There is nothing quite like a dip in a swimming pool. Especially when it’s a warm summer’s day. You’ve always dreamed of building your own backyard swimming pool. But where do you start? You have a number of options for how to go about building a pool. You could use traditional methods like building vinyl or concrete pools. However, there is an option that is increasing in popularity. Consider insulated concrete forms to build your new pool.
What Are Insulated Concrete Forms?
Insulated concrete forms are sometimes known as insulating concrete forms or ICFs. These are blocks of insulating material like foam that are designed to snap together like toy bricks. Each block consists of two layers of insulating foam separated by a connecting web made of plastic. The layers are often made of polystyrene. You can also get blocks made of wood fiber or other green materials.
Once the blocks are assembled into a structure, concrete is poured into the hollow spaces. Steel re-bar is added before the concrete to reinforce the strength of the structure. The most frequent use of ICF blocks is to make walls for buildings and residences. ICF blocks provide a number of significant improvements over using wood frames. These include improved thermal insulation, improved sound insulation and resistance to humidity.
These blocks, made of reinforced concrete are strong. They provide a high degree of structural resistance to natural disasters like fires, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes. The high thermal resistance alone provides significantly reduced heating and cooling costs. This is partly because fit and snug construction eliminates many of the seams that can let air out of the building. The insulation and concrete together resist changes in temperature. This helps keep the inside temperature consistent.
From Houses to In-Ground Pools
But what about pools? You get the same savings in construction time as you do with houses and buildings. Like with walls, the blocks can simply be assembled into a structure by stacking them into place. This leads to reduced labor and time costs. The blocks are designed to lock into each other. This means that no mortar is needed to hold the blocks in place. The assembled structure is then filled with concrete.
Once the concrete is set, the exterior plastic foam can be finished with pool plaster. This and the insulation layer helps to make a waterproof seal that prevent leakage. Now the concrete is no longer in contact with the pool water. This eliminates the need to apply sealant to the concrete to prevent cracking. Concrete pools often have the highest maintenance costs of any type of pool. ICF pools definitely have much lower costs of maintenance.
Staying Warmer For Longer
Another benefit is that the insulation layers dramatically reduce the amount of heat lost. Most of the heat in a pool is lost through thermal contact with the surrounding ground. The insulating layers and high thermal stability of the forms prevent this.
If you opt for a heated pool, this saves a lot of money in heating costs over the course of a year. Even if you rely on the sun to heat your pool, the thermal insulation keeps the pool water warmer for much longer in the year. ICF pools can reduce the thermal losses by up to 60%. This is a big savings in pool costs. It’s also an increase in overall enjoyment of the pool.
Build The Pool Of Your Dreams
The biggest advantage of the insulated concrete form block may be construction flexibility. Using ICFs opens up a much wider world of pool designs. These designs would be much more costly and time consuming if you used other methods. This is because you can easily cut the blocks into lockable shapes.
This allows your imagination to run wild with design options. Pools can be round, square, or almost any shape you want. You can then cut the blocks into whatever shapes needed to fit a particular design, then stacked together and filled. This would require much more effort with other methods of pool building.
What If My Backyard Is Graded?
Sloping yards make using typical pool-building methods difficult. A big advantage of ICFs is that it is easier to build a backyard pool even if you don’t have a perfectly flat backyard. However, with ICF pools, because the forms are stackable, this becomes incredibly easy. Just stack your forms and pour the concrete inside. Once the concrete sets, you now have your previously difficult-to-build pool.
Another major benefit is durability. The insulated concrete forms can last several decades. This means you don’t have to spend as much on maintenance as you would with a plain concrete surfaced pool. The tight fit between the blocks and the plaster covering prevents water seepage into the concrete filling. This means you don’t need sealant and other waterproofing. Nor do you have to replace or touch up the sealant. So maintenance costs over time are much less than with other types of pools.
Does this hurt the environment?
ICF pools are also environmentally friendly. They can be constructed with materials that do not emit carbon dioxide during production. In many cases the materials need to build the forms can be sourced locally. This can at least offset the carbon dioxide emitted during the concrete curing process. Also for heated pools, the thermal insulation reduces the energy losses through the sides and bottom of the pool. This saves money on heating the pool. It also saves energy that would otherwise be lost in heating a concrete or vinyl pool.
If you are considering getting a pool then insulated concrete forms are an exciting option. They are highly durable, have fewer long term costs, and are easier to build. You also can enjoy your pool for many more days in the year because of the vastly improved heat insulation. Building the pool of your dreams does not have to be that expensive. ICF pools can make your dream happen for much less.