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Thread: fiberglass or concrete/plaster for resurfacing in Nor. Cal.

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    fiberglass or concrete/plaster for resurfacing in Nor. Cal.

    So I've had a couple contractors take a look at our 17K 15x30 rectangular IGP with the chipped fiberglass liner. First is a fiberglass pool contractor who will be writing up a bid on replacing the fiberglass, second does both fiberglass and concrete/plaster. Second contractor was also the company that the previous owners of our home/pool used for weekly pool service and pool inspection so they're familiar with the pool's history.
    Second contractor says that our pool was originally concrete/plaster, probably built in the late '60s based on the decking and plumbing hardware, and that a previous owner had converted it to fiberglass for reasons unknown. His rec is to remove the fiberglass liner, repair the small crack near the skimmer, and change it back to plaster (his comment on fiberglass is that "it's a good surface for some situations but not the best one for this one"). This sounds sensible to me but I'd appreciate some input from other folks who have studied the relative merits of different pool surfaces. Thanks!
    1950's-era 17K gallon formerly fiberglass, newly replastered IG rectangle (~15x30'),
    Hayward S244S Sand Filter with Franklin Electric 0.75 HP motor and WhisperFlo WFE-3 pump
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    Re: fiberglass or concrete/plaster for resurfacing in Nor. Cal.

    Here's a copy of an earlier post:

    I can't speak for your area, but down here (San Diego) the fiberglass companies don't last more than a couple of years! Tough to get support when they are gone!

    I personally would not fiberglass my pool, and I have seen many that are chalky, bubbling, have separation (very sharp edges!) and release fibers into the pool, creating itchy swimmers! The plaster companies also charge more to remove the fiberglass (it has to go to HazMat) once you decide to get it redone.

    My question would be why you would want to use fiberglass? Is it just because it is in the pool now, or do you have structure damage under the existing fiberglass (that is why alot of pools get fiber-glassed)?

    Bruce (put in quotes for clarity)
    I'm still standing by it!

    Bruce

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    Re: fiberglass or concrete/plaster for resurfacing in Nor. Cal.

    Quote Originally Posted by PoolCleanerMom
    So I've had a couple contractors take a look at our 17K 15x30 rectangular IGP with the chipped fiberglass liner. First is a fiberglass pool contractor who will be writing up a bid on replacing the fiberglass, second does both fiberglass and concrete/plaster. Second contractor was also the company that the previous owners of our home/pool used for weekly pool service and pool inspection so they're familiar with the pool's history.
    Second contractor says that our pool was originally concrete/plaster, probably built in the late '60s based on the decking and plumbing hardware, and that a previous owner had converted it to fiberglass for reasons unknown. His rec is to remove the fiberglass liner, repair the small crack near the skimmer, and change it back to plaster (his comment on fiberglass is that "it's a good surface for some situations but not the best one for this one"). This sounds sensible to me but I'd appreciate some input from other folks who have studied the relative merits of different pool surfaces. Thanks!
    PoolCleanerMom | The biggest problem with fiberglass is lack of knowledge by pool service professionals. This extends beyond fiberglass linings and goes all the way to older fiberglass swimming pools manufactured in a factory.
    Your pool simply needs new swimming pool gel coat, and it will be like brand new for another 12 to 20 years. Don't let service pro's or contractors turn a small refinishing job into a major rehabilitation.
    Regarding the previous owner's reasons for the fiberglass conversion, the age of the pool makes the reasons clear. The original plaster (marcite) lasted about 20 years, they re-plastered expecting another 20 years and were shocked when it laster between 2 and 5 years. Then they probably contacted another company and tried plaster one more time. Finally they realized that plaster works great on new concrete (or gunite), but after that it's too costly to maintain. When plaster is applied to a new swimming pool, it is guaranteed for 10 years, whereas when the pool is re-plastered, the guaranty is only 1 year, except in California where regulations mandate a 3 year warranty.
    Because of this knowledge gap, most homeowners with fiberglass linings, or manufactured fiberglass pools, take the DIY route. It's fast, cheap (even for the most expensive material), and requires absolutely no experience.
    The only caveat is be carefull to use the right material for the job, i.e. vinly ester resin (1 coat), and swimming pool gel coat (2 coats). These are the same materials used to manufacture the finest fiberglass pools, such as San Juan and Viking. Good luck and enjoy your pool.

