Floating Liners

Have you ever had your liner float?  This typically only happens when the pool has to be drained for one reason or another.  Basically what happens is that there is water that builds up in the ground around and under the pool.  most of the time it is due to rain, but there are other variables that come into play from time to time.  Anyway  as that water builds up around the pool, the pressure from that water pushing up becomes greater and greater.  Usually the water in the pool is heavy enough to keep the water outside the pool back.  However if you have to drain the pool for some reason then the weight of the water in the pool decreases and the water behind the pool has the opportunity to flow in behind the liner.  I have seen this happen many many times.  Fortunately most of the floating liners that I have seen were being replaced anyway so it didn’t make much of a difference.  Still it always seems to alarm the homeowner, and when I tell them that it is ground water underneath the liner they always question me saying “well it can’t be, it hasn’t rained since last week”.  The fact is that it can be because that is what it is.  The ground has the ability to retain a lot of water and being that it is underground, it doesn’t have the sun aiding in evaporation.  Then when the water in the pool is drained, it suddenly has a place to flow to.

This happens quite often around here.  However it is rare that the liner will float with the pool full of water.  Don’t get me wrong, it has happened before and it is because the water pressure behind the liner is greater than the water pressure on top of the liner.

There are some things that most builders will do to ensure that the liner doesn’t float and give the home owner some piece of mind.  One is that they will often run a perforated tile around the pool that will collect any rain water and allow it to flow away from the pool.  There are a couple places that it will likely go.  One place is to a sump pit.  This is just like the pits you see in basements.  It is usually located just behind the deck of the pool and has a pump in it that will kick on if the water level gets too high.  The other way they take care of this issue is by having what is know as a French drain or Gravity drain.  This is dependent on the elevation of your yard.  It is basically the same perforated tile running around the pool, but instead of it going to a sump pit, they will dig a trench down hill away from the pool.  That way any water that the tile collects will be directed away from the pool.

I have even worked on a pool that was built with a line underneath the very bottom that could be used to pump water out from behind the pool.  This was a extenuating circumstance though.  The pool was built in an area that retained a lot of ground water. For the most part liners floating is not a problem around here, other than when a pool is drained.

There is also a product available that was made to combat this issue.  It is something that I have never used and something that I would be cautious about using.  Hydrostatic vales were made to keep ground water from ever being a problem.  They get installed in the bottom of the main drains on the pool floor.  They use the pressure of the water to work.  Basically they have a spring in them and if the water pressure under the pool gets too great the the spring assists the pressure to force the valve to open.  This allows the water from under the pool to flow into the pool rather than behind the liner.  Then once the pressure is equalized the valve closes again.  My only concern would be that there is a possibility for something to get into the valve while it is open and prevent it from closing again.  If that were to happen you would then have a pool that no longer holds water.  I suppose it is not a major issue, as i imagine the hydrostatic valves are not too difficult to replace if needed.  Honestly it is up to the discretion of the builder on what they think is best.

If you do happen to see that you liner is floating, it is very important that you get it taken care of right away.  Usually the pool will have to be drained and the water will have to be pumped out from behind the liner.  Hypothetically if you were to let it go, then you could end up with a much bigger issue on your hands.  I have seen one liner float to the extent that the water under it pushed it up so much that it stretched out the screw holes in the main drain.  At that point the liner had to be replaced to ensure that it wouldn’t leak.  In addition to that the water under the liner can damage the bottom to the extent that some patch work needed to be done.

Ground water is very common when digging down especially eight feet or more.  Looking back I think that the majority of the pools I have built have had ground water from day one.  It is just a matter of keeping it under control.  Usually we would dig the pool a foot or so deeper than the finished depth.  Then we would drill small holes into a plastic 5 gallon bucket and bury it in stone in the bottom of the pool.  That stone would also bring the depth back to finished grade and allow any ground water to flow through the holes in the bucket so we could easily pump it out.  Then when it came time to do the bottom, we would keep the pump in the bucket until we were ready to finish the bottom.  At that point we would pull the pump out, fill the bucket with stone and do the bottom over top.  Then we would get the liner in, cut in the main drains, and start filling the pool.  Basically it is a matter of staying ahead of the ground water.  If you can get more water in the pool than there is under the pool there won’t be an issue.  It comes down to experience.  Most reputable builders know what they are doing and very very rarely ever run into an issue.  If for any reason there is a problem a reputable builder will likely take care of it at no extra cost.

