The Pool Remodel (NOT a DIY)

Well, the day finally came. The day (actually, about two weeks) that we’ve been waiting for. The Pool was finally resurfaced. I am keeping Pool capitalized because it was just That Important.

Our entire spring and summer DIY projects were all centered around this moment. It felt like expecting a baby–all this prep and remodeling everything in the backyard for the big arrival.

First, a guy came out on a Friday morning to drain The Pool. The company asked us to keep gates unlocked and remove the pool fence, which we did. We also realized that our backyard looks sooooo much better without a pool fence around it. Dang kids. Oh well, safety first!

He hooked a hose to a pump and ran it into our sewer in the front yard. Took about a day to drain the whole thing. I should mention that I found a notice on my front door from the city, informing me that they came out and inspected my sewer and found it was in perfect working order. I guess that volume of water being drained raises red flags.

I couldn’t wait to come home from work and see The Pool after it was drained! Here are some pics. Looked like a ghetto motel pool, IMHO.


ghetto pool 6ghetto pool 4ghetto pool 5























We inspected the bowels of the deep end and were disgusted by what we found. You never really can see what lies beneath, in the deep end especially. Yeesh. Embarrassing.

ghetto pool 2

Ghetto pool

ghetto pool 9

ghetto pool 10

ghetto pool 11

ghetto pool 12


ghetto pool7

ghetto pool8
















































































So the pool was drained, and the tube sat there over the weekend. Then part of the next week. We called the company, and they thought we didn’t pick our tile out yet, but we did– months prior. So they arranged a date to come jackhammer the pool down to the substrate. I had no idea what that meant, till it was done. We warned the neighbors of the noise. The ones who answered the door, anyway. This process took a day. Here is what The Pool looked like naked:


Side note: our pool serviceperson is awesome. She totally and genuinely cares about customers and their pools. We have had her service the pool weekly for the last 12 years. She is so patient with us when we “forget” (or laze out) of performing routine maintenance on The Pool. She told us many times we need to empty the sweep regularly, especially because of the big ol’  tree in the neighbor’s yard that sheds all sorts of debris into The Pool. She also told us to regularly brush the pool (did it once in 12 years). She also declined to recommend any plastering companies, because she didn’t want to feel responsible if the deal went south. She said many companies give kick-backs to service people if they recommend their business, but she doesn’t want any part of that. Like I said, she’s awesome.

Anyway, she knows pool care inside and out, and is protective of “her” pools. When The Pool was stripped to the substrate, she noticed the broken rebar sticking out of the hole. She asked if they told us what the plan was for them. She was worried it would rust the new plaster over time. My husband asked the workers, and they said they spray with yellow….stuff…that prevents rusting, then plaster over it. Our pool serviceperson reluctantly agreed this was ok, but again, she only wants to make sure our pool (her pool) is up to par.


pool stripped 4
Yellow stuff should prevent rusting


Ok, back to the Naked Pool. It was weird- lumpy and ridge-y. I was wondering how they’d plaster over it.

Next came the tile. That also took about a day for them to remove the old, 80’s, stained (I told you we didn’t brush the pool) tile. Don’t let the screen door hit ya, tile! When I came home from work, I felt like I was gazing at a newborn when I saw the new tile! It matched our newly remodeled yard perfectly!

pool tile 4

pool tile 2pool tile 8

pool tile 3
We totally sprung for the turtle mosaic


We discovered the company grouted over the filling hole–the hole that when we turn the faucet, it fills the pool. We sorta need that. So hubby called them back and they chiseled out the majority of it for us.

We also didn’t hear anything about our pool lights we asked for. We called again, and they sent the electric guy out. We got two new LED lights. We had the choice of colored or white lights, but we chinced out at went with the cheaper white lights.

Then came the day of plaster. This was about a week and a half after The Pool was drained. I  had hubby send photos to me throughout the day because I was so anxious! When I saw the photos I was worried the color was too gray. We chose the Diamond-Brite finish, and had originally wanted a darker color We told the company we wanted “Midnight Blue”. The owner warned us about it- he said some customers were not happy with the outcome, because they said their pools ended up looking like a “Dough-Boy” pool, especially in smaller pools. Plus, the Midnight Blue was significantly more expensive.

So, we went with “Manzanillo Medium”, which was a bright teal/cobalt color. Anywho, when the plastering was being done I thought it looked too gray. But I knew when it would be filled it would look different, so I didn’t get too hyper over it. As long as the 80’s blue was gone.

So I didn’t know this, but filling The Pool can happen right after plastering. What I did not know, was that one should not wander through a recently-plastered pool while it’s  filling. Sure, the instructions said for no one to get the pool for about 10 days after plastering, but I assumed that meant swimming. So here’s what happened to Amanda.

