If you’re considering the purchase of an inground fiberglass pool and done any research on the web, you’ve probably come in contact with some discussion of the problems associated with fiberglass pools. The purpose of this article is to address, with full disclosure, five of the most common problems associated with fiberglass pools…..but we won’t leave you there. We’ll also discuss the causes of these problems and how you, the consumer, can avoid them. At River Pools and Spas in Virginia we have had the opportunity to install over 650 inground fiberglass pools. Yes, that’s a lot and No, every job did not go perfectly. But because of the sheer volume of pools we’ve installed, plus literally hundreds of conversations with fiberglass pool manufacturers and installers from all around the world, we have an intimate knowledge of the good, the bad, and the ugly of inground fiberglass pools. Congratulations, now we can share this information with you in the hopes that you’ll never end up on one of those online swimming pool forums pleading for help.
Problem #1: Repairs on colored fiberglass pools
Colored fiberglass pools are gorgeous…there’s no doubt about it, and most manufacturers now offer a variety of colors beyond the standard white and baby blue marine gel coat. The problem simply stated is this: If a need arises to do a repair to the pool, it can be difficult to match some colored finishes with the factory finish.
The reality is that the vast majority of fiberglass pools do not need repairs, at least within the first twenty to forty years. However, sometimes issues that merit repair work do arise, from something as small as a rock flying up and hitting the pool during shipping to a massive structural crack. Granted these instances are very, very rare, but they do happen. So you’re probably asking “what’s the solution?”
Well, we can’t change the fact that some fiberglass pools are going to need repairs for one reason or another, but to lower the risk of having a terrible looking repair you should look for one thing: a solid surface finish.
Some colored finishes are applied in multiple layers (solid color, metallic flake, and clear coat for example.) These layers overlap each other to achieve the desired look. However, when a field repair is attempted with these muli-layered finishes, matching the factory look is difficult because it’s impossible to duplicate the manufacturing process.
In contrast, a solid surface finish is applied in a single application which makes field repairs to fiberglass pool gel coat a lot less daunting. Typically these repairs are a closer match to the factory finish. If this is an important issue to you, research the various fiberglass pool manufacturers to determine if their colored finish is a solid surface or multi-layered finish.
PROBLEM: Repairs on Colored Finishes Conspicuous
SOLUTION: Solid Surface Colored Finish
Problem #2: Spider Cracks in Gel coat
fiberglass pool gel coat cracksSpider cracks have always been an accepted part of fiberglass products. But what exactly is a spider crack? Spider cracks are hairline cracks that occur in the surface layer, or gel coat, of any fiberglass product. They are not structural in nature as the crack is normally only through the thin layer of gel coat and do not extend into the structural laminate layers of the pool. The origin of the name spider crack stems from the manner in which some of the cracks begin in a center point and branch out like the spokes of a wheel. But to fully address this issue, we need to ask two questions: What causes gel coat cracks and what can be done to prevent them?