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    How to Build a Pool: Wall Panel Assembly

    April 12, 2012

    how to build an inground pool, wall assembly and concrete collar

    In our series of blog posts about how to build an inground pool, we cover the minute details of every phase of building an inground pool in your backyard. Today, we take a look at putting together the frame or structure of your pool; the wall panels.

    Your excavation is complete and it’s time to start assembling your pool wall panels. String lines should already be in place showing the outline of the pool.

    Inground Pool Plans: Wall Panel Assembly

    Step 1: Lay out the Wall Panels.

    The first step is to spread the wall panels all around the pool area,  leaning up against the walls or laying them flat next to the pool. Take care with the edge of the dirt wall, so as not to disturb and crumble the edge as you work.

    In your new pool kit, we shipped different wall panels; some are solid and some have cut out sections for the skimmers, lights and returns. Some are straight and some may be curved. Identify these different wall panels, referring to the pool plans and pool diagram if necessary. Our pool kits are delivered with detailed instructions on every phase of assembly, and the inground pool plans will diagram for you the placement of the different wall panels.

    Step 2: Place Patio Blocks

    For each panel joint you will place an 8” x 16” patio block under the panels, at the point where they bolt together. These will be used to level the panels. The blocks should be placed up close to the dirt wall edge, directly beneath the string line.

    Step 3: Bolt Together the Wall Panels

    Start with your shallow end corner and the adjacent two panels and bolt these together, just snug for now - don't over-tighten. The wall panels have multiple vertical holes in them you want to put at least 5 nuts and bolts in each panel joint, from top to bottom. The rest of them will go in later, and you'll tighten them all securely. At each panel joint there will also be an adjustable A-Frame brace that is installed behind the panel joint.

    Continue around the perimeter of the pool, bolting the panels and A-Frames together. You may need to drive a pin or stake into the back of some of the A-Frames to keep the walls up in place at this point. Be mindful of the skimmer, return and light panels location. Refer to the inground pool plans diagram to be certain of their placement.

    Step 4: Connect Steps or Swim Outs

    Most pools are sold with a walk-in step section for the shallow end, and maybe a deep end swim out section. These are one piece, heavy duty thermoplastic. Step sections or swim outs will bolt to the adjacent wall sections, just like another wall panel. You may have to drill vertical holes on step sections, as they are usually not pre-drilled.

    Before drilling the holes for the steps you must adjust the step height so that it will match the finished height of the pool coping and surrounding pool deck. Take a piece of the coping that you are using, and set it on top of the wall and raise the step section to meet the top of the pool coping . Use the same 8x16 pavers to raise the step section to the height needed.

    Step 5: Square up the Pool

    Now that all wall panels and steps are loosely connected, the structure or frame of your new inground pool is coming together. It's beginning to take shape. For rectangular pools, measure from corner to corner - these should match exactly, or be within 1/2" or so. For freeform pools, consult the inground pool plan diagram for some established point to point measurements that you can compare against. If you are not "square", you will need to gently move the panels away from the longer measurement until a re-measurement shows the pool to be square.

    Once the pool is square and the panels secure, you can add the remaining panel bolts and tighten them all. Using a lightweight power drill with a nut driver attachment will make the job much easier. Having a person on the other side of the wall is needed, to hold the bolt head with a nut driver or socket wrench, while the nut is tightened. Work from top to bottom, or vice-versa, rather than randomly tightening. Tighten up the A-Frame braces and any deck braces. Double check that all bolts are tight.

    Step 6: Level the Pool Walls and Steps

    Now it is time to level the pool walls.  With a transit or site level, take level measures on each panel, raising the wall panel or lowering it as needed. An easy way to adjust the height is with wooden shims, or small thin cement pavers can also be used.

    To raise up a wall panel with the wood shims, slide the thin side of the shim under the wall and on top of the patio block.  Push it in as far as you need to to get the right height you may need more than one. If you need to raise it up over an inch, you can use the small cement pavers, or blocks of pressure treated wood.

    Don’t worry if your shims stick out into the inside of the pool as after your concrete collar is poured and dry you can break them off on the inside, flush with the wall. After leveling the pool wall panels, you will now need to level the step.  Level  just as you did the wall panels at the step to wall joint.

    After the front of the step is level, we then need to level the steps from front to back. Correct placement is for the step to slightly pitch downward from front to back. Generally ½ bubble using a carpenter’s level will be the correct amount of pitch. In other words, the rear of the step will be slightly lower than the front, to match up with the slope of your pool deck.

    After the pool walls are all horizontally level, we need to adjust their vertical plumb. Place rebar stakes into the back of the A-Frame braces, all around the pool. Adjust the A-Frame braces to make sure it is plumb from top to bottom, or level from a vertical perspective, top to bottom.Once the walls are level - up and down, and front to back - we will use more rebar stakes to help secure the wall for the next step. Use 2-3 rebar stakes per wall panel, inserting them at the base of the wall, into the ground.

    Step 7: Pour the Concrete Collar

    Now we are ready to start pouring the concrete collar around the outside of the pool walls.  This will usually be delivered by a concrete truck, for $500 or so. You will need about 5 yards, depending on the size of your inground pool. Truck delivery is preferred to onsite mixing, so that you can make one monolithic pour of 2500 or 3000 lb concrete.

    After the concrete has been poured and while it is still wet, re-check  the level of your pool again to make sure the walls are good and straight, you still have a few minutes to make any adjustments.

    That's about all there is to it - these 7 steps usually take the better part of a day in the process of building your own pool. Not too technical, nor too mechanical in nature, just about anyone could follow our step-by-step process for how to build an inground pool. Included with every inground pool kit we sell are inground pool plans, diagrams, pictures - and of course, if you have any questions - you can always call us, at any step along the way.  

    Larry Weinberg
    SPP Pool Expert  

    Blog Author
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