I got home from work and noticed The Pool was filling, and the floor return covers were left off from the plasterers. They did not tell us if this was intentional or not. We tried to call, text, and email the company to find out, but it was after 5 pm. No answer. It would be hard to replace them after the pool was filled, and I was freaking out! Screwing them in underwater? No way!

So we called our pool serviceperson. Left a message, and she called back immediately. I was already in the filling pool trying to get it on. The damn thing would not go on right-the cap screws on and regular screw hold it in place. I heard my husband tell our pool serviceperson “Yeah…Amanda’s in The Pool”….then to me: “She said get out of the pool right away!” So I hustled out.

The reason why people should not go into a newly plastered pool as it’s filling is because if your feet get wet, and you walk on the plaster, it leaves a perfect footprint that will remain on the plaster for all eternity.

I was devastated. We spent $11,000 on this remodel, and I ruined it on the first day. Our pool lady came by to look at everything that same evening, but I was too ashamed to show my face. My husband said she told him not to worry about it. It gives it character. A great big ol’ footprint. NOTE: Once the pool was completely filled, the footprints disappeared. YAY!!

Another note: We called the pool company the following Monday, and they said the floor return covers were left off intentionally. They tend to leave black rings as the plaster cures. Would’ve been nice to know before I almost ruined an $11,000 project.

Anywho, The Pool was filling via a garden hose. It was actually a calculated system, this pool filling process. I assumed we would just turn on the faucet and it would fill. Nope. The garden hose has to sit on the bottom of The Pool. They attached an empty water bottle to the hose to keep it afloat as it filled. The reason is so that it would not rest on the bottom or against the sides and mar the plaster. The splashing from the pool fill hole would also mar the plaster.

So the hose ran for about 19 hours before The Pool was completely filled. Have not yet received my water bill. However, I like what it looked like so far!


pool filling 1
Looks kinda like Lake Louise….

pool fillingPool plastered


pool done 8













We were eager to test the lights once the pool was filled. Lo and behold, they did not work. We emailed the company and they told us they left off the pool light switch on the main breaker, because many people go and try to test the lights when the pool is empty–a big NO-NO! He told me to turn on the breaker and reset the CGFI or GFCI or whatever it’s called. Well, I have about 5 of them in my house, and not sure which one went to the lights. Naturally, I tried the one newly installed by the pool pump by the company’s electrician. But it did not work. Tried the rest of them in my house. Did not work. I sent a snarky email to the company the following day asking them to please come out and check it. We are not electricians, and I didn’t feel comfortable dinking around with electrical circuitry. They agreed, but of course Murphy’s Law dictates that when you ask the chemical guy to try it, it works immediately. Like literally, flipping-a-switch-immediately. We may not be electricians, but we are not stupid either. We did what we were told. Arghhh.

OK, so lights work. Now: the Chemical Drama. We paid to have the company handle the startup for a month, which was a huge relief for our pool lady (but she still came by weekly, sometimes twice a week to check on “her” pool). We were responsible for brushing the plaster three times a day. This is to remove the dust from the plaster and push it towards the pump (which ran 24/7). The chemical guy came by every other day or so the first week after plastering. It looked good, only a little cloudy which I expected.

One day we woke up and the pool was green. Green! Green like Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe. Kinda pretty, but not normal. We called the chemical guy, who said he’d be back the next day. I had a coworker tell me it could be the heat causing the chemicals to get out of whack (we had temps over 100 degrees that week).  So the guy came the following day, dumped in some chemicals, and reset the pump to run 8 hours instead of 24 hours. He said it didn’t need to run all the time at this point. My husband texted the pool lady and she said that wasn’t right, and came over to check it out. We turned the pump back on to run 24 hours. Finally, after 2 days, the color was back to normal. I did email the plastering company to let them know the company they subcontract out to let our pool turn green. Thought they should know, and I was a little peeved.

Ok so finally, after 2 weeks of hiccups, worry, and brushing (a great workout, BTW) our Pool turned a beautiful, refreshing, crystal clear, BLUE sparkling oasis. The company did a great job with The Pool, despite the communication issues (not necessarily a surprise with contractors). We are very happy with the outcome.

I am hating my house less and less……

Before and after:



Backyard Fence Project

Ok- only three weeks left till my pool is resurfaced. The pool is the reason why we’ve gone all cray with other DIY projects in the back yard. Can’t have a beautiful new pool with an ugly backyard!

The pool deck is done. The patio is done. Fire pit, planters, patio table: ready to go. Ugly worn out graying fence…..ugh.

