Specialized information on Hardscape Landscape Waterscape Ecoscape


Choosing Mosaic Tile for Your Swimming Pool

A group of playful dolphins, frolicking mermaids, dark blue seahorses, a six-and-a-half foot brown Hammerhead Shark, an intricate flying fish bursting with color; when deciding on mosaic tile for your swimming pool – the choices are endless. For decades, porcelain tile was the only option. Now, homeowners have a myriad of possibilities. Mosaic tiles can range from just a few dollars to thousands, so here’s a little information on making the right decision. Most likely, they’ll be a part of your backyard lifestyle for a long time.

If your pool company says they don’t carry the specific tile you’re looking for, that doesn’t mean it’s an impossible request. There are a ton of online retailers to buy from – just make sure your local tile professional or pool contractor will be able to install it. Check out mosaictileinc.com or pooltileworld.com.

One of the cool things about mosaic tile is that you can actually add it after-the-fact. Is your pool 10 years old and you’re just looking for a revamp? You can add new decorative tiles while resurfacing your pool. Just check with a professional before ordering.

If you’re having a hard time finding a mosaic tile design you like, hire a local artist to design one for you. Most mosaic tile comes in sections on mesh-backed sheets, but you can also order single tiles in thousands of colors, shapes and blends. Have an artist work off your color palette and create an underwater masterpiece.

Choose to just spruce up the waterline of your pool. If you’re on a budget, just add tile to the waterline – the rim of the pool where the water hits. This specific tile comes in pre-built sections that you can purchase by the lineal foot (6” x 12-3/8”). But keep in mind it’s advised that you add 5 to 10 percent “waste” when ordering. 


New Fall Swimming Pool Design Trends

One of the best ways to improve your home's value is to add something that has great intrinsic value. For many people, nothing brings more of that to a home than a pool area. A swimming pool is valuable to the family experience because it has something to offer for every member of the family. For the kids, the swimming pool provides entertainment in all seasons. If you live in the Jacksonville area, then you know that the pool can be used well into fall. Likewise, backyard entertaining is something that parents will love. For those who are in-between those stages, hot tub design might be an important part of any pool plan.

So what are the new, hot, emerging trends in the world of swimming pool design? Swimming pool builders are putting together the kind of personalized pool area that can suit all needs. There are lots of North Florida pool contractors who can do some things that look a lot like magic when they are a finished product.

Entertainment spaces
All over Northeast Florida, people are realizing that their pool area can be a place where they entertain their friends and in some cases, their business contacts. It can a valuable space that will add something to your home and make living just a little bit more fun. What are these spaces primarily? They are patio type areas where grilling is an option and there is enough space for everyone to hang out. Many people are going with uncovered patios because you can have more square footage, while others are putting money into a gazebo type of structure that provides a place to sit in all sorts of weather conditions.

The main thing to remember when building this kind of space is that you want it to be close enough to the pool to retain the fun, outdoors atmosphere, but far enough away that you aren't getting splashed if someone jumps in. Finding this balance is important, because the entire point of having this entertainment area is to create an excellent atmosphere.

Enjoying the bar, at home
When you live on the first coast, you should enjoy yourself in a fun, festive atmosphere. For this reason, many people are starting to bring the bar to their home. You can either purchase a small tiki bar or build your own from bamboo. Whatever the case, this can add a great deal to your pool area, and it can give you a place to unwind at the end of the day. These don't need to be big in order to be successful. They need only to provide three or four places a sit, a bar to keep all of your drinks, and a nice looking atmosphere for enjoying your time with family and friends.

This is one of the new things that is especially appealing to young people and young couples. If you are into having friends over to your home, then this can really open up your options. Likewise, it's something that can add value to your home. When people come over to look at your home in the buying process, the important thing is to have items that stand out at the end of the day. A well built bar can provide that value.

Incorporating spa design into your pool area
When you are going to pool contractors in the Jacksonville area, you should be willing to consider some of the extras that make the pool that much better. Hot tub design has gotten a lot better in the last few years, with many more ideas popping up. Many people like to have their hot tub overlooking the pool, so that you can use both the hot and cold aspects of the water. When it's a hot summer day, the pool will come in handy. When it's a cold winter night in North Florida, you'll be glad that you have a hot tub.

