Architect and homeowner Betty Trent selected a diamond-polished concrete floor finish for her new house in Austin, Texas, feeling that the warm gray concrete flooring with brown and beige pea gravel aggregate would be what she calls “the perfect combination of utility and art.”
“I felt its colors would enhance the cinnamon vertical-grain wood used on the living room walls and provide a modern clean look,” she says. “I also knew that with its impervious surface, the polished concrete would stand up to any water tracked into the home from the new pool in the backyard.”
The pool, then, needed a finish worthy of the rest of the home. Luckily, her contractor-husband, Jeff Barger, handed their concrete contractor, William David Reynolds, a copy of Concrete Decor magazine that featured a patio embedded with fiber optics, providing the elegant touch the pool needed.
After Barger and Trent consulted with Reynolds on many details involving their custom pool, Reynolds developed a plan for 60 linear feet of 6-foot-tall by 4-inch-thick shotcrete wall panels in various lengths that make up a steel and concrete fence system, along with a technique of eliminating tile by running the poured-in-place concrete coping underwater. After being inspired by the fiber-optic patio, Reynolds suggested adding fiber-optic accent lighting in a random pattern to the pool coping.
Reynolds randomly unraveled fiber-optic filaments into the formwork, varying the strand number and location to complete the desired look. The fiber-optic strands were sheared off at surface level. Reynolds honed the surface down 1/4 inch, exposed the aggregate and polished the concrete coping. The coping also was sealed with Conseal 1000, a permanent penetrating concrete sealer from Waterproofing Engineering Technologies.
“The strands were connected to the LED illuminator box hidden in a vault under the lawn near the pool coping and the effect was perfect!” says Trent. “It turned out better than we hoped. When we and our guests are using the pool as the sun sets and the skies darken, we smile and swim surrounded by stars.”
Trent appreciates the finished look so much that she’s planning to repeat the technique. She is currently finishing the design for the city of Austin’s Bowie Underpass for a hike and bike trail which will include fiber optics embedded in concrete blocks lining the sloped walls of the tunnel. “I wanted to be sure travelling through the underpass would not be intimidating, and I think this is the perfect solution,” she says.