This project was a continuation of a job that entrant Barry Fisher had completed last year. The objective was to transform a relatively unusable piece of the homeowner's property into something that would be functional and connect it aesthetically to the already completed pool area.

He began by increasing the height and length of the existing brick retaining wall, and then facing it with cultured stone. This created continuity between the two projects and support for the upper patio. The patio would function as an entertainment area along with a space for a large grill. By overlooking the pool, it works as a comfortable vantage point for the homeowners to watch their children and guests.

Because this raised patio would serve as the main access to the pool, he also needed to rebuild the steps exiting the house. They were designed to direct the flow of traffic towards the center of the patio, as well as create a point of visual interest.

Next, he had to connect the upper patio level to the lower pool level. He accomplished this with a combination of steps and platforms constructed between two large curbs.

"This transition between the two levels worked well with the existing grade," Fisher says. "The addition of the curbs made landscaping easier by helping to retain soil and planting areas. The curbs also defined the walkway in a more dramatic fashion."

The foundation of the house and all the steprisers were finished with cultured stone to provide continuity on all vertical surfaces. The home owners took the project one step further by placing low voltage lighting underneath the bullnose of each step.

"This not only helped to demonstrate the aesthetics of the stonework at night, but also illuminated the steps and made them safer for use," Fisher says.

All of the steps and the patio area were poured using a unique two-step process. Fisher first poured a structural slab that consists of 2 1/4-inch structural synthetic fibers and 1/2-inch rebar. These horizontal surfaces are scarified in preparation to receive cast-in-place (CIP) concrete tile. The CIP concrete tile is mixed onsite with PVA fibers, integral color, and an internal water repellent. The pattern is applied using cutter style stamps that stamp through to the structural slab.

Then everything is textured using a textured roller to create the look of stone, as well as a slip resistant surface. The curbs were poured all at once with an integral color and 2 1/4-inch structural synthetic fibers with no construction joints. Everything was then grouted, and the customer chose a darker brown. All horizontal areas were then sealed with an acyclic cure and seal.

"By creating a usable patio area where there was once just a steep grassy slope and connecting this area to the pool with a sidewalk and steps, we made the backyard more dramatic, functional, and safer to use," Fisher says.