Gunite Swimming Pool at Lake Conroe,
in Montgomery County, Texas

This is the Day residence on Lake Conroe. We started the project in September of 2020, and we were delayed because of the government lockdowns and labor shortages and material shortages.

This was a very difficult project with access limited. We brought in two bobcats.  One was for the dig, and the second one was for the installation of called helical piles. Even before we started this project, we had to build the pool above dead man anchors, which held up the bulkhead beneath the pool.

We installed 21 helical piles for the pool.  We had to avoid the six dead man anchors that held up the bulkhead. On two occasions, we came very, very close to the actual anchors and cables. And in one situation we could see a cable which was slightly touching one of the helix will piles.

The bobcat equipment for the pool dig and helical piles were brought in via several special barges. And we had two or three barges waiting, one of which was there just to remove the soil from the project, which amounted to 50 cubic yards.

The gunite swimming pool was built on lake Conroe. It sits on 21 helical piles. They decking concrete was actually out of gunite and sits on  eight helical piles. So a total of 29, helical piles to support the gunite swimming pool and the gunite pool deck structure.

We started constructed in September, 2020. The project was completed in early 2021.  The delays were because of the material and labor shortages, following from government lockdowns.

The swimming pool construction has an infinity edge. It is in gunite and it also has cantilevered decking that actually sits on top of peers. The reason for the raised decking on piers is because the pool is raised.  We just did not have any room for retaining walls or soil for retaining walls.

The swimming pool has external stairs, which are mono-stringer stairs.  They cantilever off a steel beam, with railing for safety.

The pool has a variable speed Pentair pump, and it also has two Pentair booster pumps that operate the infloor cleaning system by Paramount. One of the booster pumps also runs the infinity or negative edge water feature.

The materials are a tropical Wet Edge, pebble interior. The exterior has a country classic travertine coping and country classic decking.

The pool is approximately 330 square feet. The total gallonage, including the spa and the infinity basin is 10,000 gallons.  The decking is approximately 300 square feet of travertine French pattern on the top level. And down below it is approximately 200 square feet of travertine, French pattern, country classic.

The pool has a 5G Pentair pool light with multi-choice colors.  It is a light changing colored led. There is also a small, micro-bright LED light on the tanning ledge.  The spa has one LED light, and the basin also has one light.

In the construction of a negative edge pool, especially where we were subjected to extreme wind conditions, on Lake Conroe, we took extra precautions.

The wind speed would vary, but would be up to 20 miles per hour. This created a future problem for an infinity edge. When the water starts to come down off the edge, it could have been blown past the basin.

Wind was a consideration given during the design phase. So the basin was made larger and has two pedestal pillars, one on each side, to help actually retain water in the infinity basin.

Because the pool is above ground, by approximately three and a half feet, we waterproofed the entire swimming pool, the basin, and the spa. We also tested the structures to make sure they held water.   We filled them during construction and ran the pumps.

Initially, we had some problems such as the pool would not hold water. The spa would not hold water.  So we went back to the waterproof phase, again. And also we found that we were missing a couple of plugs, which we put in to the drain and that alleviated the problem.

So we actually ran multiple tests before we came to the final phase of the pebble interior.  By the time we reached pebble interior, we had a created water holding capacity for the gunite swimming pool, the gunite spa, and the gunite infinity wall and basin.

We understood that with thorough testing that we validated each of the vessels would hold water. This is a very important stage in a raised pool or any pool structure.

The waterproofing product we used was a Basecrete cementitious waterproofing.  We also applied a colonial silicate, which was used to penetrate the gunnite shell.

The gunite pool decking, actually a floating decking, which means that it is unconnected to the pool beam. And this was deliberate by the engineer.

For this project, we had soil testing, which was a process of boring two holes, 10 feet or 12 feet deep and extracting soil samples. The soil report that was sent to the structural engineer, and the structural engineer designed 29 helical piles.

Helical piles are essentially galvanized 2 ¾” hollow galvanized piles with a slight spiral on them. And this helped decrease the removal of soil.

Had we used concrete peers, it would have displaced a tremendous amount of soil. And in this situation, soil removal was a logistic problem for us.

We had no machine access, for bobcats, down the side of the property, but we could only come by a barge. Again, this pool was built on lake Conroe in 2020 through to 2021 under extreme weather conditions, very difficult labor and material shortages. And in itself, it was an extremely detailed & technical difficult gunite swimming pool to build with special engineering, special requirements, and special waterproofing for the pool spa and infinity base.

The construction of this project required special knowledge of many unusual elements such as the construction of a gunite swimming pool on a lake, within 5’ of the bulkhead, and above Deadman anchors.  It also stretched the planning phases with extra work for hydraulics and waterproofing.   Infinity basin special knowledge is also necessary for the successful construction of these types of pools.

We installed an automatic water level into the infinity basin, which is where the auto-fill system needs to be installed. And we dropped it down, as low as possible.  The reason for this anomaly is that an infinity basin, the water level fluctuates so much, which causes false readings by the auto-fill.   We abated the unnecessary filling of a basin from an automatic water level.

In constructing a negative edge swimming pool, we also took many other precautions, such as installing pressure vacuum breakers, which was special ordered to help prevent siphoning.   We installed multiple check-valves and multiple 2-way valves to prevent the siphoning.

We chose to build the decking on piers and use mono-stinger for the staircase. The stairs were supported by steel and piers.  The decking has a double layer of rebar, 5/8” thick on bottom, with ½” thick on top.

If you would like more information about constructing a gunite swimming pool on Lake Conroe or a gunite pool in the Montgomery County; Please call Janine on


Janine Wilson is a certified pool building professional, by the association of pool and spa professionals, 2020.