Beach Entry pebble finish help?

BHouse

Member
Aug 22, 2019
6
San Diego, CA
We are moving and building our second pool. Learned a lot from the first one, which we just went with whatever the PB suggested (for better or worse). This one should be our forever home, so I’m going for everything I wish I’d done on the first one, including a beach entry.
I called 10 local PB’s (north San Diego county), half never got back to me, only 3 actually came out to give a bid, 1 was 50% more expensive than the other 2 for the same specs (!), 1 was harder to get in touch with and seemed too busy and less customer oriented, so this week we decided to go with the last one (a small family-run business who is currently building a friend’s pool). I knew they are a little more old school and not cutting edge, but I didn’t think it would be a problem until yesterday when I realized the beach entry wasn’t specified in the contract. When I asked about it, she said it’s a bad idea that they strongly don’t recommend. I mentioned it to our friend, and he said, oh yeah, they talked us out of it, too. They don’t do them.

Well, here’s a problem. At the risk of sounding like a spoiled brat...I really, really want it. I know it can attract pooping critters. And I know Pebble finish companies no longer warranty their products above the water line. But I love a true sandy-look (not flagstone) beach entry and have had my heart set on it.

Ive scoured TFP for this topic, but most posts sharing concerns are old. So, please, could anyone chime in who HAS a beach entry whether they would do it again. And also, if you used a pebble finish, what you used and how it has held up. (I reeeeeally don’t want flagstone, for several reasons.)

Our tentative pool design is 38’x22’ main pool (3’ to 7’), PLUS a 12’x12’ beach entry to 12” tanning ledge (and then a 9’ spa).
 

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kimkats

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HI and welcome to TFP! What an exciting design you have there! I want to dial in what I think I am seeing:
-shelf with the beach entry-do I see stones/rocks on the edge of the shelf then steps at the far end into the pool?

-3' depth is too shallow. Think about 3'5" for the depth. That will ease the slop to the other depths. You will also be able to do a full crawl stroke at 3'5" where you cannot at 3'

-slide/grotto area-what fun!!!!! Do I also see a jumping ledge? I see the depth 7' 8; as if you have not made up your mind yet. How far up do you think the jumping ledge will be off the water? THAT is going to be what we will work with to get your the best depth.

-grotto-how will you keep anyone from jumping off of it? I KNOW my husband and his brother would be trying it!!! I had to stop them from jumping off the roof of the 2 story pool house :crazy: so know of what I speak LOL

-beach entry-will call in a couple of people to speak of this @ajw22 @jimmythegreek I LOVE the idea and how you have it set up looks like the purrfect way to do it! Now to find what can go on it that is not flagstone (my first thought when I started reading. May I ask why you do not want flag stone?) OH wait a second!!!!!!!! @Dirk do you think your waterline tile will work here???

I am also going to call in a couple of people who will enjoy this build: @YippeeSkippy @Newdude

Kim:kim:
 

Dirk

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A few random thoughts:

- I wouldn't use flagstone again, anywhere. I absolutely love how it looks, but unless you can be assured of its quality and longevity, it doesn't really belong anywhere near constant water exposure.

- I don't have a beach entry. But I wouldn't run plaster or pebble out of the water. It's just not designed to do that. Listen to what the manufacturer is telling you. I think it'll have to be some sort of stone or tile. Which can look amazing, so don't rule either out just because you have a plaster-based finish in your mind's eye.

- Go with an 8' depth (at least). Maybe more if the height of your jump-offs require it. Mine is 7.5', I wish it was deeper.

- Yes, 3' is too shallow. 3.5" is pushing it. Don't make shallow-end depth plans around kids, if that's what you're doing. In five minutes they'll be 6" taller anyway. Your beach entry and shelf will cover the littles until they aren't. Water too deep for them only encourages them to learn to swim sooner, which is what keeps them safe, not a too-shallow shallow-end.

- When you discuss any and all depths with the PB, including what is written in the contract and drawn on the plans, be sure all four are using the same language (PB, you, the plans and the contract). Are all four describing water depth, or measurements to the top of the bond beam, or the top of the deck? Get it clear, get it in writing. This is to ensure every depth you're planning is correct, and not 6"-12" less than you thought it was going to be. This happens, we have all kinds of threads about this issue.

- Be aware that if your beach entry doesn't end in some sort of step or drop off, you won't be able to use any sort of automatic cleaner in the pool. If there is no step to stop them, they'll crawl right out of the pool. Even with the step off, you'll need to manually clean both the beach entry and the shelf. You might get away with some periodic brushing, but brushing doesn't work all that well for me. Even just a small set of steps gives me trouble. I'll try to sweep stuff off the first step to the second, then second to third, but what usually happens is that I just swirl stuff up into the water which then floats back down onto the step! Pain. I think trying to brush stuff off of a baja shelf or a long beach entry would not be fun. Perhaps others here with big shelves can share their real-world experiences with keeping them clean.

