Beach Ball in Pool

Why Fiberglass Pools

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What Are The Different Kinds Of Swimming Pools?

There are many different ways to build swimming pools using various materials. There was a time when some pools were built using plywood as the frame to hold a liner, and we have actually done renovations on a couple of these type pools through our service division. But for our purposes, we should look at the three most common types of swimming pools available today. They are – concrete, vinyl liner and fiberglass swimming pools and we will discuss the pros and cons of each, the construction methods, and relative costs.

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Concrete Swimming Pools

Concrete swimming pools are just that – pools constructed of concrete sprayed into a wire mesh formed into the shape of the swimming pool. You will hear concrete pools referred to as shotcrete, Gunite (which is actually a brand name) or just concrete, but the process is essentially the same.

The design of the pool is laid out and the ground is excavated. Rebar (reinforcing steel bars) is then formed into the shape of the pool and tied together with steel wire. Then a concrete truck and an air compressor are joined together and the concrete is sprayed (shot) over the wire frame and troweled smooth. As the concrete hardens the pool takes shape, the floor of the pool is sprayed and it is all left to dry. Usually, the concrete is then covered with a coating of plaster (this will eventually become a maintenance issue) which smoothes the rough concrete making it more swimmer friendly.

While there is much more to do, and a lot of time left to complete the process, eventually the pool is filled with water, connected to the pump and filter and you are ready to swim.

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PROS

Long-term durability

Customizable to any shape and size

Can accommodate special features

Increases resale value of a home

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CONS

Requires resurfacing every 10-15 years

Higher lifetime maintenance costs

Time consuming installation

More chemical use

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Vinyl Liner Swimming Pools

Vinyl Liner swimming pools became very popular, and were another option to concrete pools, as the technology of plastics produced sheets of vinyl that could be printed with designs, and produced in varying thicknesses. While still very popular, especially in some of the Northern States, Vinyl Liner pool sales have fallen off significantly over the past ten years, as more homeowners choose fiberglass.

The construction technique involves excavating the swimming pool but leaving a ledge (usually about three feet ) around the excavation. This ledge becomes the support for walls, often metal but more often polymer (plastic), which become the walls of the pool at the top. The bottom and remaining dirt walls of the pool are usually coated with a mixture of vermiculite and concrete. A vinyl liner is hung on the walls and allowed to drop into the excavation and provides a means of holding in the water in the exact shape of the excavation. Stairs are usually part of the wall system and the liner is cut to fit around them. Skimmers and returns and any other plumbing fixtures are also cut through the liner, and everything is hooked to the pump and filter.

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PROS

Cost effective

Low maintenance

Fast installation time

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CONS

Liners must be replaced every 10-15 years on average

Algae growth

Higher lifetime cost

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Fiberglass Swimming Pools

Fiberglass swimming pools were first constructed in the 1950’s, although fiberglass (glass fibers) had been around since the early 1930’s. Although this is oversimplification, air is blown at molten glass and produces strands, or fibers of glass, which can then be woven into matting or spun into strands – fiberglass. The key to fiberglass is the resins that are used to harden the fibers into the tough resilient product we use today to make swimming pools. Sometimes the fiberglass strands are run through a special gun which “chops” the strands while mixing resins but the higher quality swimming pools use sheets of fiberglass and force the resins into the fibers by hand. The mats of fiberglass are then laid on top of each other forming a strong flexible swimming pool. This method requires everything to be done by hand, but produces a beautiful final product that will last a lifetime and more. 

Without getting into mind numbing details, just be aware all fiberglass swimming pools are not constructed alike, and a little research into the company’s methods would be worthwhile. And, while fiberglass is (mostly) the same, the resins used are vitally different. The best fiberglass swimming pools, like San Juan Fiberglass Pools, will use pure Vinyl Ester (not marine grade) resins throughout the process – not just on the outside layers. It is more expensive to manufacture that way, but it ensures that your swimming pool will not have problems in a few years with fiberglass starting to come apart.

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PROS

Easy to maintain

Quick installation

Can be beautifully designed

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CONS

Higher initial cost

Shapes and sizes not as customizable

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