Are you thinking about installing a pool in your yard but want to learn more about the construction process to choose which type of pool to go for? You have come to the right place! In this article, I will review the swimming pool construction process for vinyl, fiberglass, and concrete pools. I will also discuss how much these pools cost, how long they take to build, and some common issues to keep in mind. Let’s dive in!
- The pool construction process differs depending on what type of pool you get: fiberglass, concrete, or vinyl.
- Fiberglass pools take the least amount of time, concrete pools take the longest, and vinyl pools are somewhere in between.
- Every type of inground pool involves planning and excavation as the first step in the process.
- Knowing what to look for in a pool builder is important to ensure you get a professional that will do a good job.
What’s the Swimming Pool Construction Process?
If you’re installing a pool in your yard, you will need to know the construction process before signing all the paperwork. Will it be months of backyard sacrifice while workers dig a hole and lay concrete? Or are there shortcuts to the process?
The answer depends. There are multiple types of pools: fiberglass, concrete, and vinyl-lined. Each one requires a different construction process, and they all have pros and cons.
No matter what type of inground pool you’re constructing, things will likely start with a design proposal from your contractor. Once you approve the proposal, you may have to apply for permits from your HOA or city.
From there, the construction process varies based on the type of pool. I’ll dive into each of these below.
Fiberglass pools are pre-built using existing molds. That means most of their actual construction takes place off-site.
Once completed, the pool arrives at your house in one giant piece! These are definitely the easiest pools to install and take the least amount of time. Fiberglass pools also require less maintenance overall than other types of pools.
Step-by-Step: Fiberglass Pool Construction Process
Here is what to expect from the construction process of an inground fiberglass pool.
Step One: Planning
The first step will be to lay out the pool, measure the dimensions, and decide where the pool is going to go. This is also a good time to determine if you want to install a deck and/or fence.
Step Two: Digging and Excavation
Next, the builders will begin digging out the ground and excavating where the fiberglass shell will go. The majority of this process is done using heavy machinery like a digger. Otherwise, you’d need a team of ten pool builders to dig out your yard.
Step Three: Build a Foundation
Once the excavation is complete, it is time to build and level a sturdy gravel foundation at the bottom of the hole. This helps secure the ground and keeps the pool level once installed.
Step Four: Set the Fiberglass Shell
Now it is time to set the pool shell. This usually involves more heavy machinery, such as a crane, as fiberglass shells can easily weigh over 3,000 pounds.
Step Five: Setting Up the Plumbing
Once the shell is placed in the pool, it is time to start setting up the plumbing. This includes the skimmer, filter, pump, return jets, and drain.
Step Six: Backfill
Backfilling is an important step in the fiberglass pool construction process. This is when you refill the areas around the perimeter of the pool with dirt, rocks, gravel, or sand. At the same time, the pool will slowly be filled with water to equalize the pressure on the fiberglass pool shell’s surface.
Step Seven: Installing the Coping and Decking
The final step is to install decking, coping, fencing, and any other final touches, such as diving boards, steps, ladders, and railings.
Timeframe for Building a Fiberglass Pool
Fiberglass pools generally take 3 to 6 weeks to install because all you need to worry about is excavation and installation. They’re made using a mold, which means most of the work is completed off-site. That gives these pools the advantage of a short and simple on-site construction time.
How Much Do Fiberglass Pools Cost?
You can opt to partially DIY install a fiberglass pool to save money. Many construction companies will allow you to do some of the excavation and final steps yourself, and they will simply help with the actual placement and setting of the pool shell.
Working with a contractor, a fiberglass pool will likely cost you between $25,000 and $90,000. This is a big price range because the cost heavily depends on your installation process and pool size.
Common Problems With Fiberglass Pools
Compared to vinyl and concrete pools, fiberglass pools require the least amount of maintenance. That said, they are not without their issues. Here are the most common fiberglass pool problems.
- Spider cracks: This occurs when surface cracks form in the gel coat of the fiberglass shell. While they don’t generally cause structural damage or leaks, they can be unsightly.
- Bulging walls: If the builder backfills the pool using only sand, pressure can build up on the walls of your pool, causing them to bulge out. To avoid this, ensure your builder does not use sand for the backfill.
- Fading: Fiberglass pools may fade over time if the gel coat of the shell is not installed properly. Talk to your pool builder to ensure they use the best quality gel coat.
