A lot of weight rests on the package-pool wall panel. There are tons
of earth on one side, thousands of gallons of water on the other.
They’re largely responsible for the long-term success of the
pool and the fit of the liner.
To guarantee lasting durability and success, follow this
1. Check the excavation.
this stage will help position each panel properly.
Check elevations on the shallow-end floor and deep-end shelves.
These surfaces should be level and elevated so the top of the
panels will meet the bottom of the coping.
Then draw the outline of the pool into the hole, so you can locate
where the panels go.
2.Set up a level foundation for the panels.
In addition to an expert dig, you’ll
need a foundation that you can make perfectly level and to the
exact right height. Many builders pound grade blocks into the shelf
Some like to place one of these 4-by-8-by-16-inch, solid
concrete blocks underneath each panel joint. Measure around the
pool, mark where panels will meet, then position each block so half
sits on either side of the joint. Pound it into the ground, making
sure it is level and at the right elevation.
There are alternate methods. Tommy Johnson, president/owner of
Johnson Pools & Spas in Huntsville, Ala.,
generally uses 2-by-4-inch wood stakes. He uniformly spaces them
approximately 3 feet apart and sets them 1- to 1-1/2 inches off the
ground. This allows concrete to ooze underneath the panels when the
foundation is poured, additionally locking them in place.
If the pool will sit in a higher water table, you can use gravel
as your leveling device. This also allows ground water to
“It’s easier to work with, so it goes
quickly,” says Jesse Anderson, construction supervisor at
and Spas in Fort Smith, Ark. “Typically it ends up
anywhere from 1- to 2 inches of gravel.”
3. Choose a starting point for the panels.
Begin setting up panels at the shallow end,
so you can stand on the floor, rather than balancing yourself on
the shelves while setting, leveling and stabilizing the first few
On rectangular pools, many crews begin at a corner, so the two
sides can support each other. On freeform pools, you can begin
anywhere, since the curved panels hold themselves up.
Many prefer to start at the gap where the stairs will go.
“If your [panels are] off, it’s an easy area to pull
and push the panels to make up for the lost space,” says
Michael Truehart, owner of True Blue
Swimming Pools in Dix Hills, N.Y.
You can also start at the pool’s center line. Since the
pool light often sits there, it makes a good reference point.
4. Erect the panels and braces.
prop the panel up and bolt it to the next one, using the turnbuckle
or threaded-rod system provided.
There is a row of holes going down each side of the panel. Put
bolts or dry pins in the uppermost and lowest holes first,
adjusting them until the fronts of each panel are flush. Then put
in the remaining bolts. Use them all, or you’ll leave a weak
In the bottom-flange holes, place a rebar stake and pound it
about 12 inches into the ground. This helps stabilize the panels
when you attach the brace and pour the foundation.
Finally, attach the braces to the back. Adjust until everything
is level and plumb.
5. Seal between the panels.
panel seams with duct tape to keep them from showing through the
Johnson takes an extra step to create an air-tight seal. While
the crews are bolting each pair of panels together, they’ll
run a bead of silicon sealant on one of the panel flanges.
“When you bolt them together, it’ll spread out and form
a gasket,” he says.
This makes it easier to vacuum the liner in place and helps
prevent ground water from seeping through and pooling behind the
You can also place foam padding in front of the panels. This
additionally conceals the seams, protects the liner from any
friction behind it, and adds a softer touch to the final
6. Check all measurements.
rectangular pool, this is straightforward: Measure the four sides,
then the two diagonals going from one corner to the opposite. On
freeform pools, you must go through all the cross measurements and
diagonals provided on the manufacturer’s plans.
“You could be off by more than a foot and it’ll look
fine to the eye, but the vinyl liner will never fit,”
When making adjustments, other dimensions may be thrown off.
Double-check everything to make sure nothing was jostled. This may
take two or three go-arounds.
Finally, check the tops of the panels in case they haven’t
been kicked out of place.
7. Pour the concrete foundation.
provide extra stability, pour a layer of concrete around the
overdig, behind the panels. Called a collar or foundation, it can
range in depth from 6 inches to a couple feet, depending on
manufacturer specifications and the application.
When building a waterfeature or other heavy element next to the
pool, some builders pour the foundation up to deck level in that
Be careful not to place the concrete too quickly, or the weight
may push the panels out of position. Build up 1 foot at a time, at
If, like Johnson, you like a little concrete to flow underneath
each panel, make sure it doesn’t ooze to the front.
Check again to make sure everything’s level and plumb.