If you've purchased a fiberglass pool liner, you are in for a treat. No other pool lining material can compare to the beauty and customization of a fiberglass finish. However, if you're planning to install your newly purchased pool liner without the help of a pro, you should think again. It can be tempting to cut back on the cost of getting your pool by relying on your DIY savvy, but there are some things that can go badly wrong and shorten the life of your pool without professional help. Also, it might not save you as much money as you might think.
#1: It might not save you as much.
Fiberglass pool liners need to be shipped and unloaded carefully. They come pre-finished, and they are too large and heavy for you and some friends to lift the pool from the truck and lay it gently in place. Usually, pool installation requires a crane rental to mitigate this problem. The pool will be raised on straps and lowered carefully into the hole by a skilled operator. Renting a crane and learning how to operate one can be costly.
Other pricey portions of the DIY route include renting a backhoe to excavate the pit, buying and hauling backfill material and renting the machine (usually a skid steer) to push it into place after the pool has been placed. Plumbing materials, hooking up the filters and heaters, and your time are also costs to factor in. The pool liner itself is just the beginning.
#2: Improper or hasty installation can damage your pool.
Fiberglass pools are lovely when they are installed, but they do require gentle handling because the gel finish of the interior is prone to spiderweb cracking under stress. Sometimes, spiderweb cracks occur because the pool was poorly manufactured. However, more commonly, the cracks happen if the item is unloaded or installed in a way that stresses the liner. Causes of cracks include:
- improper site preparation. Tree roots, rocks, or even dirt that has not been properly excavated and leveled cause the gel layer to flex beyond its normal flexibility when the weight of the liner settles into the excavated area.
- attempts to level the pool once it is in place. Large liners need to be level before the backfill process can begin, but tugging this way and that on the pool or trying to maneuver around it can stress the finish as well. The base a pool sits on should be level before the pool is lowered, but when you're a DIYer without much experience, you can end up with a pool that must be leveled after it has been lowered, resulting in the need to tweak it or lift it here and there, exerting pressure on the pool that it was not built to withstand.
#3: Using the wrong material to finish the process can be disastrous.
Fiberglass pools work with a pressure balance. They hold water, which pushes the walls of the pool out, but the ground around the pool exerts pressure pushing the walls in. This balance allows for a strong pool that is both secure and customizable, because the water and soil help the pool to hold its structure. Sometimes, after an installation, pool owners are dismayed to discover that the walls of the pool are beginning to bulge in, despite being well-filled with water. Usually, this means that the material used to backfill the pool has too much pressure behind it.
A popular material used to backfill a pool is sand, because it is less expensive and easy to pack. However, when sand becomes wet, it hold water and almost becomes liquid in nature. The pressure and movement of the wet sand is too much for the pool, and the fiberglass material buckles. An expert pool installer will use small gravel (large rocks or road crush can cause cracking) made especially for backfilling a fiberglass structure.
As you can see, installing a fiberglass pool liner take more finesse and money than you might be comfortable with. Contact a professional pool company for more information on your pool installation.