5 Easy Steps of Evaluation: Should I Renovate or Replace my Bulkhead?

July 10, 2017 | Categories: New Products, Pool Equipment & Systems

First of all, stop stressing out and leave the hard work to the experts. You are not an engineer and you don’t design and manufacture custom pool bulkheads on a daily basis (if you do, ignore this sentence).

We expect you to have questions and we are more than happy to answer each one of them.

Planning a renovation project for a swimming facility can be extremely challenging. You’ll most likely be posed with questions on budget requirements, programming needs and design constraints. Even after you’ve scoured the internet for answers, you will probably still be wondering whether you should replace or renovate the bulkheads in your competition pool.

Well, scour no further.

Below you will find 5 easy steps to evaluate whether it’s more cost-effective to replace or renovate your pool bulkhead:


1.) How old is your pool bulkhead?

When deciding if your bulkhead should be renovated or replaced, the first thing you should look at is the material used to construct your bulkhead and its age.

Age & material that we consider good candidates for renovation:

Aluminum – up to 10 yrs.
Fiberglass – up to 10 yrs.
Stainless steel – 15-20 yrs.

Keep in mind, fiberglass is very difficult to renovation and ages quickly. As the fiberglass begins to break down in pool water, the only real choice is replacement. Aluminum has significant corrosion issues and is no longer used for pool bulkheads. Stainless has an extended life expectancy of 20-30 years with virtually unlimited life, if properly maintained, and a stainless steel bulkhead can be made “like new” with a thorough cleaning and the replacement of the cladding (grating) with the unbreakable Natare GPM grating systems.

If your bulkhead is older than what you see above, it’s probably time to make a long-term investment and plan a new build. If you aren’t sure on the age or material, our consultants can help you figure that out.


2.) How would you describe the condition of your bulkhead?

Would you consider your bulkhead to be in great, good, or poor condition? Is the grating broken? Is there structural damage? The answers to these questions will be deciding factors when you begin your planning phase.

To better evaluate what condition your bulkhead is in, it is good to understand what can be fixed in the renovation process.

Here is a quick run-through of what we do/fix in a typical bulkhead renovation:

We remove and dispose of the old grating, the bulkhead is thoroughly cleaned and receives a structural inspection and buoyancy system inspection, we test and repair where necessary, then we install new grating and rollers or slider pads (if it’s a moving bulkhead).

If you are looking to add new features during renovation, keep reading.


3.) Are you wanting a more technologically advanced design?

If having the latest technology is your number one priority, you may want to plan for a whole new system. We have built bulkheads to meet the needs of some of the fastest pools in the world (for example, the IU Natatorium). We know what the latest and greatest is in the swimming world.

If your want to prevent wave rebound, you may want to completely change the design of your bulkhead. Our slip-resistant GPM grating, paired with a complete flow-through wave absorption design prevents the turbulence that slows swimmers down. Our GPM material is also less dense, compared to the old standard fiberglass grating panels, and improve the ability to reposition moving bulkheads.

You can also add new starting platforms. They may require new anchoring systems, but they yield faster starts and better times.

We also offer timing cable trays and conjunction boxes within the bulkheads that hide hazardous cables from the bulkhead walking surface.


4.) How many improvements/ accessories are you wanting to add to your bulkhead?

Adding new accessories or making significant repairs to an old bulkhead can add up quickly in regards to cost. Depending on what improvements you want made to your current bulkhead and the amount of reconstruction required, it may actually be cheaper and a better long-term investment to opt for new construction.

Here are some accessories we offer:

Starting platform anchors, timing systems, GPM grating, variable buoyancy systems for movable bulkheads, railings, and anchors for water polo goals.

To ask about more accessory options, click here:


5.) What are your facility programming needs?

A movable bulkhead is perfect for facilities that host a variety of programs and services. You can easily adjust the length of a pool or divide it into multiple pool zones. If you want to have lap swimming on one end and a kid’s area on the other, all you have to do is adjust the placement of the bulkhead, which is controlled by a variable buoyancy system.

Each one of our movable bulkheads are custom designed from scratch, to suit your programming needs.

If you don’t plan on having a variety of swimming programs at your facility, renovation may be the most cost-effective option.


pool bulkhead

Read More: Click here to see the Top Ten Reasons to Choose a Natare Bulkhead

If you decide your bulkhead is a good candidate for renovation, the repairs would typically be half the price of new construction. If your bulkhead requires additional repairs or modifications and is more than 15 years old, it is recommended to replace the bulkhead with a new unit.

We have heard the same questions from our clients for years and we have walked each one of them through the planning and construction process. Each project is different, so feel free to send us pictures through our File Transfer Center so we can give you more detailed advice.

You can also contact us with a personalized question by clicking the button below!

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