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

Posted by Jason Hughes

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

Advantages:

  • 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. 

 

Disadvantages:

  • 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

Advantages:

  • 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.

 Disadvantages:

  • 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 warranty....read 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

 Advantages:

  • 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.

Disadvantages:

  • 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!

 

 

Tags: Product Information, Why Choose a Fiberglass Pool, Why Choose Fiberglass over Concrete, fiberglass swimming pools

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