If your vinyl pool liner is at the end of its life, is it time to consider converting your vinyl pool to concrete? We’ve heard this question many times. Concrete pools with a shotcrete shell have a longer life, lower maintenance, and more design options.
But keep in mind that converting an existing vinyl pool to a concrete one isn’t a simple swap. You’ll actually have to rip out the vinyl pool and start over with concrete. New ground preparation, plumbing, and decks will be necessary. The good news is that you are ultimately getting a better pool by changing to concrete. Let’s explore the key construction differences between vinyl and concrete pools.
The biggest question we get about pool conversions is – why can’t you demo the vinyl liner and just pour concrete into the existing hole?
First, there is a structural difference between vinyl and concrete shells. A vinyl liner is laid over steel walls and a thin floor made from grout or vermiculite. But concrete uses a continuous construction that’s at least 8 inches thick on all sides. If you poured concrete into the same shape left by a vinyl liner, the entire pool’s area and volume would actually shrink.
Additionally, many vinyl liner pools have cross braces under the concrete decks around the outside of the pool. So although it might seem as simple as removing the liner and filling with a concrete shell, those cross braces would also need removed. This in turn would mean about 3’ of concrete decking would come along with it. That is not so simple.
There’s also a concern about the soil condition. Like building a house, you have to test, level, and reinforce the ground before adding any weight to it. Concrete is around 150 pounds per cubic foot – that’s thousands of pounds before you even add water! Because a vinyl liner weighs significantly less, the soil wasn’t originally prepared to accept more mass in the future.
Another consideration with a concrete pool is the bond beam, which runs along the top two feet of your walls. This section is thicker at 12 inches – the extra width prevents your pool’s perimeter from collapsing inward. A vinyl liner doesn’t use a bond beam, so switching to concrete requires excavation to add this reinforcement.
Lastly, removing your vinyl pool is a good time to evaluate your piping. After years of use, it may not be holding adequate pressure or there could be leaks. Your main drain, inlets, and skimmers might need to be replaced as well. Plus the original system may not be compatible with your new concrete pool design.
Concrete Lasts Longer
Yes, it’s an extended process and cost converting a vinyl pool to concrete. But it’s an investment that many homeowners are making. They can see that a concrete pool offers long-lasting beauty and function that vinyl can’t match.
While vinyl liners can last anywhere from 7-12 years, they are meant to be replaced. Eventually they wear out, sagging away from the pool wall or detaching from the clip track. They can also become stained, cracked, or wrinkled. Each replacement can range anywhere from $4,000 – $12,000, which adds up if you want your pool to last for 20 years.
Concrete, however, is durable like your basement foundation. If done right the first time, you shouldn’t have any problems with deterioration. Only the interior tile and plaster will need upkeep as they’re exposed to the elements and treated water. Your pool should be resurfaced every 15-20 years. This not only protects the concrete shell underneath, but gives you the opportunity to change your look if desired.
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