Gunite Pools - The Construction Process

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The first step in constructing your new pool is the pool layout.  Using CAD drawings built in-house and a transit, the pool location is laid out by setting batter boards and radius points.  Strings and paint are used to outline the perimeter of the pool to match the design you’ve chosen. 

Excavation can then begin. Using a trachoe and bobcat the pool depths are carved into the soil. The pool is over dug to allow for the pool shell to be constructed.  The excavated soil can be used as backfill onsite or hauled off. 

The pool can now be formed.  Wooden forms make up the perimeter of the pool, as well as, any sections of the pool built out of the ground.  The dirt and perimeter forming serve as the forms for concrete placement.  

The crush stone sub-base is then prepared, and the pool piping is ready to be installed.  The sub-base includes 6” of #57 stone to keep the pool shell from settlement.  As the stone is being leveled, the piping is installed simultaneously. 

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The pool is plumbed with high-grade NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) approved “Schedule 40” PVC pipe, fittings and equipment. These make up the circulation system to your skimmers, main drains, returns, spa jets, waterfalls, and/or to any other special items that you’ve chosen to customize your pool.

All pipe connections are solidly and permanently bonded with PVC cement. Then, the entire plumbing system is pressure tested to 10 psi to make sure there are no leaks. All plumbing work is performed by our in-house team of experts who have been plumbing our pools for more than 25 years.

Next, a steel-reinforcing grid is installed to give your pool superior strength.  A No.4 Bar 12” O.C.E.W is used to reinforce the concrete/Gunite.  Also, walls where water depths are greater than 5' receive additional vertical reinforcement.  Cinder bricks are used to jack up the steel grid from the sub-base for adequate concrete cover.  This makes for the strongest possible shell for your pool.  It’s amazing to watch our crews in action as they bend and shape this steel with skill and experience that reflects many years of performing this job. 

Concrete Floor
The 6” pool floor is placed using 3500 psi ready mixed concrete. The concrete is pumped or brought in off the truck depending on access.  The concrete is then placed and hand troweled or floated to the desired elevation.  The walls, as well as any steps or bench seats, are then constructed using Gunite.

Now comes the unique process of “shooting the Gunite” to form the hard concrete shell of your pool. Gunite is a mixture of sand and cement that is applied by an experienced team of craftsmen using specialized tools and a Gunite Rig.  The sand and cement are mixed dry on-site using a Gunite rig and pumped pneumatically by hose where it is met with water at the nozzle.  Our certified nozzlemen will skillfully shoot 6”+ of Gunite around your pool’s steel reinforcement grid to form your pool wall.  This combination of Gunite/Concrete and steel reinforcement produces an extremely strong and durable pool shell.  The Gunite walls can test up to 4000+ psi.  The ability to customize your pool or build your pool to any shape, size, or depth desired is the advantage of a Gunite pool. 

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Tile & Coping
The next step in the construction process is the installation of a six-inch wide band of waterline pool tile at the perimeter. This tile is hand-laid and carefully grouted by our skilled craftsmen.  It’s critically important that highly experienced craftsmen handle the tile work. Since water is naturally level, any errors in the straightness or elevation of the tile will be instantly visible.

Coping is then installed if chosen.  Coping is the stone laid on the pool beam and can be of pre-cast concrete, brick, stone, or cantilever decking.  National Pools offers a variety of colors in pre-cast concrete coping and brick.  Other materials may the installed by the decking contractor. 

Filtration Equipment
While the work surrounding the pool is being done, the filter system will be installed.  The pump, filter, and heater (if desired) will be sized and installed according the filtration/flow requirements. 

Deck, Fencing & Utilities (Done by Others)
The decking around your pool is done after the coping is placed.  The pool shell will have a sidewalk support for the decking to set on.  An expansion joint will be installed between the coping and deck, however it must be caulked by others.  National Pools can assist in recommending a qualified contractor for this step.  We will also work with that contractor to schedule the work. 

The fencing around your pool (if required) is done at this time.  Again, National Pools can assist in recommending a qualified contractor for this step.  We will also work with that contractor to schedule the work.   
The pool equipment (pump, heater, controllers, etc.) must the wired by a certified electrician.  Also, if your pool or spa package includes a gas heater, then a mechanical contractor must be used for gas connection.  National Pools can assist in recommending a qualified contractor for these steps, but due to legal requirements, a certified contractor must handle the natural gas/propane plumbing and electrical connections.

The electrical and mechanical work can happen concurrently with other construction phases, so it need not hold up the construction process.

Now — the final step. In one day, after all the surrounding work is complete, the pool walls and floor are finished with a ¼” to ½” thick layer of Marblelite.  Marblelite consists of two parts crushed Georgia Marble mixed with one part of white Portland cement.  It is hand troweled to a smooth, yet slip resistant surface.  Exposed aggregate plaster is also available in a variety of colors.  This surface must be cared for very closely in the beginning stages after pool completion as the plaster cures.  Water chemistry must be maintained and the surface must be brushed frequently to prevent discoloration and reduce mottling.  A properly cared for plaster finish does not require painting and can last for many years.  When the plaster crew finishes this process, your pool is complete! Just add water. Its time to swim!

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