast and risk making big mistakes... but I think you know what I mean.

And if you have kids, just think of how much they'll like having a new deck to compliment your above ground pool. And imagine how much you'll enjoy watching them have fun. Start thinking about how you're going to build an above ground pool deck now and all of that can happen.

As always, enjoy your pool!


Paul Ottaviano

Friday, February 22, 2008

DIY Pool Deck Kit

If you're not too worried about the aesthetics of your above ground pool deck and you just want something very "simple but nice" then a pool deck kit might be the right thing for you.

To simplify your task as much as possible, you can buy a DIY pool deck kit. DIY pool deck kits are ideal as they ship with everything from the concrete pier blocks, to the foundation planks.

In addition, computer savvy users can also access state of the art deck building plans online and download detailed building plans from the DIY pool deck kit manufacturer’s website.

The best part about floating foundation based above ground pool decks is that they require no more than two days to build, and DIY pool deck kits are a cost effective means of building a pool deck.

What is equally impressive about above ground pool deck kits is that the entire installation procedure can be completed for less than $3000.

The Installation

The first step in setting up any DIY pool deck kit is creating the floating foundation by laying down the concrete blocks. Remember, the concrete blocks have to be laid down on level ground and they should be spaced apart as per the construction plans.

Once the concrete blocks are laid down, the foundation is laid down using radiating perpendicular planks that act as the base for the foundation.

Since the support planks are installed at a height above the ground, the concrete blocks provide added resistance to weather conditions. In addition, you will also have to install diagonal braces to strengthen the foundation.

Once the foundation is ready, the next step is installing the deck floor. The deck floor has to be level; as a matter of fact, one of the most important aspects of building an above ground pool deck is making sure the entire structure is level.

Most DIY pool deck kits come with a level that allows the builder to not just construct the deck on an even level, but also allow a person to install all the balusters perpendicular to the deck floor. The railing will only be strong if the balusters are perpendicular to the deck floor.

A vital part of building an above ground pool deck is choosing the deck boards. The deck boards should be made from high quality pressurized lumber and depending on your deck plan should be parallel to each other.

Experienced builders agree that building an above ground pool deck is a simple and hassle free task provided the builder has the right equipment and plans. If you are planning on building an above ground pool deck, make sure you get the plan approved by the local building authority before starting any construction.

That said, if a pool deck kit is too simple or generic for you and you want to create an above ground pool deck that looks fantastic and is a reflection of your style - or your family's style - then a pool deck kit probably isn't the right thing for you.

Learn more about how to build an above ground pool deck.

Enjoy your pool!

Best Regards,

Paul Ottaviano

Thursday, February 14, 2008

How to Build a Deck Step by Step

Many people with an oval above ground pool choose to build a deck around the pool, instead of letting it get too complicated with dynamic multi-level designs. If you live in an area where the seasons change quickly then it's reasonable that you'll want to build quickly and this type of wood pool deck may be the one for you.

Or if your main motivation for the above ground pool deck is simply to give your kids a safe place to play then building a deck around the pool is a great choice.

Here are the general steps you'll want to take...

1. Planning - Take some time and study your backyard. Check for slopes, figure out where the utility lines are, learn about your local building codes, know which materials and tools you'll need to buy or rent, et al... and then start visualizing how your deck will look.

2. Plans to Paper - Start putting everything down on paper, so when it's time to build your memory will serve you right and you'll build the above ground pool deck you visualized. This is where you'll do everything from base maps to master plans. If you think it's necessary, use deck plan software.

*Make sure your above ground pool deck plans are approved by your local building inspector before you start building.

3. Building a Pool Deck Step by Step - Here is where you'll build a deck around your pool one step at a time. It's a good idea to know before you begin each step of construction which tools or materials you'll really need and how long that phase of construction will take. This will help you decide if you can go 100% DIY on each step or if you'll need to hire some help for a specific task.

4. Finish - Once your above ground pool deck is built you'll likely want to finish it by staining or painting it. Make sure that you use a finish that will be compatible with your local climate. Choosing the right lumber before you start construction can help you with that too. If you use untreated lumber make sure you apply sealer unless you have lumber that is naturally resistant to rot. Applying sealer before you start building can be a good idea.

5. Decoration - I doubt that you'll want just a plain and boring looking deck around your pool. So jazz it up some with decorations and add a touch of your personal style while you're at it. Deck furniture can create a nice focal point by themselves or consider a small fountain that can fit easily on your above ground pool deck... use plants... or build a deck bench... the possibilities are great here!

Remember, when you're building a deck around a pool you're not just making an investment into your home but you're also investing in your happiness. Have fun with it!

