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Fiberglass Pools vs Vinyl Liner Pools vs Concrete Pools: An Honest Comparison


Fiberglass Pools vs Vinyl Liner Pools vs Concrete Pools:  An Honest Comparison

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Is there an unbiased comparison of inground fiberglass pools, vinyl liner pools, and concrete pools on the internet?  A client who recently purchased my swimming pool ebook "6 Steps to Pool and Patio Success" doesn't think so.  He stated in an email:

"As you're no doubt well aware, it's a desert wasteland when trying to find information on pools.... Sorting through the internet for useable information is difficult in the extreme.  Of the few forums I've found, most devolve into trolls arguing gunite vs. fiberglass vs. vinyl liner - over and over and over and over. "

"What would help a great deal is to find some kind of unbiased information that explains each pool in detail and then backs off - letting me (or the customer) make the final decision."

Well, Michael, this article is my effort to provide an objective source of information about the three types of inground swimming pools. The approach is simple.  I list the advantages and disadvantages of inground fiberglass pools, vinyl liner pools, and concrete pools......then "back off" so you can form your own opinion.   

Here you go:

Fiberglass Pools: Pros and Cons


  • Low maintenance: The gel coat surface of the fiberglass pool shell is nonporous.  This inhibits the growth of algae and reduces the amount of sanitizing chemicals required to maintain the pool. 
  • Little or No lifetime cost: 99% of the time there is never any money invested in the shell of fiberglass pools.  No vinyl liner to replace and no resurfacing.
  • Non-abrasive surface: The gel coat surface of fiberglass pools is smooth to the touch.
  • Built-in Seats and Steps: Most fiberglass pool designs have seating and all have steps incorporated into the shell of the pool.
  • Manufactured in controlled environment: Fiberglass pools are built in the controlled climate of a factory. 
  • Quick installation: Because the shells of fiberglass pools are built off site, the installation occurs more rapidly....3-5 weeks on average. 



  • Limited shapes and designs:  Because fiberglass pools are built from a mold, the consumer is limited to the shapes and sizes offered by the various fiberglass pool manufacturers.
  • No wider than 16':  Fiberglass Pools are shipped via the road.  Shipping restrictions limit the width of the fiberglass pool shell to 16'.
  • Higher initial cost:  Fiberglass pools are more of an initial investment; usually at least $5k more than vinyl liner pools and about the same as concrete pools.  

Vinyl Liner Pools: Pros and Cons


  • Low initial cost:  Vinyl Liner Pools have the lowest initial cost of any of the three types of inground pools.
  • Customizable shape and size:  There are no limitations of the length, width, and depth of Vinyl Liner Pools.
  • Vinyl liner pools are nonabrasive:  The vinyl liner material is smooth to the touch.
  • Doesn't foster algae: The vinyl material used in vinyl liner pools is also relatively non-porous so it inhibits algae growth.


  • Higher lifetime cost:  On average a vinyl liner will last between 7 and 15 years at a replacement expense of $2,500-$3,500 plus the cost of water. 
  • Liner warranties pro-rated:  Many vinyl liner manufacturers have a 20 year pro-rated the fine print. 
  • Have to use pool with care:  Dogs, kids throwing stuff in the pool, tree limbs, etc. are all concerns.  The liner is only 20-30 mil thick, which is the thickness of several sheets of paper.  One mistake could cost you big bucks.
  • Lower resale value:  When you go to sell a home with a vinyl liner pool, one of the first questions asked is "how old is the liner?"  If it's more than 3-4 years old, there's a significant chance a request will be made to replace the liner before the sale of the house, or the value of the pool will be depreciated. 

Concrete Pools: Pros and Cons


  • As big as you want:  Concrete pools can be any size, shape, or depth.
  • More flexibility with design features:  Vanishing edges, beach entries, tanning ledges, etc. are all just a sketch away from reality with concrete pools.
  • Works of art:  Concrete Pools can be integrated into design as a literal work of art in the landscape.


  • High lifetime cost:  Concrete pools will need to be renovated every 10-20 years.  This involves resurfacing and re-tiling the pool at an expense of $8k-$15k or much higher depending on the pool.
  • More chemical use:  Because the surface of concrete pools is very porous, more chemicals and filtration are required to prevent algae.  The alkaline pH of the pool shell also constantly raises the pH of the water, requiring the frequent adding of acid to counteract the effect.
  • More maintenance:  Concrete pools also need to be frequently broomed or swept with a pool brush to remove algae from the pours of the plaster or aggregate surface. 
  • Longer install time:  Concrete pools take longer to install....usually 2-4 months.  

Still have questions? If so, contact us directly or leave your thoughts below!



