Choosing a New Pool – Construction and Surface Finish
SELECTING THE TYPE OF CONSTRUCTION
Physically, there are three types of pool construction:-
- Concrete Shell, which gives you the most flexibility and best looks,
- Fibreglass, which is easy and relatively inexpensive but limited in size, shape and depth,
- Above-ground or vinyl pools. These are semi-permanent and not discussed here.
TIP: AVOID ANY CONCRETE JOINTS IN THE POOL STRUCTURE AND ITS LIP.
SELECTING THE TYPE OF SURFACE FINISH
Exposed Vertical Surfaces/Wet-edges
- Avoid large areas of tiles exposed to the sun. The thermal expansion of the sun’s heating and water cooling will cause them to fall off prematurely. This is especially true with small tiles. Consider sheet materials such as stainless steel, fibreglass, granite slabs.
- If you insist on using small tiles, we have found that high-quality, ceramic tiles from Europe perform best. It is crucial to use the correct backing glue and cement and have a really competent tiler.
- If you have porous stone such as sandstone, limestone etc., use either a magnesium or mineral salt pool, or liquid chlorine with a magnesium chloride pool additive to protect the stone. (here).
From a low-maintenance and pool chemistry point of view, the more inert the surface, the better.
Tiles, fibreglass and paints are relatively inert and the easiest to manage if you are going to handle the water chemistry manually. If you have an automatic water-chemistry management system, it won’t matter much which surface you chooses although you will need more chemicals with active surfaces
Paints are the shortest lived surface but otherwise good if well applied. They are reasonably inert, but can be subject to degradation with time, particularly “rubber paint”.
Epoxy paints self-ablate continuously. That is, they renew themselves by shedding a fine white powder that requires scrubbing and good filtration to reveal the shiny paint underneath. A good pool sweep is very helpful with controlling this powder but some manual cleaning of the walls of the pool may be required from you.
Paints generally last longer with Pooled Energy’s Advanced Water Chemistry (AWC) chemistry than with conventional chemistry, due to more favourable pH.
If using tiles, the higher ceramic quality tiles from Europe seem to last considerably longer than glass or Asian tiles. This seems to be due to the glues used on the back of the tiles. In general, the quality of the cement used on the tiles and the expertise of the tilers are very important.
TIP: DO NOT LEAVE TILED POOLS EMPTY AND SUBJECT TO STRONG SUN. THEY WILL DELAMINATE.
Mildly Active Surfaces
Pebblecrete, Beadcrete and its variants are very durable surfaces with long lives and are relatively chemically inert.
Using conventional pool chemistry in salt or liquid chlorine pools, these surfaced require moderate amounts of hydrochloric acid to be added, preferably daily and automatically, but not less often than every 2-3 days in typical pools. The amounts required can be a litre a week for an average pool when new. These surfaced tend to settle down after ~3 years, but still requiring regular addition of pool acid, unless AWC chemistry is used (here).
Highly Active Surfaces
Quartzon and Marblesheen are highly active surfaces with high calcium and alkali content, which can take some years to settle down after installation. Using conventional pool chemistry, these require large amounts of hydrochloric acid to be added, preferably daily and automatically, but not less often than every 2-3 days in typical pools. The amounts required are often more than a litre a week when new. These pools also have a special settling-in and curing process for up to 6 weeks after installation.
These surfaces are particularly prone to calcium deposits and staining, especially if there were any problems with the original application of the surface. Some deposits and marks cannot be eliminated by pool water chemistry as they arise in the surface itself.
Such surfaces continuously leech alkali (and calcium) into the water and often require special management for the first few years of their lives. These eventually settle down but still require regular addition of pool acid, unless AWC chemistry is used (here – link to ).
Different surfaces react differently to pool water and it is important for your control system to react correctly to it. The best solution is to allow the pool surface to come naturally into chemical equilibrium with the water, as long as the water is:-
- Comfortable for the eyes and skin of swimmers,
- Clean and clear,
- Correctly sanitised,
- Correctly balanced for Calcium deposits on, or etching of the surface.
This is achieved in most pools by Advanced Water Chemistry (AWC) with minimal addition of chemicals and without needing to use hydrochloric acid in all but pools with new, chemically-active surfaces (here). Adding acid manually causes large pH swings and local high concentrations of acid which can be damaging to surfaces.