Fiberglass resurfacing is an evolving technology that has been used in the swimming pool industry for over 50 years.
When you think about it fiberglass is the material of choice for water related industries. Sailboats, surfboards, jet skis, are made with fiberglass. Water parks use the material because it’s very skin friendly. Fiberglass gel coat is non-porous and smooth, dirt and algae blooms are less likely to find a foothold. Composite materials require less maintenance and last longer over sustained use.
The benefits of composite materials can be seen in other industries such as medical, energy and construction. Fiberglass has a superior strength-to-weight ratio as compared to other materials, such as concrete and metals. It also has the least expansion and contraction with heat, cold and/or stress plus, in pool applications it acts as an insulator keeping the water about 10 degrees warmer.
Fiberglass is an environmentally-friendly material that’s made of naturally occurring elements that are heated, melted and reshaped into threadlike material(fiberglass) that is now a very durable strong product when used with composite materials that bind everything together to make finished products that last. The main ingredient in fiberglass varies from silica to carbon graphite. Since the silica is ─ an abundant, natural, non-depleting resource ─ fiberglass used in support of swimming pool surfacing is a highly-sustainable solution. And unlike plaster, it doesn’t dissolve in the water, like the limestone in pool plaster which then requires the pool owner a regular replacement of the plaster every 5 to 7 years.
Is there an unbiased comparison of in-ground fiberglass and concrete pool resurfacing services on the internet? Finding information out there can be a daunting task. Here’s a down and dirty explanation of each service in detail. Once you’ve decided on your resurfacing option, the next step is to find the best contractor to do the work.
Fiberglass Pools: Pros and Cons
- Low maintenance: The gel coat surface of the fiberglass pool shell is nonporous. This inhibits the growth of algae and reduces the amount of sanitizing chemicals required to maintain the pool.
- Little or No lifetime cost: 99% of the time there is never any money invested in the shell of fiberglass pools. No vinyl liner to replace and no resurfacing.
- Non-abrasive surface: The gel coat surface of fiberglass pools is smooth to the touch.
- Quick Installation: Because the shell of the pool already exits, fiberglass resurfacing is easier and the installation occurs more rapidly (4-6 days)
- Easy of start-up: Re-filling the pool is easier because it doesn’t require brushing and careful water chemistry to prevent staining of the new surface once water is reintroduced
- Retains heat: Composite plastic acts as a thermal barrier that raise the temperature of the water an average of 10 degrees (less heating costs)
- Energy cost savings: Pool equipment runs for shorter periods of time because the surface doesn’t dissolve in water like plaster. Cloudy water requires longer filter and pump cycle time usually 8 hours for plaster compared to as little as 4 hours for fiberglass.
- Repairs on some colored finishes do not match: Many fiberglass pool manufacturers use colored finishes that will allow the sun to oxidize the pigment colors and then new material will not match in the unlikely event that a repair is needed.
Concrete Pools: Pros and Cons
- No size limit: Concrete pools can be any size, shape, or depth.
- Flexible design features: Vanishing edges, beach entries, tanning ledges, etc. are all just a sketch away from reality with concrete pools.
- Works of art: Concrete Pools can be integrated into the design of the landscape.
- High lifetime cost: Concrete pools will need to be renovated every 5-7 years involving resurfacing and re-tiling the pool
- More chemical use: Because the surface of concrete pools is very porous, more chemicals and filtration are required to prevent algae. The alkaline pH of the pool shell also constantly raises the pH of the water, requiring the frequent adding of acid to counteract the effect.
- Maintenance: Plaster on concrete pools need to be frequently brushed to remove algae from the pours of the plaster or aggregate surface
- Longer installation: Plaster on concrete can take up to 10 days to resurface and brushed before chemicals can be introduced back into the water.
- Higher energy costs: Longer hours of operation for pool equipment to remove cloudiness from water resulting from dissolving process of plaster in a pool
- Rough Interior Surface: Rough interior surface harbors algae growth and can take a toll on tender feet.
