Are all fiberglass pools the same? Absolutely not…
For many people there are tons of questions when planning an inground swimming pool project. What kind of pool do we want? Who is going to build it for us? How much do we want to spend on this project? These questions are one of many that most first time pool customers will ponder over. With the different pool styles available overall cost of ownership is a large factor in the decision process. Which leads us to fiberglass swimming pools the lowest cost of ownership out of all the styles.
Now that you have made the decision to have a fiberglass pool installed, the questions change to; Which shape do we like? What color do we want? Which builder do we like and what pools do they have? Finally the big question and most overlooked is Who makes the best fiberglass pool? To shed some light on this question you need to understand what makes a great fiberglass pool.
The fiberglass pool market has grown substantially and the product has changed dramatically in the past 15 years. Product testing and manufactures that are searching for the best longevity are striving to make the best product possible. Large conglomerates like Lathem has got into the fiberglass pool manufacturing side by purchasing Viking, Trilogy, Blue Hawaiian pool companies. There are independent companies such has Leisure, Barrier Reef, San Juan, and Thursday Pools.
I’m sure at this point after speaking with a few different builders, everyone claims to have the “best” fiberglass pool and all others are inferior. To examine what makes a great fiberglass pool it breaks down into many categories;
1. Manufacturing Process- Fiberglass pools are man made products comprised of many different layers to achieve the end result. This lamination schedule is important to the overall longevity of the swimming pool. How this lamination schedule and materials are combined will be the overall strength of the final product.
2. Raw material used- Premium fiberglass builders will use nothing but the highest quality fiberglass, resins, and gel coat to create there product. Others will use generic, most likely imported from china that are less quality products to save on material cost, to put it into perspective USA quality materials can be four times more expensive then imported.
3. Vinyl ester resin vs. polyester resin- This by far is the most important detail of the fiberglass pool. Once again vinyl ester resin is extremely expensive compared to polyester resin. The difference that this product makes is protecting the pools surface. What happens is a process called osmosis where small water molecules will transfer through the gel coat (the pools color) into the fiberglass layer. When using less expensive polyester resin this will trap small water molecules behind the gel coat and not allow them to past back through. This will cause a bubble behind the gel coat which will eventually break through the surface when it gets too large. Vinyl ester resins will be impermeable to water penetration and therefore eliminating the possibility of osmosis. Some companies will use a vinyl ester resin right after the gel coat to prevent this and then use polyester resin in the remaining layers to save cost. The problem with this is that ground water can do the same thing to the backside of the pool causing reverse osmosis. The only way to total protect the product is to use vinyl ester resin on all the layers which is very expensive. I’m sure your saying well the pool has a lifetime warranty, make sure to read the manufactures warranty closely because many will not warranty the pool surface against this.
4. Warranty- Just like anything else the product is really as only good has the warranty behind it. Fiberglass pool manufactures that use quality products will normally have an outstanding warranty against structural defects AND surface defects. Keep in mind that a “lifetime” warranty makes us feel good but in the fine details there needs to be a “not less then X amount of years”. In the court of law in Illinois and many other states for that manner a “Lifetime” is constituted as 7 years.
5. Straight and level pool shell- How straight and level the pool shell is directly reflects the mold building and upkeep process of their molds. The mold is a reverse copy of the pool which each layer will be adhered to. If the mold itself is flawed then the pool coming off of it will have the same flaws. A mold built with reinforced steel skeleton will not move or warp compared to a wood skeleton. Molds that are stored indoors in temperature controlled buildings away from harmful UV light will protect the mold therefore the 1st pool off and the 50th pool off will be the same quality. Upkeep on the mold is also important, if the mold is not inspected after each pool off of it defects can occur. In this instance the 50th pool will have considerable more defects then the 1st one. These are all questions your builder should be able to answer if they really “know” their product other then just selling anything to make a buck.
6. Proper material thickness- A quality fiberglass pool manufacture will check for proper material thickness though out the build process. The gel coat will be put down and a thickness gauge will insure there is just the right amount, too thin will lead to a transparent finish and too much can cause excess cracking. Fiberglass layers are measured by weight as they are spraying to use as a guide. Most vulnerable areas are reinforced in the fiberglass process like steps and benches. When the pool shell is separated from the mold an ultrasound device will measure the thickness of the area, an average of 40 spots will be picked out at random and recorded for quality assurance. All of the data will be recorded with the serial number for reference.
Who Makes The Best Fiberglass Pool? We go to great lengths to provide our customers with the highest quality installation that we can offer, from materials to installation practices, and customer support. Our separation from the competition is to provide a quality finished product utilizing quality manufactures that share our same vision. Do you due diligence in selecting your builder/manufacture because a lot of this industry can be “smoke and mirrors”. Ask your builder how your potential pool is built and be absolutely sure the warranty they provide. Thursday Pools® exceeds industry standards in the fiberglass pool market, that is why we can confidently sell there product and have the peace of mind it is one of the best produced pools on the market today!
For more information check out Thursday Pools®