HomeownerHelpful Info: Outdoor Projects

Pool Companies

Pool Companies Educational Content

Gunite pools are a popular pool type because they can be built in any shape or size. Before construction can begin, you’ll need to decide how you will use the pool. Is the pool going to be the family hang-out spot? Are there any serious swimmers in the family? Do you want a hot tub or spa? Do you have a preference for saltwater versus conventional chlorine? Where in the yard does the pool fit best? With this basic information, the pool designer will work with you to develop the plan.

As you might expect, the first major construction step is to dig the hole. Next, the crew will install a steel framework for reinforcement. This helps prevent cracking and structural failure. The rough plumbing for drains, inlets, skimmers, and lighting comes next. Once that step is complete, the crew will install the gunite. Gunite is a mixture of concrete and water and is blown, or “shot,” onto the steel framework. For gunite to properly set after it is shot and troweled, it needs to be watered. The crew will water the gunite several times a day in the summer. If your pool build happens in the winter, they’ll water the gunite once per day. After the gunite is set, the crew will install tile and coping. The pool decking comes next. Pool decking is typically poured concrete or pavers on sand.

The crew will install all inlet covers, drain covers, filter equipment, and pool lights before they apply the pool’s finish. The most popular finish for a gunite pool is plaster. Plaster is watertight and prevents leaking. It’s sprayed and troweled onto the walls and bottom of the pool. With the plaster in place, the crew will fill the pool to the midpoint of the tile and begin the chemical start-up. The plaster cures underwater and needs to be brushed at least once per day for seven to ten days.

Most areas mandate safety measures for pools. This typically includes a barrier or fence of some type around the pool. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the requirements for your area.

Another major decision you’ll need to make for your pool is the sanitization system. The two most popular options are saltwater systems and conventional chlorine systems. Both have pros and cons. Take your budget into account, but also think about how much pool maintenance you want to do during the year.

Saltwater pools are popular because they aren’t as drying to the skin and hair as chlorine pools. Although the name implies otherwise, saltwater pools do, in fact, use chlorine. The difference is that the chlorine concentration is lower than a standard chlorine pool. Saltwater pools use salt and a chlorine generator to create chlorine and keep the pool clean. The generator runs continuously, so there is no need to shock the pool with high levels of chemicals every few weeks. You might see a slight increase in your electricity bills with a saltwater system. The advantage is that the generator eliminates the need to handle and store toxic chemicals. You won’t need to test the water multiple times per week to ensure the proper chemical balance. Because of the technology involved, saltwater pools do cost more than a chlorine pool to install up front. Saltwater pools are, however, easier and cheaper to maintain in the long run. A properly maintained saltwater pool should need major service only once per year. This annual service involves draining the pool for easier cleaning, replacing filters, and inspecting the chlorine generator. The pool technician will also address any other issues.

Chlorine pools are less expensive up front than saltwater pools. The maintenance needs, however, are much higher. Because the supply of chlorine is not constant, the pool’s chemical balance needs to be closely monitored. The pool water should be tested for proper pH levels, calcium levels, and alkalinity. In addition to the normal maintenance tasks, the pool will need to be shocked on a weekly basis. This chemical shock kills any bacteria that may have developed. These maintenance tasks are important, but they do take time. Pool maintenance companies can take care of these tasks for you.

Pools typically need to be remodeled after about ten years. This does vary based on the material your pool is made from. A good guideline is to keep an eye out for cracks, leaks, and general deterioration. If you see any of those issues, it’s time for a remodel. A pool remodel typically involves replastering or resurfacing the pool as well as redoing the tile. Many people also opt to update the pool lighting, coping, and decking during a pool remodeling project. A remodel is a great opportunity to upgrade your pool’s mechanical parts or water sanitizing system. A larger renovation is a good time to add a hot tub, spa, or decorative water feature. Also ask your contractor about adding an outdoor living space to the pool area. Some pool remodeling contractors can add those types of features, but not all do.

Routine pool service includes vacuuming the pool, brushing the tile and plaster, and emptying the skimmer and pump baskets. Your pool technician should clean equipment, like the pool filter and bags, and lubricate the O-rings. They’ll also need to check the filter pressure and backwash when needed. It is also important for the technician to test and balance the pool water and maintain safe chlorine levels. Finally, your pool technician should check all the pool’s electronics and generally make sure everything is in good shape. You can do these maintenance tasks on your own, but they take time. And getting behind on pool care can cause major problems. The pros are fast. They also know the ins and outs of pool equipment, so they’re uniquely qualified to spot potential issues. This gives you time to fix small problems before they turn into expensive disasters. If your area has cold winters, look into a pool heating system. Pool heating systems can be electric, gas, or even solar powered. If winter temperatures dip to freezing, an annual pool winterization service is essential. This service ensures that your pool makes it through the winter without needing expensive repairs in the spring.

In early spring and through the summer, most pool companies are extremely busy. If you can, try to have pool work done in the off-season months. Pool renovations, in particular, are best to have done in the fall and winter. The pool wouldn’t be in use during those months anyway. Alternatively, you can arrange for the work to be done while you’re away on vacation. To ensure that the pool is ready for the summer, scheduled pool installations, renovations, and other work well in advance.