George Brown


San Juan Pools of Charleston

Charleston, S.C.

Leveling the edge: Brown used jacks to slightly raise the pool, and jetted sand underneath to make it level. “You can get near immediate compaction with the sand if you use a high-pressure nozzle and blow the water into it. … It removes the air and it allows all these little granules to get packed down as tight as they can fit to each other.”

The sand filled in voids and raised the tub. “We went around and made tweaks until we got it where we needed it to be. It took four or five days,” Brown says.

The true fine-tuning came at a later stage.

Brown and his clients preferred the slot-overflow look, with a 1/2-inch slot for the water to fall through. He would place the gap between the stone coping and deck made of the same material.

Brown set a 11/2-inch-thick travertine coping around his pool, cantilevered over the pool’s lip.

He used a thicker-than-normal bed of thinset — about 1-inch — to give him more leveling leeway. His crew got within 1/8 inch of perfect, with the help of fishing line and lasers.

“If you use [regular] string, you have to pull it incredibly tight and you still get some sag,” Brown says. “Then if it gets wet, it’s going to stretch out again. But using the fishing line, it doesn’t matter if it gets wet and, because it’s so lightweight, it isn’t going to sag. You can draw it tight and it doesn’t change on you.”

Brown wanted to smooth out the thinset on the surface inside the slot to eliminate any noise or porosity. “On the back of that mortar bed, before the deck was put on, we went back with a nonsanded grout,” Brown says. “We basically made everything very, very smooth on the backside of that mortar bed.”

Crafting the gutter: Underneath the coping, Brown created gutters fashioned from pipe.

“I actually used 6-inch schedule 40 plumbing for the gutter and slotted it on top,” Brown says.

The slot in the pipe measured approximately 1 inch and sat directly underneath the slot left in the stonework. The crew encased the plumbing in an 18-inch-deep, 18-inch wide, reinforced-concrete bond beam around the pool lip.

Brown used pipe because he believed the nonporous PVC interior surface would be less prone to collecting dirt than concrete would. He also liked the fact that because the plumbing was round, any clogging or settlement would happen at the center of the pipe, so the homeowner or service technician could clean it out by sticking a tool right down the slot.

To further ease future cleaning, Brown put cleanouts at the end of the plumbing. “It’s just pieces of pipe that extend off the plumbing at the corners, with caps right below ground level,” Brown says. “If you get a clog, you can go outside and pull a plug, and you can snake it or do whatever you need to get it clear.”

The 6-inch plumbing ran at a slope all the way to a fiberglass holding tank. The water would be gravity-fed to the tank. “I can’t really fill that pipe completely with water and, therefore, I don’t trap air behind the water and I don’t get a gurgling sound,” Brown says.

Preventing leaks: Brown used a silicone caulk on the joint between the shell and cantilevered stone coping. “We had the sealant between the fiberglass and the stone, and then down around to the inside of the pool,” Brown says. “Once it was all on there, we came back and again caulked with a silicon grout where the stone cantilevered over the top of the pool wall.”


How three fiberglass experts met the challenge:

•Compass Pools Vic

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

•Bahamas Pool & Patio Ltd.

Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas


• On the Edge

Expert advice on creating the perimeter-overflow effect on concrete pools.