Monday, November 15, 2010

Your Pool Deck: Private retreat or play area?

This was the second of the newsletter.

Today I'll show you some key considerations you'll need to think about as you decide how your above ground pool deck will be used.

When thinking about what you would like your above ground pool deck to be, it's best to decide what your primary intended use is.

Of course you're going to swim. But...

1. Will your above ground pool deck be a private retreat?

2. Will it be used for entertaining neighbors and friends at a party?

3. Will the deck be a safe place for your kids to play in and around the pool?

These types of intended use questions will be very influential in helping you make decisions during your deck planning stages.

For instance, it wouldn't make a lot of sense for you to build a lot of privacy screens, fences, and grow tall trees if you want to be the envy of your neighbors and have them over for parties. But it would make sense to have those features if your primarily wanted your pool deck to be a quiet place for private family gatherings or personal relaxation.

Here are a couple of key elements to include in your planning as you evaluate your personal needs and then compare those with the natural landscape of your backyard.

1. Make Room for Foot Traffic

Remember to add space for walking paths if your deck will be between your house and other items in your backyard, i.e. trees, storage, etc.

2. Preserve Picturesque Views

If your yard has a beautiful view or natural elements worthy of being a focal point don't block them.

Plan so your above ground pool deck naturally invites people to admire that view by placing furniture in that direction. Use decking that will have lines leading guests to your focal point of choice.

Good luck and enjoy your pool!

Best regards,

Paul Ottaviano - How to build a deck around your pool

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How to Test Your Pool Deck Site

This was the first of the former newsletter.

How to easily test your above ground pool deck site. You'll know that your vision for the pool deck will be compatible with your backyard.

Hopefully everyone who thinks of building an above ground pool deck wants it to be a good fit for their backyard.

Some people know for sure what they want, others have an idea, and some just don't know yet.

Regardless of which of those describes you, here are some basic steps you can take that will help you discover if the deck you have in mind is a practical fit with your backyard.

With that said, this is also a great way to get some ideas going if you're still trying to figure out what you want.

STEP 1 -- Rope Off the Proposed Pool Deck Area

Use a string, a long garden hose, or a rope if you have one.

What you want to do in this step is rope off the proposed deck area so you can get a visual clue as to what your deck would like in that spot.

STEP 2 -- Place Furniture or Equipment in that Area

You don't have to have all of your planned pool deck furniture, equipment, or amenities ready now.

What many deck builders suggest is to place in the deck area any furniture or equipment you already have, or plan to use. This will give you a visual idea as to how furniture and equipment will look on your deck.

If you don't have any deck furniture or equipment yet then use something like a lawn chair as a temporary substitute during your planning stage.

TIP: Plan around two square feet for each chair plus another foot to push it back from a table.

If you don't like the look of something, continue to rearrange until you see a placement you like.

STEP 3 -- Think About Your Privacy and Decoration

An important element of your pool deck plan is to think about where you'll want your plants and trees to go, if any will be used.
  • Are you going to use tall trees to enhance your privacy, rather than a fence?
  • Instead of planning for more privacy, do you just want potted plants to give your deck a focal point or another nice decoration?
You don't have to know for certain exactly what trees or plants you're going to use now, if any, but now is a good time to start thinking about where any trees or plants will go.

Many deck builders recommend putting small flags that will stick into the ground or tie down balloons where you want trees or plants to be.

Once again, rearrange until you like the look of something. But be realistic, know where power lines and pipes are, etc.

And always check your local building codes before starting construction of any kind.

These important planning steps can be and really should be a fun activity that you can do in one day with your friends or family.

Best regards,

Paul Ottaviano - How to Build an Above Ground Pool Deck

P.S. -- Once you have found a pool deck plan that looks like it represents what you want and is practical for the natural layout of your backyard, sketch the plans on paper. The sketch doesn't have to be sophisticated. Just get the layout down on paper. Also, consider taking pictures just in case you misplace your sketch.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Newsletter Deactivated

The email newsletter has been deactivated. To those of you who subscribed and read the newsletter, I thank you. I hope the information helped you build a nice deck around your pool. will continue but it's clear that the free eBook "How to Build a Pool Deck" is what people really want and is the best way to go moving forward.

I'll eventually take the content of the newsletters and post them here for you.


Paul Ottaviano

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Free is Good

What have I learned so far about the world of open license content? That people like free eBooks!

In a perfect world all eBooks would be free and publishers could still find ways to make money so they can stay in business, or at least get a just reward for a job well done. Economic law and reality show that cannot always be the case. But in the case of my pool deck eBook it was time.

