How Fiberglass Pools Are Made: Gel Coat (Part 2 of 8 in Building the Perfect Fiberglass Pool)

Hello, everybody, I’m Cristian
with River Pools, and in the last video, I talked about how fiberglass pools are made
on a mold, and I talked about all the features that every pool mold should have. The link is up here to that video, you should
go back and check that out. Today, I’m going to tell you everything you
need to know about the first layer of your fiberglass pool: Gel coat. Here are the three things to take away from
today’s video: Number one, what is gel coat and how is it applied? Number two, what is polymerization, and why
is it so important to the gel coat finish and the rest of your pool? And number three, what is Cross-Lynx Composite
Technology, and why should you be looking for it when shopping for in inground fiberglass
pool? So, let’s tackle the first. This is gel coat. It’s basically a colored resin that is applied
with compressed air and a spray gun. You want your gel coat applied in three passes,
resulting in a total thickness of 25 to 30 mils. Too thin, and you could possibly get blisters
due to an improper cure. Too thick, and it can lead to cracking. Now, to explain polymerization, I’ll refer
to a clip from our “Manufacturing Story” video. This is Jason Hughes, co-owner at River Pools. Polymerization’s a, it’s kind
of a technical term, but basically, it means the cross-linking of different molecules together
to form a chain, and the stronger the chain that we have with our composites, with our
fiberglass, the stronger and more durable the product is. Let me demonstrate what Jason
is saying. Let’s suppose that each one of these shackles
represents a molecule of gel coat. What we want to achieve is a bond and connection,
a cross-link between all molecules so that the finish is durable and will stand the test
of time. This cross-linking process is
something we’ve developed into what we call Cross-Lynx Composite Technology, which is
a series of best practices that we do when we manufacture pools, to make sure that we
promote polymerization, cross-linking. Which brings us to our third
takeaway from today’s video. You see, Cross-Lynx is our commitment to not
cut corners. When you see this logo, you know that best
practices are being used to promote polymerization, the key to building a long lasting, durable,
fiberglass pool that will stand the test of time in your backyard. What are the Cross-Lynx best practices when
it comes to your gel coat layer? Well, the first is the gel coat catalyst. It needs to be in a concentration of 1 to
2%, depending on environmental conditions. The second is temperature. Let’s head back to the shop and I’ll explain
why. Temperature is a really important element
when it comes to shooting gel coat onto a fiberglass inground pool. You want a minimum temperature of 70 degrees
for both air and the mold, although 77 degrees is the optimum. We use infrared heaters in the ceiling, controlled
by wall-mounted thermostats, to control the space temperature. And before we begin shooting gel coat, we
check the mold temperature with a thermal imaging gun. The third is controlling the moisture in our
compressed air system. Let’s walk back to the shop one more time
and I’ll explain more. I mentioned earlier that gel coat is applied
using compressed air and sprayed onto the pool mold. What you need to know here is, the quality
of the air being used to spray that gel coat and other resins is important. More specifically, how much moisture is in
that air? You see, moisture and resin, or moisture and
gel coat, are not a good situation. Water introduced at any point in the construction
of your fiberglass pool could prevent a full cure of any of the layers and result in failure
of the gel coat finish or another resin layer of your pool. We’re in command central right now, if you
will, for all of our compressed air tools, and behind me is our state-of-the-art air
compressor. This powers all of our spray guns, but behind
me is where quality really begins to take shape. You see, this is our redundant air drying
system. We have a water separator up top, so it comes
out of the air compressor through a separator, and this is our initial point of pulling moisture
out of the air before the air reaches an air dryer. After the air dryer, it actually goes through
a second separator. So we have three steps to remove moisture,
all before the air reaches the tool that applies the gel coat or another resin layer to your
pool. We want to achieve the perfect cure. Water won’t allow that. As a homeowner, you want to trust that the
product you purchased is going to be long lasting and worry-free. And as an installer, you want to know you’re
partnered with a manufacturer that understands what factors produce a life-long, lasting
pool, and you want to be partnered with a manufacturer that stands behind their products. In our next video, we’ll talk about the second
layer of your fiberglass pool: The vinyl ester chop layer. Stay tuned, this is Cristian with River Pools. Catch the wave!

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