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Fiberglass Swimming Pools vs Concrete Swimming Pools: Which is better?


Concrete Swimming Pools versus Fiberglass Swimming Pools: Which is Better?

By Marcus Sheridan/

Ahhhh...So the debate rages on. Which is better? Are concrete pools the best choice? Or has fiberglass taken over as the preferred pool of the 21st century? I'm sure you've heard arguments for both. And what you've likely heard has been quite biased.

You see, most installers only install one type of pool. If they install fiberglass, then they say fiberglass is the ONLY way to go. If they install concrete, then they say such statements as, "A pool is not a pool unless it's concrete" or "Why would you ever even consider fiberglass?" or "All of your friends have gotten concrete, you're not going to get something different are you?" or "You'll never find a shape you want." Etc, etc, etc... And if you talk to a friend that owns a concrete pool, then they'll likely tell you to choose concrete. Likewise for the friend that owns a fiberglass pool.

So let me clarify a few points for you now:

  • Fiberglass may or may not be the right pool for you. It is NOT for everybody.
  • Concrete (gunite) may or may not be the right pool for you. It is NOT for everybody.

And now for your TRUE guide to picking the right pool for you. You should choose a concrete pool if:

  • You are looking for a VERY customized shape or size not offered in the fiberglass line. (An example of this would be an "L" shaped pool or a pool wider than 16')
  • You are looking for a pool DEEPER than 8'. This would be because you've decided on a very springy diving board and you want to be able to do many tricks and unique dives off of said board.
  • You are not concerned with expensive repairs down the road.
  • You are not concerned with the maintenance time you spend with the pool on a weekly basis.
  • You are trying to create a complete naturescape. In other words, you want the pool to have many natural rock features, grottos, possibly a 'pond' appearance, etc. (Although one may argue fiberglass pools can look very natural, I still have yet to see a natural masterpiece as I have seen many times with some very high-end gunite projects.
  • You are looking for a beach entry. (There are a few fiberglass pools with something similar to a beach entry, but it's still not quite the same design you'll find in a concrete pool.)
  • You are NOT concerned with concrete's roughness on your feet. (I've had second time pool owners choose fiberglass simply because their concrete pool tore up their children's feet too much. This is pretty standard with most concrete/gunite pools.)

You should choose a fiberglass pool if:

  • You are looking for the LEAST amount of swimming pool maintenance possible on a daily/weekly basis.
  • You are looking for a swimming pool that will likely have no major repairs/expenses (structurally speaking) down the road.
  • You are looking for a quick pool install.
  • You are looking for a pool on the smaller end of large. In other words, you are looking for a size that is roughly 16'x40' or less. " You are looking for a pool that will have 'flex' strength if need be. (For example, let's say you live next to a rock quarry where there is constant ground vibration.)

So there you have it. See which list fits your needs the best and that's what you should go with. (Yes, I am a 'Fiberglass Pool Guy' and I did just say that there are times when you should absolutely choose concrete. Isn't nice to actually get some professional, unbiased advice? ;-) And if you want to listen to the counsel of your friends, listen to the ones that have owned BOTH types of pools, not just one or the other. For example, of the 500+ fiberglass pools our company has installed, roughly 10 of the customers owned a concrete pool previously. Because of the drawbacks of concrete, they chose to take a different route the second time around. These people are the true pool comparison experts.

Notice also that I have not mentioned the pool's appearance on this concrete vs fiberglass page. This is because I have seen absolutely stunning concrete AND fiberglass pools. It's all about the builder's capabilities as well as the buyer's budget. In fact, when our company presents at a home show, many onlookers see our pool photos and assume we do concrete. Of course, this is not the case but it just so happens that both pools can be very beautiful and elegant, or very boring and cheap, depending on a variety of project factors and decisions.

