Pool Building Season Guide with Gary

16 June 2021


If you want to be swimming in your pool during the summer festive season, it’s a good idea to start building it during the winter months. Gary Bazzana, our outdoor specialist, gives us a rundown of everything you need to know this pool building season.
outdoor pool sandstone

Since most people planning to build a pool want to be swimming in time for Christmas, most pool projects get started in the second half of the year. This time is referred to as the “pool-building season”.

When Is It a Good Time to Get Your Pool Project Underway?

“Ensure that you allow enough time for the entire consultation, design, construction and finishing process. The individual timeline of each project varies and because delays can come up, the planning is crucial,” says Gary.

Gary’s experience says that you should select the stone 14 weeks before you think you need it. “Don’t leave the stone selection to the last minute. Considering the current situation worldwide, you need to allow 14-16 weeks for shipping if your selected products aren’t in stock. And you can’t avoid the lead times if you have special requests like dropdown edges or custom sizes”.

What Are the Stages of the Pool Building Process?

According to Crystal Pools, 3 to 6 months is the expected timeline of the pool building process, which consists of three main stages:

  • Pre-construction (includes planning, site assessment, design, engineering and proposal)
  • Council Approval
  • Pool construction and finishes (including landscaping)

This is a rough guide since the time of each stage varies significantly. The excavation process depends on the subbase material and difficulty, including access to the site. Things can be further held up at the council if you’re waiting for approval and cannot progress to the next stage.

And while tiling the pool surrounds can be done in a few days, additional landscaping and other features take more time.

pool surrounds granite

Important to note:

Gary points out that the crucial fact of the process is that one trade heavily depends on the other. “For example, from the time the pool is concreted, the shell needs to cure for at least 1 month before you can tile it with natural stone and glass mosaics.”

Other ways in which the trades have an impact on each other’s timeline include:

  • if a fence is to be placed on top of the pool surrounds, the stone needs to be laid first;
  • you can’t fill the pool with water before fencing is done;
  • there are restrictions on the use of power tools once the pool is filled with water, etc;

What’s the Best Surface Finish for Natural Stone Around Pools?

Since the surface areas around pools are expected to get wet, selecting a surface finish with a suitable slip rating is important. Slip rating is a scale used to assess the frictional characteristics of the surface in different environmental conditions.

Currently, there is no Australian standard for required slip rating around residential pools. Except for external stairs, which are required to have a P4 slip rating.

At Sareen Stone we offer various outdoor finishes – tumbled or alfresco (including sandblasted and flamed finishes). “All of our alfresco finishes meet a minimum P4 rating slip rating,” Gary explains. “Our Tumbled Travertine is a P3 slip rating and is attractive if you’re looking for a smooth and soft feel underfoot. On the opposite end of the spectrum, our flamed finish is the most textured.”

Are There Any Other Official Regulations to Consider?

Some of the regulations to keep in mind include:

Always refer to the Licenced Pool Builder or other experts/engineers to find out all the official regulations that impact your pool building process.

classic travertine pool coping

Natural Stone vs Porcelain for Pools?

With a growing outdoor porcelain range of tiles that provide a highly non-grip finish and a textured feel, porcelain tiles are being used around pools more frequently. People opt for porcelain tiles because of their low maintenance and fewer surface variations.

Gary considers selecting Sandstone lookalike porcelain tiles as a good alternative because of their higher resistance to the harsh environment around pools than natural Sandstone. Other than that, he thinks that natural stone is the best candidate for the job.

Alongside fewer surface variations of porcelain tiles, you also lose the natural diversity in a pattern that is unique to stone, says Gary. “Natural stone just has a different feel, it connects to the Earth, gives you a sense of exclusivity and timeless beauty. And also increases the value of your home.”

How Much Does a Pool Cost?

Clients’ range on their pool varies from $35,000 to well over $100,000. According to Crystal Pools, the average spent on a pool in Sydney is currently around $45,000 to $55,000.

The main components of the pool building project that determine the price include:

  • Size of the pool
  • Quality of the finishes (type of natural stone, its thickness etc.)
  • Pool coping
  • Glass mosaics
  • Fencing
  • Heating and cleaning technology

What Is Pool Coping?

Pool coping is used around the edge of swimming pools. If you are in the water and holding the side of the pool you will be holding on to the coping. Likewise, if you are dangling your feet in the water chances are you are sitting on the pool coping.

  1. The coping assists in reducing the amount of water that splashes from the pool
  2. Pool coping covers and protects the bond beam that makes up the pool shell, maintaining the integrity of the pool’s structure
  3. Aesthetically, coping connects the pool to the surrounding alfresco area
  4. To improve comfort and safety, the Bullnose and Pencil edge pool coping shape the square edges into smoother round profiles

pool corner atlantic grey granite

What Is the Best Coping For Pools?

