Tulsa, OK renovation underway, gunite soon!


Silver Supporter
Jun 25, 2019
Tulsa, OK
We have finally started making some headway on our 1993 pool/backyard renovation and I figured it was time to start documenting things. General plan is

1. Fill in the old non functioning spa, take down the wall between it and the pool and turn it into a ledge with a bubbler or two, put a new 18' raised spa along the far wall.
2. Core drill some wall returns (previously only return was the infloor) and add new lights.
3. Redo the depth profile to add more shallow end, eliminate diving board. Planning on about 6.5-7ft of deep end from 8.5 or so right now.
4. Abandon the old nonfunctional autocover. $$$ to replace, probably a maintenance nightmare, didn't like it much when it did work.
5. Update the infloor system with new heads, couple new zones, new debris catching main drain. I was iffy about that, as my dolphin does a swell job and I am aware of the mixed feelings about in floors, but most of the plumbing is already in place so the builder said it would be pretty cheap to do, and should keep the benches, steps, and spa clean, which the bot can't do.
6. Add a deep end bench to match the existing, which will, cleverly, be used to run the new main drain and infloor plumbing in the new raised deep end.
7. Tear out existing steps to patio, which are steep and short, and and routinely try to break old hips and murder small children. 35 ft of steps is hard to patrol during a pool party.
8. New concrete deck, new coping, plaster, tile.
9. Use the debris to level off the yard on the deep end side, for an eventual fire pit and some seating. Maybe level off some additional area so the kids have a nice flat play area. Saves on the dump fees for all the old deck.

Current pool:
18x36, 3.5-8.5 depth profile
3 skimmers and a main drain, in floor returns only. No debris catching main drain :unsure:
36" triton II sand filter that is eccentrically placed on the equipment pad and weighs probably a ton, and is slowly collapsing the pad into the earth
intelliflo VSF ( my best decision on moving in, although I should have saved some dough and got the VS)
2 old busted pool/spa lights

New equipment:
New pad
Pentair Clean and Clear 420 or 520
Intellicenter i10ps w/ IC40
some brand of 400k btu cupro nickel heater, w/ a bypass
3 pool lights facing away from house on the near wall, 1 ledge/1 spa lights. Microbrites vs CMP vs paraglow, not sure yet.
2nd pump for in floor/bubblers
spa blower
2 fire bowls on pillars flanking the spa for some bling

Before and current pics attached. Attached a rough concept design as well, although the deck will be different, and the spa will be raised 18". Currently finishing plumbing, big items still include old spa demo, grade the dirt/debris in the pool bottom, then rebar the spa and new floor. The stairs proved resistant to the hand held jackhammer, so they are renting a bobcat with a jackhammer to knock that out.

Couple questions for the more knowledgeable folks around here.

1. The soil under the previous deck was pretty well compacted. They have so far just filled the trenches for the new plumbing/electric with the dirt they removed. Should I be pushing for some sort of gravel or sand backfill, or in this case is it fine?

2. All the punched out holes in the plaster you see in the current pics are the hollow spots we have knocked out. I have quite a few as you can see. Builder said nowadays rather than chip everything out the plaster companies tend to just remove the hollow spots, put on a bond coat, and plaster over the existing good plaster. From what I've read around here the consensus has always been full chip out, but is the bond coat method acceptable? They warranty it just the same (whatever that's worth).

3. Would you stick the tanning ledge light at the apex of the half moon, or along the curve facing away from the house? The former will more uniformly light the shelf, but may be visible from the house at certain angles. The latter would position it similarly to the 3 pool lights and wouldnt be visible from the house, but the shelf lighting would be uneven.

4. Skimmers are a bit beat up, from the demo but no cracks. Builder doesn't see any reason to dig them out and replace. They have been there since 93. Should I push for replacement or stick with the "ain't broke don't fix it" methodology?

Appreciate anyone's input!


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Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
Tallahassee, FL
AMAZING!!! Nice fix you have come up with! Looks very well thought out!