The reason that I wanted to write about this issue today is just to offer some information as to why liners float and what can be done, both to prevent it from happening, and to resolve it once it if if does happen.  Like I said before, ground water is very common but usually doesn’t pose a problem for vinyl liner in ground pools.  Typically the weight of the water in the pool is enough to keep the ground water back.  In most cases people with vinyl liner in ground pools aren’t even aware of ground water until the pool is drained.

In ground pools – How to choose

When you begin thinking about getting an in ground swimming pool there are some things that you can do so when the time comes you are ready.  I have written about this subject in the past, however today I am going to approach it from a different angle.  The reason being that today’s world is technology driven.  That is something that I forgot the last time I discussed this subject.  For many of us, we have access to all of the information in the world.  In fact most of us have it right in our pockets.  We can access it at any time and without even thinking about the significance of what it means.  The majority of people use this technology to update their Facebook status, upload videos to Youtube, or just watch the Youtube videos that already exist.  Let’s face it the minute we stop going to school, that is the minute that we stop using the internet for what it really is.  The internet is our gateway into the world.  The possibilities are virtually endless.  That being said it stands to reason that we should utilize this technology for purposes other than recreation.  One of my favorite websites is Houzz.  With this site a person can view projects that others have done and create their own idea book.  This is where the process of getting a pool should start.  Granted their are other websites out their that can function similarly.  However with Houzz, a person doesn’t have to filter through a bunch of other stuff to get to what they are looking for.  Houzz is a jumping off point for a lot of people who want a swimming pool but just don’t know what components they want.

Step 1

The reality is that there are many things that a person can add to their pool to truly customize it.  Getting an idea of how what these things look like and how they work plays a huge role in the decision to purchase them.  Seriously, when was the last time you bought something without having at least some idea of how it works or what it looks like.  With Houzz people can see what others have done and get a feel for what would look good in their own backyard.  It allows us to see the many options that can compliment a swimming pool before actually buying anything.  The idea book aspect of the site allows viewers to take specific pictures and store them all together.  Now imagine having that when you sit down with a builder.  It will help to eliminate them trying to sell you the same pool that they put in down the street two years ago.  After all if you are spending your money on it and have to see it for years to come, don’t you want it to reflect your personality?  Having an idea book will help the builder understand what you like and and don’t like and help you decide what works and what doesn’t.  That is the first step to getting a pool.

Step 2

The fun part comes when you get to share your idea book with your significant other.  This is where you fine tune what you want in order to accommodate both of your tastes.  Use this to bounce ideas off of one another, eliminate the things you can live without, or identify the must haves.  Another major benefit to this site is that a lot of the projects that you can view are images of projects from start to finish.  This will allow you to see what’s to come during the build process.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many people have come up to me to tell me that they didn’t realize this or that.  With this site you can get an idea of what the project will look like at various stages.  This will allow you to eliminate that element of surprise later.  You can remain ahead of the game and know what is next.  Having that ability may be beneficial if you are still indecisive on some aspect of the process.  There are some things that can be changed before specific points during the build.  For instance if you are having concrete poured around the pool to form the deck, you may not be sure of how you want it to be formed.  If you can decide before your builder is ready to pour then you may be able to change it.  That is something that you obviously can’t change after the fact… Well unless you are willing to spend the money to have it busted out an re-poured.  However having these elements decided on before hand will definitely speed up the process.  That is another reason Houzz is ideal for people who are thinking about getting a pool.  All of these things can be decided on before you even meet with a builder.  If you and your significant other have two different idea books then you would likely have different pictures in them.  When you sit down and go over each others books you may be surprised to see something that you had not encountered during your search.  On the other hand you may see something that you saw and quickly passed on because its just not your taste.  When it comes down to it though, this is a big part of deciding what you want and having photos will definitely help.