I am wondering though, are any of you are actually interested in the open license aspect of it? I've yet to see anyone step up with their own version of the eBook. Perhaps it is still too early in the building season and people are too busy working.

Remember, you have permission to update or remix the eBook and after those edits you can then share or distribute your new version non-commercially as long as you link to me as the original source. This is something I'd like to hear more about if any of you are doing that or are considering it.

That said, the rate that people are opting to receive the How to Build a Pool Deck eBook has far surpassed my expectations!

Curiously, there are still people out there who apparently don't like the idea of getting a free eBook. If this is you, go to the site and get it. It's not too late to get started on your above ground pool deck project this year.

As always, enjoy your pool!


Paul Ottaviano

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wood Stair Repair

My story today has nothing to do with a deck but is relevant to your pool deck project.

The stairway inside my home is about thirty years old. Its tread is lumber wrapped in carpet (poor excuse for tread) that are basically just attached to stringers. There is of course a run, but there is a space where the rise would be. A few steps in the middle of the staircase have started to loosen.

My staircase is an odd contraption. I doubt it's up to code now and I would be surprised if it was when built a long time ago.

There are no screws or metal step connectors connecting the tread. Instead, it just has a slim section of wood sticking out that fits into some kind of notch on the closed stringer. It looks like it was simply nailed in somehow... it's difficult to see because of the carpeting wrapped around the tread. Strange.

I'm currently in no mood to replace the whole staircase, although I suppose I'll have to do it eventually. But for now I decided to go with a band aid.

I fastened metal step connectors beneath the three suspect treads. It's not perfect, but when I walk or stand on them it does feel stronger compared to what it was before. This is temporary but it should get some extra mileage out of my stairs.

Remember, when you're building stairs for your above ground pool deck know the difference between a closed and open stringer. Closed stringers won't need a notch for the treads and you can use metal step connectors. Open stringers will need notches. Also, remember to use fasteners that are appropriate for treated outdoor lumber.


Paul Ottaviano - DIY Above Ground Pool Deck

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bonus eBooks

In addition to it being good karma if you donate generously - or "tip" me - for giving you the "How to Build a Pool Deck" eBook free you'll also get three bonus eBooks for doing so.

Visit the home page for more information.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010 Store

The store is now open! I'm going to give you quality swimming pool and deck building tools at good prices.

Also available are my favorite decking and above ground pool maintenance books, plus anything else that seems relevant.

I plan on integrating it with the website and hopefully there will be some user-generated feedback or reviews on different products offered at the store.



Wednesday, March 24, 2010

eBook Now Available with Newsletter

The free and open license eBook "How to Build a Pool Deck" is also now available with the "Know Your Pool Deck" newsletter.

The "newsletter", for lack of a better word, is a 10 part series where you'll get free tips on building a deck around a pool and swimming pool maintenance. It's designed for those of you who sometimes just want quick information on the go or just occasional reminders that nudge you along with your own decking project.



Friday, March 12, 2010

"How to Build a Pool Deck" eBook Site Feed

Now also available via Feedburner. Click on "atom posts" at the bottom of this page or click on post header.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It's Free! The "How to Build a Pool Deck" eBook is now open license.

That's right, all 70 pages of my above ground pool deck building information is now free.

You can get it at

The reason I have chosen to do this is because it's always been about providing the best pool deck building tips possible.

And since the Internet was founded as a user-generated medium any content that gives you the ability to share and contribute to new content creation - with credit going to the original creator - makes open license a compelling distribution method.

What is "open license"?

Open license - or "open source" in the software world - is freely given content that gives people the option to share or possibly remix the original content. So the very restrictive and traditional "all rights reserved" copyright is essentially liberalized and some rights are reserved by the creator.

The type of open license given by the originator of the content can differ and is determined by that person or company.

For more information on how this works and how it fits into an international legal framework please visit Creative Commons.

What's the open license for the How to Build a Pool Deck eBook?

The eBook has a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

You can view the legal stuff at Creative Commons.

But what this basically means is that you can freely share the eBook with anyone you wish and you can remix and share again... just as long as the license remains the same, it's non-commercial (more on this below), and you credit for the original content.

You can add you're own decking knowledge, pool deck building photos, or anything you think is important but we might have missed.

In essence it's about making the eBook the best it can possibly be and if you want to, you can help do it. We might even help you publish an updated version of the eBook and you'll get credited for it too.

If you're in the decking business or if you're a contractor, this could be something you give to clients. Creating your own version and asking us to help publish it could give your business more exposure.

