The finished product

In the previous post, we detailed the steps necessary to install a pool in an instance where you have a sloped yard.  We highlighted how the retaining wall was constructed from the lower courses up to the very top of the pool shell, ready for the decking to be applied.  Below are some pictures of the finished product.  

If your yard has a major slope to it, it is certainly still possible to have a pool installed correctly …

The wall that was built wrapped around both sides of the pool decking, tapering up into the ground up near the top sides.  At its maximum height, the wall on the back end is over 6 ft high.  

** The pool model in the pictures here is the 16x36 Key Largo, in the Caribbean Blue Diamond Tech color finish with concrete cantilever coping

Have a sloped backyard? We can make it work

We run into situations out and about over the Charlotte metro area where yards where customers hope to have pools installed are not necessarily flat.  Just because your backyard has a slope does not mean that installing a pool is not possible.  Whether it means digging out an existing bank of dirt or building a retaining wall and filling in a sloped area with fill dirt, know that installing a pool is still possible.

In this post, we will detail one installation in 2013 that had a sloped backyard, sloping from the back of the house down into a commons area of the neighborhood with a creek bed.  Here are some pictures of that installation and how we made the installation work …

The first step for an installation of this magnitude requires, like in any other pool install, finding the finished height of the pool.  The pool shell is then laid on a bed of #67 gravel so it has a firm base.  The wall, on the lower end, is then begun.  Here you can see the lower courses of the retaining wall being laid and set it place, wrapping around three sides of the pool.  

Once the wall reaches the height of the bottom of the pool shell, we begin backfilling the pool with gravel at the same rate as the wall is constructed.  Engineer-designed grid is inlaid in between every other row of the wall to help ensure that the wall is able to support the amount of material that it is holding up.  In addition, the rock that is put down as backfill against the wall is tamped down with a motorized plate tamper to further solidify the backfilled gravel.  Once complete, the wall is able to support the massive amount of weight it is holding up.  

There are ways to shortcut some of the steps in this process, but you will more than end up paying for it in the long run.  Installing the retaining wall, correctly, insures that your pool will be supported, worry-free for its lifetime.  

Video of the rock breaker hammer extension described in the post below.  Despite the fact that was a relatively small pool, we spent nearly 20 hours working with this hammer attachment on getting rock broken up deep enough for the pool shell to sit …

(make sure the volume is down to a lower level when clicking play)

Have rock in your backyard? No problem

From time to time we run into yards that will have rock underneath the surface.  While certainly not the easiest conditions to dig a swimming pool in, this does not pose a large enough problem to not move forward with your plans for a swimming pool installation. 

In the pictures and the video that follow, take a look at a yard we encountered in the Indian Trail/Wesley Chapel area of Union County.  About 12 inches below the grassy surface, we encountered a very large rock outcropping.  While the rock proved too much for our excavator bucket to handle alone, we simply were able to rent a rock breaker hammer extension and continue digging the hole for the swimming pool …

While this was certainly not an easy hole to dig, we can find whatever equipment is needed to dig a hole for your swimming pool if you live in areas where rock is prevalent.  Areas around Charlotte where you may encounter rock are the Indian Trail area, Concord/Kannapolis, and counties approaching the foothills and mountains. 

So there’s rock in your yard?  Not a problem.  See the pics below of the large pile of rock unearthed and the completed pool hole, prepped with gravel, awaiting the pool shell …

How It’s Done: Prepping the pool hole

In another installment of the How It’s Done series, where we show you how certain aspects of the pool shell installation are done, we will show you how we prep the hole for the pool shell.  (if you would like to see more from the How It’s Done series, click on the very bottom of this post on the #how it’s done)

Step 1:  Digging the hole and setting a string level … We generally dig the hole for the pool shell a day before delivery.  Each of our pools has a separate dig plan, with height markers along the slope, that allows us to dig the hole with a slope that fits the bottom contour of the pool.  Once the hole is dig, we set pins at each corner with a string line raised to the height needed.  (pics of this step below)

Step 2:  Adding the gravel base … Next, we add gravel to create the bottom that the pool shell sits atop.  We use #67 gravel, which is a smaller gravel that compacts more flat that larger rocks.  Gravel is added into the pool hole and is spread out and raked down to the height of the string.  (we also use #67 gravel for our backfill medium, which is a good material to use to aid in any water drainage and won’t flex like clay would)

Step 3:  Completing the prep work … Finally, the finishing touches are done with the pool shell hole.  At this point, the hole is prepped and ready for pool shell delivery.  The pool shell is lowered in with a crane, final leveling is done and the water is added and backfilling process takes place

