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