Here's my edge tile that Kim is referring to. I love it. And it matches the mock river-rock river I have going on near the pool. I used it for my step markers, too.

bench 2.jpg
steps 3.jpg
 

BHouse

Member
Aug 22, 2019
6
San Diego, CA
Awesome feedback! Thank you!
Yes, hopefully faux stones sprinkling around hot tub and Baja shelf, separating the play ledge from the rest of the pool to keep the littles safer (will also have a couple bubblers and a sheer descent out of the raised bond beam we will need due to slightly raised rear elevation.) Then i envision steps at the far end down to the rest of the pool. Working with a separate rock guy (PB didn’t have strong opinions on this sub and we found a guy that was more affordable and willing to tackle our bigger dreams). Once we sign contracts we will all sit down and bring my unprofessional sketch to life with more accurate details...

-shallow end: PB suggested 3.5’ but I preferred 3’ for the younger kiddos to be able to play volleyball/basketball/games. (We will put sleeves in the decking for nets.) My husband is a pastor so we have people over allllllllll the time, including lots of little kids, and that 6” makes a big difference for including the 4-6 year old crowd. I was figuring the pool was big enough and had enough deep end space. Buuuut it seems like 3.5’ is more standard, then... Hmmmm...As sketched, the 3’ section is 10-12’. Do you think shortening it to only 5’ would perhaps be a compromise? (Or would it just double the problems?) I pictured the pool being level at the 3’, 5’, and 7’(ish?) sections, with a less subtle drop off between sections...but I don’t know if that is even “legal”...

-slide/grotto/jump ledge: these are just my initial “dreams”. Clearly the slide is way too long to be realistic. Details are pending a meeting of the minds with rock guy and PB. I just told him I want it to be as long and high as we can safely fit. Lol. Rock guy suggested the 8’ depth. Initially I didn’t want a grotto as that would be water space that I/parents couldn’t easily see from hot tub/Baja. But seeing other grottos...they are pretty cool!!!
Last night I just had a random idea...what about shifting the hot tub to INSIDE the grotto????? Haven’t talked to anyone about that. Is that ridiculous? Has anyone done that? Pros/cons??? I’ll have to do a Google image search...

Talked with PB yesterday and when she saw how set I was on beach entry, and not flagstone (mostly I don’t like the look (I really like a fake sand(less) beach!), or the texture. we had flagstone coping on our last pool and ended up with several injuries and an ER visit from sharp edges and wear. And it started coming loose. That was probably poor install issues, but still, I’m just not a fan. And... My kids are...active...), she suggested a stone waterline tile like what is used in showers. (I’ll attach picture below) I really like that idea...although maybe pricy??? Any thoughts on that???

Thank you again for chiming in!!!
 

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Dirk

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A sidebar... I don't like the way the PB just eliminated the beach entry from the plan without even discussing it with you, if that's what actually happened. That's not cool, and not a good sign. I would put some effort into, somehow, politely adjusting his MO in that regard. You need to be in on all of his process (so that TFP can be in on all of the process), to ensure the best end result. And regardless of his thoughts or feelings or experience with any given aspect of pool building, nothing is to be installed or modified or removed without your input and consent. The sooner you make that clear, the less disappointments you're going to have. It'll be delicate, no doubt. Long-time contractors have their egos, and expect their word to be law. So you might have to tip-toe a bit, but the end result must be an understanding that while he is the respected expert, you are the boss.
 
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Dirk

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I like that tile, yes! Perfect solution for both edge tile and entry. I'm a little wary of what looks to be some porous stones, like they have a lot of little divots or holes in them. Those would be difficult to keep clean and algae-free. My river rock doesn't have that. It's possible the grout would fill all those dimples in, but I'm not sure how well. Something to discuss with the PB, but I think you're on the right track.
 

BHouse

Member
Aug 22, 2019
6
San Diego, CA
@Dirk
-yes, some of my concerns about flagstone. Thanks for chiming in!

-good depth suggestions! Deeper on both ends makes sense. And good reminder for language consistency, I have seen those posts. Actually, the one negative review on this PB, from over a decade ago, pertained to this very issue, the pool not being as deep as it was supposed to be.

-love your tile! Similar idea to what PB suggested. Can I ask what it is/where you got it?

-cleaning the shelf: yeah, we have a small shelf in our current pool, and I have to manually brush and it’s not perfect, but we have 2 bubblers and one of the water Inlets on it and that helps. And we looooove the shelf so much it’s worth it.
 
