(De) Constructing a Hot Tub or Swim Spa Shell

July 10, 2019

 

When deciding what kind of swim spa or hot tub to buy for your home, there are many great options available worldwide. The major factor to consider is the construction materials of the spa and their country of origin, and quality and integrity of the components. Selection of your construction material is an important decision to make before you buy because the type of material your hot tub or swim spa is built with will determine:

  • The durability and strength

  • Number of years your swim spa pool will hold up

  • Maintenance issues

  • Flexibility of customization and design elements

Make an informed decision that best suits your needs and lifestyle

WHAT IS AN ACRYLIC SPA?

Is it a fiberglass (gel coat) or acrylic shell?  An acrylic pool shell is common for many swim spas, hot tubs and residential pools. It is usually a lower cost option, but may require upkeep and recurring maintenance. The acrylic spa quality depends on how thick the acrylic layer is, as well as what material makes up the substructure. Acrylic swim spa pools with a hand-rolled fiberglass substructure are considered highest quality and more durable.  

DISADVANTAGES

Difficult to Repair – If your acrylic pool cracks or blisters, it is hard to restore it back to the way it was when it came out of the factory.

Damages in the Sun – There is the potential for degradation of the acrylic un UV rays.

BENEFITS
  •  Quick Installation – Most acrylic swim spas and hot tubs are easy and fast to install.

WHAT IS A FIBERGLASS SPA?

A fiberglass spa is made out of that same material as the exterior of a fiberglass boat. There are multiple fabrication methods – some are structurally independent but most require some support.

 

Only free standing spas designed with layers of fiberglass, resin, and a gelcoat enclosed around a balsa wood core are structurally sound. A polymer resin sprayed onto a spa shell is allowed to harden then removed from the shell and sprayed with fiberglass for strength. Marquis Swim Spas and SwimX Swim spas are Gelcoat.
 

CONS
  • Gelcoat fiberglass spas cost slightly less than acrylic fiberglass but are considered less durable over the lifespan of the spa as this gelcoat material easily stains, cracks and peels, blisters, and fades.

  • Gelcoat generally requires more routine maintenance and often needs resurfacing after five years.

  • Higher Initial Costs – If you are looking at buying a home with a swim spa pool or hot tub, you’re making an investment for your home and your health and wellness. That being said, fiberglass pools tend to be more expensive up front compared to acrylic.

  • Matching the factory color if you need to make repairs – If something happens and you have to repair your spa shell, a Gelcoat finish is the easiest to repair to look as good as new.

PROS
  • Put it anywhere – Fiberglass pools are built with a solid shell. Only a few are self-supporting. This allows you to install your pool indoors, outdoors, above ground, partially above ground, or in-ground.

  • Take it with you when you move – If you plan on moving in the future and want to bring the swim spa or hot tub to your new residence, you can install it above-ground and then easily transport it to your new home.

  • Gelcoat surface makes the pool smooth and prevents algae from adhering to the walls – Swim spa pools that have a Gelcoat finish provide a surface that feels nice to the touch, and is easy to maintain.

  • Fast Installation – Fiberglass swim spas and hot tubs are built off-site, and then brought to your home in one piece or can be assembled on site in a few days.

  • Built-in steps and seats – This is a convenient option, particularly if you want to be able to use your pool for hydrotherapy exercises or simply want steps for ease of use.

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