Ever scratch your head when your con­trac­tor is toss­ing around the terms of the trade? Here’s a handy Glos­sary of Pool Terms (along with pic­tures) so that you can keep up with him next time.

Acid wash­ing. The cleans­ing of the exist­ing pool or spa sur­face, through con­trolled dis­so­lu­tion of the mate­r­ial on a cemen­ti­tious coating’s sur­face to remove efflo­res­cence, soil or unwanted stains.

Admix. Any mate­r­ial, other than the cement, aggre­gate, sand, and/or water, that is added to the mix design, whether as a pre-blend or as an indi­vid­ual con­stituent added at the job site.

Aggre­gate. The sand , rock or stone por­tion of the mix design

Bond (Adhe­sion). The abil­ity of a hard­ened cemen­ti­tious coat to hold together with the sub­strate or to a pre­vi­ous coat by mol­e­c­u­lar forces, inter­lock­ing action or both.

Bond (Chem­i­cal). The abil­ity to hold together by chem­i­cal process, whether by adhe­sive or cohe­sive bond.

Bond (Mechan­i­cal). The abil­ity of a plas­ter coat to embed with or lock together with a plas­ter under­coat or a substrate.

Swimming Pool Bond FailureBond Fail­ure. 1. The fail­ure of the cemen­ti­tious coat­ing to hold together. 2. The fail­ure of the cemen­ti­tious coat­ing to remain adhered to the under­ly­ing sub­strate or to another coat.

Pool Calcium Nodule or BlisterCal­cium Nod­ule or Blis­ter. A slang term used to refer to a cal­cium car­bon­ate for­ma­tion on the sur­face of a fin­ish coat result­ing from the per­co­la­tion of water that is capa­ble of leach­ing cement com­pounds from voids, bond fail­ures, cracks or a weak sub-boundary layer in the cemen­ti­tious coat­ing, which is then pre­cip­i­tated onto the surface.

Cement (Polymer-Modified). Mor­tar and con­crete made with port­land cement has been a pop­u­lar con­struc­tion mate­r­ial in the world for the past 170 years or more. How­ever, cement mor­tar and con­crete have some dis­ad­van­tages such as delayed hard­en­ing, low ten­sile strength, large dry­ing shrink­age and low chem­i­cal resis­tance. To reduce these dis­ad­van­tages, poly­mers have been uti­lized as an addi­tive. Polymer-modified or poly­mer cement mor­tar (PCM) and con­crete (PCC) are the mate­ri­als which are made by par­tially replac­ing the cement hydrate binders of con­ven­tional cement mor­tar or con­crete, with polymers.

Cement (Port­land). A hydraulic cement (hard­ens and sets by chem­i­cal inter­ac­tion with water) that is made by fus­ing cer­tain eath mate­ri­als though pyro-processing to form hydraulic crys­talline com­pounds, mostly cal­cium sil­i­cates and alu­minum sil­i­cates. These com­pounds are pul­ver­ized to a fine pow­der and a small amount of cal­cium sul­fate is added to con­trol the set.

Check Crack­ing. Also known as “chicken wire cracks” or “craz­ing.” 1. The com­mon ran­dom crack pat­tern of a plas­ter sur­face that gen­er­ally self-heals through the ongo­ing hydra­tion and cur­ing process. 2. Small cracks asso­ci­ated with the shrink­age from mois­ture loss and con­sol­i­da­tion within a cemen­ti­tious coat­ing dur­ing set. 3. Small shal­low cracks at closely spaced but irreg­u­lar inter­vals on the sur­face of a plaster.

Chip-Off. For pools or spas that have already been resur­faced. If this sec­ond or third sur­face has begun to develop “hol­low spots” or delam­i­na­tion areas, it needs to be chipped-off and removed.

