Mike Sanford’s clients initially requested a gunite pool. But they also desired a negative-edge waterfeature, which vaulted the project’s cost well beyond their budget.

So the owner of the building firm pitched a compromise, proposing a negative-edge, vinyl-liner pool that would closely mirror a concrete design.

“It’s like having a concrete and vinyl pool married together,” he says.

Main attraction

Of course, the negative-edge waterfall was essential in creating the pool’s gunite look. Sanford built up the weir with metal spacers. And using metal clips, he attached the pool’s steel walls to the plywood that would become the walls of the catch basin.

Much of the remaining work was spent pouring concrete and placing tile.

In fact, Sanford took the same ocean-blue tile from the catch-basin wall and lined the pool’s perimeter. The placement was relatively simple, using a retainer track to slide the tile over the top of the liner, piece by piece.

He figured it would lend authenticity, and a distinctly gunite feel, to the project. After all, the process itself took less than an hour.

“The neat thing is — besides making it look like a concrete pool — the tile protects the top edge of the liner so we don’t get any sun rot,” Sanford notes. “It’s really easy to clean, and we get a longer life out of our liners with it.”

Let there be light

Situated along a lakeshore, the backyard provided a picture-perfect vista for a pool.

The homeowners, in an effort to maximize their location, wanted to incorporate fire into the aquascape. The original plans called for a simple set of torches. But Sanford envisioned more.

“At my own expense, I decided to surprise them with some fire bowls,” he says. “They were totally blown away.”

The brick-pillared fire features, which are gas-powered and wired into the main control system, help accentuate the deck, along with a host of LED lights in and around the pool.

“When you light it all up, it’s a great-looking backyard,” he says.

Mike Sanford