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Orlando Sentinel 2/24/02

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A fresh look can put new life into pool

By Paul Roth | Special to the Sentinel
Posted February 24, 2002

When is it time to renovate your pool or spa? “When it just looks bad,” says Ray Schreppel of south Seminole County. The 31-year Navy veteran knew his pool was in need of a new interior finish after noticing several areas of the gray concrete shell distinguishable from the white marcite finish.

“I love my pool, spa and patio area. It's great for R & R, especially this time of year,” Schreppel, 75, says. He had the pool built 20 years ago and now has had it refinished twice. The original finish and first refinishing each lasted about 10 years.

“The spa heater and screen enclosure are still originals and work great, but the interior finish needed to be replaced. The beige deck was worn, and the pool tiles were a dark brown dating back to the '80s. After a friend told me he recently had his pool renovated and how thrilled he was at the new look, I knew I was ready.”

Schreppel called All Pool Service in Orlando for an estimate on renovating not only his pool's interior finish, but also the pool's tile and surrounding deck. To refinish the inside of the pool, Schreppel chose a crushed aggregate finish that combined blue, black and white stone particles. The new finish, when properly maintained, should last 15 to 20 years.

New solid blue tiles replaced the brown ones, and accent blue tiles now highlight the spa's spillover. The colored concrete deck was covered with a light stucco-looking finish; then a beige acrylic paint was applied. The cost for the entire renovation, including a salt generator to make chlorine, was less than $6,000.

Schreppel left town for the month of August while the work was done, and when he returned, he immediately went to the back yard to see how the pool turned out. “It was like walking into a new house with a new pool and deck. My two daughters and their families think it's great and my two grandsons don't say hello until after they are in the pool,” Schreppel says.

The Money Game

If you decide to renovate your pool or spa, how will you pay for it?If you have equity in your home, there are two options available: a fixed-term loan of up to 15 years or a home equity credit line. The difference between the two is that the fixed-term loan allows you to make payments until the loan is paid off and the balance is zero. The credit line is similar to a credit card account where you use the money, make payments including interest and pay it off at any time. Because your home serves as collateral, the interest is lower than most credit cards offer.
“The major advantage of using your home equity in this manner is that both loans are tax deductible,” says Joe Paul, home-improvement specialist for SunTrust Bank in Orlando.

If you don't have enough equity in your home, unsecured or secured notes with higher interest rates that may not be tax deductible are also available through banks, independent finance companies, credit unions and mortgage brokers. Interest rates are at a 10- to 15-year low, but obtaining this type of financing is based heavily on your creditworthiness, adds Paul.

Makeover menu

Now that you have the money, what renovations can you make? In Central Florida, the preferred materials used to renovate the interior of a concrete pool are crushed aggregate and white plaster, or marcite. Each has its advantages in price, look and warranty.

Crushed aggregate finish. A typical 15-by-30-foot pool would cost about $2,700 to refinish with a crushed exposed quartz aggregate. The warranty would be five to 10 years, based on product and manufacturer. A polished marble aggregate finish that is smooth would cost about $3,700 and come with a similar warranty to the exposed quartz aggregate.

Marcite.

This finish would run about $2,000 with a one-year warranty.

One important note on any new or renovated interior finish on a concrete pool: Manufacturers warranties generally are limited and based on the installer's application of the material and your performance in maintaining proper water chemistry.

Fiberglass pools are not renovated because they are a one-piece molded and formed structure from the factory. There is a limited warranty on the pool structure, which varies by manufacturer.

A vinyl in-ground pool also can be renovated with a new custom liner to change the look of the pool dramatically. Modern materials and technology allow the vinyl-lined pool industry to offer many more choices in liner colors and patterns along with longer warranties than in the past. The industry standard for a warranty is 20 to 25 years, based on the product and manufacturer.

Replacing a vinyl liner costs an average of $2,500, including materials and labor.

Worn or cracked deck surfaces can be repaired, retextured, painted or patterned using a single color or combining several colors to form anything from visual pathways on the deck to accent bands around the pool edge. Natural rock, brick, tile, epoxied river rock or interlocking pavers also can be used for new decking or even copied with precise detail using acrylic materials.

You can change the shape of the pool and deck, add water features or a spa, upgrade and add new pool and perimeter lighting, automate your cleaning and operational functions, add a decorative fence or screen enclosure and the list goes on. Prices will depend on what you want done and the size of your pool and patio area.

When you decide to renovate your pool and patio area, make sure to choose a licensed contractor who also has the insurance, knowledge and skill to work within your budget. That way, when you go from a worn-out looking pool and patio to a sleek new updated one, your investment will not only pay for itself in materials and labor, but also in everyday satisfaction.

Copyright © 2002, Orlando Sentinel

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