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In this episode, we’re following the construction of a swimming pool from start to finish in a small space in the backyard of Danny’s home to create a wonderful outdoor entertainment area.

Swimming Pool Planning and Design

Like any home improvement project, some of the most important time is spent in the planning and design stage. Very often the space available will dictate the size and shape of the pool; but other decisions, such as the depth of the pool and the minimum distance the pool must be from the home, need to be considered carefully, since they may involve local building codes and restrictions.

Excavating for swimming pool.

Other items to consider include the decking around the pool, any landscaping you envision around the perimeter, whether you’ll need an irrigation system for the landscaping, as well as furniture and entertainment options. A landscape architect can be a big help when it comes to making these decisions.

Swimming Pool Excavation Work

Once the digging begins, it can be tough to watch because it creates such a mess. During the excavation process all the existing landscaping is removed, and you’re left with bare dirt. This particular yard represented 15 years of landscaping projects, so there were plenty of trees, bushes, and other plants to remove. In addition, a portion of the retaining wall at the back of the yard had to come out, and a temporary road built through the wooded area behind the house to provide access for the heavy equipment.

Using the drawings that our architect provided, the pool contractor, Mike Whittington, began mapping out the shape of the pool. Flexible form boards served as guide posts for the beginning of excavation. Operating the large track hoe in close quarters was a challenging job because just the right amount of dirt had to be removed without collapsing the sides or hitting the house in the process.

Spraying shotcrete concrete onto sides of pool.

The more detailed sculpting of the walls and pool bottom was done by hand. Mike’s crew used a plywood template to be sure that the wall-to-bottom transition was consistent throughout the pool. When the depth and shape were right the crew prepare for the concrete by laying out a grid of steel rebar and tying it all together. This reinforced the surfaces and prevented cracking.

Concrete Swimming Pool Construction

The specially formulated concrete arrived by truck and was transferred into a pump which pushed it through a large hose, up the hill and into the backyard. The nozzle at the end of the hose added compressed air to the mix, creating a spray of concrete called Shotcrete. Each area was built up slowly to the proper thickness before the finishers took over to shape the concrete shell for the pool.

At this point some of the features of the pool could be seen, including the swim up steps and the beginnings of a water feature. The next step was the tile installation around the top of the pool. The tiles were held in place with mastic while a temporary board attached to the wall kept the tiles perfectly straight and prevented them from slipping until the mastic dried.

Stone waterfall leading into pool.

When the tile was dry, grout was applied to complete the finished look. Meanwhile, the plumbing and pool filter were installed, as were the footings for the retaining wall behind the pool and the water feature. The pool deck itself was also poured. When the concrete deck was dry we used a circular saw with a masonry blade to cut a pattern into the surface, giving the expanse of concrete a little bit of character.

Speaking of character, the bright blue plaster used to smooth the pool walls certainly had plenty of that. The bright blue color was a little scary at first, but it dried to a softened tone. After a thorough poll deck cleaning we applied an acid stain to the concrete to transform the surface from a plain grey to a warm texture.

Landscaping and Pool Amenities

The completion of the landscaping around the pool really made a difference, especially once accented with outdoor lighting and outdoor speakers that blend right into the scenery. The sound of the stone waterfall feature is certainly relaxing, and the arbor we added created a nice shady focal point.

Other Pool Materials Available

If you’re looking for a less expensive option than concrete for a swimming pool, you might consider a vinyl or fiberglass pool. Vinyl pools are excavated in much the same way as concrete pools but instead of spraying on concrete, sculpted earth is covered with a dry mix of sand and mortar. This material is then wet in place, and smoothed out with a trowel.

Vinyl liner pool.
Completed concrete swimming pool project.

The vertical walls of this style pool are constructed from another material, like aluminum or treated wood, and covered with a foam pad to protect the vinyl liner. The upper rim of the pool contains a channel where the vinyl liner is attached. Vinyl liner pools are typically about half the cost of a concrete pool, but the shapes are limited to those provided by the manufacturer.

A fiberglass pool is another option that’s slightly more expensive than a vinyl liner. These pools are completely prefabricated before they arrive at a site, and the installation is usually faster because they are simply lifted off the truck and set in place.

Today’s Homeowner Tips

Fiberglass pools are a great option, but the logistics of delivery may limit the locations where it can be installed or have a large impact on the total cost.

Other Tips from This Episode

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Pegboard Workshop Shelf

Pegboard Shelf

To add a shelf to pegboard in your workshop, cut a 1×4 board to the length desired for the shelf, hold the board up to the pegboard, and mark the back edge of the shelf in two or more spots centered on the holes in the pegboard. Drill 3/16″ holes in the back of the shelf aligned with the marks, then slide the fasteners in the holes. Hook the pegboard fasteners on the pegboard, and press down on the shelf to slightly bend the fasteners so the shelf will be level. (Watch Video)

Best New Products with Danny Lipford:
AquaScape Spa Showerhead

AquaScape Spa Showerhead

The AquaScape spa showerhead from Waterpik has a gentle rainfall effect and comes with an adjustable arm that makes it easy to install in place of an existing showerhead. Simply unscrew your showerhead, wrap Teflon tape around the pipe, and screw on the adjustable arm and showerhead. The showerhead has five settings, ranging from rain effects to pulsating massage. The AquaScape showerhead is available at The Home Depot. (Watch Video)

Around the Yard with Tricia Craven Worley:
Grapefruit Rind Planting Pot

Grapefruit Rind Planting Pot

Grapefruit rinds make great biodegradable, organic pots for planting and growing seedling. To make a grapefruit rind pot after eating a grapefruit, scoop out the rind and cut several slits in the bottom for drainage. Plant a seed or seedling in the pot using potting soil or rich soil from a garden. Place the grapefruit rind pots on a tray to catch any excess water. Once the plant is ready for planting, dig a hole and plant it rind and all. (Watch Video)

Editorial Contributors
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Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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