Paul Ottaviano

More step by step pool deck info here.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Building a Deck Around a Pool -- Quickly

If you're not looking to invest a ton into your above ground pool building project, or if you live in an area where your local climate changes drastically each season - like upstate NY, Canada, or the northeast USA for example - then the simplest and most efficient way of building a deck around a pool is to go with a wrap around design.

You might also want to go with a spacious sun deck that connects to your wrap around above ground pool deck. If you want to avoid digging then consider a floating foundation, but make sure you check with your local building inspector first before you begin building your above ground pool deck.

Remember that building a deck around a pool can be fun. But if you live in a place where typical winter weather prevents you from starting any DIY projects during that season then you'll want to work relatively quickly when spring or summer rolls around.

I'm sure you would rather enjoy your spring & summer swimming in your pool and enjoying your new pool deck, rather than building all summer long. A wrap around pool deck is the best option in this instance.

Best regards,

Paul Ottaviano
How to Build a Wrap Around Pool Deck

Friday, February 1, 2008

Building an Above Ground Pool Deck at Microwave Speed

OK. So it's not possible to build an above ground pool deck at fast food speed. But I've been thinking about how popular above ground pools are in places like upstate NY, where the seasonal weather changes almost demand that a pool deck be built relatively quickly.

Once the sun begins to show itself again and the snow begins to melt - and folks, I was born in Rochester NY and I remember the snow there - you'll have a limited amount of time to get your above ground pool deck up if you still want to be able to enjoy it during your summer swim season.

This applies to anyone in the world who lives in a climate that really experiences climate change from season to season.

In other words, you don't have time to mess around or surf the 'net all day looking for reliable information on how to build a pool deck. Yes, you want to plan a dream pool deck that suits your needs and personal style, and is compliant with codes. But at the end of the day you can't be paralyzed with analysis.

At some point you'll have to be decisive and just get a pool deck up so you can actually see your kids having fun splashing around the pool without you having to strain just to look over the above ground pool walls.

Who wants to start a project... either the planning or building... and then get stuck on something because information was limited or misunderstood and then the project is on hold until next year? I wouldn't want that and I doubt you do too.

What you need is a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you plan and build your dream above ground pool deck, and QUICKLY... or at least quickly enough to beat the season and have enough time to enjoy your new pool deck during what's left of summer.

To do this you'll need to know just the essentials, just what you really need to get the job done right. Not an overabundance of information that leaves you scratching your head and on the verge of giving up... or a massive tools list that leads you back to your local home improvement store buying or renting tools you might not really need.

For those of you living in an area I described above you'll need "just the facts jack" instead of being "make a new plan Stan".

My thanks to a Paul Simon song for that last one liner quote... :)

Treat yourself,

Paul Ottaviano

Friday, January 25, 2008

Recession Proof Pool Deck

We had our good friends from Roto Rooter over early this morning to inspect a clogged drain underneath our deck and running down the side of the house. Somehow a baby palm tree - yes, a palm tree - starting growing in one of the drains on the side of the house... where there is nothing but hardscape.

How it got there I don't know. But its roots are already spreading out all over the pipes that runoff to the street gutter. In order to fix it they'll have to rip up all of the concrete on the side of the house, and then replace 70' of pipe. The estimated cost? $4000.

I have to thank the little palm tree for its impeccable timing... volatile stock market, weak US dollar, credit crisis, sub-prime mortgage crisis, economic "experts" talking about recession... and I'm looking at making a decision between the drain - not something I want but something I'll eventually need to do - and a kitchen home improvement project (something I do want).

So the title of this blog post "Recession Proof Pool Deck" is written with a little bit of irony. Of course I'm not sure if there is such a thing as a recession proof deck. But I think one can't hurt and has the potential to certainly help right now.

The latest financial news and our friends from Roto Rooter got me thinking about pool decks or any other home improvement project. How practical would it be to build a pool deck in this economic climate?

Well, I suppose that depends on you and what you want versus what you need.

People spend more money on what they want and on what will make their lives perceptively better. In my situation, an improved kitchen will make me a lot happier than spending $4000 on a clogged drain.

Plus, the new kitchen will increase the value of the home... as would your new above ground pool deck... both appreciative home improvements that anyone who has the means should always consider doing.

So I'll use a submersible pump I can buy at any home and garden store as a stop gap for the drain, remodel the kitchen which makes the home a little more valuable, and then the drain fix basically pays for it self when the time comes to fix it.

I've just balanced what I want with what I need.

How does this apply to your above ground pool deck project?