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    Re: fiberglass or concrete/plaster for resurfacing in Nor. Cal.

    Wow, I couldn't disagree more! I have a few contractors that fiberglass older gunite pools and liner walls and hoppers. Every one delaminates.

    Gel coats are best applied in an enclosed environment. Homeowners that play DIY usually have air bubbles, streaks, thin spots, dust, etc.. in the finish. Doesn't last and can create more issues than were believed to be solved.

    Fiberglass pools such as Viking, San Juan, Dolphin, etc... are made indoors. The air is cleaned and well circulated. In an outdoor pool, dirt, rust, weather, and improper prep, take their toll.

    If the pool had been gel coated and the gel coat has worn, water has penetrated and the game is over.

    The old white plaster is not the same mix as todays. It lasted much longer. Today's white plaster should be expected to last about 10 years. The aggregates such as PebbleTec and the like, will last more than 20. While substantially more, it's worth it.

    Scott
    PoolGuyNJ
    Owner of - PoolGuyNJ LLC
    Expert Pool and Spa Repairs, Renovations, and Augmentation. Helping people decide what is the right gear for meeting their needs. Expectations Set, Expectations Met, No Surprises.

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    Re: fiberglass or concrete/plaster for resurfacing in Nor. Cal.

    Quote Originally Posted by PoolGuyNJ
    Wow, I couldn't disagree more! I have a few contractors that fiberglass older gunite pools and liner walls and hoppers. Every one delaminates.

    Gel coats are best applied in an enclosed environment. Homeowners that play DIY usually have air bubbles, streaks, thin spots, dust, etc.. in the finish. Doesn't last and can create more issues than were believed to be solved.

    Fiberglass pools such as Viking, San Juan, Dolphin, etc... are made indoors. The air is cleaned and well circulated. In an outdoor pool, dirt, rust, weather, and improper prep, take their toll.

    If the pool had been gel coated and the gel coat has worn, water has penetrated and the game is over.

    The old white plaster is not the same mix as todays. It lasted much longer. Today's white plaster should be expected to last about 10 years. The aggregates such as PebbleTec and the like, will last more than 20. While substantially more, it's worth it.

    Scott
    PoolGuyNJ
    Times 2. Exactly right, Scott.

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    Re: fiberglass or concrete/plaster for resurfacing in Nor. Cal.

    Quote Originally Posted by PoolGuyNJ
    Wow, I couldn't disagree more! I have a few contractors that fiberglass older gunite pools and liner walls and hoppers. Every one delaminates.

    Gel coats are best applied in an enclosed environment. Homeowners that play DIY usually have air bubbles, streaks, thin spots, dust, etc.. in the finish. Doesn't last and can create more issues than were believed to be solved.

    Fiberglass pools such as Viking, San Juan, Dolphin, etc... are made indoors. The air is cleaned and well circulated. In an outdoor pool, dirt, rust, weather, and improper prep, take their toll.

    If the pool had been gel coated and the gel coat has worn, water has penetrated and the game is over.

    The old white plaster is not the same mix as todays. It lasted much longer. Today's white plaster should be expected to last about 10 years. The aggregates such as PebbleTec and the like, will last more than 20. While substantially more, it's worth it.

    Scott
    PoolGuyNJ
    PoolGuyNJ Much of what you write is correct, unfortunate but correct. Nevertheless, indoor or outdoor makes absolutely no difference, although proper prep is essential. As far as the gel coat goes, if it has worn, it must be replaced. Otherwise, the pool will stain and algae will become intolerable. But this makes no difference to the life of the lining unless, or until, the lining tears and water gets behind it. Even then, the delaminated area is simply cut out, and replaced with new vinyl ester resin and an overlapping fiberglass patch.

