Latham Fiberglass Pools vs. River Fiberglass Pools: Which Is Best?
If you are shopping around for a fiberglass pool shell, you'll find no shortage of options.
Alaglas, Thursday, San Juan, Latham, Sun Pools, and Leisure are just some of the well-known names in the fiberglass pool industry, and each of those offers a wide selection of pool shapes and sizes.
As fiberglass pool manufacturers with a reputation for top-quality pool shells, one of the most common questions that we are asked is, "How does River Pools compare to other fiberglass pool manufacturers?"
Because it's our goal to answer all of the questions that we are asked in an honest and transparent way, we're going to address the topic of River Pools vs. Latham, one of the biggest pool manufacturers in the industry.
We hope that by the end of this article, you'll have a better sense of each of our manufacturing methods, installation practices, pool options, and more.
Let's start by giving a quick overview of Latham and River Pools.
Latham vs. River Pools
Latham pools was founded in 1955 and manufactures inground fiberglass and vinyl liner pools along with other pool parts and accessories. They operate under the Latham brand name, but their previous fiberglass pool lines included Viking, Trilogy, and Blue Hawaiian.
Latham does not specifically specialize in fiberglass pools but divides its pool types and products across all manufacturing locations.
Fun Fact: Latham expanded into the fiberglass segment of the market through the acquisition of multiple fiberglass pool brands.
River Pools is a fiberglass pool manufacturer and installer that exclusively works with fiberglass. We originally started as a dealer for a fiberglass pool manufacturer called CPC (a Latham/Viking brand) and later moved into manufacturing after noting opportunities for improvement in the industry - whether it was the quality of pool shells, dealer education, best install practices, etc.
By the time we began manufacturing our fiberglass pool shells in our Virginia plant, we had hundreds of other fiberglass pool manufacturer shells in the ground and had come to know the entire industry very well.
Today, we have a network of authorized dealers across North America who install our swimming pool models according to our standards - some of which will be discussed herein.
Fun fact: We are the only fiberglass pool manufacturer that got its start as a fiberglass pool installation company.
Fiberglass Pool Manufacturing Process
All fiberglass pools are made similarly, but there are a few differences across manufacturers. Here, we'll highlight how River Pools differs from Latham pools in manufacturing.
Latham Fiberglass Pool Manufacturing
Latham differs from River Pools in its manufacturing materials and methods. Here’s what they share about their fiberglass pool manufacturing process:
“All Latham fiberglass pools utilize the highest grade materials, including top-quality ceramic, resin, gel coats, and fiberglass. Meticulous manufacturing processes and total attention to each detail result in a pool that is as durable as it is beautiful.”
River Pools Manufacturing Process
At River Pools, we're open about our entire manufacturing process, from the design and construction of the pool mold to the inspection of the fiberglass pool shell when it's finished. In fact, we’re the only manufacturer in the world that has produced an entire series of videos explaining exactly how we build our pools. You can watch that series here.
Here's a quick breakdown of how we manufacture our fiberglass swimming pools:
- First, we start by preparing the mold.
- Second, we spray the gelcoat surface layer onto the mold at a thickness of 27 to 30 mils.
- Third, we apply our vinyl ester chopped fiberglass layer. This prevents osmotic blistering from inside of the pool.
- Fourth, we apply chopped fiberglass layers and roll them out to remove any air bubbles.
- Fifth, we reinforce certain areas of the pool with woven roving for additional strength.
- Sixth, we add supporting structural comb ribs to create support layers throughout the pool shell and increase the pool's strength.
- Last, we add one more layer of chopped fiberglass with polyester resin for strength and durability before allowing the pool to cure in a carefully controlled environment.
We have found that our method and manufacturing materials create the most flexible and durable fiberglass pool shells.
Fiberglass Pool Installation Methods Taught to Dealers
The installation of a fiberglass pool is arguably as important as how the pool shell is manufactured. A quality pool shell cannot be expected to last long if the installation is done poorly.
