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There’s no denying the important role that swimming pools play in offering an enhanced leisure and sports experience in a commercial setting, along with boosting its economic performance.

Pool operators are able to offer users an excellent source of relaxation, sport and entertainment, or a low-impact, whole-body exercise space that boosts commercial value. However, setting up a pool, especially from scratch, can be overwhelming. This is why it always requires working with specialists including pool designers, engineers, and niche builders.

Beyond hiring a professional, there’s a lot more you can learn upfront about a pool setup, from choosing the right location to how to maintain it once it’s up and running. This article will lay out the first essential steps to follow depending on the type of pool you’ve chosen to install.

We will cover:

  • Traditional concrete pools and their setup;
  • How to set up a swimming pool with panels;
  • What you need to know about renovating an existing pool.
Traditional concrete pool setup

Concrete pools have traditionally been the universal standard for installing a swimming pool. However, despite being very robust, they are less easy to build and maintain than more innovative designs based on modular panels. They also present a challenge for building competition pools — it is more difficult to ensure exact dimensions in line with what’s required by swimming federations worldwide.

Here are the step-by-step elements of setting up a traditional concrete pool.

Determining pool type

Determining whether the pool you build is designed for leisure or competition is an essential first step. That’s because leisure pools allow flexibility in shape and design, whereas competition pools must follow strict size rules in order to be certified by the World Aquatic regulations to be able to host official championships.

The other element to consider is where the pool will sit: fully above ground, in-ground, or semi in-ground. It is easier and quicker to build an above-ground swimming pool, whereas anything that goes into the ground requires more lead time for excavation.

Choosing Your Location

It’s important to understand where your swimming pool will be installed and what factors can influence its location. For example, sunlight and exposure to the elements can play a huge part when designing an outdoor pool. Ideally, this should receive maximum sunlight all day long, but also be accessible and visible from all around your facility.

Furthermore, accessibility is key for ensuring your swimming pool is the best place for the desired audience. You also need to ensure that local zoning regulations are respected. Finally, consider the number of users and how they will interact with not just the pool, but also the space around it. A leisure pool needs to have ample space for sun loungers, outdoor furniture, children playground areas and services such as bars for example. Whereas a competition or sports centre pool can be surrounded by stands or a smaller outdoor space if needed, always meeting with World Aquatics requirements and taking into account the legacy phase once the competition ends.

Designing the pool layout

The pool design must complement the landscape that surrounds your location and the overall aesthetics of your facility, whether indoors or outdoors. To ensure all elements of the pool layout are taken into consideration and that they comply with regulations while meeting your design expectations, it’s necessary to work with a professional pool designer.

A professional can also advise on whether your chosen location will be suitable for supporting the weight of the pool, considering things such as the ground underneath. If this is not the case, you can work with an architect to develop a solution for reinforcing the building structure or to change the pool location to a more suitable spot.

Excavation and site preparation

Excavation will be part of the process for building in-ground or semi in-ground swimming pools. It involves digging out the area where the pool will be installed. The site must be levelled and compacted before the pool is set up, providing first a stable base for it.

When preparing the site for your swimming pool, ensure that you remove any naturally occurring obstacles, like rocks, that could hinder the installation.

Installing the pool basin

The next step is to install the pool itself. Concrete is poured into the area to form a pool basin (including walls and floor). You should then coat it with gresite or a PVC liner. Gresite is a material composed of multiple small tiles that is very durable and has high resistance to humidity.

Hydraulic and mechanical work

Once the pool has been built, it needs to be connected to water and electricity supplies. Once again, here a specialised professional should be involved in order to avoid any safety hazard or potential damage to the swimming pool.

From the initial design of the pool, you should consider where these connections will be made and how they will reach the pool. Once hydraulic and mechanical work has been carried out, this will allow your swimming pool to benefit from all essential operating activities, including disinfection and water recirculation through pipes, pumps, and the filtration system.

Filling the pool

It’s finally time to fill the pool with water. This can be done with a large water tank by using a high-volume hose. It is essential that the pool is filled to the appropriate levels and that water chemistry is balanced before opening up the pool for regular use.

Start-up and maintenance

Starting up the pool involves ensuring that all the systems are working correctly, such as the recirculation, filtration and heating systems. Afterwards, regular maintenance is crucial for keeping the pool in good condition. Maintenance tasks include cleaning the pool, balancing the water chemistry, and inspecting the pool’s components for any damage.

Setting up a swimming pool with panels

p>Building a concrete swimming pool is the traditional approach for a pool setup, although it is not the only way to tackle it. In fact, using pool panels is an increasingly popular and reliable solution which saves time and can be more cost effective.

Modular panel systems like Skypool offer a range of benefits by comparison to concrete pool building.