#1. pH Stays Balanced
Fiberglass pool shells are chemically inert which means they do not react with the pH of the pool water. Concrete pools, on the other hand, are alkaline based. Consequently, they require the addition of acid on a regular basis to counteract the rising pH.
One of the primary functions of the weekly service is to check and adjust the pH of the pool water. Because most fiberglass pools only require pH adjustment once or twice a season, verses on a weekly basis with concrete pools, the dependency on anyone else is greatly reduced.
#2. Little or no Wall Brushing
The surface of concrete pools is extremely rough and porous. Each of these tiny little nooks and crannies is like a four star hotel for algae. Well, in order to evict this unwanted guest the surface of the pool requires regular brushing. If this is neglected, the algae will invite their friends and the next thing you know their trying to conquer the world (think Plankton from Spongebob!).
The surface of fiberglass pools, on the other hand, is smooth and virtually non-porous and therefore prohibits algae from taking hold. That means less brushing, and less work….another reason you can do this yourself.
#3. Use Less Chemicals
Fiberglass pools, again because of their non-porous surface, require less chemicals to keep the water clean and sanitary. Just as pool service companies check pH during each trip, they also test and adjust the sanitizer lever (aka Chlorine) of the water. Because fiberglass pools consume less sanitizer, less time is spent testing and adjusting.
As you can see, it’s the surface of these two pools that is the biggest differentiator. The surface of concrete pools is alkaline (along with the shell) and very porous, where fiberglass pools are inert and non-porous. This single factor, the way the surface reacts in water, makes a world of difference in terms of maintenance, and is what allows fiberglass pool customers to maintain their own pool without spending their hard earned money on regular service trips.
1. All the time you’ve had with Your Family while They’re outside Cleaning the Pool
Please, never mention all the times you’ve watched them, dripping with sweat, brush and clean the pool from your air conditioned kitchen. They don’t have a choice you know. Because of the porous surface of concrete pools, weekly brushing of the entire pool is recommended to remove any algae that imbeds into the surface. Yes, I know you probably never brush your fiberglass pool. Why would you? The surface is non-porous, inhibiting the growth of algae, and that makes your life really easy. I know you feel guilty, maybe you could volunteer to brush their pool for them next week….NOT!!!
2. What You’ve done with the Money You’ve Saved on Chemicals
Clothes for the kids, a few nights out to dinner, they’ll never know how much more they spend on chemicals per year than you do and what they could be doing with the money….no need to even bring it up. It’s because of that porous surface thing again. It takes a lot more chlorine or other sanitizer to kill the algae and other bacteria imbedded in those pours. Because your fiberglass pool doesn’t foster algae growth, it only requires a fraction of the chemicals used by your friend’s concrete pool.
3. How non-abrasive the Fiberglass Pool surface is
I know they told you that their kids have to wear water shoes while swimming in their concrete pool because the surface is so rough, so you never want to tell them how gentle, but skid-resistant, the surface of your fiberglass pool is and how easy it is on your children’s feet.
4. That you don’t need to Plan for Costly Repairs
I’m sure that they’re aware that they’ll eventually be spending $10-$20k on tile, coping, and plaster work, so there’s no need to point that out….not to mention acid washing every couple years. They’re responsible, I’m sure they’ll plan their budget accordingly. But you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank with costly renovation work with your fiberglass pool because the lifetime cost of ownership is significantly less. The vast majority of fiberglass pools installed in the United States since the 1970’s have never had any major repair work.
5. That you Don’t Stress over pH and other Water Chemistry Stuff
You’ve seen your friends dumping gallons of acid into their pool, but you probably didn’t know why. It’s because concrete pools are naturally alkaline and raise the pH of the pool water. Therefore, it’s much more difficult to keep your buddy’s water balanced than in your fiberglass pool that is inert and does not react in any way with the water in your pool. That’s just one less stressor you have to deal with, but remember……let’s keep it hush, hush.
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Cross Pool Restorations
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