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Fiberglass Pools

FIBERGLASS POOLS ARE RELATIVELY NEW to the pool scene, having been around for the last two decades. While concrete, tile and gunite pools have been in service for over a century, fiberglass has some serious advantages that need to be examined before making a decision.

All pools start with a hole in the ground, mostly. It’s what is done with that hole that determines the expense involved. Lining that hole with rebar and spraying in shotcrete or gunite, then letting it cure, followed by a liberal application of plaster – all this is a very labor intensive process that costs money. Fiberglass pools for the most part alleviate the costs because of the way they are manufactured and installed.

Fiberglass has been used for decades to build everything from boats to cars, and fiberglass pools follow similar construction methods. The pool is designed by pool designers, and then a male mold is built of the pool. This mold is constructed perfectly as to be baby bottom smooth. The mold is then sprayed with mold release agent, kind of like a wax. From there, gelcoat is sprayed. Gelcoat is a highly lustrous surface coat that is a cross between epoxy resin and paint, and is what you feel when you touch the inside of the pool. At this point, fiberglass matting is laid in many layers. The whole assembly is allowed to cure for a week or so, and then the mold is opened and the new fiberglass pool is popped out.

Fiberglass has several advantages over gunite pools. First of all, fiberglass pools are a breeze to install and can be placed in the ground in a fraction of the time that gunite pools can be. There just isn’t much more to the process than digging a hole, shoring it up, lowering in a fiberglass pool, and building a deck around it. Additionally, the fiberglass surface is slick so it discourages the growth of algae, which hinges upon whether the algae can get a toe hold on the side of the pool and thus begin to flourish. Fiberglass pools also never need to be replastered, a major advantage of this type of pool: a typical gunite pool will need to be replastered once every 7-10 years by comparison, at a cost of thousands of dollars and with significant downtime.

Fiberglass pools do have some disadvantages, however. They are design inflexible, for instance. Because they are made in molds that are built beforehand, they usually cannot be custom made to fit your requirements as that would be cost prohibitive to the manufacturer. They are also size limited because they can only be built as large as a semi-trailer can haul them. They do need to be lifted in place with a crane as well, and the size of the pool can be restrictive to lifting it into some tight back yards where trees and rooftops need to be avoided. Fiberglass pools are also susceptible to osmotic blistering if high quality resins are not used in their construction. Similar to the blistering that occurs on boats, osmotic blistering is where water penetrates the gelcoat and lifts it, forming a blister. These blisters aren’t structural, they are just ugly, and give an extra purchase for algae to grow on.

Overall fiberglass pools are an excellent alternative to traditional gunite pools. They are easier and quicker to install, and they require little to no maintenance with regards to the pool finish, meaning that you spend more years using your pool and fewer years maintaining the plaster finish. Consider a fiberglass pool and be swimming in much less time than you think.

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