Vinyl Liner Over Concrete or Steel ?? (in NJ)

mojobarJuly 17, 2011

In the process of shopping (have some quotes) for inground pool (approx. 20x40 free form shape). We are favoring the concrete over the steel for the following reasons:

1. it is stronger construction than the steel.

2. I can lose that white resin step and loveseat look that we don't particularly love and instead have a vinyl lined covered "gunite looking" step/loveseat.

3. we can design own shape with the concrete pool.

Also, is it true that on a concrete pool you lose that angled wall that many steel walled pools have? I would like that too.

I read on another thread that for steel, the entry steps are outstide the pool but on cement, they are inside the pool, thereby, taking up swiming space. Is this true?

I have two other topics that I would like to address here as well.

First one:

Vanquish In-floor Cleaning system vs the Polaris cleaner.

The Vanquish In-Floor system is a very pricey upgrade and frankly just sounds too good to be true. Although lifetime warranty, cannot imagine what can happen when one of the heads breaks (especially being that this is a vinyl liner pool). The thought of manually cleaning the pool all the time after paying for that upgrade would be terrible.

Second One:

Aqua Black Heat Pump vs. Jandy Gas Heater

Aqua Black Heat Pump is a pricier item, but Salesman tried to convince us that the Gas Heater would cost us much more money in the long run.

I so appreciate any help that I can get!!


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Not all liner pool steps are white. They do come in colors. Liner over steps get pounded. Often, a special, thicker, liner material for this area is used.

Concrete or steel doesn't matter. The earth behind the wall does, assuming there are no raised walls, to provide the vertical wall with support against the pressure of the water in the pool.

Concrete, steel and resin walled pools can all be made into a free form shape of your choosing.

Only the 40" wall is concrete, resin, or steel. The rest is either a Portland sand mix or Vermiculite and Portland, two to four inches thick. Under that should be a suitable sub-floor capable of supporting without deforming.

Concrete walls require wall foam between the wall and liner. In a high water table area, sometimes the wall foam rises up, bunches, and pulls the liner bead out. This can cost you a liner.

Wall foam generally gets replaced when it comes time for a new liner. This is an added cost typically several hundred dollars.

Liner over steps is another added cost, again in the several hundred dollar range.

When building a pool, the steps can be either inside or outside the perimeter. It doesn't matter which material is used.

I, as a service tech, don't like the added number of penetrations an in-floor cleaning system requires, especially when it comes time to replace the liner. Add age related liner shrinkage, and it's just additional places for holes to form.

Stick with the pressure side sweep.

Either system will help you keep your clean pool free of debris. Manually vacuuming a dirty pool must be expected so you will still need these tools.

What "angled wall" are you referring to?

Where you live plays a lot in cost/benefit ratio for a heat pump vs gas fired heater. Things to consider are temps desired, the use of a solar cover (many find them to be too much of PITA), average air temps, and energy costs.

Some pay a lot for electricity, enough so to make the gas fired heaters more economical. Gas fired units, properly sized, are almost always faster, often two to three times faster.

Selecting the brand(s) and models of equipment at this stage is a bit premature. There is a tendency toward building more energy efficient and safer systems for homeowners and automation improvements to make caring for the pool easier.

By your coming here, you realize that you need additional education before you sign on the dotted line and write the first check. We're here to help.


    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 9:38AM
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First of all, thanks alot of your input.

I agree with you and have decided to stick with robot type cleaning system like the Polaris 380 Booster (that is the one the last pool co. offered).

I had not realized the steps can be inside or outside the pool, that is good to know. We did know of the added cost of the liner, but do prefer that look over the white plastic looking steps.

What did you mean by 40" wall being concrete, steel or resin? Why only 40"?

I love your point about the foam behind the liner having to be changed (added cost). Also, in your experience, what happens if the cement cracks behind the liner? We would not know about that until there was a problem. Is that right?

So in your opinion, the steel behind the vinyl liner is just as good as the cement behind the vinyl liner? We sort of assumed the cement had to be a better pool, but there are very few companies in Monmouth Co. that offer that so we don't have alot of comparison/experience.

Jandy equipment was the brand we were quoted from one company. Hayward equipment from other company. I've been reading on the forum that Hayward is not preferable.

I'd rather shop for a new car then shop for an inground pool. Ugh.

Thanks again!!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 1:10PM
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I think I know who your bidders are. FYI, I own a small service company and Monmouth is my primary patch. The cement wall construction of one and the Jandy gear of the other were clues.

40" is the industry standard for the vertical sides in a liner pool. Special orders aren't a big problem, they just take longer to get and cost more.

WRT cracking in the wall, that would depend on the cause. I've never seen cement wall in a liner pool crack badly enough to create a serious problem. If it's the builder I think it is, they've been around a long time. Actually, both have been assuming I know who are dealing with.

Locally, Hayward has a strong presence. Their products tend to cost a bit less than Jandy or Pentair (my preference btw). I have found Hayward products, with few exceptions, to be of lesser overall quality and this results in shorter mean time between failures (MTBF).

Jandy/Zodiac has its share of issues but not as many and is usually better engineered than Hayward. The automation is rock solid and has been for years but hasn't moved to the next level. I hope they do take it to the next level.

Pentair/Sta-Rite lately has stumbled a little with some of the newer stuff but has really taken it to the next level with engineering and support. They brought variable speed pumps to the consumer, have the only automation system that can be controlled over the internet or an iPhone, and will soon be releasing some new stuff that I think will be very well received by consumers and builders alike.

Fiberglass/thermoplastic steps come in colors/patterns too. I find the look of liner over steps unfinished. Over time, the corners tend to pull in and if the water table is elevated, a liner float near the steps is a real PITA, more so than with the thermoplastic steps as the steps are usually where a liner will pull if a wrinkle forms.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 5:52PM
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I know what you are referring to regarding the sloped slides. My PB explained to me that either with steel or concrete sides they will only go down vertically 38-or 40", below that depending on the desired depth the sides have to slope inward 18 to 45 degrees.

He said the only way he could make the walls close to vertical below the initial concrete or steel was with in a gunite pool.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 3:35PM
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We replace about 40 liners per season and most of the have steel walls and alot of them are over 20yr old pools. The liner over the steps should have wall foam applied to soften the step. We do alot of them because overtime fiberglass steps discolor. If done correctly the step will blend in and give finished look. See some of the pics below.
hope this helps

Here is a link that might be useful: Pool pics

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 5:12PM
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Making walls vertical is not something you would pass inspection for, regardless of the pool with the exception of NASA's test pool. Even competition pools have sloped sides for recreational use.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 7:39AM
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