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Swimming Pool Resurfacing

Read about swimming pool resurfacing and how the process works.

Resurfacing a swimming pool can save time and money in the long run. [©Jupiter Images, 2010]
©Jupiter Images, 2010
Resurfacing a swimming pool can save time and money in the long run.

Swimming pool resurfacing may be necessary for an aged or damaged inground pool. With the right materials, equipment and techniques, most pool surfaces can be restored to their original condition. Not only does resurfacing improve the cosmetic appeal of a pool, but it also makes it easier and less costly to maintain.

Swimming Pool Construction

Existing, modern inground pools are built by excavating the land, installing steel-braced walls, adding plumbing and electrical features, positioning a pool shell and then adding decorative tiling or other finishing touches. Beyond its cosmetic appearance, a pool's surface serves three major purposes. First, the waterproof surface protects pool water chemicals from being absorbed by the shell or into the ground. Second, the impenetrable membrane blocks pool water from compromising the structural integrity of the pool's shell. Third, the pools surface prevents algae from growing on the shell.

Inground pools are not required to be finished with a surface. However, they will run less efficiently without one, making them much more costly to maintain. In these cases, more chemicals are needed in the pool to keep the water in balance. By contrast, aboveground pools already come supplied with a lining that cannot be resurfaced. An aged or damaged aboveground pool surface requires either spot repair or total pool replacement.

Types of Pool Surfaces

Those looking for swimming pool resurfacing have three main choices, as explained by Swimming Pool Magazine: concrete, vinyl or fiberglass. All three pool surfaces or finishes are available for all types of inground pools. No one type of finish is better than the others, but some may be more ideal for a particular pool's location and use.

Concrete pools (sometimes called gunite or shotcrete) have the most flexibility in terms of their design and surfacing options. Plaster, pebble aggregate, colored plaster, polished marble, glass bead, painting, tile or any combination of these materials can be used to surface or resurface a concrete pool, which does not require a direct replacement of the pervious surface material.

Vinyl pools are reinforced with built-in steel or another material that will withstand the pressure of the pool's water, once filled. A vinyl pool must be surfaced or resurfaced with a vinyl liner. Prefabricated vinyl liners are flexible and available in a variety of colors and patterns to fit and form a custom-designed pool.

Fiberglass pools are similar to modular homes. The entire fiberglass pool shell and surface form a single unit and are prefabricated in a factory before being shipped to the site for placement. In terms of design potential, fiberglass pools offer the least amount of flexibility, and resurfacing them requires total pool shell replacement.

When to Resurface

A pool's surface is the outer-most layer of the pool that lies just below the surface of the water. Since the surface is easily visible, The AzCentral.com suggests that a pool may be a good candidate for resurfacing if it is looking ragged or worn. A pool's surface can withstand small holes and tears that cause water to leak, as long as they are quickly repaired, but too large of a puncture may require a professional assessment and possible resurfacing.

How Swimming Pool Resurfacing Works

The first step in resurfacing a pool, regardless of what method or materials are being used, is to drain its water. Concrete pools can take the longest and cost the most to resurface, particularly if a sandblasting or acid wash of the pool's shell is needed. Other aspects that can add to the expense of resurfacing include limited access to the pool by machinery and equipment and a high water table, which makes it necessary to pump water from the ground around the pool to prevent the shell from popping up.

Vinyl surfaces are easier than concrete to install. Basic vinyl surface application involves adhering the flexible liner to the pool's vinyl walls. Vinyl is relatively sturdy, but it requires more care in preventing punctures than any of the other types of surfaces. Fiberglass surfaces are the quickest to install. The fiberglass ridged structure is mechanically placed and secured in land that has already been excavated and leveled.

Other Concerns for Swimming Pool Resurfacing

Besides the resurfacing labor and maintenance, a pool owner has several other responsibilities. It is the pool owner's responsibility to secure approval of any local permits that maybe required. A pool owner is also responsible for detailing any of the resurfacing's warranty agreement, as well as the pool contractor's professional license number and a certificate of insurance.

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