Evolution of the Fiberglass Pool

Photo courtesy Thursday Pools
Photo courtesy Thursday Pools

The natural evolution of consumer products is from the basic to the more complex, as form and functionality change to satisfy the desires of the customer. Manufactured products follow this path, from cars to coat hangers, as subsequent inventors look to build something a little better than what came before.

Within the pool and spa industry, we’ve seen the same process with pumps, heaters, vacuum systems and lights, to name just a few. It’s interesting to see how consumer wants drive engineering change.

Decades ago, the fiberglass pool sector produced rectangular boxes in which you could keep your pool water. The surface was great — wonderfully impervious to the corrosive effects of water — but the confines of the rectangle shape left consumers wanting more.

They wanted tanning shelves, for instance, and steps of all description and beach entry slopes and polygon perimeter shapes with radii. And over the years, fiberglass manufacturers have engineered these features into fiberglass.

In the last year, Thursday Pools has added the sunken living room, the next step in this continuing evolution. The Thursday Pools Innovation team got the concept from a sunken living room in the backyard of a home in the Mansion section of the Wall Street Journal.

“I looked at the photo in the paper and thought, it sure would be great if we could do that with a fiberglass pool,” remembers Ed Vondell, COO of the company.

The commitment to building the new pool began in May 2018 and eventually led to the first installation of a fiberglass pool with a sunken living room in June of 2020. The honor went to Paradise Pools, Cleveland, Ohio.

“Our company likes doing things for the first time,” says Bob Thompson, COO. “We were one of the first fiberglass pool builders in Ohio, which was heavily dominated by vinyl liner pools. And several years back, we were the first builder to install a freeform shaped fiberglass pool when that was new to the market.

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One thing I like about this pool is they planned for the potential issues that might occur with hydrostatic pressure, which was my only real concern with the design — that there is a dry well in the pool. Thursday Pools created a system of louvers that connects with their backfill eliminator system to ensure that any water that might accumulate from heavy rains, for example, would move out and away from the area under the dry well of the sunken living area. So the design of the sunken living room area has a system built-in to ensure any water has somewhere to go to protect it from hydrostatic pressure.”

As fast as product development went, the process was complicated because Thursday Pools not only wanted to offer a dry, sunken living room, but to also offer multiple options — including a built-in spa, a golfing area, a stand-up bar or the dry, sunken living room.

Thursday had to create different inserts and molds for each of the different options the company wanted to incorporate into the sunken living area concept. “We had to come up with a design and a manufacturing system that gave us the flexibility to create the combination the consumer wants for their sunken living area,” explains Bill Khamis, CFO of Thursday Pools.

Proceeding along the natural course of product evolution, the product combines the current popularity of backyard sunken living areas with the aquatic environment. “These areas have become popular in the past few years and are seen in many architectural, backyard and landscaping designs, so it was only natural that the market would respond positively to having this same design incorporated into their pool,” says Vondell.

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Vondell explains that there was a lot of thought and research that went into thinking about how to ensure this pool would be successful. One thing Vondell and his team discovered was that friends and family want to sit together outside whether they are in the pool, outdoor furniture or around a fire pit. They want to be sitting together, but not everyone wants to be in the pool. Some people want to sit on the edge with just their feet in the water, but they don’t want to be sitting far away from the comfortable seating that might be many feet away from the pool.

“This provides the perfect solution,” explains Vondell. “It allows everyone to be close together easily chatting, whether they are sitting in the sunken living area, sitting on the pool edge with their feet in the water, or sitting in the built-in hot tub while others are swimming in the pool while being close to the kids swimming in the water.”


This article first appeared in the March 2021 issue of AQUA Magazine — the top resource for retailers, builders and service pros in the pool and spa industry. Subscriptions to the print magazine are free to all industry professionals. Click here to subscribe.


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