Likewise, many people want to make sure that their pool and their hot tub are somehow interconnected. One of the coolest new ways to integrate the two is to have a hot tub that waterfalls down into the pool. This both looks good and provides a space effective solution. You can really conserve the square footage of your overall pool area by putting the pool much closer to the spa.

Ultimately, pool design is something that will allow you to bring out your creative side and really create a space for the people who matter the most. By getting your family involved and coming up with a space that will add value to your home and value to your family experience, you can really come away with something great. The entertainment aspect and the practicality are equally important, so you will have to weight those things when deciding on a design.


Choosing the Right Finish for Your New Swimming Pool or Spa

There are a quite a few choices available in Jacksonville when it comes to finishing your pool surface. Choosing the right plaster or as it is also called whitecoat or marcite in Florida can be a tough decision will require some un-bias research. From regular old white plaster to colored marcite, from a spectrum quartz aggregate mixes to all of the colors of pebble finishes. It can all get a bit confusing, even overwhelming, if you don’t know the differences between all these products and the advantages and disadvantages.

A sound finish job should last ten to fifteen years, sometimes more. I’ve seen twenty-five year old pools that are just getting to the point of needing resurfacing. This may be a decision that you will live with for many years.

The pool finish is a decorative element. The surface of the pool is usually the biggest, most noticeable surface in the yard. It can be the first impression a visitor gets of your yard, so it must be chosen carefully. They must also be easy on bathers’ feet and hands. No one likes a pool where your feet are raw after only a few minutes of swimming.


White Plaster:

Traditional white plaster is the most common pool finish, even in these days of exotic quartz and pebble finishes. It’s been around since the beginning of the pool construction business. When a white plaster pool is filled with water, it takes on that classic pool look: a light blue color, cool and crisp.

Pros: The prototypical pool finish. The most cost effective finish.

Cons: Susceptible to staining and/or etching if the pool is not maintained properly.


Colored Plaster:

If you desire a little bit different look, there’s colored plaster. It’s made the same way as white plaster, but a coloring agent is added as the plaster is mixed. The most common colors are probably various shades of gray, and black.

Pros: A different look. Darker colors make the water surface more reflective, which is sometimes desirable.

Cons: Costs slightly more than white plaster. Also, the shortcomings inherent in white plaster are more apparent and pronounced in colored plasters, especially the darker shades. Surface mottling, streaks or unevenness of color, even crazing and check cracks are more noticeable. I don’t recommend colored plaster if you feel that you will not be pleased with some unevenness over time.

Quartz Aggregate Finishes:

Traditional plaster, white or colored, with ceramic coated quartz particles added in the mix. 3M makes a product called “Colorquartz” that is one of most popular finishes of this type. The surface can be slightly harder and more durable than plaster, depending on the amount of quartz aggregate added. But, in my experience, it’s still susceptible to most of the problems of plaster: staining, spot etching, etc. The look is different than colored plaster and seems more uniform in appearance than colored plaster. Also, the cost is a quite a bit higher.

Pros: Richer look than plaster. A harder and more durable surface than plaster.

Cons: Costs more than plaster. Still affected by many of the same technical problems as plaster. Not a bad choice if don’t want color, but can’t afford a pebble finish.


In the pool business, these are called “exposed aggregate” finishes. “Pebbletec” is a popular brand, the oldest of this breed. Basically a pebble finish is a plaster, white or colored, with a lot of small, smooth, stones of various colors mixed in. It is applied and finished like regular plaster, but when a certain surface hardness is reached, the surface is removed with special water misting devices. This exposes the aggregate in the mix.

Pros: Since most of the surface exposed to the pool water is stone, this type of finish gets away from many of the problems associated with plaster: staining, etching, etc. Also it is available in a wide variety of colors. Many clients are pleased with the more “natural” look. Much more durable, longer-lived surface, too.

Cons: The cost. Can be double the price of plaster or more. Also, some people dislike the the feel of the pebbles on their feet: the surface isn’t flat like plaster, but, um, pebbly instead. Before committing to this type of finish, look at some finished pools, and if possible, put your feet in to try it out.