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We are trying to get a pool installed in Nevada. We want Fiberglass, specifically a Leisure Pool. The quote we got for the Leisure Fiberglass pool (15x40 pool) was 9K more than for Gunite(25 K versus near 34K). I can see a 2K to even 5 K difference, but 9K seems like highway robbery. Does anyone else agree? I think the gunite is pushed as the subcontractors (concrete etc) here are willing to work for near nothing so the profit taking is higher on the concrete pool.
Posted @ Saturday, July 24, 2010 10:55 PM by DAN
Hi Dan, and I do understand your dilemma. Really what this comes down to is the fact that the material/cost of goods for a fiberglass pool are much greater than that of concrete. If a pool builder is going to cut price, it's easiest to do it in labor, which is why you're getting such a cheap price for a concrete pool. Frankly, the labor base in Vegas allows for cheaper concrete pools to go in. If you were in Virginia, things would be much different. Notwithstanding, the price you've been given for a fiberglass pool of that size is very, very low. Also, if you think you may be in your home for some time, what you 'save' now will be spent later---potentially. I know it's a tough decision but if you like fiberglass more, and you feel it fits your needs more, than you shouldn't be basing your final decision on price. That's just not a good long-term approach.
Posted @ Wednesday, July 28, 2010 12:54 PM by Marcus Sheridan
We are in the pool market too. We live on the North Shore of Massachusetts - short swimming season, snowy cold winters, wet soggy Springs. Will fiberglass hold up to our weather? For me this is not about price at all, its about which will look better the longest, stand up to our severe seasonal weather, everyone I know around here has gunite...
Posted @ Wednesday, July 27, 2011 8:56 AM by ANNE
ANNE, Viking Fiberglass pools are considered to be up to 16 times stronger than concrete. They come with a 20 year surface warranty and a lifetime structure warranty. Check them out
Posted @ Wednesday, January 25, 2012 9:13 PM by Jon
I'm currently researching in ground pools. Very overwhelming. We live in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pa. Leaning toward fiberglass, but, not sure. Our first in ground pool... The design choices and sizes work for our revtangular space, as, I'm working around existing landscaping and a beautiful paver patio. Can u please give advice any key " must haves"/ what to look out for " as a move further with my research. Thank you for your time.
Posted @ Saturday, April 28, 2012 6:36 AM by Emma
We live about 50 yards from a creek. We were advised to go with steel walls and a concrete floor bc if the water table rises, it may be able to lift a fiberglass pool up and ruin the foundation. 
Not sure how reliable this advice is but it makes sense. We went with steel and concrete. Our nieghbor went with fiberglass and they built the pool up almost five feet. It looks funny with a five foot mound in their bsck yard.
Posted @ Thursday, August 30, 2012 3:19 PM by Shawn Gregg
Posted @ Thursday, August 30, 2012 3:21 PM by Shawn Gregg
We are hoping to install a fiberglass pool. We live 30 miles north of San Antonio. Our concern is we want our pool installed about 2feet from our home foundation. It would run about 12feet along our foundation. Has anyone put a pool close to their home foundation? And will we encounter problems along the way?
Posted @ Saturday, April 06, 2013 9:42 AM by Glenda
I am no expert on this subject, but recently I had an engineer over at my house to give me a quote on some foundation work. I happened to mention that we were thinking about getting a pool and he said to put it as far away from the house as reasonable. You may want to reach out to a structural engineer just to ask. This may vary depending on your soil type. We have clay/gumbo type here in Louisiana. It may also depend on the type of pool. We were thinking about vinyl and that may be why he responded the way that he did. There may not be an issue with gunite/concrete or fiberglass pools.  
Posted @ Tuesday, May 07, 2013 10:18 AM by Sam
Fiberglass and concrete swimming pool are very interesting and useful thing for the people. When somebody want to make a swimming pool think about how to make the pool. When people don't get the place to make the pool they try to make in the fiberglass pool and there are many type of designs available for the pool, in the concrete pool so many space required for the making. 
Posted @ Thursday, December 26, 2013 11:34 PM by Hulk
Considering a rectangular (10X20) in-ground pool in Las Vegas. Spoke to a pool builder who builds only concrete pools. He says fiberglass pools do not hold up to the Nevada heat. Is there any truth to that?
Posted @ Friday, January 24, 2014 11:32 AM by Glenn
If you have a glass of water and a plastic cup of water,which is cleaner? The fact is with regards to maintenance that both pools need to be kept clean. It is only when a pool is left to become a frog pond that Fiberglass is easier to clean. If either pool maintained well enough to swim in,then you have spent the same amount of time and money doing so. BTW I build both types.
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Posted @ Monday, June 30, 2014 9:31 PM by POLO
Unbiased my ass..
Posted @ Monday, June 30, 2014 11:13 PM by Carl
You have given true comparison I like it and I hope all the pool lover would like it. I add something that in both type of pool leaks can be occur, which can destroy the beauty so keep  
Pond Pro 2000 with you.
Posted @ Monday, October 27, 2014 1:06 AM by Latoya
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