As your in ground vinyl liner pool is being built you will notice that there are a lot of different components to it. You will see that the pool walls consist of individual panels that can range anywhere from 2 feet wide to eight feet wide. The panels are then bolted together to form the walls of the pool. You will also see that the hole being dug appears much larger than the size of pool you purchased. The reason for that is that the pool is over dug on purpose to allow for the plumbing to be ran and the support braces to be installed. At this point you might wonder why the pool needs these braces. What purpose do they serve? There are several different types of braces and they do a couple things for your pool.
In general the bracing around the pool helps to support the structure itself. If you think about how the ground expands and contracts during the different seasons of the year you will realize that if the walls just sat there by themselves there would be the potential that they too would move as the ground expands and contracts. If the pools walls were permitted to move like this they would inevitably cause some problems. One is that it would significantly change the look of your pool. Another is that the shifting walls could damage the bottom that the liner sits on. Also if the force was great enough it could actually case damage to the walls themselves. The braces will get bolted to the walls at the panel joints and in some cases in the middle of each panel. They are then staked down and concrete will be poured around them as the footer/collar is being poured. This concrete footer will be poured around the entire perimeter of the pool to help stabilize it.
As I have previously mentioned, there are several different types of braces that may get used in the pool. One is what is known as a turn buckle brace. This type of brace is very handy when it comes time to straighten the walls of the pool. It is important to understand that because the walls are made up of individual panels they can be a little crooked after they are bolted together. The turnbuckle brace allows the builder to get the walls perfectly straight before the pool is back filled.
There is also another type of brace commonly referred to as a cross brace or X brace. This type of brace does is not designed to adjust the straightness of the walls but what it is designed for is to help tie in and support the concrete deck of the pool. Usually there is a good amount of concrete that gets poured around the pool to form the deck or “walks”. It is very common to have them extend to about 4 feet from the waters edge around three sides of the pool, and generally you will have a larger patio area on the fourth side of the pool. The cross brace or “X” brace will help to support the weight of the concrete “walks” around the pool, as well as tie them into the structure of the pool. Think back to that expansion and contraction that occurs throughout the season. If the “walks” were not tied into the structure of the pool and were instead just sitting there, you would have a strong possibility of them separating from the pool walls resulting in gaps between the walls and the side walks.
Another type of brace that I want to talk about is what is known as the standard deck support. This type of brace is basically shaped like the number 7 the purpose of it is to basically support the weight of the concrete walks around the pool. It will also help to tie the “walks” into the structure to some degree but the main function is support.
At this point I want to mention that at of these braces are made of galvanized steel. They are coated in zinc to slow down the corrosion process, and as a side note they also have very sharp edges. Just last year I had to get 12 stitches because of cross brace. The reason I mention this is for safety purposes. If you have kids you will want to keep them away from the pool area at least until it is back filled but ideally they should admire the pool from a far until it is ready to be swam in.
There is a new brace making an appearance this year that is created by the genius minds of those at Only Alpha Pool Products. This brace is designed to work with their Fuzion line of pool walls. This line is not made of galvanized steel but instead is made of true composite material. This material is 100% non-corrosive and the brace is likewise non-corrosive. The combination of these non-corrosive elements in the pool greatly increases the longevity of the finished product. For more information on the superior products being manufactured by Only Alpha Pool Products see my blog post titled “Superior Vinyl Liner Pool Building Materials” or check out the website http://www.onlyalpha.com/. This new brace offers the same support as a “deck support” or “cross brace” and also allows the concrete “walks” around the pool to be tied into the structure itself. The difference is that instead of sharp steel that will eventually corrode over time this new brace is 100% non-corrosive so it will last a lifetime. It is similar to the steel bracing in that it sticks out from the pool wall about 27″ so the builder will not have to change the over dig. One benefit is that the top portion of the brace is removable so it will allow the builder to more easily maneuver around to pool to install the plumbing and do anything else that may need to be done. Another added benefit is that the removable piece is also fully adjustable to accommodate any height of coping that the builder may put on the pool. The brace is also hollow to allow concrete or stone to flow through it giving it added support.