Com­paction or Con­sol­i­da­tion. The process of induc­ing a closer arrange­ment of the solid par­ti­cles in freshly mixed con­crete or mor­tar, dur­ing place­ment by the reduc­tion of voids; usu­ally by vibra­tion, cen­trifu­ga­tion, rod­ding, tamp­ing, or some com­bi­na­tion of these actions.

Cop­ing. The cap­stone on top of the bond beam which fin­ishes the edge around a pool or spa.  It may be pre-cast con­crete or brick.  On vinyl liner pools pre-fabricated cop­ing is usu­ally part of an inte­grated sys­tem for the wall, vinyl liner, and deck.

Cur­ing (plas­ter). The act or process by which the cemen­ti­tious sur­face coat­ing con­tin­ues hydra­tion. Cur­ing is typ­i­cally done by immers­ing the cemen­ti­tious coat­ing in water as soon as pos­si­ble after final set. This process con­tin­ues for approx­i­mately 28 days.

Pool DelaminationDelam­i­na­tion. This is also known as “bond fail­ure.” The sep­a­ra­tion within a mate­r­ial or com­po­si­tion and/or the sep­a­ra­tion between two coats of cemen­ti­tious mate­r­ial. This sit­u­a­tion is often seen on pools that have been resur­faced and a Bond Coat was not installed.

Etching DeteriorationEtch­ing Dete­ri­o­ra­tion. 1. The phys­i­cal or chem­i­cal removal of the mate­r­ial from the sur­face of the plas­ter. 2. The vis­i­ble pit­ting or eat­ing away of the sur­face of the plas­ter due to chem­i­cal or phys­i­cal processes. 3. Any chem­i­cal or phys­i­cal action on a sur­face that is capa­ble of remov­ing or dis­solv­ing away ele­ments or com­pounds of that surface.

Pool EfflorescenceEfflo­res­cence. Sol­u­ble salts, pre­dom­i­nantly cal­cium Hydrox­ide, which migrate in pres­ence of mois­ture, from within a cemen­ti­tious prod­uct to the sur­face of the cemen­ti­tious prod­uct, fol­lowed by the pre­cip­i­ta­tion and car­bon­a­tion of the sol­u­ble salts onto the surface.

Freeze/Thaw. Sea­sonal weather and tem­per­a­ture changes that can cre­ate expan­sion and shrink­age, which causes stress within the mate­r­ial and can lead to ten­sile crack­ing, debond­ing and delamination.

Float­ing. In Ore­gon and Wash­ing­ton high water tables exist in many areas. A pool is essen­tially a large, con­crete boat. If the water weight is removed from the pool and there is a high water table below the pool, the pool may be pushed out the ground.

Gunite. A dry mix­ture of cement and sand mixed with water at the “gun”; hence the name. A gunite oper­a­tor “shoots” the pool’s rough shape, then fin­ish­ers use trow­els to smooth it..

Hydra­tion. The chem­i­cal reac­tion between hydraulic cement and water form­ing new com­pounds, most of which have strength –pro­duc­ing properties.

Lai­tance. 1. Fine mate­r­ial car­ried by exces­sive bleed water that migrates to the sur­face of a plas­ter caus­ing a weak plas­ter sur­face. Lai­tance can be an indi­ca­tor that a plas­ter has a high water con­tent, an improper mix­ture pro­por­tion­ing, or that the plas­ter sur­face has been over-tempered using an abnor­mal amounts of sup­ple­mented water. 2. A weak new plas­ter sur­face that can be eas­ily scratched off using a coin or other dull object.

Marcite. Older term used for Mar­blelite plaster

Mot­tling. 1. The nor­mal vari­a­tions in a cement­ti­tious mate­r­ial as a result of the ongo­ing hydra­tion process, which typ­i­cally lessen or dis­ap­pear over time. 2. The blotchy appear­ance across the sur­face of a cemen­ti­tious fin­ish, which can have vary­ing shade of color, usu­ally in a ran­dom pat­tern and are typ­i­cally more pro­nounced in darker col­ored finishes.

