Building a swimming pool with ICFs may seem like a novelty, but did you know that Insulated Concrete Forms can bring several key benefits to pool construction?
In the post below, we’ll talk about the 4 ways you can improve your next swimming pool project with ICFs and walk you through the 10 basic ICF pool construction steps. Read on to learn more!
Save 60% or More On Water Heating Costs
Studies show that around 80% of pool water’s heat is lost through the sides and bottom of the pool — right where the water comes in contact with cold, uninsulated concrete. Since there’s no insulation to inhibit heat transfer, colossal amounts of heat disappear, so your mechanical equipment must work harder (and consume more energy) to keep the pool water at desired temperatures.
With an ICF product like Logix ICF, your pool gets 2 layers of continuous insulation on either side of the concrete wall. This way, the side walls effectively block heat transfer. Thanks to this double protection, an ICF pool experiences 60% less heat loss, resulting in 60% savings on water heating costs.
Precise Excavations Not Required
Unlike conventional concrete pool walls, which require precise excavations, ICF walls allow a higher margin of error during excavation. If the crews excavate a larger hole than the design entails, it’s easy to backfill after the ICF walls are erected.
If you opt for Logix as the building material for your pool, you’ll find a wide array of design options. With 16-inch high standard blocks and 12-inch high V12 blocks, you can achieve any wall heights in increments of 4 inches. The walls can also assume any dimension on the horizontal plane, thanks to Logix’s 45° and 90° corner blocks.
No Need for Specialized Pool Contractors
A local framing trade can easily build pool walls with ICFs, so there’s no need to wait and pay a premium to have a specialized pool installer.
What’s more, Logix ICFs are widely available from local building material suppliers across the US and Canada.
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Below, we’ll summarize the 10 basic steps to building a pool with Logix ICF; you can download the complete installation manual here.
Approach this step as any other project requiring excavation:
- Follow local bylaws and ordinances
- Ensure ease of access for the equipment
- Work around underground services
- Plan for disposal of excavated soil
- Create a grading plan that ensures rainwater drainage away from the pool
Follow the Logix Installation Guide for instructions on footing placement and ensure that all services and reinforcement are installed before the concrete pour. Use 12- or 16-inch step footings if the slab is sloped.
Insulate the Pool Slab
To avert heat loss through the pool’s bottom, you should provide a layer of continuous insulation beneath the slab. For best results, use Halo’s Subterra or Subterra Plus GPS core insulation with a thermal resistance of at least R-10.
Build the Walls
Use a chalk line to mark the wall layout, then lay down the first course of straight, standard Logix forms. Place the specified reinforcement into the forms, using the integral web ties to secure the reinforcement.
Next, continue with subsequent courses, alternating between left-hand and right-hand corner forms in between. After the second course, you should check whether the wall is level and make necessary adjustments by shimmying or trimming the bottom of the wall.
Continue placing forms without changing direction, secure the forms appropriately, and install reinforcement as you complete each course. Install bracing between the second and fourth courses at intervals of 7 feet or less.
Refer to the complete Logix Installation Guidelines for additional information.
Once the wall is erected, you should make cutouts for plumbing and electrical conduits, as well as stairs, jets, and skimmers. All electrical and plumbing services will require appropriate sleeves to run inside the walls.
Plan this step in advance — pouring the slab and concrete wall cores concurrently will save you time on setup and concrete delivery. Also, keep in mind the following during concrete placement:
- Mark the intended tops of slab lines on the ICF walls before pouring the slab
- Ensure all rebar and services are in place
- Prepare additional rebar for wet-setting, as required
- Make sure stair forms are in place with appropriate rebar wall connections, if forming stairs
- Use the specified waterproofing admixture
- Trowel the wall tops to a rough or fresno finish
- Ensure wall bracing is installed correctly
Install either prefabricated, preformed, or formed-on-site coping at the tops of pool walls.
If you’ve got an above-grade pool, any exterior finish is acceptable; you can refer to the Logix Installation Guide for a complete set of instructions.
If the walls are below grade, additional waterproofing is optional if you’ve added the waterproofing admixture to the concrete mix.
If your pool’s walls are designed to resist lateral loads from backfill and surcharge, you can backfill before filling the pool with water. Keep in mind the following when you’re backfilling:
- Ensure all services are installed and working correctly — you won’t get a chance to fix them once the backfill goes in.
- The pool’s concrete walls should cure for at least 7 days before backfilling.
- Backfill must be free-draining (avoid clay).
- Take care not to damage the waterproofing membrane (if you’ve applied one) or the ICF panels.
- Place 4-6 inches of gravel on top of the backfill, immediately below the pool deck.
Plaster-based finishes are an excellent choice for ICF pools — you can apply them directly over the ICF panels, and the result is a surface that’s both durable and smooth. If you’re opting for a plaster-based finish, here’s how you can prep the ICF panel surface before application:
- Clean and rasp the walls gently before putting up the base coat
- Fill any gaps with foam and rasp the filling flush to ICF
- Protect all exposed lighting and penetrations
- For a smooth transition, use coves at wall corners and the wall-slab interface
Alternatively, you can choose to go with vinyl liners, tile, thermoplastics, and other compatible interior finishes.
After installing the interior finishes, make sure all the services are properly connected and all penetrations sealed as required before filling the pool with water.
Wrapping It Up
Building a pool with ICF has many benefits — long-term energy savings, design versatility, and simple construction.
We’re also working on prescriptive engineering tables for swimming pool construction, and these should be available later in the spring of 2022. Be sure to bookmark this page and check back later!