Why we don't use glass for pools
Glass and acrylic are the two options when it comes to making a see through swimming pools. People often confuse the two as acrylic is commonly know as Plexiglass, Lucite, Lexan. These are common brand names for PMMA plastic but today we are talking about glass and why we don't normally use them for pools.
Glass is a popular building material due to its many benefits and relatively cheap production costs. It's used for most buildings along side our own pool walls. Glass is extremely rigid making it very scratch resistant and strong material for outdoor use. Our pool glass is typically 3/4 inch sheet of glass layered with a special glue to that does not come apart or allow any discoloration. We use tempered low iron glass that is closer to 91% transparent compared to normal glass with 83% light transmittance.
Acrylic is a synthetic material that is commonly used in a variety of applications, including building construction, automotive manufacturing, and household items. Acrylic is known for its transparency, durability, and versatility. Acrylic more transparent that glass and does not have any hues. The refractive index for acrylic is similar to water giving a perfect view into your pool.
In building construction, acrylic is often used as a substitute for glass due to its strength and durability. Acrylic sheets are lighter and more impact-resistant than glass, making them ideal for use in areas where safety is a concern, such as holding in 40 tons of water.
For most of our clear pool builds we do not use glass and the biggest reason for that is the way the materials act. Glass is very rigid which does not make it a good option to choose dynamic loads like water that tend to mould the material over time. This is why we have an 7' foot length and 2' height limit for our glass builds for safety. Glass is extremely heavy as well making it harder to install and ship. Any chips, cracks or damage can happen when transporting glass making it a little riskier to ship than acrylic. Often times there is damage to the glass that would require a new panel to be placed. Chipped glass is not repairable and will only get worse over time with the dynamic load of water. Keep in mind these walls are keeping in up to 40 tons of water. Our acrylic is made with virgin Lucite® that we mould and add our own special uv-inhibiting formula that is warrantied up to 20 years for yellowing and brittling. Our acrylic is almost invisible to the naked eye at the right angle and has a clarity on average above 93% while glass regular glass is closer to 83%.
The two biggest benefits of glass is its price and scratch resistance. When it comes down to manufacturing a custom acrylic panels the costs can be very high compared to layering glass sheets thats already made. The other benefits Is actual lead time. Our glass panels take on average 2-4 weeks to manufacture and deliver while our acrylic panels can take up to 6-10 weeks to manufacture and deliver. Glass is very scratch resistant due to its rigidity while acrylic is a lot softer and can be scratched. Acrylic is easily repairable while glass is not.
Glass is an amazing material that is cheap, easy to make, and scratch resistant. There is a time and place for a glass pool but the overall choice is to stick with Acrylic for pools, but with certain clients choosing the look and scratch resistance of glass. At the end of the day we focus on safety and acrylic is the safer choice although more expensive.