Vinyl pools have come a long way in the past 8-10 years. If you have a swimming pool that was built over 10 years ago, it is highly likely that you have fiberglass steps as your entry system into the pool. These steps come in a handful of colors and shapes and can become eyesores over the years. Problems with fiberglass steps include settling, cracking, bubbling/blistering, and discoloration. Since these steps are the entry point of the pool, they naturally become the focal point of the pool. Even if they are in good working order, they can still be an eyesore as white stands out like a sore thumb from the blue/tan liner.
When it comes to renovating your fiberglass steps, you have three main solutions:
- Thermopolymer Coating
- Step Replacement (with another fiberglass step)
- Vinyl Overlay System
Thermopolymer coating is a new technology that can be applied to existing fiberglass steps to “refinish” them. If your steps are structurally sound with minor defects in the fiberglass finish of the step, this is a good solution for you. There are many colors to choose from that will totally change the look of your step and can make it blend in better with the blue/tan liner. Because of the process, the liner will need to be replaced after the step is refinished. The process is quite extensive, beginning with the step being cleaned and grinding out any blemishes, superficial cracks, blisters, and bubbles. . Once the step is “roughed up,” a gel bond coat is applied to the step. After, the thermopolymer coating is applied to the step and immediately cured with a blowtorch. The step is finished with a brand new texture, color, and surface.
If your step is structurally compromised, has large cracks, or gives under your feet when entering/exiting the pool, a step replacement is the wise option for you. A full step replacement is a more invasive process. In order to get the step removed, the concrete will need to be cut around the step. Then the step is dug out and the backfill and bracing system removed. Once the step is fully removed, the ditch is cleaned up and all plumbing lines are moved. Afterwards, the new step can be installed to the wall. It must be properly secured to the walls, braced thoroughly underneath, and grounded with a new footer poured around the base of the step to hold it all in place. Once the step is appropriately secured, the step is ready to be backfilled and have the concrete around the step repoured. This solution gives you the freedom to pick a different color step (gray/tan) and a different size/design if desired. Replacing the fiberglass step also gives you the opportunity to have a masonry coping added to the pool, creating a monolithic look around the step. Since the concrete will be cut around the step, it allows the possibility of cutting 12’’ around the entire perimeter of the pool and adding a stone/travertine coping to the pool. This upgrade can really add the extra wow factor to your outdoor entertaining space.
Vinyl Overlay Systems
This is the newest trend/technology for vinyl pools. Vinyl overlay entry systems are designed based on the client needs and desires for each pool. From concrete steps to a custom tanning shelf with bubblers, all things are possible with this set-up. This is the perfect way to update an old vinyl pool to give it a modern look and enhance functionality. Due to the entry systems being formed with concrete, they are more extensive when compared to the previous two options. First, the old step is removed from the pool and the area is excavated. Following that, the entry system is formed and poured. Once the step is poured, the pool is triangulated for the custom liner. This option is extremely functional and the most durable, but it is also aesthetically pleasing. Pricing can vary dramatically based on level of customization.
Since a pool is a long-term investment, it is wise to think about your refinishing with the future in mind. If you choose a fiberglass coating, there is a 10 year limited warranty. The warranty covers a variety of issues, including resistance to chemicals, spall, chalk, stains, mildew, and cracks. You can feel confident that you made a wise choice in the long run. If you need help determining the best option for your steps, schedule a consultation with J&M Pool Company. We would be happy to guide you in finding the best fit for your needs.