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Xypex Project: Historic Hearst Castle Neptune Pool


Hearst Castle is one of the most ambitious architectural endeavors in American history and a testament to the power and vision of William Randolph Hearst, a Harvard graduate and a media genius whose influence extended to publishing, politics, Hollywood and the art world. Located above the village of San Simeon along California’s Central Coast, the estate, owned by the State of California since 1957 is a national historic landmark attracting millions of visitors each year.

Xypex Project: Historic Hearst Castle Neptune Pool

Beginning in 1919 and collaborating for the following 28 years, Hearst and Architect Julia Morgan constructed a castle worthy of those Hearst had dreamed of building since his European tour as a boy. By 1947, they had created an estate of 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways – one of the world’s greatest showplaces for his art collection which can still be seen today occupying almost every inch of this historic castle.

Although Hearst Castle’s architectural style and ornamentation evolved from historic European themes, its underlying structure is primarily steel reinforced concrete.

The Neptune Pool
The outdoor Neptune Pool, rebuilt three times to suit its owner’s tastes, is a highlight of the estate with its centerpiece, the façade of an ancient Roman temple Hearst imported to California. Other notable aspects include the oil burning heating system, the Vermont marble that lines the basin, gutters, and alcove, and four Italian relief sculptures on the sides of the colonnades.

Xypex and the Neptune Pool Restoration Project
This 410,000-gallon swimming pool has historically leaked between 3,000 and 5,000 gallons a day. The opportunity to remedy this situation began during the drought of 2014 when keeping the pool filled was no longer feasible. Prior to the Xypex application in July 2017, an Epoxy injection had failed and an interior liner, while considered, was rejected because of the high probability of puncturing and tearing. Accordingly, Xypex Crystalline Technology was selected as the best and most permanent solution to waterproof, protect, and revitalize the concrete structure.

The Xypex Challenge
Built in the 1930s the pool’s concrete was old, very porous and with considerable honeycombing and other concrete defects. It also had 24k gold plated hand-carved Italian tiles that needed to be carefully removed before any remedial work was undertaken. The tiles were reapplied following the completion of the Xypex application.

The Xypex Application
First, the honeycombing and defective concrete areas had to be removed and patched with Xypex waterproofing materials: Xypex Patch’n Plug was used on areas smaller than 6” and Xypex Megamix II on areas greater than 6”. Two coats of Xypex Concentrate were then applied to the pool’s interior. Because the application was performed in 90 degree weather, an overnight sprinkler system was required to prevent the Xypex treatment from drying prematurely. After 14 days the pool was filled with water for leak testing. Upon the initial fill, some leaking was evident but over the course of several days, as the crystalline formation developed within the concrete’s pores and voids, leaks turned to drips and gradually dried up resulting in a waterproof structure. Once this process was complete, the surface coating was removed by pressure washing so that a mortar bed and the original tile could be laid and bonded directly to bare concrete.

Xypex’s Winning Performance
On a high profile project such as the Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle, it is rewarding to know that our technology, work and service resulted in a thoroughly successful waterproofing application and that our very happy customer now deems the pool as permanently waterproofed and protected by Xypex.

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