    Of course, everything I've written on this subject is based on the original lining's proper installation, with the proper chemicals. If the liner was shot-on, then everything you've written is correct. However, if it was applied using the "hand lay-up" method, and if the same materials were used that both San Juan and Viking use, i.e. vinyl ester resin and swimming pool gel coat, the lining will last 30 or more years. This is assuming the gel coat is replaced as needed, every 15 (one coat) to 20 (two coats) years.

    I agree that today's plaster, mixed with cement, is a better product than it was, but 10 years life expectancy is a salesman's pitch, and not reality. Regarding aggregates, they are pricier and better, but a realistic life expectancy is more like 12 years, with luck and extremely good water chemistry.

    All the problems you mentioned are correct when the materials are "shot-on", and/or polyester resin is used. Polyester resin was never meant for underwater use and will always fail on a swimming pool. Gel coat will not laminate to polyester resin if it's underwater for even a short amount of time, not to mention that swimming pool gel coat is quite expensive. So the "shoot-on" crowd tints more polyester resin with either brilliant white or blue pigment, and shoots that on as the final coating and calls it gel coat. The consumer doesn't know the difference. It looks great when it's finished, they get the final check, and the homeowner thinks it will last 25 years. Four or five years later the pool looks exactly as you described.

    The west coast, particularly California, seems to have been a haven for this element. On the east coast, that system is know as "fast and dirty". Shoot the polyester resin and fiberglass in the morning, go to lunch while it dries, then come back and shoot the tinted polyester resin in the afternoon, grab the check and run like a thief in the night. This is not the system I wrote about in my original post.

    Bill
    SwimmingPoolResurfacing.com

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    Re: fiberglass or concrete/plaster for resurfacing in Nor. Cal.

    Quote Originally Posted by PoolGuyNJ
    The old white plaster is not the same mix as todays. It lasted much longer. Today's white plaster should be expected to last about 10 years. The aggregates such as PebbleTec and the like, will last more than 20. While substantially more, it's worth it.

    Scott
    PoolGuyNJ
    I'm not intending to hijack this post but I'm a bit confused. My pool was built in '81, white plaster. I had it replastered in '96 with medium blue plaster and the plaster, at 13 years, is holding up great although I've abused it over the years with lack of knowledge about water chemistry, and acid washed it three times due to it becoming a swamp three winters with loads of staining. (Actually it has become a swamp many more times but didn't need acid wash.) Am I lucky or was my original plaster and re-plaster just darn great jobs which, I guess, involved some luck too? The re-plaster job was done by some fellows recommended by our house remodel contractor in '96 when he was doing a big inside job here. BTW... The original plaster was not doing any delaminating, it was just thinning in spots and stained.

    gg=alice
    1981, 25K, IG, Blue Plaster 1996, somewhat oval, widens a bit at shallow end, 1.5" pipes, 2" at Pad, 1 separate main drain, 1 skimmer, 4 returns + dedicated cleaner return, 10 ft deep end with very fast decline from shallow, Pentair Quad 80 DE, Pentair Intelliflo VF, 3/4 HP Booster Pump (equipment pad about 8 ft below top of pool), Challanger 3/4 Trash/Emergency Pump 120v, Polaris 280 (pressure), iRobot Verro cleaner (robotic), Aquabot Turbo (robotic), Jacuzzi Tracker 4X (vacuum) Pool Blaster (Buster), Two (2) PoolSkims, Solar Breeze (solar powered top skimmer) (beta to ver. 2, release date 2010), ColorSplash LED replacement bulb. Aries 550 gal separate spa, 2002 (our 3rd and BEST spa) , BBB-Bromine

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    Re: fiberglass or concrete/plaster for resurfacing in Nor. Cal.

    I believe this to be a beneficial thread from which many of us can learn. It involves some disagreement based on some real world experiences which is fine.......as long as the discussion remains civil (which it certainly has to this point ).

    I hope everyone interested will continue to post.....helping others learn more .....without flaming anyone.
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: fiberglass or concrete/plaster for resurfacing in Nor. Cal.

    geek,
    I'd say you got it done right. That's why it lasted. The changes occur gradually so you might not notice the roughness, but it will increase due to erosion. The plaster will eventually thin and you will see it in the higher traffic areas like the shallow end and walls below the tile line.

