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Thread: Proper deck preparation for travertine pavers

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    yzf600's Avatar
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    Apr 2013
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    Proper deck preparation for travertine pavers

    I have a 15 year old pool and the current acrylic surfacing of my concrete deck is starting to flake off. It's flaking off on the vertical coping edge (into the pool) , as well as some of the regular horizontal surfaces. Additionally. the caulking on the edge where the concrete deck intersects my water line tile has separated and some of the concrete has chipped off.

    Shared album - Michael Hartman - Google Photos


    I'm getting quotes from some landscape companies on covering it with travertine pavers and bullnose coping. One company (a combination pool builder and landscape company) said it's best to remove the entire concrete deck before doing the pavers. They said this would be the "best look" as adding the 1.25" of pavers can make the edge of the pool look clunky. This sounded like a good idea because it would ensure no concrete decking in the future would flake off into the pool. Another plus is that they would have to re-do the caulking between the new pavers and the waterline tiles. I don't think they were trying to upsell me more work as this company did not do the demolition themselves, but gave me a name of subcontractor I could contact myself.

    Another company came out (landscape only) and highly suggested to not remove the current concrete deck. They said the act of removing the deck could damage the pool walls. The mentioned the rebar of the pool walls might have been tied into the pool deck. They said since my pool is 15 years old, any concrete cracking is over with and putting the pavers over the current decking is preferred. "The pavers were designed for exactly that". They mentioned they would "sand the current deck" to get a good bonding surface for the coping tiles.

    I'm aware that the common installation method for overlay pavers is to have the edge tiles cemented to the underlying surface, while all the tiles in the middle are just "floating". I'm thinking that my current acrylic coating should be removed and the tiles be cemented into the concrete surface under that. Cementing to the current acrylic surface to me sounds like a cheap way out that is a recipe for trouble in the future.

    If anyone has gotten this done before, or is a contractor that does this, I'm curious to know your thoughts on the best method for installation here. I'm spending 5 figures to get this done, and I want to have it done the right way, but avoid superfluous work.
    15k gallon, salt water, plaster, Pentair IntelliFlo pump, Hayward 48 sq ft DE filter, Pentair Intellichlor, hayward Aquanat 200 pool vac ultra located in Phoenix, AZ

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    Re: Proper deck preparation for travertine pavers

    yzf600, you might want to watch this thread that I just started posting today.

    DIY Pool / Patio Remodel in sunny Arizona

    We had a similar issue with our pool remodel. I also did not want the clunky look associated with the concrete deck and the new travertine decking. Within the next couple days, you will see how we resolved it, although I am not sure you will get a contractor to do it in the way that we did.

    Like you, we figured our pool had settled over the 20+ years enough to NOT have to worry about further settling AS MUCH.

    I would agree with you on this: when they sand the deck to cement in-place the coping tiles...they should sand all the way down to the concrete...that acrylic coating is not sufficient to bind to...I've seen that peel off on other pools. What's to prevent it from peeling off under the coping tiles?

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    Re: Proper deck preparation for travertine pavers

    I just installed 1800sf of travertine pavers for my new pool. Originally we were going to have concrete deck in order to reuse the existing concrete patio, but after seeing travertine we changed our mind. But...that meant that the pool was set up for concrete, not travertine. Lucky for us, the skimmer & auto fill were easy to adjust at this point and we were able to get everything to line up.

    Looking at your pics (based on what I did) you should demo everything to get it all lined up correctly. You could consider travertine tile, not pavers over your slab. You would have to get all the acrylic off for them to bond correctly - but easier than demoing out concrete. I think you will have the largest problem with the coping. Even if you did 2" thick coping, you would still have to build up the mortar bed to get the coping flush with the deck tiles. That means you would have a gap between the existing tile and the bottom of the new coping, so you might have to re tile...which means you might have to replaster as well...and your skimmer might well be too high now.

    If you demo everything, they can remove enough soil and compact the base (hopefully, I don't know what is under your slab) so that everything lines up with your existing pool shell.

    Im not an expert, but this is based on my experience last month. One thing I have found out (in my area); even if the PB has not done your particular circumstance before - the will usually act like they have and "wing it". If I were you, I'd do some exploratory demo and break out some of the coping... and if in the unlikely event that I found the shell bonded to the deck (which I think is highly doubtful since they are done separately in my area), I'd have a concrete cutting company saw cut 4" deep around the perimeter of the coping and the deck and then demo everything. Even if they cut a water line, you are going to demo out everything and dig down 6" for new base and you can fix what ever got cut.
    O/B Woodland Hills, CA : O/B12x30 inground with 6x6 10-jet spa, 10,500gal, 6' Baja deck, 42" spillway, All Jandy: 400k heater, 2.7 HP VS pump, 1.5HP booster spa pump, SWG, Intellelink controls, (4) LED lights, cartridge filter and BlueSquareQ360 infloor cleaning system, Eclipse drain, glass tiles, Zanzibar white pebble finish. Broke ground 2/18/2016, completed 8/16/2016. TFT 100 kit.

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    Re: Proper deck preparation for travertine pavers

    Michael...any update on your decision? One thing I just noticed on your signature is that you have a salt water pool. When I looked into salt water a couple years ago as I was doing my remodel, I was worried about combining salt water with a travertine deck.

    As I said, this was a couple years ago and it might have been case specific and/or misleading information but I do recall running across someone who had a problem with this combination. Their explanation seemed to be that salt water that splashed onto the deck would be easily absorbed by the travertine...when it dried the salt crystals would expand. This caused the travertine to degrade more quickly and/or flake (don't remember exactly).

    There are probably some people out there that will know if this is potentially a real issue.

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    yzf600's Avatar
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    Re: Proper deck preparation for travertine pavers

    Yes, salt water can erode Travertine in weird ways. However, it's not necessarily that aggressive and some say the "pitting" that can occur looks like the normal tile texture. I'll probably just coat the deck with salt resistant sealer.

    My AC blew up in the 3+ days of 115 temps, so I might need to hold off on this remodel. AC is not a luxury here in the desert, but travertine pool decks are.
    15k gallon, salt water, plaster, Pentair IntelliFlo pump, Hayward 48 sq ft DE filter, Pentair Intellichlor, hayward Aquanat 200 pool vac ultra located in Phoenix, AZ

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