Step 3

Finding a reputable builder is a very important part of this whole process.  You don’t necessarily want the guy in the pickup that will build the pool cheaper than anyone else.  A lot of time guys like that have very little experience and are just looking to get your money.  I have noticed that the most reliable builders are those with a store front.  However don’t just pick a builder based on that.  Use the internet and research their company.  Most builders are quick to identify how much experience they have.  You might see on their website that they were established in 1976 or something like that.  Also you can often find reviews that their past customers have written.  Be sure to look outside their website for these.  While they may have some testimonials posted on their website, you can be sure that what is there was hand picked to help make their company look perfect in the eyes of the consumer.  If you feel that you have identified a good builder take the time to go to their store and have a look around.  Obviously you want to make sure that they are what their website says they are.  If you drive up to an old barn with a paper open sign hanging in the window then you may want to do more research.  You may be wondering why it matters that they have a location and that it is one that is up to date and clean.  Well a lot can be said by what a company has.  A nice updated showroom in a clean building with an electronic sign out front shows that a company is responsible, at least to the extent that they pay their bills and maintain a nice showroom.  Granted the guy in the pickup truck may be a good builder and may be as responsible as the one in the nice building.  However keep in mind that you are about to spend a decent amount of money with them.  All politics aside you want the person building the pool to do a good job and you have to weigh the risks.  Once you feel comfortable with the builder you have chosen then you are ready for a consultation.

Step 4

Arrange a date and time to sit down with the builder and discuss the possibilities.  From your research you will likely have some questions for them and it is a good idea to have them written down ahead of time so you can make sure to get them answered before committing to buying a pool.  This is also the time in which you can show them you idea book.  In all my years as a pool builder I have found that talking about different components of a pool can be somewhat difficult.  It is difficult enough to do talk with someone else in the field so it is very tough to do so with someone who doesn’t know the terminology.  Photos of things you want to talk about will greatly help the builder understand the things you are wanting.  Likewise the builder should have plenty of material to go through with you as well.  The builder may have photos of pools that have been built in the past.  You can probably choose to get one like the one in the picture, or you can start from scratch.  You will have to decide why you want the pool to begin with.  Do you have children?  Do you just want a place to relax?  Do you want a deep enough pool to jump into?  These are all things to consider when choosing a pool.  However their may be some things that you have overlooked that the builder can help with.  Things like orientation of the pool in the backyard or size of the pool in general may be easier to decide while talking with the builder.  They may be able to give you some insight on what has worked in the past and steer you away from installing a pool that is much too large.  Your idea book will be very helpful to show the builder for things like concrete.  There are many ways a builder can do the concrete.  It can be standard white concrete, it can be colored, it can be brushed, it can be stamped.  You can have a boarder around the pool in a different color than the rest of the concrete.  If you have photos in your idea book of the style of concrete then your builder will walk away with a very good idea of what you want.  This can alleviate any confusion later.  Once you have determined the wants and needs associated with your pool you can move forward with the build process.

With the way that technology is moving it makes perfect sense to use it to our advantage.  Utilizing different websites and social media to benefit you in your search for your perfect pool or project in general is the next big thing.  It allows you to more easily identify the things you like and need and discard the things you don’t.  That way when the time comes to sit down and talk with a builder, you are fully prepared.  Being that Houzz in particular often shows you projects from start to finish you can go in with a greater knowledge of how the process will go.  In turn that will allow you to identify and write down any questions about the process so you can get them answered right off the bat.


The Thrill of Owning an In Ground Swimming Pool

There is a feeling of pride that people get which comes with owning an in ground swimming pool.  I think that this feeling of pride comes from the fact that they have something beautiful in their backyard and it is also something that brings them much joy each and every year.  I am sure that for some it is the fact that they have something that their neighbors don’t have.  For others it may be due to the smiles that the pool brings upon the faces of their children.  Some may see it as a status symbol, while others may not even take into consideration that their neighbors envy them.  Regardless of how this feeling of pride comes about, the fact remains that it is there.  In addition to that feeling of pride, a swimming pool offers much more than most people even realize.

