Concrete pool construction — 1. The pool shell

To get a quality concrete pool, you need to start with a quality pool shell.

So how can you be sure that’s what you’re getting?

The quick answer:

One of the most important variables to look for in a quality concrete pool shell is the calibre of its concrete.

The very best concrete is made using the Dry Gunite process. It is superior to concrete made using shotcrete wet mix, which is pre-mixed in a factory.

It is also important to consider the quality and quantity of the reinforcing steel used to stabilize the pool wall. Betz uses more than other builders.

Still here? Great! Read on to learn more about what to look for in concrete pool shells.

Perhaps a trip away has inspired you to emulate a beautiful pool, spa or water feature you saw at an exotic resort or retreat. Or maybe you have your own creative ideas for something unique to custom complement your lifestyle and property.

If you’re looking for a quality concrete pool, spa or water feature, particularly a project that requires expertise around today’s complicated cutting-edge designs, you’re looking for Betz.

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If you see Betz’s iconic Gunite truck on the street, you’ll know that someone is getting the finest quality concrete pool that money can buy. Real estate listings often mention Betz by name because homeowners know it will add value to their listing.

Betz is the first-choice pool builder for Eastern Canada’s elite architects and landscape designers. These professionals rely on partnering with Betz because we’re the only builder with the experience (80+ years) and skills they can trust with complex top-of-the-line pool projects.

At Betz, we know that the overall excellence of your entire pool project rests on the quality of your pool shell. And hands down the most important component of a pool shell is its concrete.

The best concrete is made right on site using the Dry Gunite process. In fact, when it comes to concrete quality, the Dry Gunite mixing process is a game changer. The concrete produced using this process is so strong it is the method used to build load-bearing structural components in mines, tunnels and bridges. 

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Dry Gunite process concrete is made right on site. The exact ratio of sand and gravel is blended with Portland cement and pumped under high pressure to the point of application where just enough water is added to ensure proper adhesion. By using less water the resulting concrete is denser than can be achieved with ready-mix shotcrete.

The patented Dry Gunite process is a huge differentiator when it comes to the quality of concrete pools. Most companies use shotcrete wet mix, which is pre-mixed at the factory and then pumped from a truck and hosed onto your pool. Shotcrete is cheaper and easier to apply but requires a higher water-to-cement ratio, so when the excess water evaporates as the concrete sets you’re left with a more porous, less stable pool wall.

“As far as we know, we’re the only pool company that uses the Dry Gunite process in Canada and we have the only certified nozzleman in Canada,” says Mario Blanchet of Betz Pools.

Our dry mix nozzleman is certified by the American Concrete Institute (ACI) and recertifies every three years (the ACI only requires recertification every five years, but Betz likes to stay ahead of the curve). As the mixture comes out of the hose, Betz’s nozzleman judges the quality of the concrete, monitoring the cement-to-water ratio and making sure the concrete is perfect.

“The nozzleman does this visually and has to be trained to do it,” says Mario. “Because water is added to the cement right at the point of application, we use only enough water to facilitate hydration and application.” When the concrete dries there are less pores, which makes for the densest possible concrete.

The terms shotcrete and gunite are often used interchangeably, but the Dry Gunite process requires special equipment and more skill. It may cost more, but it creates a durable long-lasting pool shell that will retain its integrity.

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Not only is Betz Pools the only pool company in Canada using the Dry Gunite process, but we also are the only builder to employee a certified nozzleman. Recertification is required every five years, but Betz recertifies every three years, just to stay ahead.

Another important component of a pool shell is the rebar (reinforcing steel) installed to support the pool wall. At Betz, we use more rebar than other builders. We install a double row of rebar on the top three feet above the frost line to protect your pool wall from winter freezing and thawing cycles. This double bond beam exceeds industry standards.

“Some of the other pool companies make their pools so wonky they have to apply more parging and marbelite in different areas to build it up and make it look good,” says Mario. “And then in five or six years the tiles start falling off because they had to put so much extra material on to make the pool wall square. We’re regularly called in to repair our competitors’ pools.”

We’re confident that Betz’s Dry Gunite concrete and double rebar will give you the very best pool shell you can get. And we back that confidence up with an unprecedented 10-year guarantee on the structural integrity of our pool shell.

Other builders may offer a ‘lifetime guarantee,’ but that length of time is much harder to quantify and has been judged in the past to be seven years. The reason others don’t offer an ironclad guarantee is because they simply cannot be that sure of their product quality.

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One of the reasons that a Betz concrete pool is superior is because we use more reinforcing steel than other builders. We install a double row of rebar in the top three feet of the pool wall to guard against the risk of damage from freezing and thawing cycles.

Want even more information on concrete pool shells? Feel free to get in touch.

Surfing the Internet is a good start. But your single most important step for pool information is to contact a certified pool professional to make sure you get the custom advice you need.

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Mario Blanchet
Betz Pools

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