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can a dog damage a fiberglass pool?. We have a lab and she loves to swim, would not be able to keep her out if we installed a pool.
Posted @ Saturday, November 13, 2010 8:19 AM by
We currently have a vinyl liner it is time to replace. Is it possible to go with a fiberglass pool at this time, or are we stuck with replacing the vinyl liner
Posted @ Monday, November 14, 2011 3:42 PM by Phil
I have a 20 year old fiberglass pool that is showing signs of its age... Cracks, fading, black stains and rough spots... Can you recommend should I tear out my pool and replace it with another fiberglass pool or should I plan for a concrete pool?
Posted @ Tuesday, September 25, 2012 12:00 PM by Chuck Baumann
Concrete is traditionally the material that comes to mind when thinking of constructing a swimming pool, and while it has remained a popular selection for decades, today's home owners have a more cost effective option should they decide to go a different route. This alternate material is vinyl, which is simply inserted in liner form on the inside. Choosing between the two can be challenging, and it is important to first understand where the two materials differ before coming to a decision.
Posted @ Saturday, January 05, 2013 7:55 AM by Gianna Cooke
Hi, Does a fibreglass-lined concrete pool offer the advantages of both fibreglass shell and concreted pools?
Posted @ Monday, February 04, 2013 10:15 AM by tony petzer
I would also like to know about the advantages of a fibreglassed lined concrete pool and approx cost to fibreglass as I am about to resurface my concrete pool
Posted @ Saturday, February 16, 2013 7:59 PM by Irene
I have an underground empty 20 some feet longX 12 ft wide and a slope from 3 to 10 feet deep concrete swimming pool. It needs new piping, heater, motor, filter system, resurface( concrete/vinyl?). Do you have any idea who can give me some estimates. I live in Orange County, California.  
Posted @ Friday, February 22, 2013 10:23 PM by Olga Andrade
i have an inground pool with vinyle liner.want to replace the liner with someting else the pool is 9.5 ft deep what are my options 
Posted @ Monday, February 25, 2013 10:54 AM by cindy grones
If you want an alternative to the liner, there are companies who specialize in fiberglassing existing pools but it isn't cheap and probably won't hold up too much longer than a liner. It will be lower maintenance and you won't have to worry about objects puncturing the pool. Good luck!
Posted @ Wednesday, March 06, 2013 8:44 AM by Jason
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I want to encourage you continue your great work, have a nice weekend! 
Posted @ Friday, March 08, 2013 5:34 AM by potent water care pvt .ltd
I personally prefer concrete pools for obvious reason but fiber glass pools are extremely easy to maintain. Much thought needs to be given to choose between the two.
Posted @ Tuesday, March 12, 2013 9:39 AM by Sam Bhullar
Technological revolution of Concrete Curing Compound by performing the concrete repair process has been implement here to denoting the best statical data. 
Posted @ Saturday, March 23, 2013 3:07 AM by Concrete Curing Compound
I have a fiberglass pool and want to replace it. Can I remove the fiberglass liner and put in concrete?
Posted @ Tuesday, March 26, 2013 12:12 PM by Linda Crowther
thanks for putting out unbiased info on the types we are trying to decide know between fiberglass and vinyl liner, this article was very helpful
Posted @ Friday, April 12, 2013 6:54 PM by ben
Great Article! This really provides comprehensive information for homeowners who are overwhelmed by the different materials for pool construction. I for one am vinyl pool owner in the North East and couldn't be happier!
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Very good and accurate comparison of Fiberglass, vinyl, and Gunite. The pool industry would be much better thought of if honest people like your were in greater numbers.
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Posted @ Friday, July 05, 2013 1:43 PM by Pool Builders
Fiberglass is a lightweight, extremely strong, and robust material. Although strength properties are somewhat lower than carbon fiber and it is less stiff, the material is typically far less brittle, and the raw materials are much less expensive. Its bulk strength and weight properties are also very favorable when compared to metals, and it can be easily formed using molding processes. 
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Posted @ Monday, August 12, 2013 12:14 PM by Pool Builders St Louis
I would prefer fiberglass . coz i had a good experience with fiberglass ladder which was in my pool.  
It was strong. Now going for another fiberglass ladder. This time it would be a multi purpose ladder :D
Posted @ Wednesday, August 21, 2013 7:01 AM by Fiberglass Ladder
Give me an idea/advice what's the best optioin or choice to make. 
I have to choose between building a concrete pool or a fiberglass pool
Posted @ Thursday, August 22, 2013 10:10 PM by Jose
comparing them is really important that much and I guess i can always make the right one for this.
Posted @ Saturday, August 24, 2013 12:25 PM by Attracting new customers
In making a business decision, I would look at the advantages first then examine what are the setbacks. Quality should not be compromised at any time.
Posted @ Monday, September 02, 2013 3:43 AM by Walter @ business
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Posted @ Thursday, September 05, 2013 4:58 AM by MAt
In my opiniion fiberglass pools is the best choice. Your comparison by the way is really useful. Thanks
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Posted @ Friday, October 04, 2013 12:42 PM by Pool Builders St Louis
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Fibreglass ladders should be preferred by industrial people as it is sturdy strong and well built.  
Posted @ Wednesday, October 16, 2013 7:42 AM by Preeti
"Is there an unbiased comparison of inground fiberglass pools, vinyl liner pools, and concrete pools on the internet? A client who recently purchased my swimming pool ebook "6 Steps to Pool and Patio Success" doesn't think so. " 
- i don't know anything about this one here yet. I am loving it. 
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Posted @ Sunday, November 03, 2013 6:02 AM by Angeline
Fiberglass pools are built in the controlled climate of a factory.
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thanks for putting out unbiased info on the types we are trying to decide know between fiberglass and vinyl liner, this article was very helpful
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That is awesome! I was looking at West Coast Pool Liners to see what I could find. I really want an infinity pool.
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Live near Wilmington NC, looking to put a pool in.Who is the best Fiberglass pool installer and who provides the best pool shell.
Posted @ Sunday, March 30, 2014 4:03 PM by Victor
I think that I would go with a fiberglass hot-tub and a vinyl pool. I would want to have a larger pool, but I do like having seats in my hot-tubs. I will have to talk to my wife about pulling a pool into our back yard.  
Posted @ Wednesday, May 07, 2014 3:59 PM by Jason
I'm having a new liner put in a 16x32 above ground pool with deck all the way around. I'm having to spend $3000 to have it installed professionally. (I Hope)!! That only includes the extended liner, coping strips, new face plate for skimmer and labor. Isn't that a bit MUCH?
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