In the past I have gone into detail about the different benefits that an in ground swimming pool offers.  Today I just want to recap on some of these things.  Lets start with the fact that having your very own swimming pool can possibly allow you to save money in the long run.  Many people take summer vacations every year and take their families to different places.  It has been a while since I have gone anywhere on vacation but way back when I did, I recall it costing a pretty penny.  I am not the type that takes a vacation every year but just based off the last time that I did I can assume that doing it over and over each year would eventually add up over time.  This cost would quickly out weigh the cost of installing your own pool.  In addition to that if you are the type of person that typically takes their family to the local public pool throughout the summer you are probably aware that there is some cost associated with that as well.  It may be a membership fee, the cost of gassing up the car twice a week to get there, or the cost of snacks, and drinks while you are there.  With an in ground pool of your own these costs would drop off significantly.  What I have just described is what is known as a staycation.  That is where a family invests money in their own backyard anticipating that they will stay home during the summer and use their own backyard as their vacation spot.  The quality of that staycation is dependent on how much time and money you put into the backyard.  Some people may be fine with doing the minimum, while others go all out and get the best of the best.  Typically an in ground pool plays a huge role in this staycation, but those going all out usually take it a couple steps further.  Once they get a pool they compliment it with a magnificent landscape.  Or they incorporate and out door kitchen or fire place into the design to give their backyard a complete makeover.  It truly is an investment.  People do all of these changes anticipating that the new backyard space will act as a vacation spot for their family for years to come.  If they do it right then the amount of money they save by not going to some exotic location each year will eventually out weigh the amount of money that they spent on the backyard.  This is just one thing that having your own swimming pool can offer.
There are also some physical benefits to owning a swimming pool as well.  I have written before about how swimming can benefit the body.  Swimming is a work out,  additionally it is a low impact workout.  That being said, swimming is the perfect work out for older people, or pregnant women.  I know that when my wife was pregnant she was alway uncomfortable and one way that she could get some relief was to get into the pool.  Floating around in the pool took a lot of the stress out of her lower back and joints.

I maintain that it is important for children to learn how to swim.  Originally I thought that it was a good idea just for safety reasons, but as I learned more and more about it I began to realize that for younger children especially, learning to swim aids in the development of their thinking ability as well.  Studies show that the act of teaching young children to swim helps develop their minds.  It comes down to listening and following direction.  Still, teaching your children how to swim for safety reasons is valid enough for me.

Another thing that you should consider is the fact that a swimming pool offers a fantastic place to just relax.  With the right type of lighting a swimming pool can become a place for romantic dinners on the deck.  Keep in mind that the decision to get a pool should not just come from the fact that your kids want one.  Don’t get me wrong that is a good reason to consider getting a pool, but you should also get enjoyment out of it as well.  Once the kids go to bed the pool can become a place for you and your significant other to sit, relax, and let all the stresses of the day go away.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, a swimming pool is a wonderful addition to the backyard cook out.  It goes without saying that you would need a pool to successfully have a pool party as well.  If you are the type of person that enjoys entertaining then an in ground pool would go a long way.

These are just some reasons why owning an in ground swimming pool offers a thrill for people young and old alike.  For more information on in ground swimming pools in general please check out my other blog posts.

The Problem with One Piece Fiberglass In Ground Pools

The one piece fiberglass pool is becoming more popular each year, but I think that there are some things that you should know before having one of them installed in your backyard.  The following are aspects of the one piece fiberglass pool that they don’t want you to know.

– The Structure – 

As water is drained, the pressure outside the pool causes the pool wall to cave in

This is an aspect that I feel often gets overlooked, unless of course you are an installer in which case you are probable well aware of it.  Being that they are made of fiberglass, they have some flex to them and they are not a self supportive structure.  If fact if you have one of these pools, you may have noticed that during the build the builder was filling the pool with water as they were backfilling the pool.  The reason they do this is to equalize the pressure.  Many people don’t even think about the fact that the water in the pool weighs a tremendous amount.  That weight pushes out against the sides of the pool, and if there is nothing around the pool to support the weight of the water in it then you could potentially face the very real potential for the pool walls to collapse, causing irreparable damage to the structure.  On the other hand If the pool were to be backfilled without any water in it, then it could collapse in on itself or at the very least not hold its shape.  Either way it is something that should be considered during the installation process.  The best way to avoid this issue is to backfill the pool and add water at the same rate.  This will help prevent the structure from failing.

