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Problem Solver - August 2011

Save Resources on Pool Construction

With many budgets stretched to the limit, it can be hard to find the funds for new pool construction. That means it's wise to look for savings where you can find them. When you can find ways to save on both material and labor costs, while also reducing the time needed to take your pool construction from start to finish, everyone is happy, from your board and members to swimmers itching to get in the water.

Q: We are looking to build a new pool at our facility. Is there a way we can save resources and time during the construction process?

A: Yes. Why not look to the construction process itself for a source of savings? Take, for example, the forming of your pool walls. A proven new approach to creating concrete pool walls can save both time and money, while offering several advantages over traditional concrete construction methods.

Typical pool construction involves the use of Gunite or Shotcrete. A new approach uses internal form supports, or I.F.S. system, allowing the use of poured in place. Structural concrete can be shaped simply, with a fraction of the money and in far less time than required for other systems. With the I.F.S. system there are no expensive forms to buy and store.

In addition, the system is specifically designed to be used in chlorinated environments like swimming pools. Why is this important? Chlorine and salt can have long-term corrosive properties that can be a concern.

Q: Wouldn't we be better off with a steel or polymer for a liner pool, or gunite for a plaster pool?

A: Structural concrete poured with the I.F.S. system offers many advantages over these other solutions.

Unlike with steel and polymer, you can get a 6-inch or an 8-inch thick reinforced concrete wall, and each pool wall will be designed as a retaining wall. You won't need to backfill the pool walls before filling the pool with water. In addition, you'll be able to drain your pool at any time and for as long as you need without worrying about the walls moving. A reinforced concrete wall will also outlast a steel pool wall, and it will never rust or corrode. The cost using the I.F.S. system is about the same as a steel or polymer wall system.

A reinforced concrete wall is also several times stronger than a polymer pool wall. Also, because it is a monolithic structure—a single piece—it will not separate over time. On top of these benefits, a reinforced concrete wall is both easier to install and easier on the budget than a polymer pool wall.

Gunite is one of the most popular types of pool constructed in the United States, but reinforced concrete walls can offer advantages over this solution as well. For one thing, reinforced concrete will not depend on the dirt wall of the hole to serve as part of the form. On top of this, reinforced concrete walls are easy to form in all soil conditions, including sand and loose gravel. When using the I.F.S. system, poured in place concrete is less expensive and much stronger than gunite. The I.F.S. system requires no specialized tools and no specially trained crews. The I.F.S. system typically requires less rebar because structural concrete is used instead of Gunite. Structural concrete, depending on the mix design, can be two to three times stronger than Gunite yet less expensive. The labor process to build a shell with the I.F.S. system takes about the same amount of time as a Gunite pool shell.

Q: We want a unique pool though. If we choose an alternative method for building it, won't we get stuck with a cookie-cutter shape or a rectangle?

A: No. Reinforced concrete walls using the I.F.S. system can take many shapes, from simple rectangles, tee-shapes, kidney shapes, lagoons and more. The process makes it much simpler to create curved concrete walls, so your pool will be able to stand out from the rest, while providing all of the benefits of concrete.


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