I can’t overemphasize how important it is to keep a close eye on your pool’s water chemistry and maintenance. For instance, if the pH varies from the recommended levels, either too high or too low, it can be detrimental to your plaster. Usually poor chemistry and maintenance lead to problems that are cosmetic. But they can also lead to more serious problems that may require expensive remedies, or even necessitate stripping out the old plaster and applying new. This, of course, is very expensive.

Like many things in life, making a good choice involves understanding the choices available. What their strengths and weaknesses are, what the cost trade-offs are. What the best value is for the money spent.


Improving Your Home – And Your Life – With a Swim Spa

You undoubtedly want to make the very most of your home ... and your life. With this in mind, if you are planning into a new residence or if you want to spruce up your current home, you will want to consider seriously whether or not adding a swim spa to your property is an ideal step for you to take. The reality is that there are a number of different reasons why a swim spa can improve not only the value of your home but also the pleasure you experience in life.

Some people associated with real estate sales have argued that a traditional pool does not necessarily enhance the value of a residence. However, when a residence comes with marvelous amenities that include a swim spa, such a property has a great deal of appeal to a wide audience when it ends up on the market for sale. In point of fact it is precisely an amenity like a swim spa that gives a property a definite advantage in a challenging economic climate such as that which exists in Florida and in many other countries around the world. Its these unique features that will set your home apart, an important factor in today’s market.

Beyond making your home a true showplace – whether or not you are thinking of putting your residence on the market any time soon – a swim spa can enhance your life personally as well. Health and wellness are fundamental considerations.

Research time and time again has underscored the fact that the exercise that a person can undertake in a pool is far superior to most other types of fitness equipment. Additionally, a spa provides a healthy avenue a person can utilize in order to reduce the stress associated with day to day living in the 21st century.

Many people balk at installing a swim spa at their homes because they believe that such an improvement will prove too costly. The fact is that there are various different options available to you when it comes to selecting a swim spa for your residence. Therefore, you likely will be able to find a swim spa that will fit easily into your budget. Moreover, it is important to bear in mind a swim spa will serve to enhance the overall value of your residence ... making a swim spa a worthy and appropriate investment. You will find that it will more than pay for itself if you do elect to take the step to sell your home at some point in the future.


Pool Deck Remodel and Resurfacing Ideas

One of the biggest trends in outdoor design today is a decorative pool deck; a colored, textured and inviting area surrounding the pool that does more than provide a safe, slip-resistant deck for sunbathing and barbecuing. Pool decks are now given nearly as much attention as the interior design of the home.

Many options are available in Jacksonville for creating pool decks that complement the exterior of the home, meld with the outdoor environment, and replicate exotic and traditionally expensive materials such as slate, stone or even wood.

Every pool deck renovation should be safe, slip-resistant, low maintenance, and easy on the feet.  Ideally, creating a safer and more pleasant pool environment. You want to make sure your new deck will look beautiful for a long time, stand up to the weather, and return its cost to you.

Wood -

Natural or manufactured wood can be used to create a beautiful pooldeck, with lots of design options - however there are some disadvantages: The leading cause of problems with wooden decks is actually water, requiring some careful planning and routine maintenence.  Certain wood types are more resistant to rotting – cedar, redwood, and pressure-treated pine, but no wood is rot-proof.  A wood pool deck life span is usually 10 to 15 years, and being constantly exposed to the elements, a wood deck will need yearly watertreatment in order to maintain the desired look. Wood also has limited slip-resistance .

Cool  Deck -

Cool Deck or Kool Deck is a topping applied over a stronger concrete base. This special material can be applied to a concrete structure while its curing in order to significantly lower the exterior surface temperature.  It comes in any color or pattern to match your taste, and it can be textured for traction to guard against slipping. Plus, it's extremely durable (almost twice as strong as the base structure), stain resistant, and waterproof (to avoid mold or mildew buildup).  So overall, a cool deck requires little maintenance, endures traditional wear and tear, and extends the life of your concrete, making it a very economical choice.

Pavers -

Concrete pool deck pavers, or paving stones, interlock to create a beautiful patterned surface and are a great way to transform a pool deck instantly because there is no wait time. There are a wide variety of paver designs to choose from manufactured right here in Jacksonville including many different colors, textures and shapes. Also, using pavers to resurface a pool deck is beneficial because they are easy to remove and replace if needed. Pavers are a great way to give a pool deck a high-end decorative look that reflects one's personal style without a lot of hassle or time.