– Limited Sizes and shapes – 

As the name suggests, this type of pool is made entirely out of one piece of material.  This type of pool is molded in a factory somewhere.  This means that the size of pools available is limited to the amount of space available in the factory.  The shape of the pool is also limited to the molds that the factory has to work with.  This basically means that there is no customization.  You choose from what is available and that is that.  It is essentially a cookie cutter process.  The factory produces these pools over and over again.  You will not get to add your personal touch and design tastes to the pool.  You get what you get and that may also be what your neighbor has.  If you are looking to get a large extravagant pool then you may want to consider going a different route because even the largest one piece fiberglass pool is still relatively small.

– Don’t dare drain the pool –

This comes back to the issue with structural integrity.  Some say that there would never be any reason to drain this type of pool, but I strongly disagree.  There is always the potential for something to happen where the repair would require that the pool be drained.  For instance, what if there is a leak at the main drain, or a crack shows up on the bottom.  There are also situations that could cause the pool to lose water unintentionally.  Perhaps your filter cracks and you lose the majority of the water through it.  This has happened in the past.  A family left their home for a few days and upon their return they saw a mess in their backyard.  The pool had lost water from the plumbing failing at the filter pad.  As a result their pool popped out of the ground which in turn destroyed the concrete around it.  In my opinion that is the worst case scenario.  Another thing that could have happened stems back to the difference of pressure.  When the pool drains the pressure inside the pool becomes less and less, and the pressure outside the pool stays the same.  This could lead to the collapsing of the walls of the pool.  In the case I just mentioned the pressure from ground water under the pool was great enough to force the pool out of the ground.  Without the weight of the water inside the pool there was nothing holding it down.

– Problems with the finish – 

Blemish remains after repair is made

As I said before these pools are made primarily of fiberglass that is eventually coated with a smooth gel coat finish.  One issue that I have heard of is that this finish is susceptible to fading, leaving behind an eye soar.  If that were to happen on the bottom, then there is yet another reason the pool would need to be drained.  From what I have come to find out this type of repair is not cheap, and in many cases does not last.

– Location Location Location – 

I have built some pools in some pretty isolated or hard to get to locations.  This leaves me wondering how a one piece fiberglass pool would be delivered to a similar location.  Typically these pools are brought in on the back of a semi truck and crane lifted around the house or in some cases over the house to the back yard.  So from that alone I can’t imagine that having one delivered would be cheap. So how much would it be to have one delivered to a place where a semi truck can’t gain access to? How would they even get it there then?  I once attended a series of training seminars at a company that manufactures one piece fiberglass pools.  This question was brought up at that meeting.

We were told that this company in particular could deliver the pools a number of ways including by helicopter and boat.  So now you have to pay for helicopter delivery?  $$CHA-CHING$$  So all that being said, the location of the install and the amount of money the customer is willing to spend plays a huge role in the practicality of this pool.

These are some of the issues associated with one piece fiberglass pools.  Some say that there is no way that they will pop out of the ground,  some say that there will never be any reason to drain the pool, and some even say that they are structurally sound.  However the old adage remains true.  A picture is worth 1000 words.  All the pictures shown in this post suggest that they do in fact pop out of the ground, they are not structurally sound, and they are not the easiest pools to work with in general.

For more information on in ground swimming pools, specifically vinyl liner in ground pools check out my other blog posts.

Liner Over Steps – Ensure Proper Installation

More and more people are having in ground vinyl liner pools built these days.

