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Constructing a Swimming Pool Wall

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Constructing a Swimming Pool Wall

Construction of Shotcrete swimming pool wall begins with forms. All pool constructors use Shotcrete; it’s the quality that varies. In the industry, 70% of form is the ground itself. The majority of the constructors use good ol’ mother earth as their main form of Shotcrete application. In situations with walls lifted above the grade, such as vanishing edge walls or where the soil is weak to repel Shotcrete’s use, it becomes a major challenge. Forms should be strong enough to endure the force of Shotcrete without vibrating. Preventing vibration is the main concern because when it does, the concrete weakens.

Constructing a Pool Wall

Strong impact

The speed of well-applied concrete through the Shotcrete process is about 80mph. This force rate should produce a total cover of any included material like piping or rebar. Cement to water ratios, & compatibility is essential in a freestanding swimming pool wall. With the speed of the Shotcrete, the forms should be strong. The Shotcrete process is violent, and you must confirm that the form is sturdy. Soil can’t work as a form, especially if it can’t be dug into a pool shape because it will collapse and disintegrate. Sand-built pools need some form of additional structure.

Where you cannot use soil as a form, you excavate the area exhaustively and then make the forms. In addition to building forms, you should dewater the site. It is also a problem building forms in areas with a lot of rainfall. The soil won’t stand, and the addition of carpentry skills is necessary for addition to excavation. Contractors using concrete, use some types of forms. For traditional pools, the top of the wall is an essential element. They form a beam with 2-by-6 to form a flat surface creating a clean interface with neighboring decking & necessary growing joints.

For a vanishing edge wall, in an above aspect, it is a freestanding wall with radii and unsupported. When you elevate above the ground, it increases sensitivity. Building pool walls below grade due to soils, it lessens the effect. In such scenarios, if the forms aren’t plumbed, the swimming pool wall may become sloppy and need extra Shotcrete. It will go unnoticed, and if everything else were in a good state, the pool would also be of good quality. For vanishing edge walls, which are visible, and the finishes are above grade, it will always be visible. You need to square, plumb & level. Some constructors will leave it to the tile workers to float or chip it. It is, however, dangerous to rely on this because of future issues such as cracking.

Use and Reuse

Most companies have half of their investments in above-grade walls. They make their forms and reuse them after. Straight forms are 4-by-8 panels of 5/8 inches plywood. The plywood should be bulky and thick because of the Shotcrete speed. A 2-by-4 construction for framing 24 inches on center is perfect because there are no ceiling additions. It also provides more room to work than a 16 inch.

This form is long-lasting, and you can recycle up to 6 times or more. It is advantageous because you don’t have to do it on-site and you can take time to perfect it. It also fastens the installation process. Reusing forms was a viable option because it maximizes on saving. The cost of lumber and the time spent. The form is then left for about a week. The quality of the form decreases after use. To solve this, add quarter-inch plywood to the original once it becomes damaged. The reason oriented stand boards aren’t considered is because of the fiber which retains water from the concrete when the form is removed. Even with plywood, it doesn’t have a clean appearance though it is 70% less than with OSB. OSB is cheap to purchase, but because it isn’t recyclable, it becomes expensive.

Use of braces

Working with the radii, it becomes complex. In this case, it is better to involve a framing contractor or house carpenters who know how to make perfect contours and can work in home areas. To form curves, use a 3/8 inch plywood and bend it to a curve. To add to its strength, layer the forms with 2 pieces. The majority of the forms make braces of 45 degrees. If you have space, push them out a bit for additional strength. Anchoring of braces requires a lot of creativity. If there is no space, pour the floor, water curve it, come back and harden it where it meets walls to form a solid bond. Support all forms on concrete surfaces. It is a successful method with complicated designs.

Accurate tolerances

It is possible to achieve zero tolerance on constructions, using wood and Shotcrete. Small variations with the panels, such as the nature of working with lumber, especially finishing materials like plaster, tile, and stone. They need adjustments at the float stage to succeed in a super light tolerance. The Finishing of vanishing edge walls should be one and a half inches or below. Due to uncertainty at the top of the wall, there should be room left for adjustments. Thick floating structures will lead to mistakes such as the top of the wall, failing to stick to the concrete.

Rebar coverage

The accurate installation of rebar and concrete coverage are sensitive issues. A common error made is covering of rebar with adequate concrete. When rebar is near the surface, water penetrating the swimming pool wall destroys it. This requires 2 inches of coverage. Contoured walls built from steel in thin air need adjustments once the forms are up. If not, it is a guarantee of future problems. The still has to be safe and firm so that it doesn’t move when Shotcrete encapsulates concrete. The niche formed by moving steel bars affects its strength and creates pockets in which water fills and destroys the wall.