How It’s Done: Installing a 16x37, 8 ft deep pool shell

We get asked a lot how our fiberglass pool shells are installed.  Generally, the pool shells, which are manufactured just south of Atlanta, arrive on-site on a flat-bed truck.  We either use a lull forklift to lift the pool shells off of the trailer, and down into the hole, or a crane.  (This depends on the site and amount of space available).  One of our larger pool shells is the Atlantic.  It is one of the Freeform models and is 16 ft wide and 37 ft long and 8 ft depth.  The pool shell weighs 2800 pounds.  Pictures below are of the steps involved in transporting a shell this size from trailer, up into the air, and finally down into the pre-dug and pre-prepared pool hole …

Step 1 - The pool arrives

The pool arrives on the trailer and pulls in with as much proximity to where the crane sets up as possible (dependent upon the lot and space available). 

Step 2 - The crane sets up and hooks up to the pool shell

The crane will set up next, setting up its four outriggers for support and extending the boom into the air.  With four straps, it will pick the pool up off of the trailer.  Small chains are placed at four corners of the pool shell and the straps are shackled to the chains at the four corners.

Step 3 - The pool is picked up off of the trailer and transported

In the pictures above, you can see the pool being lifted.  For this particular installation, this large pool shell was lifted high in the air and actually up over the corner of the house.

Step 4 - Pool is lowered down into hole

The pool is finally lowered into the hole.  Once it is determined that the pool shell is level, the chains are unhooked.  The trailer returns to Atlanta and the crane returns to the yard.  The backfill process is ready to begin the next day.

The finished product

This is what the finished product for the 16x37, 8 ft deep Atlantic model looks like.  This picture was taken on the same day as the concrete deck was poured.  This pool shell is in the Pearl White finish and has concrete cantilever coping

How It’s Done: Building a Fiberglass Pool Shell - part 5

Part 5:  Shell removed from the mold and sanded and buffed

Finally, our pool shell is nearing completion.  Once the shell is constructed and each layer of the surface has been added, the pool shell can be removed from the mold.  With machinery, the shell lifts straight up off of the mold and is stored on site, ready for delivery.  After each shell is removed from the mold, prior to delivery, workers at the manufacturing plant walk around the shell searching for any blemishes.  If any are found, they are sanded and buffed out, so by the time the pool shell arrives in your backyard, it is in pristine condition.  Pictures below are of the shell being removed from the mold and stored, workers removing any blemishes from the pool shell in the construction process, storage of completed pool shells at the Tallman property just south of Atlanta, and a pool shell loaded and ready for delivery.  Will the next pool shell to leave the lot be coming to your home?

How It’s Done: Building a Fiberglass Pool Shell - part 4

Step 4 - Applying the black sealer coat


The pool shell is now nearing completion.  The gel coat has been applied and layers of the fiberglass woven cloth has been applied, layer on top layer on the high traffic areas of the pool, sealed in with the vinyl ester resin.  Last, added to the pool shell is a special sealer coat.  This black sealer adds a final layer of protection against any possible moisture penetration entering the structure of the pool shell from the outside.  Picture below is of a pool shell after having a fresh coat of the black sealer applied …

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How It’s Done: Building a Fiberglass Pool Shell - part 3

Step 3 - Strengthening the Stress Points

In addition to the standard layering of the fiberglass cloth that is added throughout the entire pool shell, additional layers of the special material are added on the stress points throughout the pool.  Extra cut pieces of the glass fabric are added to the step areas, as well as to coping areas and any benches, seats, or swim-outs along any of the pool shells.  These extra layers ensure added strength and sturdiness along points of the pool where one would walk or sit.  Pictures below are of the actual material being cut, as well as the fiberglass cloth being applied to the stress points, with the vinyl ester …

How It’s Done: Building a Fiberglass Pool Shell - part 2

Step 2 - Adding the vinyl ester and woven fabric

Once the gel coat has been applied, multiple layers of vinyl ester and woven glass fabric are added to give the pool shell the waterproof barrier and extra stability and durability.  The vinyl ester resins used by Tallman Pools are extremely resistant to even the strongest chemicals.  Not one, but two layers of the 24 oz. glass cloth are added across the perimeter of the pool shell.  This extra layer of fabric, uncommon amongst most fiberglass pool shell manufacturers, gives this particular brand of fiberglass pool shell added reinforcement and the utmost structural integrity.  Pictures below are of the glass fabric being hand-laid across the pool shell and the vinyl ester resins being shot along the perimeter of the pool …