Concrete pools are built on-site and are, therefore, entirely customizable for your yard and preferences. However, concrete pools are much more time-consuming and expensive to install than fiberglass pools.
Step-by-Step: Concrete Pool Construction Process
Here is the complete construction process of a concrete pool.
Step One: Planning
Step Two: Digging and Excavation
Once you and the builder have planned the design, it is time to excavate and dig out the site to prep for the pool. To achieve this, the pool construction company will first mark the perimeter of the pool, remove the earth from the perimeter, and dig!
Step Three: Compacting the Base of the Pool
Compacting the base is necessary so that the bottom of the pool becomes flat and uniform. This can be done by using natural soil or gravel. Afterward, a roller (or similar machine) will compact the base, and a layer of concrete is poured on top.
Step Four: Installing Steel Reinforcement
The next step is to install steel reinforcement vertically and horizontally on the pool’s surfaces. This reinforces the shell and helps it withstand the enormous amounts of pressure exerted by the thousands of gallons of water that will eventually be inside the pool. All essential plumbing lines should be placed within the steel reinforcement as well.
Step Five: Applying the Concrete
Now, for the part you’ve been waiting for: applying the concrete on the walls and floor. There are two types of concrete applications, gunite and shotcrete, and what you pick is entirely up to you and your pool builder. Special tools are then used to shape the surface per the agreed-upon design.
Step Six: Installing Electricity
You’re going to need electricity to run your filtration system, lighting, and heating. Before you finish the concrete, it’s time to connect and install all of these components.
Step Seven: Finishing the Concrete
There are many options for plaster finishes, including basic, tile, pebble, and quartz. These materials will help ensure your pool is waterproof and will amp up the beauty of the pool too!
Step Eight: Fill the Pool
Once the plaster is completed and cured, it is time to fill the pool with water. This can take anywhere from a few hours if you get a water delivery tanker to 24 hours if you fill the pool using a hose.
Step Nine: Installing the Coping and Decking
The pool coping is the part of the structure around the pool’s edge. While the pool coping is decorative, it also helps to protect the pool walls and prevent the area surrounding the pool from getting slippery. Common materials for pool coping are concrete, natural stone, pavers, bricks, or porcelain. This is when a pool deck is built as well.
Timeframe for Building a Concrete Pool
As they are quite difficult to install, concrete pools take far longer to install than any other type of pool. Generally, a concrete pool can take anywhere between 2 to 5 months to make. You’re essentially creating everything from scratch regarding a concrete pool, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it takes a while.
How Much Do Concrete Pools Cost?
Concrete pools are also the most expensive option. These pools will cost anywhere from $30,000 and $150,000 upfront, depending on how you customize them. On average, concrete pools cost around $60,000.
Furthermore, concrete pools are also the most expensive type of pool to maintain. They’ll cost you around $2,700 per year in maintenance.
Common Problems With Concrete Pools
Concrete pools offer the most in terms of customizability and design. However, there are, of course, some disadvantages when it comes to concrete pools, including:
- Rough surface: While concrete pools are already quite rough in texture in the first place, this problem can worsen over time due to environmental conditions and fluctuating pool chemical levels.
- Scaling: Concrete pools are most likely to have issues with calcium scales forming on the surfaces of the pool.
- Popping: While all pools can pop out of the ground, this generally occurs more frequently with concrete pools. This happens when you drain the pool or after a heavy rainstorm.
Vinyl pools are not as easy to install as fiberglass but take less time and resources to build than concrete pools. Vinyl pools also are not as durable and will need a new vinyl liner every 6 to 10 years. However, they are a lot more cost-friendly!
Step-by-Step: Vinyl Pool Construction Process
Here is my step-by-step guide for vinyl pool installation.
Step One: Design
Just as with fiberglass and concrete pools, the first step is to plan the design and size of the pool. You’ll need to discuss with your pool builder the dimensions of the pool, decking, coping, and other features you want to include.
Step Two: Excavation
Next, the pool construction company will begin digging the hole for the vinyl pool. This process usually takes between 2 days to 1 week, depending on the size of your pool.
Step Three: Installing Wall Panels
Once the pool is properly excavated and leveled, the construction company will install wall panels to support the structure of the vinyl pool. These are typically made of polymer or steel. The builder will then seal the walls using a concrete bond.
Step Four: Concrete Base
To create a uniform and sturdy base for the vinyl liner to sit on, most good pool builders pour concrete at the pool base. Ask your pool builder if they plan to pour concrete, as a sand base is not as stable or permanent.
