Building an "ocean"...........aka 18' Round Doughboy Saratoga w/In-Wall Entry Steps

kd did

Gold Supporter
May 5, 2017
31
Centennial, Colorado
After many, many years of wanting a pool and being told that the swim season was too short in Colorado, last summer our granddaughter asked her Papaw "will you build me an ocean?". And so it began-we started last year with an 18' Coleman softside ABP-just to test the waters and see how much we actually used it. Surprisingly the hubster was in it more than any of us-pool love has spread thru the house! This year we upgraded to a 18' Round Doughboy Saratoga w/In-Wall Entry steps and are doing the install ourselves.:oops: It was delivered on June 8th, and unfortunately it has rained pretty much every day since! :mad: We finally started digging on June 22nd, and here are pics of the progress to date-first pic is of the pad we used last year. We used a builders transit to level, as well as I built a bunyip for "double checking the hubster's work" :p Got everything level and added a bit of sand for smoothness. We are using an Armor Shield pad, as well as the Perfect Pool Bottom and wall foam. Feel free to speak up if you see something concerning........and a shout out to my brother-in-law Joe who spent his whole vacation working-putting in a pool is not easy work and we would still be leveling if he hadn't been here!
 

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kd did

Gold Supporter
May 5, 2017
31
Centennial, Colorado
Additional photos and a question-there is only one outlet cut in the pool wall other than the skimmer outlet-we added a main drain (which I know many have a love/hate relationship with) and it isn't a huge pool but should we add another? Thanks!
 

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bmoreswim

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Jul 16, 2012
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Central MD
I'd say that having two returns, so that you can more easily generate a circular flow pattern, would be beneficial.
 
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kimkats

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Jul 10, 2012
40,446
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I am SO jelly over those built in steps!!! Please make sure to show how the liner is done around them to seal them!
 

kd did

Gold Supporter
May 5, 2017
31
Centennial, Colorado
I'd say that having two returns, so that you can more easily generate a circular flow pattern, would be beneficial.
Thanks for the info! Hubby is a Master Plumber/Contractor so hard-piping will not be an issue. Was thinking of adding 2 additional for a total of 3-mainly because we are adding AquaLuminators to the returns and I want it to be symmetrical-is that overkill?:rolleyes:
 

bmoreswim

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Jul 16, 2012
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Sounds like a good reason. Though more protrusions means more opportunities for leaks. But that’s the way life is.
 
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kd did

Gold Supporter
May 5, 2017
31
Centennial, Colorado
So what are you going to put under it to support it? That will be the "weak spot" if not done correctly.
According to installation directions, the posts had to be placed on a 4 inch x 8 inch x 16 inch capstones-which we did. We also plan on back filling with slurry(again following manufacturer directions) as well as building a deck to help support. Are we missing anything? :unsure: :)
 

kimkats

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Jul 10, 2012
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Tallahassee, FL
Me? I would find a way to put more support under the two steps that don't have a post under them. When you say "slurry" what does that mean? You do NOT want anything that will wash or shift out from under them. Fix it where they cannot have any chance of flexing as it is the flexing that can lead to cracks. Hummmmmm I wonder if you can make a "box" around them and fill that with the slurry so there is not chance of it going anywhere?? My husband will tell you I do tend to go a little overboard to keep things from happening but it almost always works out for the best so.........:roll: LOL

Kim:kim:
 

Roundy

New member
Jul 10, 2019
2
Georgia
I happen to see your pool install and I am doing similar project. I suppose I could create a thread for it. I am doing a 27' radiant pool that can be put in ground. I also bought the walk in steps at a step price. The steps I have there are several supports on each step. Then after those are on ground, I am supposed to fill with 8" deep x 30 wide of concrete. Instructions say to have 8" deep 12 wide of concrete around base of pool when bury full. Also for the panels right next to the steps, it appears they want it do be 8" x 30" I suppose to support the wall a bit more since it is cut out.

I am curious about backfill. I believe the instructions said gravel, but that is not going to be tight to the steps.

I will start a thread with pics, as I have questions concerns, and hopefully I can learn from your thread.

Good Luck
 
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swargolet

Member
May 28, 2019
20
WI
I'm unable to add any input on 1, 2, or 3 returns but can add some input to the AquaLuminator as I have one. 3 would be a bit excessive in my opinion, even 2 might be pushing it. Given the costs of them, extra effort with installation as now you have to deal with running electrical, and the increased risk of another thing breaking in our pool, I'd suggest getting 1 light and using normal returns for the rest. If you decide you want to change out one of the returns for a light down the road, it really isn't too difficult to do. You could even run conduit to each return now while everything is built just to make it easier for you if you go that route down the road.

One thing to keep in mind is that the switch for the light is on the transformer box itself and the plug is only about 10 feet long. This limits your options if you plan to just plug the light into a nearby outlet and it is somewhat of a pain to turn on and off the light from the transformer itself. I highly suggest having a separate easily accessible switch which controls power to your light(s) and have conduit running to the light(s) as well.

