Concrete Pools vs. Fiberglass Pools: Bad Buying Decisions People Make
Ok, so this is one of those articles where some readers might argue that I'm extremely biased because I sell fiberglass pools and so therefore the points herein aren't relevant. Frankly though, I pride myself in being one of the few ‘pool guys' who will often times recommend to a shopper that they choose another product other than my own. Let me give you an example.
I recently had a customer who was very interested in having a fiberglass pool installed. His neighbor had just gotten a fiberglass pool from our company and spoke very, very highly of the product. So the potential client called me up and said something to the nature of, "I really like fiberglass pools, but I have one really big concern." I asked him what his concern was and he said, "I must have two things with my inground pool. I must have a diving board and I must have a very large play area for my kids. Do you have a pool that will fit this need?" Many fiberglass pool contractors would try to give some type of ‘yes' answer to such a question but without any reservation on my part, I gave this customer a succinct ‘No'.
You see, when it comes down to it, any normal pool with a deep end is going to have a small play area. This is because the entire middle portion of the pool will be a hard-slope, allowing the final third of the pool to be a diving well depth. The only exception to this rule would be something like an ‘L' shaped pool, where there are essentially two unique bodies of water. Because ‘L' pools are very large and wider than 16', they are not available in fiberglass, which brings me back to the original reason I told this customer that I was sorry but we didn't have anything to fit his needs. In my opinion, this is simply just being honest with a customer. The last thing I'd want to do is install a pool for someone and have them tell me they were disappointed with a recommendation I had made them. The customer in this example was unique. He actually understood how much more maintenance he'd have with a concrete pool and he knew he'd have some serious long term repair costs. Notwithstanding, he also was absolutely sure that a large shallow area, as well as a diving well, were the most important requisites of his pool project. And in such a case as this one, I had no choice but to recommend he choose a concrete pool.
The previous example was a very unique one though as most customers (about 90% of the market in my estimation), are looking for a pool design available in a fiberglass size (16'x44' or less). But having literally worked with thousands of customers in their efforts to choose the right pool from the right company, I will never cease to be amazed with some of the incredibly illogical reasons people will choose a concrete pool over a fiberglass pool.
So here is my top five list:
1. "Everyone in my neighborhood has a concrete pool."
So my question is this. If everyone in your neighborhood had a rotary phone, would you have one too?? Seriously, such a statement makes me smack my forehead. Again, choosing a concrete pool over fiberglass for a size reason is one thing, but going with it because it's what the neighbors did?
2. " It's what I grew up with."
Again, another major head-scratcher. I can appreciate someone having fond memories of their pool growing up, but to miss out on the benefits of fiberglass simply because one is not used to it would be like saying, "I just don't think I want a plasma TV. I grew up with black and white...."
3. "I'm worried it won't look like a pool."
I can understand how people may have made such a statement 10 years ago when all fiberglass pools were white and all decking was non-cantilevered. But with the advent of colored finishes and beautiful patios, most fiberglass pools would give the best concrete pool a run for their money. This is also why when customers go to the photo gallery on our website they think we install concrete pools.
4. "I'm worried it won't feel like a normal pool."
Again, I just have a really hard time even beginning to understand this statement. For our customers here in Virginia and Maryland, many are introduced to fiberglass pools when they go on vacation to places like Myrtle Beach and Nags Head. And do you know how many of these people have ever said to me, "Marc, I used a fiberglass pool on vacation and I didn't like it because it didn't ‘feel' like a pool"? You guessed it, none.
5. "I'm going with a concrete pool over fiberglass because the concrete pool costs a little less."
I've written various articles regarding this statement, but the simple reality is that fiberglass pools will almost ALWAYS cost less than a concrete pool over the course of the pool's lifetime. This is because the chemical costs on a yearly basis, and the resurfacing costs (average of 10 years with white plaster) will undoubtedly more than make up for a few thousand dollars on the front end.
To close this article, I want to reiterate my point that there are certainly times when concrete is the better solution for a pool shopper. Just don't let the reason for such a decision be based on one of the five listed above.