How to install a fiberglass pool
Updated: Apr 17
As the old saying goes, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Some may agree with that phrase when it comes to building fiberglass pools, but that really isn't the case with a quality fiberglass pool.
The installation process for fiberglass pools has evolved since the first one was built in the late '50s. Originally all fiberglass pools were built with a sand base and sand backfill. This lead to issues with bulged pool walls, settling plumbing, etc.
Fast forward to the 2000s. As fiberglass pools were gaining in popularity so were the occurrences of these issues. A small group of forward-thinking people at a Tennesee fiberglass pool manufacturer broke the mold and introduced their new best practice for installing pools using pea gravel as a base and backfill. This seemed like a great idea at the time but the downside is that pea gravel is round and moves A LOT! This caused issues with installations across the country.
It took a small fiberglass pool builder in Virginia to step up and completely change the way fiberglass pools were installed. River Pools came up with the Rhino Roc construction methodology. It was centered around using 3/4" clean stone as a base and backfill. Then they also did something revolutionary, they pre-plumbed all of their pools so when they got to the job site the pool was plumbed and ready to be set. Speeding up the process and limiting the amount of site time to complete a project. Next, they began pouring a 12" thick collar to lock the fiberglass pool shell into the concrete. This process lead to the set of best practices known today as the "River Pools Way." The River Pools Way is the benchmark for all fiberglass pool installations and has been held as the unofficial "Industry Standard" for years.
Below we will breakdown our (Pool Pros) process of installing fiberglass pools the River Pools Way. Keep in mind we do sometimes get delays from weather and things don't always go smoothly on the job site so it may take longer than 7 days to complete your project. This is our goal but one thing we have discovered building pools is that we need to remain flexible to overcome obstacles in order to provide a quality finished product. That being said, here we go.
Day 1: The first day we come to the job site we layout the pool to the dig specs. We then set up our tripod and laser which does not move at all during the installation. We then shoot elevations and using the dig sheet from River Pools we calculate the elevations for each point of the pool in preparation for the excavation. Next, we pour the concrete equipment pad.
Day2: Excavation Day: We begin the dig first thing in the morning and haul out the material as we dig, unless you choose to have material left on site. As soon as the dig is done we install our 4" thick clean stone base and 8" sump pipe.
Day3: Pool Delivery: The pool arrives and we offload it with the use of a crane or a telehandler and place it in the hole. We then shoot the top of the pool to ensure its level and adjust as needed. Once level we begin to cut in and mount all of the fittings. We then complete the plumbing back to the equipment pad, and install conduit, lights and bonding wire.
Day4: Fill day: We begin backfilling the pool with clean stone and filling the pool with water simultaneously.
Day 5: We then work on grading the area outside the pool with a gravel base for the concrete decking and install the forms on the pool for the concrete.
Day 6: We pour the concrete pool deck. Once the concrete is poured we remove the forms and fix any imperfections.
Day 7: We come to start up the equipment, detail the pool and provide the homeowner with a final walkthrough on how to use and maintain their new fiberglass pool.