As swimming pool owners, we install pool surrounds for practical reasons. For instance, a surround creates a barrier between the pool and the lawn. This keeps the grass from being constantly splashed with chlorinated water, as well as prevents dirt from going into the pool. A pool surround also makes it easier for us to invite friends and family over, because we have room to set out pool chairs and perhaps even install a personalized BBQ area.
To be honest, though, we want more than just practical benefits from our pool surrounds. We want them to be more than a barrier and a flat surface. We specifically want them to add beauty to our homes and also prevent accidents around the pool.
We are happy to tell you that polished concrete pool surrounds satisfy all the practical reasons for having a surround, along with being beautiful and perfectly safe.
What makes a polished concrete pool surround beautiful?
The short answer to this question is: aggregates and polishing. These two factors are able to transform coarse, gray concrete into a pool surround worthy of admiration. Let’s take a closer look at aggregates and polishing:
Concrete in any form needs aggregates to increase its cohesion and strength. Coarse or fine sand, as well as gravel are the most common aggregates added to concrete, but they aren’t very attractive.
So when we mix up concrete for a pool surround, we replace some of the common aggregates with decorative ones. Decorative aggregates can be quartz crystals or natural stones, as well as a variety of coloured chips, flakes and flecks made from resin.
After pouring the concrete, we level the surface of the new surround. This spreads the decorative aggregates evenly across the surround, so that they will be visible and attractive after polishing.
Polishing the pool surround brings out the full beauty of the decorative aggregates and the concrete. Polishing involves 4 basic steps:
1. Grinding the surface – In this first step, we take a grinder fitted with coarse abrasive discs all over the surface of the pool surround to eliminate the natural coarseness of the dried concrete and create a smooth surface.
In some cases, the concrete is rather stubborn and we have to grind the surround more than once to achieve the degree of smoothness that we want.
2. Spreading a hardener – Once the concrete has been ground, we spread a liquid hardener on the surface and give it a few minutes to sink in. Slowly the hardener soaks down into the pores of the concrete and then dries forming a seal that increases the strength, density and impermeability of the concrete.
3. Polishing the surface – After the hardener is completely dry, we fit our grinders with fine grit abrasive discs and go over the surround several more times until the the surround is silky smooth and glossy.
4. Applying a sealer – Some concretors consider this fourth step to be optional, because the hardener that is applied in the second step waterproofs the concrete, as well as protects the surface from wear.
We generally recommend, though, applying a sealer to the new pool surround to give it a little extra shine, prevent staining and make it easier to keep clean.
While you are reading about how smooth and glossy a polished concrete pool surround becomes, your mind has probably already come to the conclusion that a smooth, glossy surface + water = a slippery surface that will have a serious risk of falls and injuries.
In reality, polished concrete pool surrounds are not slippery. They actually decrease the risk of slips and falls in two important ways.
How do polished concrete pool surrounds prevent slips and falls?
Polished concrete pool surrounds prevent accidents – even when they are wet – by providing ample friction and increasing grip.
Friction decreases slipping
Concrete naturally provides friction because it contains cement. Cement is very coarse thanks to large quantities of minerals and metals. Most of these minerals and metals are in the form of hard, brittle crystals that are extracted from natural rocks, including limestone, shale and slate, as well as shells, silica sand and iron ore.
The hard crystals in cement worth together with the aggregates in the concrete to create resistance between our feet and the concrete pool surround as we walk across it. This resistance is also known as friction.
Slipping occurs when a floor doesn’t provide enough friction. When a floor fails to create resistance to our feet, we slide across its surface, lose our balance and sometimes even fall. Even after they have been polished, the crystals and aggregates in concrete pool surrounds provide more than enough friction to decrease the risk of slipping and falling.
Adhesion increases grip
The hardeners and sealers that we use on concrete pool surrounds include a thick liquid base that soaks into the concrete and then hardens. These bases can be made of a variety of ingredients, but they usually include silicate liquids, polymers or a variety of resins that give the concrete a slightly soft and adhesive surface once they have dried.
This adhesive surface provides a number of important benefits, for instance it slows the concrete’s ageing process and prevents it from forming dust, but its most important benefit is that it increases grip or traction for those who walk across it.
This increase in traction efficiently reduces the risk of wet feet slipping on the pool surround and overall makes the pool area a safer place.
Owning a swimming pool is great. It provides a welcome escape from the heat of summer, as well as encourages quality interaction with family and friends. We might also mention that a pool increases the value of the property and can be a source of healthy exercise.
Installing a polished concrete pool surround enhances all of these benefits by creating a safer and more attractive environment around the pool. If you need a pool surround that is practical, as well as beautiful and safe contact Normark today.