In addition to that one of the aspects of a vinyl liner pool that is also growing in popularity is the liner over step.  In a recent post I went into some detail about the different styles of vinyl liner steps.  Without repeating myself too much I want to reiterate the fact that there is one style that I consider superior to the other.  Only Alpha’s Permanent Form design of liner over step is in my opinion the better way to go as far a liner over steps go.  The other option is to go with the Straight Tread Design.  These are both very nice steps to have in you vinyl liner pool.  They will both give you that sleek look that everyone is wanting for their pools.  However the Permanent Form Design is in my opinion the superior step.  It will offer a more stable tread and as far as installation goes I find it to be a bit easier to install.  The main reason is that this type of step requires a concrete tread be poured.  These steps come from the manufacturer as just the risers.  Basically they will have to be backfilled with stone and the capped off with a couple inches of concrete.  This means that initially there is more room to work and they are far easier to backfill.

Here you can see how the support legs are attached to the bottom of the treads
The Straight Tread Design is a little more tricky to install.  With this design the manufacturer will send it out with both the risers and treads of the step intact.  This system relies on two main things for support.  One is the legs that it comes with.  These legs will be installed under the steps and give it something to rest on.  Although these legs offer some support for the step, the primary source of support comes from the backfill.  I would venture to say that the 10% of the support comes from the legs and the remaining 90% comes from the backfill.  Issues can arise if the installer doesn’t sufficiently backfill the step.  From my experience this style of step often gets poorly backfilled.  I think that this problem is primarily a result of the installer finding that the steps are somewhat difficult to backfill and they call it good before it is actually good enough.  In reality the Permanent Form Design was made to combat this issue.  If the Straight Tread Design step is not backfilled adequately they may need to be repaired at some point.  That point may come too soon, or in some cases it could take years before you notice that something is not right.  What happens is that although they have the support legs under them, the steps will become for lack of a better term “squishy” under foot, between where the support legs are located.  This means that as you walk down them you may notice the tread flexing under your weight in some areas.  This is usually because there is no backfill to very little backfill under them in that area between the legs of the step.  When it comes to composite Straight Tread Design.
The main concern is at the joints of the step.  The joint is where two parts of the step are bolted together.  For instance if the steps are 16′ wide across the entire shallow end then they will likely come in 8′ sections that will need to be bolted together to make the 16′.  The joint at which they bolt together is susceptible to giving way under foot if there is not enough backfill under them to support the weight of swimmers entering and exiting the pool.  If this happens you will notice a difference in the height of the tread at the joint.  One side will typically be a touch higher than the other and that difference will be greater when weight is applied.
How to avoid this issue.
First of all the best way to avoid this type of situation is to avoid it all together.  Insist that your builder use the Permanent Form Design step.  With the Permanent Form this is a non-issue.  However the permanent form design is a touch more expensive than the Straight Tread design.  If you are having a pool installed with the straight tread design be aware of how the installer is backfilling them.  They should literally be stuffing the underside of the step with stone.  They should also be checking the tread surface periodically by walking the length of the treads to ensure they are properly supported.  If they find an area that is “squishy” they will need to address it by stuffing even more stone under them in that area.  As the owner of the pool you should absolutely feel free to assess the steps yourself prior to the pouring of your deck around the pool.  If you feel that there is an area that is suspect of inadequate backfilling, feel free to mention it to your builder.  Being that you are the owner and it is your money going into the building of the pool, you should be comfortable with the way the steps feel as you walk down them.
How a builder can fix a composite Straight Tread Design step if the joint gives way.
This repair is not all that difficult to do and really doesn’t take too long.  First the pool will need to be drained down to a point at which the problem area is exposed with enough room to work provided that the liner itself is salvageable.  Next a hole will have to be cut in the tread of the step next to the joint that has the issue.  For this I will typically use a 4″ hole saw (do not lose the piece that is cut out).  Next use the hole in the tread to add backfill material.  Depending on how big the void under the steps is they may need to first add stone to bring the backfill to the appropriate height.  Once that is complete I always finish filling the hole with concrete (quick-crete works well for this).  Make sure that the material going into the hole is pushed down as much as possible.  The goal is to pack that hole with as much material as possible.  Once the hold is completely full, the piece that was cut out can be inserted back into the hole.  For this next step the builder will need to contact the manufacturer ahead of time to procure an industrial strength two-part epoxy.  They will need to use that epoxy to secure the piece back in place.  After the epoxy hardens they should sand down the area until they again get a smooth, seamless surface.  At this point the they can either add some step foam, or just put the liner back in place depending on their preferences.
The Straight Tread Design step can be a wonderful addition to any pool.  However the quality of the step is ultimately dependent on the quality of the installation.  Obviously, in any situation that you are not quite sure of it is important to ask questions.  If your builder comes to you proposing the installation of a Straight Tread Design step over a Permanent Form Design step take the time to ask them about it.  Have they installed this type of step before?  Have they had any problems with this type of step in the past?  If you are still unsure, you can always insist that they install a Permanent Form Design instead.
Builders will typically have a harder time backfilling a full width step as opposed to a corner step or bench.  Keep in mind that it is your pool, your property, and your money.  Be aware of what is going on, ask questions, and demand the very best from your builder.
For more information on the different types of liner over steps check out my other blog posts related to this topic.  You can also check out Only Alpha’s website at http://www.onlyalpha.com/  From there you can navigate through the different parts of the website and see the different styles of steps available as well as the differences between a steel wall pool and a composite pool system.