Chip out-If a full chip out is not done this time it will have to be done the next time AND it will be harder and cost more as it will be two layers of plaster. I say go for the full chip out. Your PB is trying to take the easy/fast/cheaper way for him without regards to your pool in the future. Yes you can use a bond coat to put new plaster over the old but................do and do it the best way possible now if your wallet can handle it.

Skimmers-They are plastic. We know plastic gets brittle over time. While it will be cost a bit to go ahead and replace them now it will cost a LOT more down the road and will be MUCH harder as well. My vote is replace them now.

Tanning ledge light-I say put it where it will not shine in eyes at the house. It will light up the ledge just fine no matter what part it is on.

Ground prep for new deck- I am going to call in a couple of people who know this better than I ........ @jimmythegreek @ajw22 thoughts please.

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TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 10, 2017
Morris Cnty NJ
Do a full chip out. Once you have spots that are bad its theres a god chance other areas are barely hanging on and questionable. For filling trenches the dirt is fine IF it is compacted properly mechanically. Just pushing dirt into the hole is no good


Silver Supporter
Jun 25, 2019
Tulsa, OK
Delayed response here, got busy with some other things then Arctic freeze 2021 kicked in. Appreciate the input you two. Might push him to go ahead and replace skimmers. He said it would be kind of a pain and they looked fine currently, but better now than later and 30 years seems like a good run.

Got the wall down, the old spa filled in, and a strip of the floor jackhammered out to accept the new rebar/gunite, but obviously everythjng is on hold for a few weeks!


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Silver Supporter
Jun 25, 2019
Tulsa, OK
Some progress after the great thaw! Unfortunately only one day of work out of him this week though. Assuming this rebar job is typical, feels solid at least. Missing the umbrella holder still.


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Silver Supporter
Jun 25, 2019
Tulsa, OK
Been some delays, things are moving along though! Hopefully someone can help me ping a few gunite/builder experts about a few questions as gunite time is just about here.

The floor, ledge, bench, and spa are rebar'd. To my untrained eye everything looks pretty good. The new bench might not completely match the old one, but it should be close. Just need to remove the old light niche and rebar it then I think we are ready for gunite. Redoing the infloor turned out to require a bit more saw cutting than they anticipated, still not 100% convinced its going to be worth it but he gave me a good deal on it and if it saves me some brushing I'll take it.

Question regarding the gunite process. He initially banged around on all the walls and removed all the delaminated plaster, but there is a lot left. I am still going to push for a full chipout of the rest of the plaster after all the gunite is in because I'm not sure I trust the bond coat method that seems to be the norm in my area, and the pool already has two plaster coats on it. I figured it could wait until we have a new gunite floor though so we aren't picking up pieces of plaster from between the rebar constantly. I am wondering if its ok for the new gunite to be shot in right up against the old plaster, along the bottom edges of the pool for example, or if it needs to be removed down to the gunite so its new gunite contacting old gunite. Builder seems to think it doesn't matter.

Regarding the gunite, I believe I have read here that there should be at least 2, preferably 3" inches of gunite on top of any rebar so you dont have any issues with it rusting through? Is that correct? There are a few areas on the bench and ledge that it looks like it might end up closer to 2.


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TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 10, 2017
Morris Cnty NJ
Looks good, 2" is ok, the placement is more important. You never want rebar above the halfway point in the form, amd ideal placement is in the first third breakline, so 66% embodiment. Never goes that way on a pool but anything is better than nothing. Old concrete should be clean as possible, amd wouldnt hurt to spray on some bonding agent prior to shooting it. I would do a full chip out if it were my pool not worth taking the chance, it's like am insurance policy. Its not too hard to even DIY, am air compressor amd a cheap pneumatic air chisel work wonders just messy arms takea time. I'd never go over 2 layers, I'd have a hard time going over 1 honestly

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Silver Supporter
Jun 25, 2019
Tulsa, OK
That’s helpful, thank you. I’ll probably see if he just wants to leave his chisel and I can hack away at it over a few days since he is juggling a lot of work right now.
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