My fence was replaced about 10 years ago. I know nothing about fences, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t sealed or stained. Now it is graying, dingy, and looks like it belongs at the Addam’s family residence.

fence 0

Of course, I hit Google and YouTube to figure out my options. Painting? Staining? Replace?

Replacing was not an option- already have a huge pool project on the financial books. So, I decided to pressure wash first, then decide what to either paint or stain.

Pressure washing was a huge P.I.T.A. I got through about 3 fence panels before I realized I wasn’t standing close enough to it, so I had to move in closer and start over. Pressure washing isn’t really washing- it strips the outer layer of dingy, dry, damaged wood, leaving the nice natural wood color.


Fence 1
It was not fun.


My Ryobi pressure washer (around $100 at Home Depot) came with a 15 degree tip, which was recommended for pressure washing fences and decks. I used that for the whole project, then later found I didn’t need to. A 25 degree works better and covers more area, but the 15 degree works better for tough to remove grit and grime. Ah well, what’s done is done (although it took longer). Tip: wear a hat and old clothes. The tutorials I saw warned against getting wet, but there was nothing I came across that warned of being pelted with soggy wood particles.

Power washing is very tedious work, and your hand and arm can get tired. I saw a tutorial where a guy stuffed a tennis ball in between the handle and trigger of the washer, which I thought was a great idea. However, since my chew- happy dog can’t keep a tennis ball for more than a day, I had to improvise:


fence 20.jpg
Thanks, ‘Mater!



Finally, finished power washing the whole backyard fence- after 2 days.


Then we got stuck deciding on a color and finish. We actually really liked this lighter, natural wood color, but wanted to do something a little different. I LOVE the look of black-stained fences- it makes any greenery pop, and I thought it would make the pool color pop as well. However, we decided against it because 1) we thought it would make the yard look smaller and 2) we get direct sun almost the entire day in the backyard- it would be way too hot.

Then we considered a basic brown, but then thought that would be too boring. So we settled on Behr’s Semi-Transparent Wood Stain and Sealer in Redwood.


Image result for behr wood stain and sealer redwood

And so, we painted on the stain. I tried to give our garden sprayer a second chance (see the previously reported debacle in my Patio Refinishing Project), which again, didn’t work. The tutorials I’d seen recommended spraying on over a small 3 foot-or-so area and then back rolling with a roller or pad, so thankfully we had pads and brushes! The stain is thin, and a little goes a long way (depending on the wood). Some areas actually sucked up more stain, but overall it went pretty smoothly and lightly. The pad worked the best. Tip: be sure to use a tarp to cover greenery at the fence line, or use a hoe to pull rock or bark away from the fence line.

Along the way, my hubby and I named the long, straight, uninterrupted panel of the good neighbor fence the “good side”, and the other panels of the good neighbor fence (with the cross beams) the “crappy side”. We used the pads for any long, straight boards and brushes for shorter boards. We used a 2 inch brush to paint the sides of any boards that stuck out (hey- my fence is over 10 years old- some parts look like a row of crooked teeth).  Tip: The painting was exciting and fun at first- until we got to the crappy side of the good-neighbor fence for the first time. Applying the stain to the very bottom was difficult. Use a smaller brush and knee pads! Use pads for the cross beams.

Displaying Attach3872_20170604_181720



fence 24.png
Fighting with the palm



fence 10

It took us about a week to get the entire backyard fence painted- we worked several days during the week after work as well. It was hot though, so we took lots of water breaks.

And the final look!

fence 14

fence 15


Image may contain: pool, tree and outdoor


Before and after!


I’ve already started on the front yard fence too…..

My name is Amanda. I hate my house.

Well, not really. But sort of. I bought my home in 2005 as a newlywed, and thought it was awesome. Ok…it was because of the pool. I wanted a pool.

I overlooked the 80’s wallpaper, 80’s linoleum, 80’s carpet, and 80’s dark wood cabinets for as long as I could. I began to feel unhappy in my home. I began cursing whenever I walked into my kitchen or bathroom. But I was stuck- I couldn’t afford professional remodels and couldn’t afford to move. I had been taken advantage of by contractors and repair services in the past and the thought of dealing with the rigamarole of getting estimates, choosing a company, and forking out loads of dough for projects made me cringe. Don’t get me wrong- there are projects I would never attempt on my own. But I finally came to a point where I was sick enough of my house that I bravely decided to step up and take the plunge on the DIY projects I wanted done. So I did what any twenty-first century homeowner would do- I You-Tubed various projects and decided to take the bull by the horns to update my 1988 home.

I am by no means creative, but I want others to know that you don’t necessarily need to be creative, a designer, or a handyman to transform your living space.