When I started in the field of vinyl liner inground swimming pool construction you can imagine that I had no idea what was going on. I saw all these parts and pieces and didn’t have the slightest clue as to what they were used for. I quickly caught on to the process and how things go together to create a beautiful inground pool. One of the things that routinely got installed were deck supports. Now the name of the item is also the description and is in my opinion self explanatory.
So I knew that the pools would have some concrete decking around them and that concrete is heavy thus requiring extra support. I was taught how to assemble the deck supports and how to install them on the pool. After that I stopped asking questions and it became common practice. As I have progressed in my career I have learned more about inground pools and all the components that go into making them. This includes deck supports. I am still in the inground pool industry, however I no longer build them. My current position is related to technical support and product specialization. With this new position I have learned even more than I did while building pools. I have heard of people saying that they would never use deck supports on a pool. They say that they would rather back fill around the pool with stone little by little, layer by layer, compacting each layer of material as they go. They might say that using deck supports around the pool is a bad idea because you don’t want to have something attached to the walls of the pool that is also attached to the concrete deck. Why? You might ask. The reason they say that this may not be the best idea, and it really applies to areas of the country where the ground freezes during the winter months, is because when the ground freezes and thaws it expands and contracts. If the concrete around the pool is attached to the walls via deck supports then when the concrete moves it could possibly move the walls of the pool. This is true, however if you install the deck support properly it will not be attached to the concrete, so when the ground moves if it moves the concrete a little it will have no effect on the structural integrity of the pool itself. It will be able to move freely. The idea of a deck support is to add extra support to to aid the ground in holding up the weight of the concrete. Unfortunately if you dig a hole and then refill it, you will likely have some level of settling.
The amount that it settles can be offset by the way
you back fill. If you back fill in layers of stone compacting as you go then you will not get much settling. On the other hand if you back fill with dirt and don’t compact as you go then you could get a great deal of settling. If you didn’t have deck supports and back filled with dirt then when the dirt settles it would completely ruin the decking. Rather than having the deck supports embedded in the concrete you want the concrete to sit on top of the deck support. What you want to do is have the stone that you lay down as a base for the concrete to be even with the top of the deck supports around the pool. This will allow the concrete to setup on top of the deck support rather than setting up while encompassing the deck support. This way if the ground does cause the concrete deck to move it can do so without potentially moving the walls of the pool. This is something that I did not know while I was a builder, and never thought to ask about. When you are trained to do something one way by your boss, and it happens to be the way they have done things for years and years, you tend not to question it, and just accept it as the proper way of doing things. Luckily to my knowledge there have been no incidents of the walls of any of the pools I helped build moving as a result of the deck supports being attached to the concrete decking. So all that being said, A deck support on a pool can be a very important component of the swimming pool structure depending on how it is installed. I want to stress that they shouldn’t necessarily be cast to the side as something that is not needed. As with many things there are certain exceptions to every rule. If you have read this post and have any questions regarding the information within it please don’t hesitate to ask.