Z Poolform Systems Eases Concrete Coping Projects

All photos courtesy of Stamped Concrete Specialists/Blue Hawaiian Pools
All photos courtesy of Stamped Concrete Specialists/Blue Hawaiian Pools

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Each new building season brings opportunities to experiment with designs, expand your craft and find additional ways to make customers happy.

For Paul Schneider, owner of Patterned Concrete of Cincinnati in Fairfield, Ohio, those opportunities arrived about three years ago — and all at the same time. One of the fiberglass pool builders he works with asked him to try out the Z Poolform system, a product that creates stunning cantilevered concrete pool coping.

“We bought the system for that particular project, and we liked it,” says Schneider, who installs about two dozen pool decks each year. “What’s neat about it is that we do not have to stamp that vertical edge of the deck. The form liner gives us that profile. There is no plastering and no stamping, and when we pull the form liner, we’re pretty much done with that pool edge.”

The reusable system — developed by Concrete Countertop Solutions in Scott Township, Pa. — consists of rigid PVC pieces engineered for compatibility with gunite, fiberglass and vinyl liner pools, as well as many popular automatic pool cover tracks. Z Poolforms transform plain concrete coping with a variety of profiles and textures that include chiseled stone, travertine and many more; eliminate the need to set concrete forms with messy one-time-use Styrofoam pieces; and save time, money and stress.

The system allows for much greater design flexibility, as available decorative profiles include textured stone finishes that aren’t possible with other forms. There are no tie wires, forms stay in place while setting without the risk of falling off or blowing out, and they can easily be stripped the following day and used again on the next project.

In essence, the Z Poolform system makes concrete coping work a lot easier — a welcome development in what can be a grueling industry.

“Concrete is probably one of the hardest trades out there,” says Nate Lutz, owner of Stamped Concrete Specialists in Leonard, Mich., north of Detroit. “There are so many variables with weather, with your crews and with the obstacles involved in getting cement to the backyard.”

Which is why he embraces the simplicity of the Z Poolform system. With a workload that included 120 concrete projects for a handful of Michigan pool builders in 2019, Stamped Concrete Specialists was one of the first contractors to begin experimenting with the product. He now has several sets of forms in his design repertoire and uses them extensively.

“We’ve pretty much abandoned Styrofoam,” Lutz says.

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A Short Learning Curve

Concrete Countertop Solutions founder Ed Baldoni (who at one time was an in-demand custom-home builder) previously used his patented Z Counterform system to create concrete countertops. Pool builders familiar with Baldoni’s method encouraged him to develop a similar design solution for concrete pool coping, and the Z Poolform system was born.

“The learning curve is very short,” says Schneider, who’s been in the concrete business since 1978 and teaches hands-on stamped concrete classes at the commercial construction industry’s annual World of Concrete trade show in Las Vegas.

Schneider and Lutz have found ways to leverage their use of the Z Poolform system and boost their businesses.

For example, using the product has helped earn Stamped Concrete Specialists a strong reputation in the Detroit market for its work on spa copings.

“A lot of times, builders are leaving spillover spas for us, and we come in, pour the cement and set the forms,” says Lutz, a 17-year veteran of the concrete business. “So the builders are actually designing projects now with our capabilities in mind — because of the Z Poolform system.”

Similarly, Patterned Concrete of Cincinnati crews have learned to adapt the systems to create coping that seamlessly integrates with the majority of automatic pool covers installed in and around the Cincinnati area.

Regardless of the product’s application, homeowners approve. “We made the system into a premier product that customers like,” Lutz says. “We’re never going back.”

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‘It’s Always Consistent’

Another selling factor is the system’s reliability factor. “When we use the Z Poolform, it’s always consistent,” Schneider says. “We know what it’s going to look like from an aesthetics perspective. Because it’s a manufactured product, it’s taking the element of human error out of the equation.”

Despite all of the other benefits Z Poolform systems offer, what really sold Lutz is the fact that his crew members no longer need to immerse themselves in the cold water of a fiberglass pool in order to perform coping detail work.

“Up here, the temperatures are still a little iffy in March, April and May, and nobody wants to get into a swimming pool,” he says, laughing. “I used to have to pay the guy that got in a little extra money. We would try everything to make it more comfortable: water noodles, wetsuits, an inflatable rowboat. But we did all that to get the look that Z Poolforms now gives us.”

In the long run, Schneider agrees that the system is a less labor-intensive money saver.

“The overall cost is more economical with Z Poolforms,” he says. “If you’re only looking at the cost of the forms, and not the labor piece, the Styrofoam system is less expensive. But you’ve got to factor in the labor. Unfortunately, in our industry, a lot of contractors don’t look at it that way. I look at the whole picture. And when I find a product I like — like this one — I’m loyal to it.”

For more information, please visit www.concretecountertopsolutions.com. Contact us at (570) 587-3799 or [email protected].

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