Possibilities in Vinyl Liner Pools: The Hybrid Experience

This is a Al and Karen MIN Nautical Legendary Escape (3)Guest Post by Karen Olson, Concrete Artisan for Legendary Escapes

Choice is the keyword when it comes to choosing which type of pool is best for you.  How many choices do you want available to you to customize your pool, creating not just a hole with water, but a backyard atmosphere, a piece of art?  If you want to craft, not just install, a new swimming pool, no longer are you stuck with gunite as your only choice.  Vinyl liner pools have come a long when, fifteen years ago, they were viewed by many as just an above-ground pool buried in-ground.  When compared to gunite pools, there really was no comparison.  Gunite was the rich man’s choice because of the customizations available, and vinyl was middle class.  Nowadays, both can be turned into high end pools, with creative design aspects such as sun-shelves, swim in grottos, swim up bars, etc., and those in the know are choosing vinyl over gunite.

As a pool building company determined to give our customers creatively more than the standard swimming pool, vinyl has always been our pool of choice.  One general reason for our preference is the smooth surface vinyl provides over gunite.   With a liner, swimmers no longer have to deal with swimmer’s toe, the sores feet suffer from pushing off of a gunite bottom. No matter how expertly troweled a gunite surface is, the materials involved are all abrasive.     Another common reason why vinyl is preferred is because the installation time is shorter than gunite, and we have made it possible to become an almost all inclusive company.  No longer do we have to wait for sub-contractors to fit our pools into their schedules, with vinyl we are able to dig the hole, set the walls, plumb the system, drop the liner, and pour the deck all within our company.  Electric and gas are the only sub-contractors used.

The more specific reasons why we prefer to build vinyl liner pools is the flexibility we feel vinyl allows us for our creative process.

Our pools are labor intensive, because Al refused to believe in what some held as limiting beliefs, that vinyl liner pools were limited in what they could do.

We are a company who explores possibility rather than accepting limits.

Years ago, when a customer preferred a vinyl pool concept, but also wanted brick coping, Al figured out a way to build a cement collar around the outside border of the pool and tie it to the steel wall braces.  The 12 inch wide by 6 inch deep collar, reinforced by rebar, was strong enough to support brick coping, and keep it from settling, even if the ground beneath the collar did.

From the success this design aspect added to our vinyl pools, Al was inspired to attempt more difficult customer wishes.  From coping, Al went on to figure out a way to build a customer’s wish to sit in water around a “floating table”.  This was accomplished by replacing the typical fiberglass step with gunite.  He devised an approach that allowed a wide area with bench seating to be shot with gunite, where people could sit down in water around a table.  Incorporating steps into this area allowed people to enter the pool. The difficult part here was figuring out how to attach liner to gunite.

Nothing creative is outside the realm of possibility if one is determined to find answers, and this, unfortunately, is where some pool builders who work with vinyl are afraid to tread.  If it’s not easy, or something they’re comfortable with, they refuse to attempt incorporating creativity  into their design.  These same builders refuse to see the internet as a huge resource to increase not just their business, but their knowledge of what is capable.

What is needed to give choices, to vinyl liner pool customers, is a refusal to allow fear of experimenting and failing to hold them back.  Failure might mean a pool with problems, but a willingness to work on those problems until they’re fixed, is all that is needed to eventually achieve success; this and working with the right customers.  The customer is another huge piece in the success of building a creative liner pool.  If they want innovative aspects in their pool process, they have to be patient and allow for some finessing of the product.

When sun shelves became a popular inclusion in gunite pools, customers also wanted them included in liner packages, but the pressure of lawn chairs resting on vinyl increased the risk of puncture, so a solution was needed.  That solution became the hybrid pool; a pool whose main swimming area is vinyl liner, and by finding a way to attach liner track to gunite walls, where steps, seating areas, sun shelves, and water features are shot with gunite, or formed with cement.

Today almost nothing is impossible when building a liner pool.  The advent of Tru-tile by Latham Industries, a plastic track that is secured to the top of the liner pool’s steel wall, allows real tile to be installed, by silicone adhesive, in a vinyl pool.  The liner attaches to a bead on the bottom of the plastic track.   With the hybrid method, swim in grottos and faux boulders, carved from cement that disappear into the pool are now viable choices when designing, not just a liner pool, but a backyard experience/adventure.