If my situation with the drain were yours - and we're all living with the same global economic concerns unless you're doing quite well for yourself - then you should consider giving yourself what you want first... especially if if were to noticeably appreciate the value of a major asset like your home. In this case I'm thinking that thing you want would be your pool deck.

The exception to that being if your need - in this example the drain - became too much of a nuisance to avoid for long.

You might think it difficult to justify paying for a new above ground pool deck in a recession. I'm thinking how can you not?

  • Staying home and splashing around in your pool is a big money saver as time moves forward versus traveling the globe or buying the a big flat panel HDTV, neither adding any appreciative value to your assets.
Of course many people love to travel and watch TV! I'm just using those in contrast to another want of yours - a pool deck - that would actually add real financial value as well as pleasure.
  • Remember that according to the National Association of Homebuilders you can recover up to 75% of the cost of your deck construction when you sell your home.
So despite the recession, it's always a good time to build your dream above ground pool deck. A new toy that will increase your home enjoyment and your homes value.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Know-How: Pool Chemical Balance

Each time I go to a pool service store I'm impressed by the broad explanations store representatives use to explain the proper pool water balance in an attempt to save a pool owner from algae or other problems.

Also, when reading many online swimming pool forums I notice that many people - with good intentions - claim to be water industry experts and will attempt to dazzle you with complex water chemistry ideas.

Nothing against online forums and good people talking about their swimming pools! But you know what? It's actually very easy to figure out what the pool chemical balance should be.

Chlorine residual: 1.0 - 3.0 ppm
Alkalinity: 80 - 150 ppm
pH: 7.4 - 7.6
Hardness: 200 - 400 ppm
Cyanuric acid: 30 - 80 ppm
Dissolved solids: less than 2000 ppm

Here is the reason why you need to know and apply this to your swimming pool...

If you add too much or too little chemical to your pool then your chemicals will be out of balance and this could cause problems, including the risk of algae growth.

You don't have to be perfect here. But, if you're in then general ballpark of the above numbers you're probably doing better than most people who never pay attention to their swimming pool. And you're going a long way to ensuring that your pool remains clean and free from algae.

A word of caution: each chemical will work with the other so achieving a good balance should never be overlooked. With that all said, be careful when you pour chemicals and be aware of what could happen to your pool water if you forget to pour anything at all.

Always think and ask yourself how much really needs to be added at any given time so you can maintain ideal water chemistry. Most importantly, always follow all applicable safety procedures when handling pool chemicals.

Know you pool, enjoy your pool!


Paul Ottaviano
Construction of a Pool Deck & bonus:
How to Get Rid of Visible Algae in Pool

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Basics of Above Ground Pool Deck Blueprints

When it comes time to put your pool deck plans on paper you should not skip over this step or take it lightly. You'll need to clarify your plan and choose where the final elements of your new pool deck will go.

I've seen too many instances where people disregard this step in the process and then make impulsive decisions during construction that get them way off schedule because they build something that doesn't make code, make a costly mistake, or buy the wrong materials.

Don't be this person. Take your planning seriously. And go one step at a time...

  • Create a Base Map
This is where you'll measure and sketch the outline of your structures, plantings, and other features such as fences or patios.

  • Do a Site Analysis
This step you'll figure out from a birds-eye-view if what you're planning looks good and is practical with the natural layout of your backyard. Plus you'll learn things like how light will affect your deck or what views need to be a focal point or blocked entirely.

  • Bubble Plan
A bubble plan will give you an idea of how things could be on your above ground pool deck. It's basically a brainstorm using both your site analysis and base map as primers. Do at least several bubble plans so you get different ideas going.

  • Master Plan
This is the where you'll combine everything... each feature of your yard, fences, and home... plants and trees... privacy features. Here you'll label each element and add color to the plan if you want to. It's a good idea to go back outside and double check to make sure you haven't missed anything.

Your local building inspector might also require a plan view or elevation. These will include - to scale - joists, beams, posts, and other key elements of the pool deck. It's the drawing the will most closely resemble above ground pool deck blueprints.

Remember to go one step at a time. And have a good time with it!

All the best,

Paul Ottaviano
More on Blueprints

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Pool Deck Plans in Winter

A friend of mine recently asked, "Is there anybody really building or thinking about building an above ground pool deck now?"

In other words, is an above ground pool deck even on any persons radar in the middle of winter?

That's a good question, given that in the place where above ground pools are very common... the northeast United States for instance... experiences lousy weather this time of year or they're too busy shoveling snow out of their driveway.

