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By: Marc Sheridan on May 26th, 2009

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

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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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