The Backyard Staycation

There has been an increase in the amount of people putting money into their own backyards rather than spending it on expensive vacations.  More and more people are taking advantage of the concept of the staycation.  In case you are not aware a staycation is when someone, or a family of individuals take time off of work and use that time to just stay home and enjoy their time together in their own backyards.  The key to fully enjoying their time at home is in the remodeling of their backyard landscaping.  Many times this remodeling includes the installation of a pool.  In the past I have written about the different benefits of owning a swimming pool and how it can bring a family together.  I have also gone into depth about the cost and work that goes into a pool.  In My opinion to get the best bang for your buck, a vinyl liner in ground pool is the best bet.

When it comes to the different types of pools out there, you have several choices.  Without going into all of the details of each type of pool, I want you to know that a vinyl liner in ground pool is the most economically sound and efficient.  If you are looking for a bit more on the differences in the style of in ground pools, please check out my blog post titled “Why my vinyl liner pool is better than other types of in ground pools”.

In addition to having a pool installed in the backyard, many people are also completely re-doing their backyard landscape all together, or adding a deck.  Another big thing right now that can dramatically enhance your backyard space is an outdoor kitchen.  This will usually include a grill, refrigerator, counter space, and in some cases a fire pit.  These are all things that people are getting to enhance their backyards to get them ready for a staycation.  With all that in mind you can be looking at a fairly substantial expenditure.  However, instead of thinking of it as money spent, you can see it as a investment for you and your family.  It will require some planning and more than likely you will want to consult a landscaper before getting started.  If you are looking to go all out and add a pool to your backyard design, you may want to consider a vinyl liner in ground pool.  Out of the types of pools available I find that vinyl liner pools are the way to go.  These pools are more structurally sound that a one piece fiberglass pool and more cost effective that a concrete pool.  Basically you will get the biggest bang for your buck and it will likely allow some breathing room in your budget to accommodate some of the other things you may be wanting to include in your backyard space.

You may be thinking that your own backyard is not big enough for all of these things.  You may be surprised to find out that a backyard staycation can be attained in the smallest of yards.  A vinyl liner in ground pool can be designed to fit even small backyards leaving room for your other must haves.  As far as the aesthetics and functionality of said pool, it will be up to you.  If you have a smaller backyard that can’t accommodate a large pool then your should not expect to be doing laps in the pool.  Rather you should expect a pool that will be used more for relaxation and a way to cool down in the heat of the summer.  As far as the aesthetics of the pool, and smaller pool can offer a beautiful focal point to any backyard, and with the proper landscaping around the pool you can very well have a pool that appears as though it belongs there.  I know that in Australia many residents have smaller backyards and still have beautiful pools.

The concept of a backyard staycation is attainable for many people with the proper planning and budgeting.  It will likely be a project in which a landscaper and pool builder will have to collaborate to create a master piece.  For more information on vinyl liner in ground swimming pools, please check out my other blog posts.