And I can empathize. I was born in Rochester NY and spent my early childhood years in upstate NY. I'll admit that I do not remember a lot about the place. But I do remember a lot of white and cold during the winters.

So the answer to my friend was, "Well, they're probably not building a pool deck now but they will once it warms up again and so it's possible some people are at least thinking about it."

So even though it's cold outside it's not too cold to be inside and get informed on how to build a pool deck. Let's start with planning.

You'll need a good above ground pool deck plan before you even make the first purchase of materials. Otherwise, you run the risk of building a pool deck that doesn't fit with your personal style...

Maybe it won't be compatible with your intended use or natural layout of your backyard... or maybe it won't be up to code creating all sorts of havoc with your local building inspector who could have you do everything over again, costing you a bundle.

So start learning the basics of above ground pool deck planning now. Start making some plans that don't require the conveniences of good weather and you'll be ahead in the game when peak DIY season rolls around again.

Here is one thing you can do now...

Start thinking about your pool decks primary intended use. Of course it will be used to sit on before or after a swim. But think more broadly than that. Ask yourself questions like this...

1. Will it be a private retreat where you can get away from the every day?

If this is the case you'll want to add to your plans privacy fences and trees to give you the sense of privacy.

2. Is the pool deck to be a safe zone for your kids and their friends when they have swim time?

In this case you'll want to make sure you can easily view the pool deck from either your living room, kitchen, or back porch... whichever is applicable. Make sure there is no obstruction of your view. So in this instance a privacy screen or tall trees would not make sense.

3. Will the deck primarily be used to host swim parties and friendly get-togethers?

If so, planning for tall trees or privacy screens and fences wouldn't make sense either because you'll want to create the feeling of openness for guests rather than enclosure.

When you know the answers to questions such as these your pool deck plans take on another dynamic. That extra dynamic being your personalization.

It's important that you create a deck that not only is compatible with your local codes but also a natural fit with your backyard, intended use, and personal style. Otherwise, you might not use it very much and it's value will be diminished.

Know your pool, enjoy your pool!

Best regards,

Paul Ottaviano

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Underwater Swimming Workout Tip

I know it's that time of year where many of you are thinking about anything else but swimming, especially if you live in a cold weather climate and have your own above ground pool. But you might have an indoor community pool or one at your local gym. Besides, it will get warm again before you know it...

So I want to share with you some swimming workout
techniques I've used in my pool to help enhance my personal fitness.

Before you say, "Hey wait a minute! I thought this was
an above ground pool deck blog!", consider the following...

Swimming is a great non-impact total body workout
that can sculpt your body with lean muscle and help improve your cardiovascular fitness.

Swimming is great for your bones and joints because
unlike other impact sports or exercises you're not jerking your body around or being slammed into.

3. And since this is a deck and pool newsletter I'm going to go ahead and assume you have a swimming pool already and you're going to swim in it from time to time.

So, since I want you to "know your pool" and have an enjoyable
overall experience with your swimming pool and above ground pool deck, I think you will find good value for the occasional swim safety or workout tip.

Now before I share the following workout tip with you I need
to remind you that you must be a confident swimmer before trying any of this.

And please observe all safety precautions.

For example, if you have kids and they want to try these workout
tips please make sure they're supervised during their time in the water.


It may seem crazy but underwater swimming is a great cross-
training exercise if you're interested in improving your cardio.

Not only do you get the total body workout of regular lap swimming
but you also train the lungs to have greater capacity. For example, I surf a lot here in California and it's important for me to condition my lungs and mind not to panic if I'm underwater.

This exercise is not limited to surfers. If you do any sort
of endurance sport or any other water sport it's a good idea to train your lungs and mind to handle the shock of less oxygen.

Oh, and by the way, if you're wondering what a surfer in California is doing talking about above ground pool decks please note that 15% of above ground pools are sold in the west now! And more above ground pools are sold in the US than any other swimming pool.

Anyway, that side note aside, here are some ideas on how to get the most out of your underwater swim:
  • For safety, start with a swimming pool of normal length like the one in your backyard. You can also try a local community pool or one at a gym. Watch your times if it's a longer pool.
  • Do ten reps (laps) at 30 seconds each.
  • If 30 seconds is too long, start with 15 second intervals and gradually add time from there.
  • Do this at twice per week to start with and then gradually increase frequency from there.
  • Wear a watch so you can track your times.
  • Don't push yourself too hard.
  • Know your limits and ability.
  • For safety, make sure you're already a good swimmer and have someone watch you.
  • Children should be supervised.
As always, enjoy your time in the pool and be safe.


Paul Ottaviano
How to Build Pool Deck