Let's take a look at what we know about the installation methods taught to pool dealers.
Installation Methods Taught to Latham Dealers
Latham provides training to dealers and installers but does not do any installation themselves. We can't provide much commentary on their installation practices because they don't include any pool building information on their website.
Installation Methods Taught to River Pool Dealers
River Pools works with a network of certified and highly trained dealers across North America. We have specific practices that we teach to our dealers based on our many years of installing various fiberglass pool brands as well as our own fiberglass pool models.
We call our installation practices The River Pools Way. Here's a brief overview of what that includes:
All of our fiberglass pools are backfilled with clean, crushed stone rather than sand. This helps with drainage and keeps the pool from settling, which in turn prevents major plumbing issues. We also secure the plumbing with straps, use Schedule 40 PVC piping (no flex pipe), and anchor our pools to the patio with River Rods to keep them in place.
The pool is further reinforced with a minimum 8” thick concrete bond beam around the perimeter. We also install a drain pipe to remove groundwater if the pool needs to be drained for maintenance.
Fiberglass Pool Shape and Size Selection
All fiberglass pool manufacturers offer a collection of pool shapes and sizes. These include large and small pools and freeform and geometric designs. Let's compare your options between River Pools and Latham.
Latham Fiberglass Pool Shapes and Sizes
Like many manufacturers, Latham offers a wide array of pool shapes and sizes. Latham fiberglass pool sizes range from 9x16 and up to 4' deep to 16x40 and 6.5' deep. Altogether, they offer 56 pool shapes, which include constant slope, flat bottom, and hopper bottom pools.
River Pools Fiberglass Pool Shapes and Sizes
At River Pools, we offer 7 fiberglass pool shapes with varying sizes and features. You will have 19 pool molds to choose from in total for your backyard or indoor pool project. Our pool sizes range from 10x20 and 4'4" deep to 16x40 and 8.5' deep. These models include constant slope, flat bottom, and hopper bottom designs.
Fiberglass Pool Options
Most fiberglass pools come with additional options and accessories that can be added to the pool project. These typically include lights, water features, spas, and tanning ledges, among other add-ons.
Latham Pool Options
Latham offers several add-ons and accessories, including tiles and pool-bottom mosaics, water features, spill-over spas, LED lighting, and separate tanning ledges.
River Pools Options
River Pools offers water features, spill-over spas, separate tanning ledges, and LED lighting as well as pool heaters, covers, fencing, salt systems, chlorinators, landscaping, and more. See our extensive list of pool options and add ons here.
Fiberglass Pool Warranties
It is critical that you carefully review your fiberglass pool warranty before you buy your swimming pool. We can't stress this enough. Let's compare the warranties offered by Latham and River Pools.
Latham Pool Warranty
Latham pool brands offer varying lifetime limited warranties, but they may not be transferable. For example, here is Viking's basic structural and surface policy:
Coverage of the structure: "Manufacturer warrants the Pool against leaking due to structural failure, as defined below, caused by faulty workmanship or materials used in the manufacture of the shell for as long as the original Buyer at retail owns the Pool. For purposes of this Warranty, 'structural failure' shall be defined as water loss due to fracture, void, crack, or other similar separation of the Pool which arose from a defect in the Manufacturer's workmanship or materials, and which did not result from and/or arise due to the excluded occurrences, circumstances, situations, causes and/or contributing factors identified in the 'LIMITATIONS AND EXCLUSIONS' section below. Manufacturer only warrants the Pool to hold water."
Coverage of the surface: "The surface finish of the Pool (the cosmetic gelcoat finish, referred to as the "Surface Finish") is warranted against osmotic blistering due to defects in materials or workmanship for as long as the original Buyer at retail owns the Pool."
River Pools Warranty
River Pools offers a limited lifetime structural warranty and a 15-year finish warranty on all of our fiberglass pool models. The warranty can also be transferred one time if you decide to sell your home.