Gary explains that the choice of pool coping depends on the clients’ preferences since each type of pool coping comes with its own appeal.

Pencil Edge

The Pencil edge finish looks square from the front but has a rounded edge on the top and bottom of the stone. The rounding has only a small diameter like a pencil.
It fits contemporary designs.

Bullnose Edge

The Bullnose edge is fully rounded on the edge of the stone.
It is suitable for a more traditional or heritage pool design and has the best levels of comfort.

Drop Edge

It is a solid piece of stone with a thicker visible drop edge than the rest of the stone. For example, a 30mm piece of stone can have a 70mm drop edge at the front. This can give an impression that all the stone in the project is thicker than it is. And it is often used for fibreglass pools to cover the edge.

Gary says that the dropdown edge is the premium type of pool coping. He explains: “Most of our products can be manufactured at the factory as one L-shaped piece of stone without a joint, others can be fabricated locally by joining two pieces of stone together to create a drop edge.”

drop edge pool coping tile granite

Why Tile Your Pool With Glass Mosaics?

Glass mosaics offer a variety of colours and are suitable for both waterlines and fully tiled pools.

The waterline tiles are set directly under the pool coping and provide the benefits of easy cleaning as well as avoid the formation of the bath-ring effect. “The width varies between 200mm and 300mm, allowing for the variation of the waterline.”

Gary explains that if your budget allows a fully-tiled pool, it can provide further benefits:

  • They are highly durable and able to withstand being exposed to sun, wet and dry cycles
  • Protect the longevity of the pool
  • Allows you to use fewer chemicals, also reducing the cost of your pool maintenance over time
  • Make the pool look more attractive
  • Increase the resale value of your property

What Are the Most Common Mistakes People Make When Building Their Pool?

1. Selecting the stone not suitable for the environment

“As I mentioned, it is crucial to consider the slip rating of your selected natural stone tiles. Installing P2 tiles just because you think they look good will be slippery and dangerous for everyone who uses it.”

2. Saving money on installation

“There are many other areas which can help you reduce the price of your pool. But saving money on installation shouldn’t be one of them. Because stone is a porous material, it needs to be expertly installed by a professional.

This way, you can easily avoid efflorescence and the need to redo the job later. Selecting a quality installer will actually save you money in the long run.”

3. Not sealing the stone

“Sealing the stone with a high-quality sealer specifically developed to protect the natural stone, is the best way to keep the moisture out and prevent mould, mildew, calcium deposits, saltwater damage or other surface deteriorations.”

pool glass mosaics travertine

What Are the Most Popular Natural Stones Used Around Pools?

“Classic Travertine still remains one of the most popular choices when selecting the stone around pools. It attracts with its versatility of design, good price and a classic look.

Limestones with their alfresco finishes are catching up and are attractive for people looking for a more contemporary design and solid colours with little variation.”

What Are the Changes You’ve Witnessed In the Industry During Your Career?

Gary says that the stone scene has changed significantly since he began selling Cobblestones in Sydney back in 1997. He has been with Sareen Stone for over 12 years specialising in pools and outdoor projects.

He’s looked back and pointed out some of the trends and changes that he’s observed within the pool industry during his career.

  • The rising popularity of grey colours for the stone used around pools: “While the beige is still the leading colour of choice, the greys are slowly taking over.”
  • Pool designs got simpler: “While in the 80s, people were doing kidney-shaped pools and unique designs, nowadays, most pools tend to be a classic rectangle shape. People seem to be coming back to minimalistic and timeless designs.”
  • Dropdown edges are a new pool coping design that wasn’t around before
  • The range of porcelain suitable for pools is more varied and popular
  • The rise of the idea of “alfresco living”: “People are spending more on landscaping and making the pool a part of the whole package, making the outdoor area a big project.”
  • Larger range and better quality of glass mosaics for pools
  • Connecting the outdoor and indoor living areas “The idea that the alfresco area links to the indoors is a trend that has become prominent over the last few years. Now, people and landscape designers make a real effort to make the outdoor space feel like an extension of the interiors. They make the connecting with the use of same materials and similar design briefs.”

About Gary

Gary Bazzana has been in the industry for over 20 years and with Sareen Stone since 2009. He specialises in pool, landscaping and outdoor projects and some of his long-term clients include Crystal PoolsPool Form ConstructionsFreedom PoolsPremier Pools, Jay Pools and many others.

In his spare time, Gary enjoys walking his loyal friend Rebel, a Labrador/Border Collie cross, cooking up a storm in the kitchen at home, fishing and watching his son play baseball across the state and recently on TV at sports fields in the USA, where his son recently moved to pursue his dreams.

If you need advice on any outdoor project and want to speak to Gary, you can contact him for his advice and expertise on gary@sareenstone.com.au or by calling 0433 532 183.

Want to know more about the products in this article or discuss your project requirements?
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