When it comes to construction techniques for building pools, the industry is always exploring new options. Suppliers frequently introduce innovations that enhance pool aesthetics or technologies from parallel industries that are incorporated into pool construction to overcome market obstacles, meet consumer demand, seize new market opportunities and stand out from competitors.
That combined with the increased importance of outdoor living spaces during the pandemic helped put smaller “boutique” pools in the spotlight. These pools are more affordable, energy-efficient, simpler to build and cost less to maintain. Taking tips from proven building systems in Europe, new pool building techniques are now being used to create chic pools.
SMARTER: ICF-Insulated Concrete Forms — cost-effective, efficient, beautiful boutique pools
Mark Teinert of DC Pools in Corpus Christi, Texas, was looking for a way to distinguish his pool-building business from competitors with a new construction process that would create a solid concrete wall structure to improve control over the building schedule while delivering a pool with superior performance.
“We initially turned to insulated concrete forms with a PVC membrane interior because the construction materials are stocked and readily available,” Teinert says. These pools offer rapid construction, upscale features, longevity and low maintenance.
ICFs are made of hollow blocks composed of expanded polystyrene foam and plastic bridges, or webbing, which connect the block sides; they have a long history in residential construction, particularly in home foundations.
This building technique relies on interlocking expanded polystyrene foam blocks to establish a framework for reinforced concrete walls. These ICFs are stacked atop each other and fortified with steel rebar. Concrete is introduced into these forms, generating a robust pool structure.
Following the curing of the concrete, the forms remain in place in the ground, delivering superior insulation properties for the pool. Builders in northern climates promote the insulation properties because it keeps the pool water warmer longer, saving clients money on energy bills.
The availability of durable, attractive and readily available PVC interior waterproofing membrane has helped boost ICF’s success.
“There is a learning curve, like anything else,” Teinert says. “However, pool professionals need to understand it is not that difficult, and there is no need for expensive equipment.”
The strength of ICFs combined with today’s designer-reinforced PVC-membrane waterproofing system is quickly becoming a mainstream concept.
“This construction system is the perfect combination of strength and waterproofing,” Teinert says. “I think it’s the next big thing that is going to take over the industry; it makes so much sense.”
SOPHISTICATED: B Squared polypropylene pools — ship an entire pool on a single pallet
Bob Coberley knew that the time was right to bring another pool-building system to the U.S. and Canada. After learning about the polypropylene product during a seminar in Europe, he brought the technology across the Atlantic and established his unique, patent-pending assembly system.
This was the birth of B Squared Pools.
“We combine our proprietary rail system with the polypropylene panel material which does not rust, rot, decay, crack or splinter,” Coberley says. “This polypropylene panel is being used in 57 countries around the world and is now finally available to the Americas exclusively through B Squared Pools.”
Now in its second season, builders are catching on and excited about this new lightweight yet durable system that allows an entire pool to be shipped on a single wooden pallet.
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The polypropylene material comes in grey, tan, white or a solid black color and can be filled with water without any additional interior. However, B Squared has found pool builders are interested in having a “pool kit” that is installation-ready with an attractive, reinforced PVC interior that looks like a high-end gunite pool.
After speaking to pool builders, Coberley learned this pool fills a niche in a builder’s offering — for those who might be shy about making a large investment in a pool as the economy is shifting.
“These smaller, fast installations can be sold at a lower price point because of the reduced labor needed for the pool installation,” Coberley says.
Additionally, these pools are easy and affordable to transport.
“Our 7-foot by 11-foot pool, with the membrane interior and all the preplumbed equipment, weighs just 2,000 pounds and can be brought into the backyard with an excavator,” Coberley says. “That’s the future of pool building.”
SMALLER & STUNNING: Bob Hobaica’s boutique Plunge Pools — the new way to pool
Bob Hobaica’s family business, Easton Pools in Massachusetts, has built concrete and gunite pools for over 50 years but has recently been looking to change its approach.
“I have been watching the market evolve with homes that have smaller backyards that need smaller pools,” Hobaica says. “Smaller backyards make bringing in cement mixers or gunite trucks near impossible. We knew we needed to offer a smaller, ‘boutique pool.’ ”
Hobaica says he was approached by an overseas company that wanted to partner to supply a one-piece concrete pool, but the concept wouldn’t work in the U.S. because of various regulations. This setback got Hobacia thinking and after working with structural engineers, the Plunge+ was born.
The Plunge+ is a patented, modular construction of a smaller, concrete, plunge pool that reduces the installation time of a typical in-ground swimming pool.
Unlike typical, one-piece, concrete plunge pools, this pool has a floor piece and wall piece that come together on the job site using proprietary processes. The pool pieces are generally craned or lifted into the backyard, depending on the space. Once the pool is assembled and plumbed, it just needs a waterproofing interior finish.
This is the point at which the Hobaica team landed upon offering a reinforced PVC pool interior to provide the most durable, practical and attractive finish to the pool.
“We decided to work with RENOLIT for the PVC interior, which has been used in Europe for decades,” Hobaica says. “They came out and trained our construction crew on how to install this reinforced PVC, which is welded onsite at the pool.”
Hobaica has been impressed with the resilience of the reinforced PVC.
“After we completed our first PVC interior, we left the pool open and without water for close to five months while we worked on a complete backyard makeover,” Hobaica says. “The pool was filled with rocks and dirt, but the PVC material is so robust, it wasn’t affected at all by the debris or the sun or lack of water.”