As a reference, here is what my single light at the end of a 38' AGP looks like. It isn't extremely bright, but plenty bright to provide light across the whole pool
 
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Tpopz

Bronze Supporter
Jun 4, 2019
71
Versailles, Kentucky
Re: Pool light. We had the Aqualuminator on our last pool and loved it. I agree with swargolet, 3 would be excessive in an 18’ pool. And you really need to run a switch leg or remote controlled outlet/switch for convenience.

On our present pool, I chose the carvin starbright despite the bad reviews and love it so far. Comes with full function remote......color change77F4B6F5-2569-491D-B551-EC77FB1800C5.jpeg, dimmer, several disco modes. The negatives are when you have a power outage, the light defaults to “on”, and the transformer needs to be protected from weather/water.
 
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kd did

Gold Supporter
May 5, 2017
31
Centennial, Colorado
Me? I would find a way to put more support under the two steps that don't have a post under them. When you say "slurry" what does that mean? You do NOT want anything that will wash or shift out from under them. Fix it where they cannot have any chance of flexing as it is the flexing that can lead to cracks. Hummmmmm I wonder if you can make a "box" around them and fill that with the slurry so there is not chance of it going anywhere?? My husband will tell you I do tend to go a little overboard to keep things from happening but it almost always works out for the best so.........:roll: LOL

Kim:kim:
One thing I forgot to mention (hubby reminded me as he did the digging by hand 😬) was the 6 inch wide-12 inches deep trench that had to be dug (in Colorado clay🥵) for the step wall to be set into and then backfilled with 5 bags of concrete. You can kind of see it in the below pic
 

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kd did

Gold Supporter
May 5, 2017
31
Centennial, Colorado
I happen to see your pool install and I am doing similar project. I suppose I could create a thread for it. I am doing a 27' radiant pool that can be put in ground. I also bought the walk in steps at a step price. The steps I have there are several supports on each step. Then after those are on ground, I am supposed to fill with 8" deep x 30 wide of concrete. Instructions say to have 8" deep 12 wide of concrete around base of pool when bury full. Also for the panels right next to the steps, it appears they want it do be 8" x 30" I suppose to support the wall a bit more since it is cut out.

I am curious about backfill. I believe the instructions said gravel, but that is not going to be tight to the steps.

I will start a thread with pics, as I have questions concerns, and hopefully I can learn from your thread.

Good Luck
I'm glad to hear someone else thinks the price of these steps is a bit ridiculous-hopefully they are going to be worth it! We are only burying our pool about 24 inches and the instructions say to back-fill with slurry (which is somewhat of a soft concrete mix). The "lip" of the steps is buried in a 6x12 trench of concrete (I failed to mention that in my previous post).
 

kd did

Gold Supporter
May 5, 2017
31
Centennial, Colorado
I'm unable to add any input on 1, 2, or 3 returns but can add some input to the AquaLuminator as I have one. 3 would be a bit excessive in my opinion, even 2 might be pushing it. Given the costs of them, extra effort with installation as now you have to deal with running electrical, and the increased risk of another thing breaking in our pool, I'd suggest getting 1 light and using normal returns for the rest. If you decide you want to change out one of the returns for a light down the road, it really isn't too difficult to do. You could even run conduit to each return now while everything is built just to make it easier for you if you go that route down the road.

One thing to keep in mind is that the switch for the light is on the transformer box itself and the plug is only about 10 feet long. This limits your options if you plan to just plug the light into a nearby outlet and it is somewhat of a pain to turn on and off the light from the transformer itself. I highly suggest having a separate easily accessible switch which controls power to your light(s) and have conduit running to the light(s) as well.

As a reference, here is what my single light at the end of a 38' AGP looks like. It isn't extremely bright, but plenty bright to provide light across the whole pool
Thanks for the input! We were unsure of how much light the AquaLuminator puts out so this is very helpful. AND saves money-which the hubster is ALWAYS in favor of! :)
 

kd did

Gold Supporter
May 5, 2017
31
Centennial, Colorado
Re: Pool light. We had the Aqualuminator on our last pool and loved it. I agree with swargolet, 3 would be excessive in an 18’ pool. And you really need to run a switch leg or remote controlled outlet/switch for convenience.

On our present pool, I chose the carvin starbright despite the bad reviews and love it so far. Comes with full function remote......color changeView attachment 110571, dimmer, several disco modes. The negatives are when you have a power outage, the light defaults to “on”, and the transformer needs to be protected from weather/water.
Thanks so much for the input -I will check the carvin starbright out. :) We are total newbies and in the beginning an 18' pool seemed HUGE to us but are realizing that is kinda small in the grand scheme of things. Haven't even got this one in and I am already having second thoughts about if we should have gone bigger?!? Hubster emphatically states it is plenty big!! :rolleyes: