Vinyl Liner Pool Building – Leave it to the Pros

Have you ever wondered about the best way to build an in ground swimming pool?  Have you been thinking about getting a swimming pool but are concerned about the cost involved in the build of it?  Are you really wanting an in ground swimming pool but are hesitating because you think that it will just cost too much?

Well let me be the one to tell you that the best way to go about building your very own vinyl liner in ground swimming pool is to let a professional do it.  I know that this may not be something that you want to hear or read in this case, but it is something that I think is worth really knowing.  I am aware that there are several places online where you can obtain a vinyl liner in ground swimming pool kit and build it yourself.  However, in my opinion building your own vinyl liner in ground swimming pool is never a good idea.  There are so many aspects and components that go into a vinyl liner in ground swimming pool that it would be very easy to miss a step and end up with something that you will not be happy with.
As a pool builder I am aware of all of the problems that can arise when installing  a vinyl  liner in ground swimming pool.  If you do not know what to do in order to effectively deal with these problems then they can turn into larger problems and before long you have spent far more money than you had anticipated.  At that point you might as well have just paid to have the pool professionally installed to begin with.  To make this point even clearer I want to go through the process of the build and point out areas in which problems can arise.
The Dig:
By the time I get to this point I like to have a very clear plan in place for the pool.  I will have already laid out the pool in the backyard so I know where everything will go.  You have to realize that unless you have an excavator or backhoe of your own you will need to rent one.  When renting something like that, time is money.  You don’t want to be wasting time trying to figure out what goes where while digging the pool.  Once I start that thing up I will want to just power through it until the pool is dug.  One of the key components of doing this right is to have someone checking the depth the entire way.  Getting the depth of the pool right is very important.  If too much dirt gets taken out then it will cost even more money to get it back to where it needs to be because you can’t just put the dirt back.  Loose dirt will settle over time and under the weight of the water in the pool.  If that happens then there will again be a large expense involved in repairing it.  Stone will need to be brought in and placed in the hole to bring the bottom back up to where it needs to be.  In my opinion the dig is quite possibly the most important part of the entire pool build.  It will dictate the quality and ease of the rest of the build.  If it is off by a little, then more work will need to be done, more money will need to be spent, and more time will need to be spent working on the build.  When digging the deep end of the pool I usually always dig it a foot or so deeper than what it needs to be just so I can add stone for proper drainage.  Around here there seems to almost always be ground water that collects in the deep end.  The amount that collects will change depending on location, but it is almost a sure thing that there will be ground water.  Ground water is another aspect of the installation that a builder has to address.
There are a couple things that I do to combat ground water issues.  I almost always install a sump pit just off the deck area of the pool.  This sump pit will allow the homeowner to remove water around the pool at any given time.  In most cases they will just leave a sump pump in the pit and allow it to use its float to turn itself on and off as the water level raises and falls.  Another thing that I will do is install a drain in the deep end of the pool.  This is where that one foot of stone will come into play.  A very simple way to do this is to use a piece of flex pipe.  Simply drill some holes in the line, smaller than the stone of course, coil it up, and bury it under the stone.  From there the line will be ran up the side wall, under the wall panel, and up the trench with all the other plumbing lines.  This will allow the home owner, or the service tech the ability to pump the water out from underneath the pool.  Usually though it is enough to just drill some holes into a five gallon bucket and bury that in the stone and use that to pump water out of until it comes time to do the bottom and drop the liner.  At that point, I will drop the liner and fill the pool.  The weight of the water in the pool will, in almost every case  be heavy enough to keep the ground water away.  Think of it this way, if the ground water has nowhere to flow to then there will not be a problem.  Again there are extreme cases in which the pressure from the ground water is strong enough to counter the weight of the water in the pool.  If that happens then there is a strong possibility of the liner floating.
Again This is another reason why it is best to allow a professional to install your swimming pool.  Ground water is an issue all in itself, but throw a liner in there and you can end up with a bigger problem.  I have seen a liner float so bad that it ended up needing to be replaced.  The key is taking care of the ground water before the liner gets to the point where it is being stretched out around the main drains.
The Build:
