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    How to Build a Pool: Deck Supports & Wall Braces

    April 18, 2013
    larryweinberg

    deck-wall-braces

    It's a common question: “Do I need Deck Braces?”. I have been a pool installer for over 30 years and my answer to this question is NO.

    Deck Braces or Wall Braces?

    First of all, what are Deck Braces supposed to do?  They are intended to help support your concrete walk way around the pool. This is definitely a true statement. But my thoughts on this is if you backfill your pool in compacted layers, they are unnecessary. What I mean by this is to put 1 foot of material in around your pool at a time and compact it either manually or with a plate compactor. After one layer is complete, proceed to put in another layer and compact again, and so on.

    After you reach the top of the wall you want to run a sprinkler for a few hours over the whole area and let it turn to mud. Repeat a few times over a week or two to allow the backfill to fully settle. Now you have a much better surface to support a concrete pool deck - rather than hanging it on the frame of your pool walls!

    NO Deck Braces!
    NO Deck Braces!

    The main Drawback to Deck Braces is that the top of the brace is locked into the concrete deck which in turn is locked into your coping and your wall. If your deck settles over time it can also pull your coping and wall back with it. Not only do you have a deck to repair, you have coping and the wall of your pool which has also moved.

    This happened to me, 6 years after one of my inground pool kit installations. There was a big frost heave that winter which lifted and cracked the deck and pulled the pool wall and coping with it. I feel the benefits of the deck brace do not outweigh these possible problems and my solution above is a much better and safer way to go.

    Deck braces may be fine for an area with little rain, no winter, and soils that do not shift or expand, but those parts are rare around the country. I've also seen many vinyl pools installed where, because the backfill was not tamped properly, and since the deck is not sitting on tierra firma, the dirt beneath the deck has washed away. On one pool I remember, you could see under the deck for the entire length of the pool from shallow to deep end!

    The SPP Wall Brace System

    The braces we supply with the SPP pool kit are an adjustable A-Frame brace with a threaded rod, an L bracket with a nut on either side of the bracket and a stake of some type to hold down the back of the brace.  The L bracket is bolted to the side lip of the panel at the joint of 2 panels near the top side whole.  The L bracket has a hole in it that the threaded rod goes through with a nut above and below it. Once your concrete collar is poured and it cures you tighten or loosen the nuts, and you can pull back or push forward the wall.

    a photo of the SPP wall brace system

    The wall braces are at every panel joint on the outside of the lip and they are bolted on the bottom with 1 bolt and nut to the lip of the panel and the L bracket is bolted near the top of the panel side lip. There is really no trick or anything to watch out for when installing the wall brace. Just make sure you get your wall as plumb from top to bottom as you can. The SPP Brace System can be adjusted (as described above), but it will only adjust so far.

    Concrete Collar

    wall-brace-under-concreteAfter the walls are assembled and the steps are in place, you can pour the concrete collar around the base of the wall, to serve as the "foundation" for your pool. The concrete collar should be about 10” to 12” deep, and about 2 feet wide, all around your pool.

    The concrete will cover approximately the first foot of the A-Frame brace and the stake or rebar in the back of the brace should be ½ covered in concrete and ½ above it. The picture on the right shows the SPP Wall Brace System, partially covered in concrete, to about a foot deep and about 2 feet wide.  

    In Conclusion, Wall Supports - Good. Deck Supports - Bad. do not hang a heavy concrete pool deck onto a support that is attached to the pool wall. It could cause problems with the wall, and with erosion beneath the pool deck. Now, if you really want to use Deck Braces on your DIY pool kit project, we can include them in the SPP Pool Kit, but I personally would rather see you keep the pool deck separated from the pool wall.  

    Larry Weinberg
    SPP Pool Expert

    Blog Author
    larryweinberg
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