    Scott
    Owner of - PoolGuyNJ LLC
    Expert Pool and Spa Repairs, Renovations, and Augmentation. Helping people decide what is the right gear for meeting their needs. Expectations Set, Expectations Met, No Surprises.

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    Re: fiberglass or concrete/plaster for resurfacing in Nor. Cal.

    Quote Originally Posted by PoolGuyNJ
    geek,
    I'd say you got it done right. That's why it lasted. The changes occur gradually so you might not notice the roughness, but it will increase due to erosion. The plaster will eventually thin and you will see it in the higher traffic areas like the shallow end and walls below the tile line.

    Scott
    Thanks Scott. I've been touting for years that it has held up well considering the "abuse". It's been somewhat rough in areas for years. Doesn't bother us but the chalking or calcium deposits, laid down prior to TFP, built up harder and deeper on the rough areas. Last year when a friend (out of town visitor - good (girlie) friend and I acid washed (during 100 F temps - yes crazy and drinking - and we did have some fun too) we concentrated on the walls mostly because the chalking was so bad on the bottom we were afraid we would remove chalking and too much plaster with the amount of acid we had to use. We even used straight 32% acid on some places on the walls. The chalking was so bad on the steps I had to use an angle grinder for a couple of hours to get it down to the plaster. I used concrete discs. After finishing the bottom step I fell and tore a rotator cuff tendon (walking down the deep end slope without rinsing the baking soda off - very slippery) so didn't get to the top two steps done.

    I did the AA treatment for stains a couple of months ago. Chalking on steps and bottom started releasing and is continuing to do so.

    BTW.... I have some video of us doing some of the work. Pretty funny (to us).

    gg=alice
    1981, 25K, IG, Blue Plaster 1996, somewhat oval, widens a bit at shallow end, 1.5" pipes, 2" at Pad, 1 separate main drain, 1 skimmer, 4 returns + dedicated cleaner return, 10 ft deep end with very fast decline from shallow, Pentair Quad 80 DE, Pentair Intelliflo VF, 3/4 HP Booster Pump (equipment pad about 8 ft below top of pool), Challanger 3/4 Trash/Emergency Pump 120v, Polaris 280 (pressure), iRobot Verro cleaner (robotic), Aquabot Turbo (robotic), Jacuzzi Tracker 4X (vacuum) Pool Blaster (Buster), Two (2) PoolSkims, Solar Breeze (solar powered top skimmer) (beta to ver. 2, release date 2010), ColorSplash LED replacement bulb. Aries 550 gal separate spa, 2002 (our 3rd and BEST spa) , BBB-Bromine

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    Re: fiberglass or concrete/plaster for resurfacing in Nor. Cal.

    Quote Originally Posted by glassguy1

    I agree that today's plaster, mixed with cement, is a better product than it was, but 10 years life expectancy is a salesman's pitch, and not reality. Regarding aggregates, they are pricier and better, but a realistic life expectancy is more like 12 years, with luck and extremely good water chemistry.

    Bill
    SwimmingPoolResurfacing.com
    Now I have to disagree ! The plaster today is much less durable than it was 10-15 years ago. Old formulation plaster was a mix of cement and silica sand, and today's formulation is a mixture of cement and limestone. Silica is a 7 on the Mohs scale, and limestone is a 3! Your fingernails are roughly a 2 1/2, as a reference!

    I will stand by the claim that plaster should give 10 years service if properly maintained, and aggregates double or better, again if properly maintained. My P-Tec pool is 8 years old and shows zero sign of aging, and I know of P-Tec pools that are nearing 15 years that look great as well. In fact, in nearly 15 years in the business I have never seen a P-Tec pool go "bad". Not that they couldn't, just that I have yet to have seen one.

    The problem with the fiberglass outfits in my area is that they tend to be in and out of business in 2-5 years, which gives them a bad name. I see very little fiberglass in this area, so it really isn't much of an option. But I do see a lot of plaster and aggregate pools on a daily basis and I see how they hold up. Maintenance, as with everything, is always the key to getting the most out of what you have!