Waterproofing

Colloidal silicate coating materials are sprayed on wall products to make it waterproof. Another option is adding a waterproof agent to a shotcrete mix at the batch plant. Most products are in liquid form; therefore, the ratio of water to cement should be accurate. Integral waterproofing can be expensive, depending on the products and materials used. Water tightness comes from compression strength 4000-5000 in beaches where walls get placed under seawater. Accurate density is essential because water can become dangerous when it permeates through the wall. Waterproofing is worthy of the cost in comparison to the cost of a fallen project.

Pool News coverage brought to you by Pool Magazine's own Marcus Packer. Marcus Packer is a 20 year pool industry veteran pool builder and pool service technician. In addition to being a swimming pool professional, Marcus has been a writer and long time contributor for Newsweek Magazine's home improvement section and more recently for Florida Travel + Life. Have a story idea or tip you'd like to share with Pool Magazine? Email mpacker@poolmagazine.com your story idea.

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Contractors and Builders

How to Hire a Pool Builder

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How to Hire a Pool Builder

A swimming pool can modify your backyard into a first-class haven. Even so, constructing a pool is not a walk in the park. This process consumes a lot of time and effort. Thus, you have to be careful and employ a reliable pool builder. Keep in mind that they can either make or break your project. Moreover, swimming pools cost thousands of dollars. Subsequently, you cannot afford to hire an unreliable pool contractor.

How to Hire a Pool Builder

What is the cost of hiring a pool builder?

Pool construction often varies depending on the pool builder you hire. But on average, it costs $36,700 to $66,500 to build a pool. Most professionals charge approximately $50 to $125 per square foot for pool construction. The labor costs vary depending on the type, size and design of the pool. Pool contractors usually charge more for complex pool designs and landscapes.

Hiring a professional pool builder vs. conducting a DIY project

Some homeowners prefer building their own pools. Constructing a pool is a tedious process, especially if you have no experience. So, you would rather leave this work to a professional pool contractor. Although it might be cheaper to conduct a DIY pool construction project, you might end up spending thousands of dollars in the long run. Remember, any mistake made during pool construction can take a toll on your budget. So, unless you have extensive experience and knowledge of pool construction, always hire a reputable pool company.

How can I find a reliable pool contractor near me?

Generally, it can be hard to find a reputable pool contractor. So, conduct thorough research on the best contractors near your area. From there, compare quotes and narrow down to your best option. Below are some ways that’ll help you settle for the best pool contractor near you.

Getting referrals

One of the best ways to find a reputable pool contractor is to ask for referrals from your neighbors, friends or family.

Check customer feedback

Never forget to evaluate all customer reviews and feedback about a company’s services. Pool contractors with the highest ratings are more likely to deliver quality pools. Also, read all the customer reviews. Doing this helps you find the best pool contractor who caters to your needs.

Check pricing, terms and conditions

Different pool installers charge differently. Thus, it is essential to know how much a prospective pool professional charges. Keep in mind that your pool contractor should cater to your requirements and your budget. Also, it is crucial to understand all the terms and conditions of construction before hiring a pool builder.

Is the business legal and licensed?

Get to know a brief history of the company you plan to hire. Check whether they have a valid license and insurance cover.

What are the services offered by pool builders?

Typically, there are many aspects involved in pool construction. Most are always willing to provide all kinds of pool construction services. Some of these pool services include:

  • Coming up with the pool design. A good company will always recommend the best pool designs that suit your requirements.
  • Obtain all the pool construction permits for you.
  • Excavating and setting a good foundation for the pool.
  • Putting up the rebar framework.
  • Installing all pool equipment; pool filter, pump and heater.
  • Installing additional features in the pool.

Do you need to hire a pool builder?

After knowing the pool type and design, you wish to install, decide whether you want to hire a pool builder. A pool builder is undoubtedly necessary if you have zero knowledge of pool construction. Pools incorporate a long construction period. Thus, it would be best to hire a professional pool contractor to handle the project.

What should you tell your pool builder?

Once you find a reputable pool professional, ask them questions to get clarification on everything concerning pool construction. A good percentage of reliable pool contractors are always willing to address all your queries, fears and doubts. Below are some of the questions you should ask your pool contractor.

  • Are you the one responsible for coming up with the pool design? Do you give recommendations based on my requirements?
  • Is my landscape fit for excavation? How do you deal with problems with my landscape?
  • Are there any challenges that are likely to show up during the pool construction process?
  • Do you offer any pool financing options? If you do, how can I apply for the pool loan?
  • Do you recommend the equipment and materials I should use for my pool?
  • Do you have a valid license and insurance cover?
  • Do you offer warranties?

Final thoughts

Before hire a pool builder, there are several factors you need to consider. Generally, your contractor should have a valid license, extensive experienced and exhibit professionalism. Remember, pools cost a fortune; so, you have to hire a dependable pool contractor.

