Pool Surface Types
A vinyl-lined pool is a very popular type of pool based on a few reasons, though mainly cost. Vinyl-liners are custom fit for each pool and sit between the pool’s structure and the water. Underneath the liner it’s a sand floor base which helps stabilize the bottom of the liner from moving or shifting. With vinyl liners, they are typically installed with the top edge locked, and set into a track which is right at the deck level. The vinyl liner walls are usually 4x8 or 3x8 sheets comprised of steel, or a thick plastic. All of these panels connect to form the shape of your pool. Since every vinyl liner is a custom fit, there are some limitations of some shapes when installing a vinyl liner. Like any surface over time, there could prove to be maintenance like the vinyl tearing or “rippling” in certain areas, although this is very rare. Also, if the water leaks, the liner will need to be fixed, then vacuum sealed while the pool is filled with water to prevent air pockets under the surface. Vinyl liners used to be only available in certain colors or patterns, but today you have the option to buy customized vinyl liners with different colors and patterns which definitely helps the overall appearance of your pool.
Concrete or Plaster pools are by far the oldest type of pool construction. The process of building a concrete pool starts with digging a hole in the shape of the pool. Next rebar rods are put in place around the lining of the pool. The next step is installing the skimmers, jets, drains main drains and plumbing the vacuum system into place. After all of the pipe work has been ran and installed, the pool is shot with high-pressured gunite to prep for plaster. Once the tiles and stones are placed, the pool is shot and covered with plaster. And then when everything has dried and formed, the pool is filled up with water.
Many times, concrete pool surfaces are covered with a white-coat material called marcite which provides the water-tight seal that the gunite below is unable to do due to its porous nature. With plaster/concrete pools, you have the most amount of freedom to build any irregular shape of pool, unlike Vinyl where you’re limited due to the wall panels bending. Therefore, most L-shaped pools, or pools that utilize custom seating or a floating bar will be built in a concrete pool. Concrete pools on average cost more money as the labor involved is much greater compared to a vinyl-lined pool. The only other major down-side to concrete pools is that if there is a leak in a vacuum line somewhere beneath the concrete surface, it can be very costly to repair such a thing which usually results in draining the pool, locating the leak, and re-plastering once the leak has been located and fixed. This issue is fairly rare and most concrete pools are meant to withstand 20 years without any major maintenance. That is if the pool installer/designer did the job right.
Pebble-Tec (Original, Pebble Sheen, Pebble Fina)
A pool surface made of pebble-tec is actually still a plaster pool. However, small river-like pebbles are mixed into the plaster itself to create the pebble-tec concoction. Once the mixture is blown into the pool, it is applied using a hand trowel. Once the surface has been fully dried, the surface is acid-rinsed which takes the very thin dust-like layer of plaster off leaving a beautiful pebble-tec surface showing. Pebble-Tec comes in many different colors and varieties, and sheens.
Pebble Tec: This finish is the original Pebble-tec pool finish which comes in 18 colors and present a more natural pool look.
Pebble Sheen: This pool finish offers a marble-like look due to the large array of mosaic pebbles fused together, then gently buffed to create a beautiful shine.
Pebble Fina: This finish is the latest type of Pebble-tec technology which incorporates the use of pozzolans, or concrete extenders which pro-long the life and durability of the concrete. Most colors contain small pieces of seashell to help enhance the beautiful pool interior.
Since Pebble-tec is made from river-rock pebbles, it is obviously the most expensive pool surfaced option as well as very labor-intensive compared to a vinyl liner pool. Originally developed in Australia, the Pebble-Tec technology was brought to the United States around 20 years ago. You’ll find pool builders that use this luxurious method of pool surfacing are not everywhere and have to be Pebble-tec certified.