Feature Article - November 2006
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Special Supplement: Problem-Solver Guidebook

By Stacy St. Clair and Emily Tipping

Rejuvenating Pool and Deck Surfaces

There's no doubt that swimming is a favorite pastime for many Americans. But if your pool's infrastructure is failing, your patrons are likely to find somewhere else to get their feet wet. If your pool surface is chipped, your pool deck is cracked and your gutters are deteriorating, the time to think about updates is now.

Q: From peeling paint to corrosion, we've had nothing but problems lately. But we don't have a big budget for an overhaul. How can we make our pool more swimmer- and budget-friendly?

A: You can only patch and repaint your pool for so long. Your options when your pool basin needs work include paint (epoxy- or rubber-based), fiberglass, plaster, metal wall or a PVC shell. For a long-term solution, your best and least costly option may be installing an envelope of PVC inside your old pool shell.

A textured PVC membrane is watertight, easy to clean, resistant to algae growth, pore-free and maintenance-free, aside from normal cleaning. It can provide both non-skid and smooth surfaces and is available in many colors. Repairs are rarely necessary, but when they are required, they can take place underwater. Even better, you can suspend your annual repainting program, because a PVC shell never needs to be painted at all. If you're in a part of the country where freezing and thawing creates problems for other surface types, PVC also can help. It expands and contracts with temperature fluctuations, so it won't come away from the pool surface as can happen with fiberglass and other materials. Best of all, installing a PVC membrane typically costs less than other more conventional renovation options.

Q: Our pool deck is due for an update. What's a safe, smart solution?

A: First and foremost, you want to consider your patrons' safety. And that means getting something under their feet that is non-slip. Many facilities have rough concrete poolside, but that can feel like sandpaper to bare feet. Another option is PVC decking. This type of deck will provide a long-term solution for your facility, and can be installed not only poolside, but virtually anywhere where slip-resistance and a watertight seal are important. Problems like delamination, spalling, flaking and peeling are eliminated with this type of surface. Better yet, it offers anti-fungal formulation, and maintenance is a snap.

Q: Our gutter is totally deteriorated, and the pipes are leaking. How can we fix this problem without completely rebuilding our pool?

A: For integral supply and return gutters, you can choose from extruded rigid PVC, or you can form a trench out of concrete. An extruded seamless all-PVC integral supply and return gutter functions virtually the same as a metal gutter system, with much lower maintenance requirements. And if your pipes are leaking, this type of system can be installed through a simple wall-top demolition of the perimeter of your pool, which removes the existing gutter and underlying concrete.

Q: How long will our updates to the pool basin typically last?

A: You definitely should do your homework on warranties when you consider your renovation options. Epoxy-based paint can last as long as five years, but rubber-based needs to be repainted annually. Plaster is a little better, lasting anywhere from three to five years. Fiberglass is even better than that, lasting as long as nine or so years when installed indoors. Metal wall installations can last more than 25 years, but also can be cost-prohibitive.

You're in luck if you've gone with PVC. PVC membranes typically come with long warranties. Manufacturers of PVC membranes, for example, typically provide a 10-year warranty. Even a metal wall installation is generally only warranted for five years. And even better news: Some of the original installations of PVC membranes are still functioning well after nearly three decades.


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