If you buy a house with a pool already installed, you probably haven’t thought too much about how an inground pool is built. However, if you are looking to install an inground pool, you might be wondering what is involved.
Just like all pool owners are different, so are all inground pools. Knowing what choices you need to make and what construction options are available are going to help you make the right choice for you and your family.
This article is going to cover some things to consider BEFORE you built a pool and then how different inground pools are built.
First, before you get started, you need three things: a place to put your pool, money to pay for it and a professional to help you install it (unless you plan on doing it yourself!)
The Right Spot for Your Pool
The best inground pool in the world will not make your family happy if it is situated in the wrong location. Worst case scenario, it may not even be possible to install a pool at the spot you have chosen.
Questions to ask yourself (and your pool contractor) include:
- Can my pool installation team access my property?
- How much excavating and grading will I need to do?
- If so, what kind of soil do I have and how difficult is it to dig?
- Are there any large rocks, tree stumps, etc. that will need to be removed?
- What is the landscaping like? Are there leaves and other plant debris that will fall into my pool?
- Will my pool be mostly in the sun or shade?
- Do I have room for a safety fence?
What will it cost?
The next factor will be the cost. You need to make sure that your budget matches the inground pool that you choose.
There is more than just paying for the inground pool itself and contractor. Don’t forget to include these items in your budget:
- Higher home insurance and property taxes
- Electrician to connect your pool to the pump and filter
- Lighting and landscaping around your pool, including a safety fence
- Accessories and features, including a heater and pool cover
- Cleaning tools and chemicals
- Ongoing Maintenance costs
How an Inground Pool is Built
Of course, it goes without saying that before you do anything, you need to make sure that everything is done according to your local municipal bylaws, including getting any necessary licences and permits.
You will also need to make sure that the space that you intend to dig is not also the home to any pipes or wires. This includes any water or gas pipes, power lines, cables, etc.
We will go into the most detail on vinyl pools, since they are far and away the most popular option. This is due to their lower costs and shorter installation time.
Vinyl pools are the most popular type of inground pool.
Excavation and Site Preparation
The first step be the excavation. A backhoe or excavator will be used to remove the dirt to the depth that your pool will be.
When digging, your contractor will dig an additional 30 inches or so around the pool to make room for the vertical braces that support the pool walls.
Securing the Wall Panels
Next, the wall panels are bolted together and secured with vertical braces so that they are well-supported. If you have steps in your pool or a “buddy seat”, this will be assembled too.
Your builder will then pour an eight inch concrete footing around the outside of the pool that will lock the wall panels in place.
Of course, there is a fair amount of plumbing involved with pool installation. A plumber will come in and install plumbing around the pool and to your pump and filter system.
Material is needed to separate your liner from the dirt. This is called the vinyl liner pool base and it is typically made using vermiculite or grout.
Once it is mixed, your installation team will trowel it into place.
Finally, you’ll be ready for the pool liner installation. The top of the liner has a “bead” that goes into a track at the top of the wall panels
Your pool contractor will place the liner in the pool, snap it into place and form it to the shape of your pool. Air bubbles can form behind the liner, so your contractor will use a vacuum to remove them.
One any wrinkles or air bubbles are removed, the pool will be filled with enough water to hold the liner in place.
You will now need holes for the various jets, drains, skimmer, lights, etc. Once those are cut, the rest of the pool will be filled up.
Setting up the Patio Area
Next, it’s time to set up the patio. Some contractors will do this before installing the liner – it is really a matter of preference.
The dirt around the pool must be compacted to create the patio area. This is an essential step – loose dirt means structural problems down the road.
The patio is then added according to your preferences.
Now it is a matter of setting up your proper pool chemistry and making sure that your pool water is clear and safe.
Ready to Swim!
Finally, all that is left to do is jump in and start swimming!
How long does this take?
Generally speaking, it takes four to eight weeks to install a vinyl inground pool, depending on if there are any schedule delays. How does that breakdown?
- Excavation: one or two days
- Asembling and securing the wall panels: one or two days
- Plumbing: one day
- Installing the vinyl liner (including the base): one to three weeks
- Setting up the water chemistry: one or two days
Your contractor will create a cage of steel bars, or rebar. This creates a strong structure for your pool, plus gives it the ability to be a little flexible.
Next, the plumbers will come in to install the pipe. Some of the plumbing will be installed while the rebar is being created.
However, some plumbing needs to be installed after the rebar is set in place since the plumbing will be supported by the steel.
A concrete shell is poured by shooting concrete into place. It is shaped using straight edges and trowels.
Curing and Waterproofing
The concrete next needs to be cured – or hydrated with water – and then waterproofed.
Tiling and Coping
Concrete is porous and will stain at the waterline. To address this, tile is installed along the top of the pool.
The concrete or stone border around the pool that transitions the pool to the patio is called coping. Installing the tiles and coping are usually done at the same time.
Installing the Patio
As with a vinyl pool, the patio area is compacted and then the patio is installed.
Finally, the plaster – or interior – of the pool is installed. It’s typically a mixture of cement, sand, pigment and water that is pumped onto the surfaces and troweled flat.
As with a vinyl pool, the pool is filled up and the water chemistry is balanced.
The difference with a concrete pool is that the pool must be brushed twice each day for 10 days to remove the plaster dust. The pool heater cannot be started until after those 10 days.
There are other inground pool types available, although they are much less common than a vinyl or concrete pool.
Fiberglass pools have shells made of fiberglass topped with a gelcoat. They are great options for quick installation and easy maintenance.
Basically, once the excavation is complete, the shell is dropped in, the plumbing is set up and the remaining area filled back in. Then, you just need to create a patio area, fill the pool up and you are ready to go swimming!
You can also include decorative touches, like tiling, to give your pool a more pleasing appearance.
We have also talked about how you can build your own inground pool using a number of creative options.
The work is done…or is it?
Once your inground pool is built, you may think that all of the hard work is over. However, the hard work has just begun!
Inground pools, like any part of your home, needs regular maintenance. Without that maintenance, you will run into some very serious problems, including:
- dirty, unsafe water
- putting your family at risk for various skin and stomach conditions
- equipment breaking down more quickly
- expensive repair bills
- an unpleasant pool owning experience
However, pool maintenance is time consuming and if there is one thing that most people don’t have, it’s time. So what can be done?
Many wise inground pool owners realize that they need a professional to be able to handle all of the maintenance tasks involved with keeping a pool in top notch shape. A pool cleaner can make sure that your inground pool is sparkling clean, can handle all of the water chemistry and keep an eye on your equipment so that repairs and replacements can be made before they are a big problem.