Pit­ting. A slang term denot­ing a form of etch­ing. 2. The early stage of cor­ro­sion of the rein­forc­ing steel of a swim­ming pool. 3. The devel­op­ment of small cav­i­ties in the sur­face of the cemen­ti­tious coating.

Plas­ter. A com­bi­na­tion of cement, aggre­gate and water (with or with­out other admix­tures) that when mixed thor­oughly, placed prop­erly and fin­ished cor­rectly, form a desired dec­o­ra­tive aes­thetic pool sur­face that is main­tain­able and near water-tight.

Plas­ter Dust. A slang term used in the pool indus­try refer­ring to the cal­cium salts, namely cal­cium hydrox­ide, that are released from cemen­ti­tious mate­ri­als when sub­mersed in water. If not removed from the water in a timely man­ner, the dust will react with car­bon diox­ide or car­bon­ate ions withn the water to form a cal­cium car­bon­ate pre­cip­i­tate, which adheres imme­di­ately to the sur­face and can­not be eas­ily removed with­out aggres­sively sand­ing or acid wash­ing the surface.

Pool Polishing or SandingPol­ish­ing or Sand­ing. Water dri­ven pol­ish­ing tools are used in con­junc­tion with 3M dia­mond dust pads to cre­ate a smooth sur­face, expose aggre­gate, remove stains or to remove pre­cip­i­tated min­er­als from the pool surface.

Pop-Off. 1. A delam­i­na­tion of two cemen­ti­tious sur­faces. The upper sur­face can become raised and then loosens and falls off.

Poz­zolan. A siliceous and alu­mi­nous mate­r­ial that in a finely divided form and in the pres­ence of mois­ture, chem­i­cally react with cal­cium hydrox­ide at ordi­nary tem­per­a­tures to form cemen­ti­tious hydrates. Cer­tain clays, diatoma­ceous earths, zeo­lites, vol­canic ashes, tuffs, cherts and­shales are know to have poz­zolanic properties.

Pre­cip­i­tate. 1. The solid mate­r­ial which is formed out of the solu­tion by chem­i­cal or phys­i­cal reac­tion. 2. In a swim­ming pool, it is the min­er­als and/or met­als that come out of solu­tion and set­tle onto the coating’s sur­face that can adhere, result­ing in unsightly stains and roughness.

Rebound. The por­tion of the mate­r­ial that is deflected and does not adhere to the shell dur­ing the appli­ca­tion of shot­crete or gunite. 2. Any por­tion of mate­r­ial dur­ing shot­cret­ing or gunit­ing that is con­sid­ered “dead” or no longer use­able and should be removed from the shell.

Replas­ter or Resur­face. Installing a new coat of plas­ter in an exist­ing pool.

Pool ShellShell. The struc­ture of the swim­ming pool that is formed by using gunite, shot­crete or con­crete, which is either poured, sprayed or packed into a rein­force­ment net­work. 2. The sub­strate onto which the cemen­ti­tious coat­ing (plas­ter) is applied.

Shot­crete (DRY). A dry mix­ture of cement and sand that is mixed with water at the noz­zle and sprayed onto a con­toured sur­face, hav­ing a rein­force­ment net­work in place. When hard­ened, this forms the shell of the swim­ming pool.

Structural Movement CrackingStruc­tural Move­ment Crack­ing. The crack­ing of a cemen­ti­tious coat­ing due to the struc­tural move­ment of the swim­ming pool struc­ture or sub­strate. In most cases, the pool can be pres­sure grouted to sta­bi­lize the struc­ture and/or lift it back into place

Ten­sile Crack­ing. The crack­ing of a cemen­ti­tious coat­ing asso­ci­ated with bond fail­ure, abnor­mal shrink­age, or delam­i­na­tions, whereby the cemen­ti­tious coat­ing is stressed beyond its abil­ity to hold together or remain bonded.




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