Straight Tread Design VS Permanent Form Design Steps

When it comes down to deciding what type of steps you want for you new vinyl liner in ground swimming pool there are several options available to choose from.  Years ago there were really only a couple choices available.  Basically either thermoplastic or fiberglass acrylic.  Both of these types of steps are those that get bolted into the wall of the pool and the liner would have to be cut out in the area for the steps.  These types of steps are still used today and are for the most part very reliable.  I would say that out of these two types, the fiberglass steps are the better bet.  They are more structurally sound and in some cases the thermoplastic steps have been known to warp or not hold their shape as well.  This brings me to the main topic of this post.

Straight Tread Design

The newer style of steps that is all the rage is liner over.  This means that the liner is manufactured so that it perfectly fits the steps of the pool.  There are two different ways that the steps themselves are manufactured.  One way is that they are made completely out of the same material.  This style is referred to as straight tread design.  This means that the treads and risers are all the same material weather it is steel or composite.

Permanent Form Design

The other way they are manufactured is by making the risers out of steel or composite material, and leaving the treads out to be filled in on the job site with stone and concrete.  This is referred to as permanent form design.  Either way you go the outcome will look very similar.  The liner will be made so that it fits these steps perfectly.  However there are some key differences in these two styles that should be noted.  One difference is the cost.  The permanent for design steps are a bit more pricy.  This is due to the fact that the quality is substantially better, and in my opinion they tend to be a little bit easier to install.  The straight tread design steps tend to be a bit tougher to install properly.  The issue mainly comes down to backfilling.  The straight tread design requires that they be backfilled with stone all the way up to the bottom of each tread.  Sounds easy enough right?  While it can certainly be done, it can be rather difficult to do and ensure that it is done adequately.  If there is not enough backfill underneath each tread it can become a problem later on.  An easy way to test that each tread has enough backfill underneath is to step on them.  If there is not enough backfill then you will likely notice spots on the treads that sink under your foot.  By sink I mean that you will feel that there is a void underneath them.  If that void remains under the tread you will be able to feel it every time that you enter the pool.  While this style of step is less expensive and might require a bit more elbow grease to install than the permanent form design it can still be a very good step for any pool.

On the other hand, the permanent form design step is in most cases a more structurally sound way to go.  As I said before, the step risers of this design are made of either steel or composite material and have no treads on them at all.  This allows the builder to fill the steps with stone leaving the last two or three inches open to be filled in with concrete.  This creates a much more stable tread surface and you will feel absolutely no voids underneath them.  Being that this type of step is more structurally sound than the straight tread design, it stands to reason that they will cost a bit more.  Both of these designs are being used over and over by builders all over the country, and they both offer pool owners the beautiful look of having their liner over their steps.  It really makes the steps and pool look more uniform.  Rather than having a nice pattern throughout the pool and the step which would traditionally be white, blue, or grey.

Rod and Clip

You may be wondering how the liner stays where it is supposed to be on the steps.  There are two ways in which this is done.  One is a design called Rod and Clip.  This design requires that the liner be made a special way with sleeves where the treads meet the risers of the step.  In addition to they require the use of plastic rods that get slid through the sleeves.  After that a series of clips are used to hold the rods in place at the point in which the treads meet the risers.  This is what holds the liner down.

Bead Track

The other option, and in my opinion the better option is bead track.  This system does away with the rods and clips and instead uses a specially designed track made to accept the bead of the liner.  In addition to that the liner will again have to be specially made with beads in place of the pockets where the treads meet the risers.  The bead track is attached to the risers of the step just behind the treads.  The bead of the liner for the steps in inserted into the bead track.  I like this system better mainly because it is less noticeable than the rod and clip.  With the rod and clip design you will likely be able to see where the rods are behind the liner.  With the bead track design there will be no areas in which you could see where the bead is simply because it will  be tucked away behind the tread of the step.

I wanted my readers to know that there are other options available for choices in steps in addition to the thermoplastic and acrylic fiber glass step.  Both the straight tread and permanent form designs are amazing designs and will give your pool a clean, uniform look.  With this information you can hopefully now make an educated decision when it comes time to choose which type of step you want for your pool.

For more information on the latest and greatest pool products available, and general vinyl liner in ground pool information check out my other blog posts.  For more information on Only Alpha Pool Products check out the website at www.onlyalpha.com