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Contractors and Builders

Jimmy Reed Is One Of The Elite

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Jimmy Reed is One of The Elite

Jimmy Reed is unquestionably one of the top experts specializing in glass tile interiors today. A master artisan, he is definitely on a short list of A list installers. When it comes to tile, Reed is often sought out for his expertise in that particular realm.

We had the opportunity to catch up recently on the Pool Magazine podcast and discussed his impressive body of work. Working with a veritable who’s who in the swimming pool industry, Reed’s work has taken him from coast to coast working on some of the most jaw dropping pools in America.

Reed’s expertise is highly prized, consequently he’s become a frequent collaborator with luxury pool builders like Dave Penton.

Jimmy Reed Has a Reputation

A native of Southern California his entire life, Reed first began building a reputation on the West Coast for his incredible mastery at installing glass tile interiors. That notoriety has spread over the years to catapult Rock Solid Tile as a premier consulting firm providing expert pool tile installation all over the country. Today he is widely considered by many to be one of the best of the best.

With almost 50 years under his belt, there isn’t a whole lot about glass tile Jimmy Reed doesn’t know about.

Reed first got his start in tile almost 5 decades ago and has become a permanent fixture in the pool industry. A humble and unassuming person, you’re almost lulled into the false security of believing he’s just a regular guy. In fact Reed is without a doubt one of the crème de la crème when it comes to tile and an important resource for veterans who value his craftsmanship and wealth of knowledge.

Mosaic tile interior Reed installed in a collaboration with elite designer Shane LeBlanc – Photo Credit: Jimi Smith Photography

“The first important job I ever had the opportunity to work on was for Jaqueline Bissett” who costarred opposite Steve McQueen in the 1968 classic “Bullitt”. Over the years, Reed has worked on tile interiors for a laundry list of Hollywood celebrities and famous athletes.

Skip Phillips and Dave Penton collaborated with Reed on this stunning custom luxury pool.

First getting his start as an assistant in the 70’s, Reed would spend years learning the trade and honing his craft. “I inevitably wound up hiring most of the guys I used to work with” said Reed, discussing his progression to starting his own firm Rock Solid Tile back in the early 80’s.

First starting with luxury tile interiors for kitchens and bathrooms, as tile interiors began to become more popular in swimming pools, Reed would eventually focus on making that a bigger part of his repertoire. “It was kind of a new thing back then, especially in L.A. to be doing an all tile pool interior.” said Reed. Over the years glass tile would become a mainstay with him. “Glass tile really began to take off around the late 80’s” said Reed, “over 85% of the pool interiors we do today involve glass tile”, he explained.

Seeing as though he’s collaborated with some of the most well known designers and builders in the pool industry, we wanted to know Reed’s process for consulting on a high end glass interior.

“Every project is different and I get called in at all different times,” said Reed, “Often, I’ll get the call before the pool is even built and be the first one called in to consult with a client who doesn’t have a pool or they have an existing pool they want to add tile to.”

This was certainly the case on a major remodel Reed worked on with Dave Penton, Alison Terry, and David Peterson for one luxury home owner in San Marino, California. The homeowner had the budget and the desire for a complete pool and landscape makeover.

While elite pool builders know to consult with Reed when it comes to glass tile, Reed likewise knew to tap his resources in the industry to consult when adding on all of the extras the client was asking for to compliment the $250,000 glass tile interior he was installing.

“Sometimes I’ll come in and recommend that we create a team with a landscape architect, and a legitimate viable pool builder to really take on the project and make it what they are ultimately looking for.” said Reed.

Jimmy Reed continues to impress builders with his amazing eye for detail. – Photo Credit: Jimi Smith Photography

Advice For Those Aspiring To Learn Glass Tile Interiors

“Learn the techniques and the trade from the ground up, don’t take any shortcuts. It’s not just about putting tile on a pool. There is so much preparation involved. If you can master that, by the time you get to the tile installation part, that should be a breeze.” said Reed.

However when it comes to actually pulling off luxury tile interiors, Reed admits the number of installers capable of doing high end work at that level are far and few between.

Personally, we have seen our fair share of glass tile installations posted to social media showing evidence of catastrophic failure. Consequently, we asked Reed to weigh in on what folks may be doing wrong. Some of the failures have occurred in areas of the country where tile typically experiences more expansion from season to season. Reed stressed that proper surface preparation can account for expansion even in cold environments which aren’t traditional markets for glass tile interiors.

Builders sent a snapshot of the mosaic tile installation Reed did standing up to another harsh Wichita, Kansas winter.