This part is not necessarily that difficult.  It is a matter of bolting the panels together in the right locations, and installing all the proper bracing.  The hard part comes when it is time to level them.  Again this is where a good dig comes into play.  I have seen digs that were so spot on that very little had to be done in order to get them level.  On the other hand I have seen digs that were so far off of where they needed to be that the crew had to spend an entire afternoon leveling the pool.  I have seen this part of the build done a couple different ways.  Typically the walls will be completely put together before leveling the pool.  Then using wooden blocks and shims the panels are brought to the correct height.  I have also seen crews use pavers to level their pools.  In this case they would put down a paver and get it level and then set the panel on top of it.  I suppose either way works, but to me it makes more sense to build the walls first and then level them.  It seems that leveling pavers first just adds more work, because even after the walls were finished being built they went back and double checked the levelness of all the panels anyway.  I have never been one to tell someone how to build a pool, I just know what works best for me.  Once the walls are level, square and all the plumbing has been ran, then it is time to pour the concrete footing or collar.  After the collar is poured I always double check the levelness just because in some cases the weight of the concrete can cause the panels to sink a bit.  Once the wall panels are level I always straightened the walls.  The best way to do this is to use turnbuckle braces.
The Backfill:
I would always allow the concrete footing to set up overnight and then return the next day to run the electrical conduit.  This part may require the need for an electrician.  The building codes differ from place to place, so builders always check and make sure they are following all building codes that apply.  This is yet another reason it is best to allow a professional pool builder to build your pool.  Many people are unaware of what the building codes are and if they are not followed it could result in a fine.  Obviously that would cost money as well.  Anyway, once I get all the conduit ran around the pool where it needs to go, I would then begin backfilling the pool.  Some people backfill with dirt, however if I am intending on pouring a concrete deck around the pool then I will prefer to backfill with stone.  I know that I could use deck braces to support the weight of the deck, but that would not help with the dirt settling around the pool and leaving voids under the deck.
The Deck:
Once the pool is completely backfilled then it is time to prep for the concrete deck.  For this I will again plan out what the deck should look like.  By that I mean shape.  Next I will lay down a layer of stone, and get it all to the appropriate height.  The concrete deck of the pool should be about four inches thick and it should have fall.  This means that the farther away from the edge of the pool the lower the deck should be.  This will allow any water to run off the deck away from the pool.  When I have the stone at the right height in all the proper locations,  I will then form the deck using concrete forms.  Once the deck is completely formed up, I will use rebar to create a grid within deck area.  This will help to give the concrete strength.  Once all the rebar is laid out within the forms it will all have to be tied together.  When that is finished it will then be ready to pour the concrete.  Pouring the concrete really does require some technique.  Not everybody has the skill needed to do it right.  If it is not done right then it will look bad and once it cures it will look bad forever unless it is busted up and re-poured.  This is another reason why it is important to have a professional install your pool.
The Bottom:
The bottom of a vinyl liner in ground swimming pool is something that requires a lot of technique and labor to do properly.  Usually it is done with either a sand/cement mix, or by using vermiculite.  Either way the process of doing a bottom on a vinyl liner in ground swimming pool is a challenge.  Perhaps I am just a bit of a perfectionist, but I have seen some bottoms that were in pretty rough shape.  The idea is to get it as smooth as possible.  I can assure you that anything that happens to get underneath the liner will be easily felt from inside the pool.  I don’t know why exactly, but for some reason even the smallest piece of debris under the liner feels like a rock from inside the pool.  Anyway with a good crew and the know how, an average size pool bottom will take anywhere from three to four hours to complete and get the liner in.  Again if there is ground water in the pool, obviously it will have to be dealt with when the time comes.  Once the bottom is finished it is time to install the liner.  This is a job for a few people.  Liners are large and typically have some substantial weight to them.  They need to be sucked back into place by using vacuums, and then all the proper holes will need to be cut for the main drains, returns, lights, skimmers, and anything else.  Again this is something that is best left for the professionals.  A hole in the wrong spot could result in the need for a new liner, or a patch/aka eyesore.
Like I said, there are several places where a vinyl liner pool kit can be bought online, however the cost of hiring a professional pool builder would be worth it.  A professional will have the experience and know how to deal with any issues that may and will likely arise throughout the building process.  Not to mention all of the permits needed will be obtained by the builder and all of the liability will be on the builder as well.  If anything were to go wrong then it would be up to the builder to handle and correct it.  When it comes to building vinyl liner in ground swimming pools I think that it is best left up to the professionals.
For more information on in ground vinyl liner swimming pools please check out my other blog posts.

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