A vinyl liner inground swimming pool is made up of components that get assemble together to make the finished pool. This is coupled with a lot of hard work done by the builders. However before the builders even see the components of the pool these components must first be made by the manufacturer. In this post I will walk you through step by step on how the finished pool comes into existence.
To begin you must be aware that the walls of the pool is made up of several different panels that get bolted together creating the form of the pool. These panels are made of two general types of material they are steel and a “non-corrosive material.” The non-corrosive materials differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. They can be a fiberglass material, a structural foam material, or a composite material. and each manufacturer makes them differently from one another. The reason that there are several different types of non-corrosive materials is because there are different levels of quality associated with each. I am not going to get into the differences in this particular post but to learn more about these material please take a look at a previous post of mine titled Only Alpha Pool Products – Technological Advancements. Just so you are aware, Only Alpha Pool Products has made some huge leaps forward in the manufacturing process of vinyl liner inground pool building materials, and hold several patents. A few of my posts touch on them in detail. Another difference is in the steel manufacturing, Only Alpha has high tech machinery that is used to cut and bend the steel into the shape of the panel. This ensures that each panel is identical to the previous one. For more information check out Only Alpha’s website at www.onlyalpha.com from there you can look at how both there steel panels and composite panels are made and discover the difference. Only Alpha manufactures every component of the pool from the walls to the support braces. Check out this video on how the steel panels are made Steel panel manufacturing.
Once all the components are made they are ready to be shipped to the builder. Before this happens the builder needs to make the sale. This process takes place between the builder and their customer. In this meeting the customer will tell the builder what they want in their pool as far as how big, the shape, the depth, and any extra features they may want. From their the builder will create a basic sketch of the pool and come up with an estimate for the customer. Once everything has been approved the builder will submit everything to the manufacturer and they will come up with a detailed prints of the pool. These prints will show the builder what goes where and give them the dimensions they will need to build the pool. Sometimes this process goes back and forth between the builder and the manufacturer for fine tuning of the prints. Once the manufacturer get the approval of the builder they will then get everything ready for the pool and ship it to the builder.
When the builder receives the shipment from the manufacturer he will go through everything and make sure it is all there. Then they will start digging the hole to the specifications provided by the manufacturer based on the preferences of the customer and builder. At this point the customer may notice that the hole appears to be much larger than they had expected. This is because the hole is larger than the end result. This is so the builder can install all the braces, electrical, and plumbing around the pool. This part of the process may differ from builder to builder, but typically once the hole is dug they will start assembling the panels creating the walls of the pool. One of the prints provided by the manufacturer will show the builder where each panel goes in the pool. For the most part this is pretty set in stone. Especially if it is a free form pool. (one with a lot of curves) If the builder were to put a panel in the wrong spot then it could throw off the rest of the build and at the end they may find that the panels don’t fit to complete the form of the pool. So you can see how important it is to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Once all the panels are in place you will be able to see the shape of the pool.
From there the builder will decide if the pool is properly in place, and if the pool is rectangular they will make sure that it is perfectly square. After that they will secure the pool in place by staking it to the ground. At this point they will install all of the plumbing lines to each appropriate fitting. Typically you will have one line for the main drains, one for each skimmer, one for each return that may be on the pool, and one for any water feature that may be going in the pool. From there the builder will install all the bracing around the pool pour a concrete collar or footer to permanently secure the pool into place. This will likely be the end of day one of the build. The following day will consist of running the conduit for the electrical components, Lights, outlets, auto cover, etc. and backfill the pool. More often than not they will completely backfill the pool with stone to prevent settling. From time to time you might see the builders backfill with dirt. That is okay to some degree provided they have deck supports around the pool. You have to realize that if the deck is poured without deck braces installed and the ground around the pool settles you will have a big problem. The deck supports will hold up the concrete deck even if the ground below settles. I think that it is more common to backfill with stone to prevent any settling form happening. Depending on the extensiveness of the pool this may be the end of day two. It does not sound like a lot but this part could take them all day. Especially if they have to install the auto cover box. The next day they will likely prepare the area around the pool for the concrete deck to be poured. This is again something that differs from builder to builder. I always poured the walks around the pool before doing the bottom and installing the liner. It just made more sense to me to do it this way to prevent any wet concrete from getting into the pool or on the liner. However some builders will do the bottom of the pool and install the liner before they pour the sidewalks around it. I am not saying that one way is right and one is wrong. Just that there are differences in the building process.
So lets stick to pouring the concrete walks around the pool before doing the bottom since that is what I am accustomed to. Before they get to this point they will have the pool backfilled to where it needs to be and have the coping on the pool. Now they are ready to form the concrete deck around the pool. Again this is something that is usually predetermined by the homeowner and builder ahead of time, but I have been a part of forming the walks with the homeowner right there telling me how they want the walks to look. That is not my favorite way of doing things. In fact it is reminiscent of hanging a picture and having someone say “now a little to the left, bring it down a touch, take it to the right a smidge”, you get my point. Anyway once the forms are in place they will bring in some rebar and lay it down in a grid type pattern cutting each piece to the appropriate length within the forms. Most of the time they will also tie the rebar all together as they lay it in. Or have someone come behind the and do it. You will also see them going around the forms making sure that they are all appropriately leveled. The rule of thumb is that for every foot away from the waters edge the sidewalk will fall 1/8th of an inch. So if the edge of the sidewalk in a particular area is 4 ft. from the waters edge is will also be 1/2 inch lower that the coping. This next thing is something that I want to stress to anyone getting a pool. Make sure that the builder does something to protect the coping before pouring the sidewalks. I usually tape off the coping to prevent the concrete from getting on it. More importantly it will protect the paint on the coping from the sealer they use on the concrete. If that sealer gets onto the coping it can damage it. The builder may or may not get to actually pouring the concrete around the pool the same day that they form it. Either way once it is poured the will generally give it a day to cure. Once it is cured they will come back and saw the concrete up into sections in an effort to control where it will crack.
After that they will clean everything with a pressure sprayer and prepare the bottom. The final bottom will be either a mix of sand and cement or it will be a product called vermiculite. Either way the process is essentially the same. They will mix it with water and dump it into the pool a wheel barrow at a time. Once it is in the pool a builder will move it around usually starting at the shallow end and working toward the deep end. They will make a layer about two inches thick over the entire bottom of the pool. As this is going on another builder will be raking the mix around making sure that the layer is even. Once a section of the bottom is adequately raked out the builder will trowel it out making it incredible flat and smooth. This process will continue throughout the pool until they have troweled every last inch of the pool. At this point they will be ready for the liner. The will install the liner into the pool being careful not to scuff the freshly troweled bottom. When they get the liner in they will make sure that it is properly oriented in the pool. Once it meets their satisfaction they will place one or two vacuums behind the liner and remove the air. This will cause the liner to suck back into every nook and cranny. Now they are ready to cut in all the returns, skimmers, and main drains and start filling the pool. From there they will likely plumb in all the equipment (pump, filter, and heater) and do the final grade around the pool.
Sit back and Enjoy:
The pool is finished. If there is an auto cover on the pool they will be able to install it once the pool is full. However you are ready to swim, throw a party, have a cook out and simply enjoy the pool.
For more information please check out my other blog posts pertaining to vinyl liner inground swimming pools.