Here's a basic breakdown of our structural and surface warranty:
Coverage of the structure: "River Fiberglass Pools warrants to the Purchaser that the pool shell will be structurally sound for the life of the pool under normal home use. The term 'Structurally Sound' shall mean the pool is capable of containing water. The River Fiberglass Pool shell is warranted only against leaking caused by failure of the shell due to faulty workmanship or materials used in the manufacture of the pool shell. In the event of the failure of the pool to contain water, River Fiberglass Pools will repair the pool so that it does contain and hold water. Repairs may require modification of the pool. All structural repairs shall be performed by River Fiberglass Pools, or personnel authorized by River Fiberglass Pools, using the same color materials as used on the original pool shell if available. If such color materials are not available, River Fiberglass Pools will use the closest match available at that time."
Coverage of the surface: "River Fiberglass Pools warrants to the Purchaser that the finish coat or gel coat will be free of osmotic blistering for a total of 15 years."
Note: Notice the major difference in finish warranties regarding osmotic blistering.
Fiberglass Pool Manufacturer Websites
Every fiberglass pool manufacturer's website will vary in terms of the resources that they offer and the extent of those resources. Here is what you can expect from Latham and River Pools online.
Latham's website provides product information and some educational resources for pool shoppers, including articles and ebooks. The Latham pool blog covers several topics in-depth, while other site pages provide information on pool shapes, options, and colors.
River Pools Website
The River Pools website offers information on our fiberglass pool shapes, options, accessories, installation process, manufacturing process, and more. We also offer hundreds of blog articles and are known as the most trafficked swimming pool website in the world. Our extensive educational video library offers another format for pool shoppers to learn about inground pool types, prices, maintenance, and construction.
Which Fiberglass Pool is Right for You?
We hope that this guide has helped you compare the basics of these two fiberglass swimming pool manufacturers. Please leave any other questions that you may have in the comments, and we will answer them as soon as possible.
Before you go, here's a quick recap of what we covered:
- Latham manufactures fiberglass pools, vinyl liner pools, and pool parts and accessories.
- Latham includes high-quality ceramic, resin, gelcoat, and fiberglass in their manufacturing process.
- They provide training to dealers and installers but do not provide installation services.
- Latham offers 56 pool shapes ranging from 9x16 ft to 16x40 ft.
- Pool add-ons include pool tiles, pool-bottom mosaics, water features, spill-over spas, LED lighting, and separate tanning ledges.
- Latham offers lifetime limited warranties on their pool structure and surface. The warranty may not be transferable.
- Their website provides product information as well as some educational resources like articles and ebooks.
- River Pools began as an installer and realized an opportunity to improve the industry through inseparably linking the manufacturing and installation process. We still install fiberglass pools in addition to designing and manufacturing our own pool designs.
- We specialize in fiberglass pools only.
- We manufacture our pools to be strong and flexible using gelcoat, vinyl ester, fiberglass, and polyester resin.
- We train our certified dealers to install our fiberglass pools The River Pools Way. This secures the plumbing, prevents settling, and ties the pool to the patio. This is also a major differential with respect to what is required of the industry.
- River Pools offers 7 fiberglass pool shapes with varying sizes from 10x20 ft to 16x40 ft. We also have a deep-end pool that is 8.5 ft deep.
- Our pool options include water features, spill-over spas, LED lighting, separate tanning ledges, pool heaters, pool covers, fencing, salt systems, chlorinators, and more.
- River Pools offers a limited lifetime structural warranty and a 15-year finish warranty. The warranty can also be transferred one time.
- Our website offers information on our pool shapes, options, accessories, installation process, manufacturing process, and more. We also offer ebooks, pricing guides, hundreds of blog articles, and an extensive video library.
You can also download our free ebook to learn more about buying a fiberglass pool for your home. Happy swimming!