20 March, 2011

Pool Awning Project

In case you didn't know, it gets hot down here. Especially during the summer - even right now, as a matter of fact. There's times when the wood decking around the pool is so hot you swear your feet are burning.

We began to combat this phenomenon shortly after the deck was installed. At various times we bought a couple of deck umbrellas, which worked more or less ok - mostly less. Still it was better than nothing.

Over time, while standing in the pool, we began to think about the problem and how we could solve it. We figured it needed to do a few things, such as:
  • Shading most of the deck
  • Shading most of the pool
  • Be easily removed in case of hurricane
  • Be easily adjustable, to control the amount of sunlight entering
  • Be sturdy, yet inobtrusive
  • Allow plenty of air circulation
  • Be affordable
What we came up with eventually was a metal framework of some fashion. That was easy. I figured Capital Factory could fabricate whatever we thought of.

What we also needed to find was a lightweight knitted shade cloth - similar to that used to cover greenhouses and planter beds.

Additionally, we needed to find a method of holding up the shade cloth and of allowing one person to expand or contract the shade cloth.

Whatever connection method we came up with had to be easy to connect and to disconnect. This seemed quite important - especially the disconnection bit. Hurricanes do give us a bit of warning, but there are also a bunch of other tasks to be accomplished in preparation for a major storm. So it was vitally important that it be able to be taken down and stored in a minimum of time.

So, the framework. A lot of searching on the Intertubes found some really bombproof columns and beams and such. None of it very affordable or easily modified to our situation.

We decided we wanted to use steel wire rope (aircraft-type control cable is another name for it) about 1/8" in diameter. It didn't need to hold up a lot of weight but did have be able to withstand some loading in the event of a really heavy rainfall or a sudden wind.

What we came up with for the frame is essentially a galvanized steel 2 x4 - with two vertical poles and a crossbar. This assembly is duplicated at each end. We had three of the corners sunk in concrete, with the forth being bolted to the roof of the pool pump house. Sounds strange, right? It'll all come together as you see the photos of the system we decided on.

Where does it all start? Well, at the beginning, naturally. The photo below shows some of the deck timbers removed so Mayo can dig a footing hole and set up the forms for each of the three vertical stanchions.
Deck Hole For 1 of 3 Stanchions
Here's another hole in the deck at the far end closest to the canal. We lucked out with this project in that for each of the three holes, short pieces of wood was all that had to be removed, so most of the deck was still usable while work continued.
Hole For Another Stanchion
Here's a shot of the rebar Mayo formed to go into the holes to provide additional strength for the concrete.
Rebar Being Formed
Mayo tying the rebar pieces together to make a more or less rigid structure that will be encased in concrete.
Mayo Forming Rebar
The rebar is in position and ready for the concrete pour to begin. After Mayo pours the footing, he then adds the wood box making the form for the column. The steel 2x4 gets inserted into the middle of the rebar tower.
Rebar In The Hole
Mayo making a last minute adjustment to the rebar column.
Mayo In The Hole - Adjusting Rebar
On the hole close to the canal, the footing was complicated by the french drain that runs around the pool under the deck. It's drain pipe to the canal happened to run right where the footing had to go - necessitating some creative steel work.
More Complicated Now And Then
Mayo starting the pour. For those readers who saw the video of Mayo making a 'cement bag' hat, here's a variation on a theme. His 'cement bag' hat tops his baseball cap and looks particularly stylish.
Mayo Poring Concrete Into Hole
Day two of the project, Mayo is beginning to do the final trim of the deck wood to make it all look nice and pretty topside.
After The Pour, Reworking The Deck
Here's another view of one of the columns after the pour as set and the form has been removed.
Forms Removed, Stanchion In Place
This is what it looks like after the wood is trimmed and screwed into place and a parge coat of mortar smoothed into place. A nice and clean installation.
Nicely Done
And another one. Really sharp and clean.
Finished With Final Plastering
This shot shows the cross pieces with the center brackets welded in place. All that's needed is for them to be welded in place at the top of the stanchions. Each of them is 21'8" long.
Cross Pieces Ready For Welding
Here we have the ladders, one of mine and the other two, my neighbor Doug's ladders. Ready for the welding to take place.
Ladders Ready For Welding
Lucky for us, our Godson, Isaiel was in town and in fact, he and his boss, Castillo, stayed a couple of nights in the pool house. So, when they finished their work for the week, before heading back to Guinea Grass, they took time to weld the cross pieces in place for us. Sometimes things just work out great.

Here's an unrelated side-light. The chair below is one of 14 (that's right fourteen!) we had ordered from Home Depot and had shipped down here by Roy and Son Trucking. We got cushions for 10 of them. This is one of the ones without a cushion. Still a comfy seat. They're made of a UV-resistant vinyl and a rust-resistant steel frame. Hope they hold up. We really like them. We've got some in our office, dining room and front porch of the Mennonite house, and the rest in the bedrooms and kitchen of the pool house and on the pool deck.
Our New Deck and House Chairs
If you look close you can see the cross pieces in place on the stanchions. I forgot to take photos while Isaiel was doing the welding. What can I say? Old fart-itis at work.
Cross Piece Welded And Ready For Next Step
Here's the other cross piece that also shows the short stanchion that is bolted to the top of the pump house. There'll be four lengths of 1/8" wire rope (aircraft cable) run from cross piece to cross piece. The shade cloth, in two 40-foot runs will be hung between the cables using small locking caribiners for easy removal in the event of a hurricane.
The Other Cross Piece
Now, you have to stay tuned for part two of this saga. I have to mount the turnbuckles, shackles, thimbles, wire rope and get the shade cloth cut, hemmed with wide nylon tape, grommets set and the whole thing suspended by the caribiners. Hopefully the design works. So far so good.


JRinSC said...

I agree... so far, so good. It all looks like you really know what you're doing. I'm on your side and I look forward to seeing more progress as you move along. Only trouble is that I don't see YOU doing any of this work!

Now I know that you have to take the pictures, right. And I know that someone has to design the thing, find and procure the materials to work with... but we readers want to make SURE that you are really there during some of this hard, manual work.

Supervision from the pool is all good and important but in order to truly savor the new shade I think you need to "prove" that you were fully "involved" in this project!! lol

Looks great and I hope it works good enough to patent it...


Dave Rider said...

Hi Julian,

Man! You're a tough task-master. I'll try to include a picture of me fetching and handing a tool to Mayo or another worker as the case may be.
Would hoisting a Belikin work? Nah, probably not. You seem pretty sure this has to involve sweat and sore muscles or something like that.
I am going to Capital Factory again today to get some cross-bracing for it. Would that count? The dogs'll be with me so they could vouch that I actually handled the metal pieces...


JRinSC said...

Dave, you are doing exactly as much as I would be doing were I in your place!! I just have to give you a hard time because usually you are in shorts and I'm freezing.

But the day is going to 83 degrees here--- yeah, so I apologize for my rant. Enjoy your trip with the puppies.