Just respect the "non-commercial" part of the license, meaning don't re-sell the eBook without our permission. Contact us if you're interested in resale rights.

That's it folks! The future of "How to Build a Pool Deck" is now in your hands.

Enjoy your pool!

Best regards,

Paul Ottaviano

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Big Change Coming to

Within about one week I'm going to change how our eBook "How to Build a Pool Deck" is distributed. In short, it's going to be free.

Also, you'll be invited to share your above ground pool deck experiences and deck building tips in future versions of the eBook.

More to come.

Update 3/8/10 10:15 PM PST: Everything is close to being on schedule. I think the eBook should be ready within the next two days and other general housekeeping tasks done by the weekend.


Paul Ottaviano - Above Ground Pool Deck Guide

Monday, February 22, 2010

Two-Piece Above Ground Pool Deck

I just saw an offer for a simple two-piece above ground pool deck over at Bizrate.

At first glance, it looks bland and it seemed a bit expensive for a small deck kit. That said, if your needs are simple - meaning you're less interested in design and more interested in basic function - something like this might work for you.

I've never stood on this type of deck, but it looks "sturdy enough" if you just want a pool deck that makes it easy to jump in your above ground pool. That said, it doesn't look that sturdy.

But it does look fairly easy to assemble and install. As always, do your homework and shop around before making a purchase.

My initial gut reaction to the deck was its lack of good looks and the price. But that's me. Perhaps a simple deck kit like this one is right for you.

Enjoy your pool!


Paul Ottaviano - How to Build an Above Ground Pool Deck

Friday, January 22, 2010

Above Ground Pool Deck Safety

Sure, it's only January but it's always a good time to talk about swimming pool safety.

Above ground pools are a little bit different than in-ground pools. You probably won't need to build a fence to keep toddlers and little kids who can't swim out of the above ground pool since they can't climb a ladder... well, at least not without you watching. However, basic safety standards still apply.

You should always have safety equipment nearby like a safety jacket for kids and a life ring. Make sure visitors - especially visiting kids - know your rules before using your swimming pool. And it should go without saying that an adult who can swim should be watching at all times.

For instance, my mom insisted on no running around the pool. This didn't necessarily prevent my friends and I from running, but her constant reminders kept us from getting too out of control. My mom also told us not to jump off the overhead into the pool or go down the slide backwards... but we did anyway.

Just understand that as your kids grow older and become better swimmers there may be some things you just can't control. But if you lay down some basic safety rules when they're young they'll likely have a moment of clarity and remember those rules when it counts the most.

That said, if you're going to have visitors or young kids using your pool it's always a good idea to learn first aid and CPR. There should be classes at your local Red Cross or recreation department.

If I were a lawyer in these lawsuit happy times of ours, I would tell you to write up a TOS agreement that let other parents or swimmers know they use your pool at their own risk. I'm not sure you have to go that far - I hope not! - but it would probably be good of you to let other parents know that you do have safety equipment on hand and an adult who knows how to swim will be watching.

This is important. If you don't know how to swim or if you feel like your swimming skills should improve go take lessons.

When I was living in California a champion long board surfer named Tim Whalen told me that sometimes the best lifeguards around were surfers, because they were also the best swimmers in the water and knew the local ocean conditions better than anyone except the local lifeguards.

He told me, "If you see a swimmer in trouble, you paddle over there and get him. No questions asked. With your paddling and swimming ability, and your knowledge of the water, it should be no problem."

Now, of course we're not talking about swimming in the ocean here. But the same principle applies. Having a good swimmer who is comfortable in the water is always the best safety precaution around.

Swimming pools are great fun and good exercise but accidents do occur, and tragedies unfortunately do happen. But if you put an emphasis on safety and make sure a responsible adult is watching the kids at all times, your pool will bring you good times.

Enjoy your pool!

Best regards,

Paul Ottaviano - How to Build a Swimming Pool Deck

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Helping Haiti

I haven't posted in awhile because of the holidays and decking off-season. I'll be back soon with content related to swimming pools and pool decking.

That said, I wanted to pass on a link to you if you're interested in helping the situation in Haiti but perhaps skeptical of where your money is going when you donate to one of many charities involved.

From what I've read on the Agora Financial 5 Minute Forecast blog the only operational hospital there is Hospital Albert Schweitzer Haiti. If you're looking to make a donation please consider giving one to them.

Thank you,

Paul Ottaviano

P.S. -- We have no affiliation with Hospital Albert Schweitzer Haiti. But if what I read is correct I think donating money to them can do the most good now.