When we bought our house, the pool was a major attraction. However, we knew it was going to require some major work. For starters, it had a crack in the base of the deep end, it had dark stains on the bottom, and chips appeared on the edges of the steps. The water looked like someone had dumped in fifty gallons of mud. There were thousands of dead worms at the bottom of it, and to top it off, a dead field rat was floating on top!
Time for refinishing!
DECIDING WHAT TO DO
Repainting, we discovered, was the least expensive option, but we were told that paint usually lasts only up to three years. Some require rather specific mixing, and we were warned that epoxy paints have a very strong odor. And, like all the alternatives, the pool would still require extensive preparation.
The second strategy was plastering, which was nearly as expensive as a fiberglass finish. In addition, since the pool had been previously painted, no contractor would guarantee the work. We were also cautioned that plaster etches can crack if the chemicals get out of balance. Plaster just seemed "delicate" to us.
Finally, we explored polyaspartic coating and fiberglass repair. ArmorThane told us that they had refinished several large pools for universities and commercial establishments. We visited the hotel pools and were impressed.
We know that commercial enterprises do a careful cost analysis. This reinforced our belief that although fiberglass might cost more initially, it would be cost-effective over the years because of reduced maintenance and chemical usage.
When Rob and Ryan from ArmorThane came to our house to give us an estimate, they knew what they were talking about. They outlined the process of refinishing a pool step by step and patiently answered all our questions.
They said that even fiberglass would probably crack in a strong rolling earthquake. Otherwise, the surface is quite flexible. Our pool would be good for a minimum of five years.
We never felt "hustled." they didn't want a penny upfront. They said they wanted us to be entirely satisfied before we paid.
REFINISHING THE POOL
A man came at about 4 p.m. to drop in a submersible pump on the first day. It took all night and most of the second day to empty the pool.
On the third day, a crew of four craftsmen arrived in mid-afternoon and spent about two hours preparing the surface by water-blasting and sanding the bad spots. They also used a power saw to cut a groove along with the tiles and around the fixtures so they could "tuck" in the fiberglass later. This sawing was the only noisy or dusty part.
The next morning the crew started around 7 a.m. They began by masking the tile and protecting the deck with boards and paper. It was real teamwork with the men knowing their jobs so well they hardly had to talk to each other.
Next was the fiberglass that came on huge spools and looked like a thick transparent thread. This "thread" was fed through a device that chopped it into very small pieces, then applied onto the pool surface, where it was combined with a resin/catalyst mixture sprayed on simultaneously.
This fiberglass layer was pressed down. While there was a typical fiberglass odor, it wasn't particularly unpleasant and disappeared within a day.
Since the fiberglass is so smooth, a special nonskid additive was used on the steps. Finally, the finish coat was applied, and by one o'clock, all was done -- right on schedule.
After this was fully cured, the team returned and applied the initial ArmorFloor base coating using rollers.
This only took a couple of hours, and they were finished by noon. The following day they came back out to apply the final coating. Once the final coating was applied, we were told we could start filling within 48 hours.
After the pool was filled, we went through getting the pool chemicals in good balance. They recommended we wait four days for the pool water to stabilize, then gave us a specific order for adding the chemicals. We also analyzed the water several times during the process.
While we were balancing the water, the sun was warming it up, so when we had our wedding at our home the following week, everyone had a great time swimming in our like-new pool. And we know it's going to look like new for many years to come.