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Concrete pools may be installed using many different methods.
In concrete block construction, a floor foundation is poured and a concrete "wall" structure is constructed to the desired shape of the pool. Filtration attachments are inserted into the walls, which are generally reinforced with deformed steel bars, and "solid poured" (the internal cavities are filled with concrete). Once the shell is completed, the pool may be rendered internally by coating a slurry of cement/white crushed marble, fitting a PVC Vinyl waterproof liner, sprayed with a fibreglass strand-reinforced resin coating, or even just painted or tiled. Due to the various internal finishes, this pool could also be variously described as a "vinyl-liner" pool, or "fibreglass pool".
In poured concrete construction, a mould is created using wood or plywood, which will encase the finished pool shape. Usually the pool floor is poured first, then the wall moulds constructed on top of the floor, connected via steel reinforcing bars (Re Bars) left protruding from the floor. Steel reinforcing rods will be inserted, then the cavities in the moulds are filled with high-density pool concrete. A vibrating tool is used to ensure the concrete fills all the cavities. Once the concrete has set, the moulds are removed. The internal of the pool can be coated as in concrete block construction.
In Gunite pool construction, a "Timber Pool" is first created in wood or plywood inside the excavated pool shape and size. This "temporary pool" is made larger than the desired finished pool by the thickness of the walls. This temporary pool wall is termed "the boxing" in the swimming pool industry, and must be substantial as the following procedure will indicate. The internal area of the "temporary pool" is now lined with Re Bars at a pre-determined distance apart. This will vary due to local by-law requirements. This is suspended away from the "boxing" (wood formers) by "stand-offs" a device which keeps the reinforcing steel centred in the completed wall and away from the bottom of the (drainage material layered) excavation. After allowing for the pool recirculation system devices to be allowed for in the finished wall and floor, the entire interior is pneumatically sprayed with a slurry of cement, pool gravel mix, and water. What distinguishes the name "Gunite" is that the mix is delivered pneumatically down a hose as a dry mix under pressure, terminating at the "spray head" or nozzle where water is added by the operator. This is a vital part of the procedure, as the ingredients must be mixed in a critical percentage, or the resulting concrete will lack strength. The consistency of the mix is measured in "slump" i.e. an upturned "witches hat" of the mix is allowed to "slump" as a measure of how it will "stick" to the vertical Re bars. Once the concrete has been placed into the pool, the interior is "straightened" by a team of operatives who use steel formers and trowels ("Floats") to straighten the interior walls. (The exterior walls are held in shape by the "boxing"). Particular attention is taken to the top of the pool as this is typically where a row of Mosaic Tiles will be fitted in the final phases of the pool installation, but the majority of the interior is left in a relatively rough state as it assists the adherence of the final interior plaster finish.
As with "Gunite" pools, "Shotcrete" describes the final stage of the pool construction: the application of the concrete. As in gunite pools, a timber pool is first constructed in timber or plywood, then the reinforcing steel, filtration etc. equipment allowed for, then finally the application of the pool concrete. Whereas gunite strength is determined by the nozzel operator, shotcrete arrived in a cement truck "ready to use" from the batching plant. Quality is determined by the strength ordered. Applied by pneumatic pressure through a hose, the nozzel operator has no influence on the strength of the resulting concrete. By eliminating the unknown factor of gunite, shotcrete pool walls use a lesser amount of concrete yet provide superior strength per volume. As in gunite pools, the shotcrete pool typically has a row of mosaic tiles at waterline, and an internal plastered finish of white cement/crushed marble generically referred to as "Marblesheen".
Both methods of applying the concrete needs special attention to the application, as the re bar mesh provided a barrier that may lead to cavities forming immediately behind the rods, or "rebound" where the stones in the gravel mix re-bound off the temporary pool boxing creating a differential in concrete strength. The skill of the shotcrete operator is not required to be as high as the gunite nozzle man, but both operators must be experienced and aware of potential strength issues if the concrete is not placed as required by the pool's designer. Once the pool concrete has set (14 days to reach 85% strength) the boxing may be removed. Usually this damages the timber or plywood and it is not able to be recycled. The exterior of the pool wall is then filled with drainage material.