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Dirk

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Water depth is a personal choice, as is how the slopes work. You'll get lots of opinions on the subject, then you make your decision the best you can based on how you think your pool will get used. 3.5" was never an issue for mine. They started out 0, 3 and 6 and are now 6, 9 and 12. They hung out on the bench and ventured over deep water (3.5'!) as they got braver, using floaties and such. The older ones encouraged (you know, teased) the younger ones off the bench, and/or the younger ones couldn't stand the throught of not getting to do everything the older ones were doing.

While those arm-floaties are not particularly true safety devices, they do solve the problem. That's how we solved it, anyway.

That said, your point about all the visitors and how all of them will be using the shallow end does come into play. But the reality is, no matter what depth you choose, someone will still be too short. So build what works for your family and stock up on floaties.

Good luck with all that! ;)
 

BHouse

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Aug 22, 2019
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San Diego, CA
@Dirk
Yes! My concerns exactly about the PB! But she was very humble when I broached the subject and came back very willing to work with me. Thus far I have been very pleased with all of our interactions and her approachability. The wife is the upfront person, and then her husband is the actual builder and I haven’t met him yet. Our friend has had a few interactions where he has had to correct some work done wrong, and so far they have been honorable and willing to please. But just a reminder that any PB will need to be kept tabs on.
-and yes, I did notice the porous rocks. Great minds... lol. But I think it’s on the right track...
 
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BHouse

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Aug 22, 2019
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San Diego, CA
@Dirk my kids have been swimming since age 2 (now 6, 7, and 10)...but we have kept our supply of those floaties current for guests. Truly life savers. Might just go with that and give my husband a depth that works for lap swimming! Lol Thanks for the input.

also, your river rock tile edging. Is it pretty standard from a pool supply? Haven’t seen much like this. Is it super pricey? Do you remember what it’s called?
 
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Dirk

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Can I ask what it is/where you got it?
I inherited my pool from the previous homeowner, who designed the pool. But I had to get it refinished and that meant new step markers. So I took a shot and visited the local tile shop and there is was! Maybe that's where the previous owner got it. It comes on the typical grid backing (like your sample above does), so I'm guessing it's a relatively simple install. I don't know the brand or official name of it. The vendor that sold me the few sheets I needed called it "sea glass tile." But it's not sea glass, of course. It looks to me to be sliced river rock. If you can't find it, I'll PM you the vendor I got it from and maybe you can track it down that way.
 

Dirk

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also, your river rock tile edging. Is it pretty standard from a pool supply? Haven’t seen much like this. Is it super pricey? Do you remember what it’s called?
I don't know how standard it is. I found it on day one of looking. They had a sample of it in the showroom, and just ordered me a few sheets. Three years ago it was about $16 per 12" x 12" sheet. Which you would cut in half, I suppose, for the edge tile.

One thing I really liked about it was the top of the edge tile was sliced straight, to meet the underside of the coping, but the edge in the water was all random, however the stones poked out. Very cool: unique and organic, just like I like. Unfortunately, the plaster refinishers couldn't retain that bottom edge when removing the old plaster, they had to cut it off straight and so I lost the random edge. Oh well. Point was: if you go with something like this, yours will at first have that natural organic edge to it, if you want it that way.

Oh, for the step markers, I just peeled the stones off the backing and worked with the tile setter arranging them how I liked them, while rejecting the weird-os. He was cool about it, fun for me!
 
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kimkats

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build what works for your family and stock up on floaties.
This and all of this!!!
give my husband a depth that works for lap swimming!
Good idea

Now to start on the "language"-depth-make sure you and the PB are talking about WATER depth. That is the depth of the water from the floor to the middle of the skimmer opening. SOME people say depth and mean floor to the bottom of the coping. When it is done that way you "lose" about 6" of water depth.

Take a look at what I found!!! Mini Island Mix Pebble Tile

Make sure to scroll down to see even more!! They even say it is for pools!!!!
 

Dirk

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Good find Kim. Too many choices!! Head is exploding. Glad I don't have to choose. Looks like that style of tile has lots of variations. Awesome!

But I can see where this is going. Soon enough you'll be sharing others' cool stone edges instead of my boring ol' tired river rock. Well, it was fun while it lasted... 😢
 
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jimmythegreek

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A tile or river rocks is the way to go for long term reliability. I'm not a big overall fan of it but ecofinish is rated for in and out of water and can be used in this application. The issue with it is it's very installer dependent. If they aren't experienced pros it will fail.
There are so many tile choices amd types these days I think you can find something that's a small stone pattern and feel very organic.
 
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