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    Re: fiberglass or concrete/plaster for resurfacing in Nor. Cal.

    Quote Originally Posted by simicrintz
    Now I have to disagree ! The plaster today is much less durable than it was 10-15 years ago. Old formulation plaster was a mix of cement and silica sand, and today's formulation is a mixture of cement and limestone. Silica is a 7 on the Mohs scale, and limestone is a 3! Your fingernails are roughly as 2 1/2, as a reference!
    Hey Bruce, how come the change in formulation? Is the old formulation available if requested?

    I could be wrong, but I think my pool still has the original plaster and it was built in the late '70s!!! Sure it needs a plaster job pretty bad, but I intend on limping along for a couple more years even...30+ years is not too bad for durability!
    20K gal IG plaster pool, Manually chlorinated with 6% bleach, 1.5 HP Sta-Rite Dura-Glas II pump, Pentair FNS Plus 48 DE filter, Polaris 280

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    Re: fiberglass or concrete/plaster for resurfacing in Nor. Cal.

    Quote Originally Posted by simicrintz
    Old formulation plaster was a mix of cement and silica sand, and today's formulation is a mixture of cement and limestone.
    I just had another thought...if today's plaster includes limestone instead of silica, then wouldn't saltwater(SWG) be an especially bad combination for a modern plaster pool?
    20K gal IG plaster pool, Manually chlorinated with 6% bleach, 1.5 HP Sta-Rite Dura-Glas II pump, Pentair FNS Plus 48 DE filter, Polaris 280

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    Re: fiberglass or concrete/plaster for resurfacing in Nor. Cal.

    Interesting, I just was contacted by someone who does fiberglassing - wants to swap "referrals"....

    Looks interesting, this guy has a different view of PTec Vs. Plaster (obviously, and I have no pools that I care for that are FG): http://www.repairmypool.com/plasterdiscussion.htm

    - Jeff
    ~45Kg Pool with attached Spa, NSP-72 DE, Minmax 400 Heater, Tahoe Blue Pebbletech, Jandy SWG via Aqualink RS-8, The Pool Cleaner (black)
    Pumps: X3 Hybrid Pump (switches to SPA), 2HP Spa (additional, when SPA is on), and a 1HP For Waterfall
    8, 4x12 Solar Panels on the roof of the pool-house (~12' up)
    CAPTAIN JAMES T. KIRK: "I'M SORRY. I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER THE SOUND OF HOW AWESOME I AM" (Thanks to TFP!)

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    Re: fiberglass or concrete/plaster for resurfacing in Nor. Cal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beez
    Quote Originally Posted by simicrintz
    Now I have to disagree ! The plaster today is much less durable than it was 10-15 years ago. Old formulation plaster was a mix of cement and silica sand, and today's formulation is a mixture of cement and limestone. Silica is a 7 on the Mohs scale, and limestone is a 3! Your fingernails are roughly as 2 1/2, as a reference!
    Hey Bruce, how come the change in formulation? Is the old formulation available if requested?

    I could be wrong, but I think my pool still has the original plaster and it was built in the late '70s!!! Sure it needs a plaster job pretty bad, but I intend on limping along for a couple more years even...30+ years is not too bad for durability!
    The folks that work with silica and breath the dust get silicosis, so it has been phased out. You can get a quartz blend (see Scotia White pool plaster as an example) but I know of no silica based product any longer.

    I have seen pools that were built in the 70's with "good" plaster still. It has to do with that old formulation (like the old lead paint and leaded gas!) and probably some decent water chemistry along the way! Sometimes as we progress we fall behind (but people are probably a little bit safer for it!)!