The benefits of a modular panel system

Cost effectiveness

Swimming pool panels is a prefabricated solution that provides a quicker installation and reduces on-site labour costs. The panels can be manufactured off-site, which advances work while permits are being acquired and the ground is being prepared.

Easy installation

It is easy to install a pool made up of panels. They are prefabricated to fit specific dimensions and can be assembled quickly and efficiently on-site.


Generally, swimming pool panels are made from high-quality materials designed to withstand the rigours and impact of regular, high-volume use. This makes them more long-lasting than a traditional setup, which generally has to be maintained and repaired more often.

The go-to materials for swimming pool panels are stainless steel and galvanised steel, which cope well with the highly chlorinated environment of a pool. They are highly resistant to rust and corrosion.


One huge advantage of using pool panels is that they can be purchased in a wide range of shapes and sizes, allowing for the setup of very different swimming pools, whether for commercial or competition use. Since they can also be easily dismantled, pool panels are ideal for temporary competition pools , when events are held only once in a location.

Accuracy and reliability

With pool panels, you can count on receiving the exact dimensions required for building a pool according to your specifications. For competition pools, this takes the guesswork out of complying with regulations and makes it easier and quicker to build pools. Additionally, swimming pools built with modular panels are more adaptable and flexible, which means they can cope better with ground and seismic movements, without creating cracks and needing repairs.

Pool setup process with a modular panel system

In general, the construction of a swimming pool with modular panels shares the same main steps as for building a concrete pool, that is:

  • Determining the type of pool;
  • Choosing and preparing location and site;
  • Designing the pool layout;
  • Excavating the space for the pool;
  • Installing the pool basin;
  • Integrating the lining option;
  • Installing the hydraulic and mechanical systems;
  • Filling the pool and starting it up.

There are some differences regarding the installation of the pool basin and the addition of a swimming pool liner, which makes modular panel pools quicker and easier to set up. As mentioned, they are also easy to dismantle if required.

Installing the pool basin 

Modular pools’ basins are installed following these steps:

  • Design and cut out the panels based on the project specifications;
  • Transport and unload panels at the construction site, along with required concrete slabs;
  • Mark pool corners and fasten chemical anchors;
  • Install pool panels, screwing them together and joining to the chemical anchors;
  • Install filtration ducts and a liner waterproofing system (typically made of reinforced PVC);
  • Pool deck finishings are then installed, typically with porcelain tiling;
  • Fill the pool with water and check for any potential leaks or levelling errors.
Renovating an existing pool

Sometimes, swimming pools are in place that need to be upgraded or given a new lease of life. This can involve initial repairs, as well as pool vessel renovation, which can extend the pool’s lifespan.

Skypool panel systems offer the option of renovating a pool more easily and quickly. Here’s what this looks like:

  • Prefabricated panels are ordered to fit with the existing structure, manufactured and transported on site;
  • The existing pool’s concrete coping is demolished and new chemical anchors are put in place. Sometimes, a completely new pool can be installed in the existing space, if needed, with renovation panels;
  • A special structure (called a bench) is put in place to support and level the renovation panels. Benches are set up with chemical anchors that are fitted to the perimeter wall of the existing pool;
  • Benches must then be levelled;
  • Renovation panels with overflow channels included are fitted to the benches. They need to be screwed together and joined to the benches, followed by another round of levelling to ensure the structure is within the desired tolerance levels;
  • At this point, filtration ducts can be fitted;
  • Add PVC liners to waterproof the pool;
  • Fill the pool to test for leaks or levelling errors.

At the same time as renovating the pool basin itself, this can be an opportunity to remodel the facility as a whole and modernise it. Here are some elements that you can consider when upgrading your pool:

  • Upgrade filtration and recirculation systems with new, eco-conscious solutions; e.g. modern pumps that reduce energy consumption and operate more quietly than traditional models;
  • Upgrade the disinfection system by introducing saline chlorination , which improves water quality and reduces the chloramine particles in the swimming pool water;
  • Add IoT applications to improve pool management and control, saving more on energy consumption and minimising operating and maintenance costs;
  • Add LED lighting systems that improve the look of your pool while also saving energy, replacing less efficient solutions like regular halogen lights;
  • Add a pool cover, which reduces water temperature losses and evaporation, and protects the pool and keeps it more hygienic when it’s not in use.

Whether setting up a pool from scratch or renovating an existing one, the choice of concrete or modular panel systems comes down to flexibility, versatility, and return on investment. Modular panels allow for different pool designs, are easier to manufacture to specific requirements, and can even help you dismantle a pool quickly and easily when one has been built for a temporary event. Whichever choice you make, you should now be in a good position to set up a swimming pool step by step.

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