Attractive, durable fiberglass pools are a popular choice in Central Florida – as well as throughout all of Florida, and even America! According to Pools123, the fiberglass inground pool market is the quickest growing market within the pool industry in the United States. Whether you’re considering adding a pool to your property, or own a home with an existing fiberglass pool, here’s what you need to know to make an informed decision, and/or properly maintain it to enjoy for years to come.
How a Fiberglass Pool is Constructed
Fiberglass is a type of plastic material that is reinforced by glass fibers and resins. This results in a strong strength-to-weight ratio, which is why fiberglass is used across many manufacturing industries. A fiberglass pool is manufactured in a factory in one piece by means of a multi-step process using a variety of materials – including, of course, fiberglass. To create a smooth finish, a weather-resistant gel is added to the fiberglass mold. The finished pools are transported to distribution centers, then, ultimately, to the customer’s property for installation.
Although construction techniques vary among manufacturers, the basic process starts with the pattern, which is used to fashion the mold, which is then used to fabricate the pool shell. River Pools offers a detailed step-by-step description of its fiberglass pool construction method – including a video – if you want to learn more. If you have the misconception that a fiberglass pool is just a big plastic bowl, getting the full story will inform you about the substantial, sophisticated product that it really is.
Advantages and Challenges of a Fiberglass Pool
Fiberglass pools are less expensive to purchase and install than concrete pools (you can be enjoying it in a matter of weeks rather than months, as opposed to a concrete pool, which has to be constructed onsite). The interior surface is smooth to the touch (unlike the rough, abrasive texture of concrete), they’re incredibly durable and the easiest to maintain of all pool types (which includes concrete and vinyl liner). In fact, the average lifespan of a well-maintained fiberglass pool is 50 years or more!
Sonco Pools & Spas, Inc., provides this list of additional advantages:
- Fiberglass swimming pools have the lowest cost of ownership over time. The fiberglass shell resists algae growth, the shell is a better insulator, and the structure never needs liner replacements or resurfacing like vinyl liner and gunite/concrete pools.
- Fiberglass swimming pools resist algae growth because the surface is less porous and does not harbor algae as easily as a vinyl liner pool. This also contributes to easier vacuuming and water line cleaning.
- Scratches can be easily sanded and buffed if the shell becomes damaged.
Depending upon your wish list for your pool – if you’re considering adding one – a fiberglass pool may not check every box. Here are some limitations and challenges to keep in mind:
- Size limitations. Because fiberglass pools are manufactured in a controlled factory setting and shipped to a job site by truck, road restrictions limit the size of a fiberglass pool to approximately 16′ wide x 40′ long x 8′ 6″ deep.
- Fewer design options. Unlike a concrete pool – which can be custom-designed – you’re limited to the styles that are available. However, higher-end fiberglass pools offer some custom-type features – such as molded steps, benches, coves and sun deck configurations. Researching fiberglass pool manufacturers and distributors will help you discover pools with more bells and whistles, if that’s what you’re looking for.
- Limited depths. Most fiberglass pools are 4′ to 6′ in depth, which is a disadvantage for those who like to dive.
- Potential for damage during installation/moving is a factor with fiberglass pools. The structures are so large that moving the pool around homes and over structures takes great care and experience. Most fiberglass pool damage occurs by inexperienced personnel during installation and delivery.
Fiberglass Pool Maintenance for Maximum Life
As mentioned earlier, maintaining a fiberglass pool is relatively easy. Its gel surface coat is nonporous and smooth, leaving little to no room for the growth of algae. This saves you from the brushing and other rigorous cleaning work typically required for concrete pools. However, if algae still manages to enter, River Pools provides step-by-step instructions for eliminating it in 24 hours by using the SLAM (Shock, Level, And Maintain) method to shock the pool.
As our blog post – “Is Your Fiberglass Pool Leaking?” – covers, keeping a fiberglass pool clean requires a gentle touch in terms of cleaning products and tools. Harsh cleaners can damage the gelcoat and even change the water chemistry. Use a damp rag and a simple pool cleaner to remove dirt and grime.
As with every type of pool, check the water chemistry on a regular basis. Make sure it has proper levels of the following:
- Total alkalinity
- Free chlorine
- Cyanuric acid
- Calcium hardness
Fiberglass swimming pools usually need less adjustment, as their surface is inert, which doesn’t affect the water chemistry.
Also be sure to run your pool filter. Fiberglass pools require only one circulation per day to keep the water clear and clean. This will save you electrical energy and money.
You can also use the following formula to calculate the time for which you need to run your pool filter:
Hours to run the pool filter = pool volume ÷ filtration rate.
Since we mentioned leaks, they can occur from cracks in the pipes and fittings in the system, or cracks in the fiberglass shell. The blog post we referenced covers this topic in greater detail.
The Take-Home Message
If you’re deciding what type of pool to install in your yard, we hope we’ve given you the information you need to make the right choice for your budget, recreational expectations and lifestyle! If you bought a home with a fiberglass pool, we hope you now know more about its construction, characteristics and care requirements. With regular maintenance and staying alert to evidence of leaks, your fiberglass swimming pool will be a central part of your Central Florida summer fun now and well into the future!
However, calling our experienced team at Certified Leak Detection if you suspect a leak will help keep a bad situation from becoming much worse. We use technology and techniques we have developed over 20 years in business. In addition to quick detection of pool leaks, we provide industry-leading leak detection for spas, hot tubs and fountains. Serving areas throughout Central Florida – including Orlando, Longwood, Lake Mary, Sanford, Kissimmee, Clermont and Winter Springs – our team is ready to answer your call. Contact us for quick, reliable service!