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Baptistry Design and Build

Concrete and Tile Baptistries

Unless the architect or builder are prepared to guarantee the concrete and tile baptistry will not leak (and not need regrouting!) in under 10 (or 25) years, don’t bother!

Our fibreglass baptistries mean less fuss and cost at installation as the unit comes as a whole.  Insulation is built in, the walls need no additional support, and the reinforced lids can take the whole choir!  And our fibreglass baptistries need no maintenance for years to come.  The baptistry is guaranteed for 10 years, though it will probably last well over 25 years.

Concrete pools are poorly insulated, if at all.  Ours come with 50mm of insulation built in as standard.  Heating the water in concrete and tile pools is expensive and wasteful as you end up heating the concrete as well as the water.  The fibreglass lids can be put over the tank whilst filling and heating to keep in the heat and, unlike wood, will not swell and warp.  Even treated timber starts to swell once the varnish wears.

GRP pools do not need maintenance (other than an occasional wipe down).  The grouting between tiles soon attracts mould and we have phone calls from churches with leaky tiled baptistries at the rate of one a month.  It isn’t just a false economy, it’s no saving at all to have a concrete and tile baptistry.

Get in touch because there is a fibreglass pool for your budget.

Emptying a Baptistry Pool

Emptying baptistry with pumpWhen it comes to emptying a baptistry, the most common way is to use a submersible sump pump.  There are many reasons why churches go down this route.  Sometimes, it is because the levels are wrong so gravity drainage isn’t an option.  But it is just as common to find that the church are unwilling to have plumbing under the baptistry that they may not be able to get at and which may start leaking at some point in the future.

From the point of view of cost of the baptistry itself, it doesn’t make any difference whether a pool is drained through a plug-hole or a sump pump – it is just a minor tweak in moulding.  For the church, the pump and pipe option can very often be the cheaper option.  There are options when it comes to deciding where to get the pump to empty to – down a loo, down an existing drain, or down a purpose-made extension to the foulwater drain.

The picture here shows the water being pumped out to a stack (rather like the back of a washing machine) that is hidden beneath a service hatch.  The same service hatch houses the valve to turn the water supply on to fill the baptistry.

For a neater look, the same camlocks that clamp the pipe to the pump, can be used at the other end to clamp the pipe to the drain.  (This can also be applied to overflows too, ask about this if it is something of interest!)

If access to the underside of the baptistry and its plumbing is not easy or downright impossible, the pump and pipe method offers a low-cost, low-worry option with extremely low installation costs.

As we can mould any baptistry to suit, we can build in the drainage, filling and overflow options you’d like to see and, most times, there is no cost implication.

Fibreglass brickwork

brick effect fibreglass sheetsFibreglass (GRP) is such a wonderfully adaptable material for use in building, architecture and engineering.  If you would like sheets of brickwork to give you the look of a brick wall quickly and cheaply (and without the weight!), then we can help.  These can be supplied either as sheets or made up as walls (pictured).   We also make sheets of fibreglass tiles so you can tile whole walls in minutes.  Painted wood effect panels is another favourite!

Metal-effects with Fibreglass.

We can also incorporate metal-effect films into the GRP allowing us to make signs or plaques (or whatever takes your fancy!) that appear to be brass or bronze, for example.

New Baptistry to Charlotte Chapel, Edinburgh

Baptistry with corner stepsWe’ve already done the jokes about Charlotte Chapel being the Non-conformist cousin of Charlotte Church, but here she is.  Not long out of the mould, trimmed and still dusty, she is waiting to have her lids fitted and checked.  This is quite a broad baptistry (2.0m x 2.4m) and is a little out-of-the-ordinary for having the steps within the pool.  A removable stainless steel handrail will be fitted to the side of the steps.Large square Elim baptistry

Thinking of Designing a Church Baptistry?

baptistry designI’ve put together a sheet of useful background information for when you’re designing, or discussing designs for, a church baptistry.  It is aimed at architects, builders and anyone in the church leading a project.  The design of a church baptistry can be very flexible (without certain constraints), often with little or no price implication.  However, you need to know where to start.  We have had one or two enquiries over the years from builders/architects who have gone too far down a cul-de-sac.

The link below opens the PDF.

A few salient points of designing and building a baptistry – For Architects

Baptistry Lids

large set of lids_smWhen you want lids for your baptistry, you want them to be strong enough to take the Checking lids for acceptable deflectionweight of foot-traffic but manageable to lift.  GRP does all this and with added advantages.

We reinforce the lids with timber struts for narrower pools but for wider ones, we will used a compressed box-section tubing made of compressed fibreglass because it is lighter and stronger than the matching dimension in timber.   And it is certainly lighter and a LOT  cheaper than using steel or aluminium.

The added advantage of GRP is that it will not swell or warp as wood can do.  And, in terms of finish, we can make them in any colour, or you can stick carpet or wood tiles directly to the lids.

There will always be some flexing in the lids when one walks on them, though usually this only becomes even noticeable once the lid gets above 1.7m long.  We add more reinforcing to keep the flex to a minimum, and certainly to no more than 3mm for 200kg standing weight.  It will take the weight of the choir or the band!  (It is odd that when I mention this, we are always asked if we can build in a trap door…)

Lids are usually 70mm deep but for longer spans we would increase this to 100mm.  Conversely, for shorter spans, thinner is possible.