Step Five: Plumbing
At this point, all the plumbing, filtration, pool pump, and other equipment are set up and installed.
Step Six: Installing the Liner
Once the concrete base is set and cured and the plumbing is all set up, your pool builders will start installing the liner. This generally only takes around one full day.
Step Seven: Backfill the Pool Structure
Once they have installed the vinyl liner, your pool builders will backfill it to ensure the pressure on the walls is balanced as the pool fills with water. As the sides of the pool are backfilled, the builders will slowly fill the vinyl liner with water.
Step Eight: Installing the Coping and Deck
As with all other types of inground pools, the finishing touches are always to install the coping and the decking.
Timeframe for Building a Vinyl Pool
Vinyl pools are quite middle-of-the-pack when it comes to the timeframe for the swimming pool construction process. They take slightly longer than fiberglass pools but not nearly as long as concrete pools. Excavation times will vary depending on the contractor and your yard. Most vinyl pools may only take a couple of weeks to install, but the decking and coping can take up to an additional five weeks. So all together, it could take 5 to 8 weeks to install a vinyl pool.
How Much Do Vinyl Pools Cost?
Vinyl pools are more cost-friendly than fiberglass or concrete pools. They generally cost between $22,000 and $50,000 upfront and will cost you about $1,000 per year in maintenance. Keep in mind that the size and other factors will determine the price.
Common Problems With Vinyl Pools
So, what are some of the most common issues pool owners have with vinyl pools?
- Issues with the vinyl liner: Of course, the most prominent issue with vinyl liner pools is with the liner itself. Issues can range from fading and stains to wrinkles. On top of that, you’ll need to replace the liner periodically – generally every 6 to 10 years.
- Low life expectancy: Vinyl pools don’t last as long as concrete or fiberglass pools, which can last 20 years and 40+ years, respectively. Conversely, vinyl pools have a lifespan of up to 12 years.
- Ugly steps and benches: Usually, the steps and benches of a vinyl pool are made with white plastic, which stands out and makes the pool look “cheap,” for lack of a better word.
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Common Swimming Pool Construction Questions
Here are a few other common questions pool owners may need to be answered before they go ahead and install a pool in their yard.
What Are the Most Popular Add-Ons for Pools?
While having a new inground pool in your yard is by no means a dull thing, you could spice it up even more by installing some awesome extra features. Some of the most common add-ons for swimming pools are diving boards, lighting, pool heaters, jacuzzis, water features, and pool covers!
What Permits Are Needed?
Talk to your pool builder and ask what permits may be required for building a pool in your yard. Your pool builder should know exactly what permits you need and be willing to apply for the permits for you as part of the contract. Never build a pool without appropriate permits.
When Is the Best Time to Build a Pool?
If you live in Texas or Arizona, you don’t have to worry about weather patterns when planning a pool build. However, not everyone has the luxury of living in regions with mild winters. In general, especially if you live in a region with harsh winters and lots of snow, you should always plan to build your pool in the spring or summer. In winter, trying and building a pool in icy or snowy conditions can be very complicated. And who wants to build a pool in the fall only to be unable to use it for at least six months?
How Do I Find a Good Pool Contractor?
There are a few best practices for finding a good pool contractor in your area. You can start by asking friends or family that recently had a pool put in.
Of course, if you don’t have friends who recently installed a pool, you may not have access to first-hand information. In that case, look for a pool contractor that’s been in business for at least a few years.
Ask them to show you proof of any licenses your jurisdiction requires. You can also ask them if they are part of any professional organizations or have received any awards for their work. And, of course, it’s a good idea to ask them what sort of insurance and warranties they carry should things go wrong.
Along with that, ask them to provide references, reviews, and photos. A good pool contractor should have a list of former, happy clients you can talk to.
Checking with the Better Business Bureau isn’t a bad idea, either. They provide a directory of pool contractors with letter grades based on their commitment to customer satisfaction, privacy protection, truth in advertising, and other important factors.
For more information on finding a good pool builder, read my article on questions to ask your pool builder.
And That’s the Construction Process
Learning about the pool construction process before installing a pool is a great idea. Knowing what your pool builder is doing back there and what step of the process they are on allows you to keep up to date with the process and ensure everything is going as planned.
Need more advice on the pool construction process or more information on finding a good pool builder to carry out the project? Shoot me a message. I am here to help you get a sparkling pool in your yard as soon as possible!