Reed’s best advice for those tempted to take on glass tile if it is outside of their wheelhouse; “Don’t do it, or hire someone that’s experienced in those types of installations” he explained. Suggesting that because of the high price tag associated with glass tile interiors, doing one wrong could be prove to be extremely costly. “Homeowners doing a project of that nature typically have no problem taking care of themselves on an installation that goes wrong. I’d either go into it with the utmost confidence or not do it at all”, said Reed.

Many builders would love to be doing more glass tile interiors but there is a limited number of skilled tradesmen capable of taking on high end work. Many contractors are unwilling to learn how to properly install glass tile. We asked Reed if he saw a lot of that going on in the pool industry. “It’s very true, they don’t need to do the training because they are very busy as it is. It’s like learning a different trade. They don’t see it as learning how to do their trade better, it’s something completely foreign to them.”

For those that want to do high end glass tile interiors Reed explained that there is actually a really short list of installers that specialize in the types of installation work he does, mentioning Tributary peers like Danilo Bonazza and Ray Corral who frequently work on the East Coast.

A Return To The Norm

Although Covid-19 has seen unprecedented demand for inground pools, the pandemic has brought it’s fair share of challenges for many folks in the pool industry. This has also been true for Reed, who has had to scale back his operations. “We’ve been busy, but not as busy as we’re used to. We scaled down so our overhead is lower, our workforce is smaller. We’re still very busy though. This season has been nuts (referring to demand).”

We asked Reed if he expected a return to the norm soon, now that the demand associated for pools due to Covid-19 has begun to taper in the market; to which Reed responded “I do, at least we’re certainly seeing that on our side.”

Listen to our entire interview with Jimmy Reed on the Pool Magazine podcast

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Contractors and Builders

Scammers Cash In On Pool Craze

Avoid getting scammed on your pool installation this summer

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Pool Scams Consumers Need To Watch Out For

This year has proved to be a repeat of 2020 in terms of consumer demand for swimming pools. A vaccine is out but with less than half the country fully vaccinated, folks are still looking for pools to fill the void in creating lasting summer memories. Instead of packing up the family SUV or booking a flight to the beach, many consumers are looking forward to spending time in their own backyard.

The swell in demand has attracted many new pool companies looking to cash in on homeowners that are desperate for a swimming pool. This includes a fair amount of scammers that are ready to take advantage of a surge in consumer interest in swimming pools.

We offer some sound advice on how to avoid getting scammed for a swimming pool installation.

How are scammers targeting consumers interested in swimming pools?

Whether homeowners are interested in an inground pool or an above ground pool, we’ve seen scammers taking advantage on multiple levels with a variety of shady tactics.

Avoid getting scammed on your swimming pool installation by following this practical advice.
  • Pool companies performing pool construction without a license and only a website and no license number listed or a fake one registered to an entirely different company. Certain states specifically mandate that contractors display a valid license number for consumers to check.
  • We’ve also seen instances where pool builders have had their entire design portfolio lifted from websites like Houzz and Facebook only to be copied to a competitors website where they claim the work as their own. These companies often have no track record for completing pool projects and no intention of doing so once they’ve parted the homeowner from their money.
  • Bait and switch tactics applied to online retail scams where the pool advertised in no way shape or form resembles the actual product the consumer receives. Consumers need to be especially careful about buying swimming pool kits from overseas suppliers, particularly on websites like Ebay, Craigslist and Wish.

What should consumers watch out for when looking to buy a pool?

  • Prices that appear to be too good to be true usually are and should be avoided.
  • People are frequently enticed by low ball pricing they can’t refuse, but they end up paying for a pool that simply doesn’t exist.
  • Read customer reviews carefully and only buy from reputable sources.
  • Verify the company’s physical location really exists. Doing a simple Google search can help consumers avoid the frustration of getting scammed.
  • Check the companies website carefully if a fake address or no address is shown. It definitely could be a scam if the company’s actual address cannot be easily verified.
  • If purchasing online, pay with a credit card or another safe means of payment. Using a secure payment option, such as a credit card, gives you extra protection and increases your chances of successfully challenging the charges.
  • If purchasing an inground pool, a reputable builder will base your payments on realistic milestones in the pool construction process and avoid front loading the majority of the project before any construction actually occurs.

How can homeowners locate a reputable pool builder?

Homeowners can start with checking a pool companies rating on the Better Business Bureau. It’s also advisable to check websites like Houzz, Angi, Yelp, Pool Contractor, and BuildZoom.

  • Reviews are great for making a buying decision but often don’t tell the whole story. When considering which pool contractor to hire don’t just read online reviews. Ask for references and a pool tour in the course of doing your due diligence.
  • Google a pool companies name and type in the word “complaints” to see what comes up.
  • Carefully review your pool contract before making signing it and making a deposit. If you notice anything odd or misleading, don’t just sign out of sheer desperation to own a pool.

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