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    Re: fiberglass or concrete/plaster for resurfacing in Nor. Cal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beez
    Quote Originally Posted by simicrintz
    Old formulation plaster was a mix of cement and silica sand, and today's formulation is a mixture of cement and limestone.
    I just had another thought...if today's plaster includes limestone instead of silica, then wouldn't saltwater(SWG) be an especially bad combination for a modern plaster pool?
    I think that since the plaster stays consistently wet and the salt is in such low ppm, there aren't a lot of issues. I do see quite a bit of issues on flagstone coping from the salt systems though, but that seems to take being wet and drying out to make that occur. My thinking is that is allows more expansion within the flagstone as the salt holds more water than just the stone alone, and once it permeates the stone it allows for more damage.

    Not sure how scientific that is, but I do seem to see more issues on flagstone pools with SWCG's than ones without!

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    Re: fiberglass or concrete/plaster for resurfacing in Nor. Cal.

    Quote Originally Posted by taekwondodo
    Interesting, I just was contacted by someone who does fiberglassing - wants to swap "referrals"....

    Looks interesting, this guy has a different view of PTec Vs. Plaster (obviously, and I have no pools that I care for that are FG): http://www.repairmypool.com/plasterdiscussion.htm

    - Jeff
    Jeff - The owner of that domain (repairmypool.com) is well known to those of us in the industry. He has had more web sites than you could imagine over the past 10 years, and he may possibly have destroyed more gunite pools using shot-on resin than anyone else in the state of California. You may notice his company name or his personal name appears nowhere on the site. I'll let him remain anonymous, at least for now.

    Does a heavy Australian accent ring a bell?

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    Re: fiberglass or concrete/plaster for resurfacing in Nor. Cal.

    Quote Originally Posted by glassguy1
    Quote Originally Posted by taekwondodo
    Interesting, I just was contacted by someone who does fiberglassing - wants to swap "referrals"....

    Looks interesting, this guy has a different view of PTec Vs. Plaster (obviously, and I have no pools that I care for that are FG): http://www.repairmypool.com/plasterdiscussion.htm

    - Jeff
    Jeff - The owner of that domain (repairmypool.com) is well known to those of us in the industry. He has had more web sites than you could imagine over the past 10 years, and he may possibly have destroyed more gunite pools using shot-on resin than anyone else in the state of California. You may notice his company name or his personal name appears nowhere on the site. I'll let him remain anonymous, at least for now.

    Does a heavy Australian accent ring a bell?
    Are you sure that is an Australian accent ?!!

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    Re: fiberglass or concrete/plaster for resurfacing in Nor. Cal.

    Quote Originally Posted by simicrintz
    Quote Originally Posted by glassguy1
    Quote Originally Posted by taekwondodo
    Interesting, I just was contacted by someone who does fiberglassing - wants to swap "referrals"....

    Looks interesting, this guy has a different view of PTec Vs. Plaster (obviously, and I have no pools that I care for that are FG): http://www.repairmypool.com/plasterdiscussion.htm

    - Jeff
    Jeff - The owner of that domain (repairmypool.com) is well known to those of us in the industry. He has had more web sites than you could imagine over the past 10 years, and he may possibly have destroyed more gunite pools using shot-on resin than anyone else in the state of California. You may notice his company name or his personal name appears nowhere on the site. I'll let him remain anonymous, at least for now.

    Does a heavy Australian accent ring a bell?
    Are you sure that is an Australian accent ?!!
    Australian or British with first name Peter.

  20. Back To Top    #20

    Re: fiberglass or concrete/plaster for resurfacing in Nor. Cal.

    I never called him... as I noticed the "lack" of info on his site on contact/references/etc... and, espescially after reading this thread. I have a few customers that are "due" for a re-plaster, and would really love someone to recommend come this spring.

    - Jeff
    ~45Kg Pool with attached Spa, NSP-72 DE, Minmax 400 Heater, Tahoe Blue Pebbletech, Jandy SWG via Aqualink RS-8, The Pool Cleaner (black)
    Pumps: X3 Hybrid Pump (switches to SPA), 2HP Spa (additional, when SPA is on), and a 1HP For Waterfall
    8, 4x12 Solar Panels on the roof of the pool-house (~12' up)
    CAPTAIN JAMES T. KIRK: "I'M SORRY. I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER THE SOUND OF HOW AWESOME I AM" (Thanks to TFP!)

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