When it comes to lifting them out, we usually put recessed threads in one lid and send a set of eye-bolts with the lids.  This way, the eye-bolts can be screwed into the lids and provide finger-holes for the two lifters.  Once the first lid is out, the rest can be slid out and lifted.

 

 

 

Translucent GRP

WClear_near disthilst GRP as clearly transparent as glass is yet to be invented, translucent GRP has got a lot better.  Some transparency is possible so that objects close to the ‘glastic’ are clearly frost fibreglass glassrecognizable.  And where frosted effects are wanted, its advantages are obvious.

The advantages are that of strength without the weight of glass, for example, should the mood ever take you, you could take a hammer to them!  Also, they can be tinted, so rose-tinted baptistries are possible!  The added benefit is cost.

reinforced GRP glass The glass could also be used to make splash-proof screens or covers for LED light-boxes or light-weight coloured-‘glass’ windows or numerous other architectural uses within church buildings.

 

 

 

 

 

Tiled Church Baptistries – Without Tiles!

The old way of making a church baptismal was to make a concrete hole, line it with a waterproof membrane and then tile it.  Within a few years the grout would be mouldy or, worse still, leaking.

One of the many advantages of a GRP baptistery is that it goes on for years and does not leak and, aside from any plumbing, does not need any maintenance.  But would you still like the look of tiles?

Now, the inside of our pre-formed GRP baptistries can be lined with sheets of fibreglass tiles.  The Jordan-style baptistries, with the steps as a separate unit which is fixed in place at installation, lends itself well to this tiled finish.tile effect finish

If you would like a tiled look in a toilet/washroom within the church and want it quickly and cheaply, we make the sheets in interlocking sheets approx. 60cm x 60cm, in sheets approx. 120cm x 180cm or to custom sizes.

Direct Lining of Baptistries

wooden baptistry tank unlinedIf you have an existing baptistry of , say, concrete, it may not be practicable to have one of our GRP baptistries made and put in place.  There might not be enough room.  It might be too difficult to remove the existing steps.  Access into the church may be just too difficult or restricted.   wooden baptistry tank lined

Once the tiles have been removed and the concrete surface covered and adapted, we can move on to apply fibreglass and resin gel-coat directly rather than us make up a pre-formed tank back out our factory.  An additional advantage is that this finish can be tailored to the baptistry – steps can be easily accommodated and covered.  Better still, if there are already plug holes or other plumbing fittings, these can be temporarily removed and the GRP+gel coat finish can go right up to the hole.  Once the GRP finish has cured, the fittings can be replaced and waterproofed to a good surface.

If the tank were a concrete pit, it would need to be dry and dust-free.

Whikst not as well insulated as our preformed tanks, our lining introduces some much needed insulation, which is very important with concrete pits, which are difficult to heat

Where it does differ from our pre-formed baptistry tanks is that the finish is not structural or weight-bearing.  Whereas our tanks can support lids, these can not.  Whereas as our pre-formed tanks will hold the water, this is a ‘skin’ and the load-bearing comes from the surrounding timber or wall.   Also, this directly applied GRP has a light texturing and is not mirror flat as those made in a mould.  However, as we put a light texture on our steps anyway for Directly applied GRP finishincreased grip, it is a very minor issue.

Such a finish would be more durable than membrane and tiles and certainly need less maintenance.  It will almost certainly be cheaper, certainly in the long-run. If you are a church looking to reline a baptistry, do consider directly-applied fibreglass.

Design Your Own Baptistry

We make the pools off timber moulds, so we can make changes very easily.  So, once you’ve made sure you have the space and it will get in the building, what can you design?

Going back to getting the baptismal in the building, we can make pools in two sections which then join together at installation.  This might be useful if there are narrow doors, corridors or stairways to negotiate.

Based on the dimensions  churches keep asking for, the space needed to baptise someone is 2.1m long by 1.5m wide and about 1.2m deep.  This gives space to baptise a tall person and have two helpers in the pool.  The water can be filled to about 1m deep.

You can either have the steps jutting out from this tank or, if the tank is made larger, the steps can be inside.  An important thing to know is that the depth of the pool (1.2m for example) becomes the extra length you have to add on for the steps.  So, if the central baptismal area of the pool is 2.1m  long, a set of steps would make the whole pool 3.3m long.  The deeper the pool, the more of your baptistry you have to use for steps!

The steps can be the full width of the baptistry tank or just, say, 1m wide.  One set of steps is the most frequent choice but many churches have two sets of steps.  The steps usually go on one of the short edges because this makes it easier to transport and fit into he buildings.  Steps can go on the long sides to make a T-shape or a cross-shape.  Steps can  go anywhere.  If space is tight, the steps can inside the baptistry – one church had two sets of steps coming down the back wall of the tank that met in the middle so it felt like people were coming on stage.

When it comes to size, the real limits are the access into he building, transport costs and the lids!  Once the baptistry gets above 1.5m wide, the way the lids have to be made changes a bit and this makes them a bit heavier and a little bit more expensive.

Now for filling and emptying the pool.  When it comes to emptying a pool, many churches can’t use a plug and drain the water away because, once the baptistry is in the ground, it is too low down.  Not a problem.  We make the baptismal with a small sump in one corner.  A submersible pump and pipe can be used to pump the water out and into a drain.   We can fit in with however you want to fill or empty your pool.  If you want taps and overflows, this is not a problem – we can mould in recesses to fit and, better still, it has no cost implication.  Filling and emptying a baptistry is one of those topics best sorted early on in the project.  Please give me a call as I’m happy to chat.