Can You Fiberglass a Concrete Pool? Steps, Cost, Problems
Is your concrete pool in need of repair or renovation? Are you tired of dealing with a rough plaster surface or tiles that fall off the pool walls?
You may have heard that you can apply fiberglass to a concrete pool, but how does it work, and how does it compare to a traditional fiberglass pool?
Here at River Pools, we manufacture fiberglass swimming pools and are often asked questions about the benefits of adding fiberglass to a concrete pool. So, in answer to those questions, we'll give you an overview of the process of fiberglassing a concrete pool and explain how the end result differs from a traditional fiberglass swimming pool.
Let's jump in.
What is a fiberglass concrete pool?
A fiberglass concrete pool is a concrete swimming pool that has an added layer of fiberglass to the pool's surface. This is usually done to create a smoother finish.
Most contractors will hand-lay fiberglass roving onto the concrete pool shell and roll on liquid resin to saturate the roving. The fiberglass is mixed with resins to ensure that all of the pieces stick to the concrete and create a uniform layer.
Once the fiberglass and resin has been applied, your contractor may sand down rough areas and check the surface for any holes that need patching.
Note: If the pool has a plaster finish, loose plaster should be chipped away first, and then the surface should be cleaned before applying any resin or fiberglass.
At our fiberglass pool factory, we spray several layers of fiberglass and resin onto a pool mold to build up the structure of the pool shell. With a concrete pool, the fiberglass makes up only part of the surface of the pool but not the structure.
Fiberglassed Concrete Pool Surface
Once the fiberglass has been applied to the concrete pool, the next step is to add the surface layer. Typically, gelcoat (a colored resin) is mixed on site and rolled over the dry fiberglass layer using a roller. Alternatively, your contractor might use an epoxy pool paint or another type of swimming pool paint.
Fun fact: The gelcoat on a traditional fiberglass pool is superior in quality because it gets to fully cure at the optimum temperature of about 77 degrees. This results in a much more durable and long-lasting surface layer.
Fiberglassed Concrete Pool Problems
While a fiberglass surface on a concrete pool is typically much smoother than plaster, it may come with a few problems, including:
The biggest issue with a concrete fiberglass pool is that the fiberglass layer can delaminate from the concrete beneath. This makes it weaker, and you might even start to see the fiberglass peeling away from the pool shell. Water can also get trapped underneath the fiberglass layer, spreading the damage to other areas.
In order to fix this, your contractor will need to go in and remove all of the delaminated parts and patch up the bare spots.
Because the fiberglass layer can come off in random sections, you might find yourself having to do these types of repairs often. If you have extensive damage all over the pool, it might be a better idea to strip off all of the fiberglass and reapply a fresh layer.
Generally, plaster, tile, and pebble will bond better with the concrete, which is why most people choose these for their concrete pool surface.
If you have a lot of water getting under the fiberglass layer, it can lead to serious pool leaks. Concrete is inflexible and prone to cracking, and a broken fiberglass layer won't stop the water from leaking through the structure.
How much does it cost to fiberglass a concrete pool?
You might expect to pay a minimum of $1,500 to fiberglass your concrete pool, but this depends on the size of your pool, the materials that you use, and how much of the work you can DIY. More than likely, you will pay around $3,500 to $5,000 and up.
How long will the fiberglass surface last?
Like most concrete pool surfaces, your fiberglass pool surface might last around ten years before it needs to be completely redone. If the fiberglass and resin layer fails to bond properly with the surface of your concrete pool, you might need to refinish it much sooner.
For reference, plaster might last five to ten years, pebble may last ten to twenty years, and tile can last fifteen to twenty years if maintained well. Pebble and tile are the longest-lasting concrete pool surfaces, but they also cost much more than plaster.
Fiberglassed Concrete Pool vs. Fiberglass Pool
Both fiberglass pools and fiberglassed concrete pools use fiberglass, but there are huge differences between the two pool types, including:
The structure of a fiberglass pool is made up of different types of fiberglass and resins. The structure of a concrete pool is made up of rebar and concrete. A fiberglass pool structure is much more flexible, while a concrete pool structure is prone to cracking, especially in cold weather.
Concrete pools with fiberglass layers use a gelcoat that is applied and cured in an outdoor environment. The gelcoat surface on a traditional fiberglass pool lasts much longer because it is applied in a factory with optimal curing conditions.
Concrete pools can be any size since they are built on-site, while fiberglass pools have size limitations because they need to be transported from the factory to your home. Typically, a fiberglass pool can't be much larger than 40 feet long and 16 feet wide. They can be over 8 feet deep, however, and many are suitable for diving.
Are concrete fiberglass pools and fiberglass pools the same?
The short answer: No.
The long answer: Fiberglass pools and concrete pools with fiberglass have little in common apart from the fact that both use fiberglass and resins in the building process. The fiberglass added to a concrete pool may make the surface smoother, especially compared to plaster, but you won't get the added benefit of structural flexibility or the ultra durable gelcoat that fiberglass pools offer. Click the button below to see how our fiberglass pools are made if you'd like to learn more:
If you want to take a deeper dive into the differences between concrete and fiberglass pools, feel free to check out the following guides next:
At River Pools, we manufacture high-quality fiberglass pools for homeowners across North America. If you'd like to explore your fiberglass pool options, you can browse our pool shapes, visit our fiberglass pool image gallery, or request custom pricing and information from us using the button below.