Pool Construction

Here is how pools are built:


The perimeter of the pool is framed with lumber and a tracked backhoe quickly removes 2-300 yards of earth. The same machine assists in spreading gravel over the floor of the pool. Excavation is usually completed in one day.


Steel reinforcing bars (1/2 inch thick in diameter with a mix of ¾ inch bars) are placed into the pool horizontally and vertically to form a basket. Additional steel bars are placed in the bond beam (the top 12 inches of the pool wall) as well as the break area (shallow to deep) for added strength.


Downes professionals place all the pool piping in the wall of the pool, an industry standard for our climate. We then extend the piping back to the equipment pad in one protected trench. Downes engineers use Schedule 80 PVC, which is much stronger than the normal 40 PVC that most pool builders use. All the pipes are then pressure tested. When the Gunite (concrete) is applied, the piping will be encased in the wall, virtually eliminating any chance of later plumbing problems. This method takes more time, but is an added Downes quality factor. We also install custom main drains in our spas that are plumbed with a safety air lock, well beyond the industry standard.


This is the day of pool construction that most impresses our customers. The men performing this amazing and detailed task are true artisans…in fact, eight of our craftsmen have 25 or more years of experience. That’s over 200 years of combined experience! While these experts place the concrete, another team of master craftsmen “cut” or shape it using a variety of hand tools and experienced eyes. Our walls are a minimum of 10 inches thick, top to bottom. Our floors are 8 inches thick. These specifications exceed industry standards yet again.


Downes believes that quality pool construction dictates the use of coping (finishing the top part of the pool walls). It is also an essential aesthetic element of design. The coping material might be bluestone, limestone, brick, or poured concrete. The most important part of this element is to separate the pool from the deck/apron, so that the apron/coping is not affected by frost heave.


The use of frost-proof tiles at the waterlines serves two purposes: it provides an easy-to-clean surface and is also decorative. The Downes showroom includes almost 100 tiles to choose from. (Custom tiles from Europe can also be made specifically for your pool – see pool stories.) Accent tiles are available to trim stairs as well as spa benches and steps.


Our crew will work with you to fine-tune your deck to the shape and texture you desire. Typically, pool decks are made of bluestone, brick, limestone, exposed aggregate, stamped concrete or broom finished concrete. Your Downes team will work with you to ensure enough room for slides, diving boards, and entertainment areas.


The interior of the pool is finished in pool plaster (a mixture of white cement and finely ground marble). The result is a smooth, yet non-slip, waterproof surface. While some pools are still being finished in white, a growing majority of pool owners are selecting an upgraded surface, such as Hydrazzo. This finish allows us to introduce color in a reasonably controlled manner and is a more durable surface.