How Long Do Fiberglass Pools Last?
Lifespan matters for just about everything. As an exotic pet owner, I check how long a snake breed is expected to live before adding that snake to my menagerie. As a laptop buyer, I check user reviews for the real-time battery life before purchasing that model. So how long will your fiberglass pool last?
First of all, the concept of fiberglass is new to a lot of people, but it isn’t new technology—it’s been around for a long time. It’s had all that time to get better and better.
Fiberglass technology was created during the 1930s—unintentionally. Shout-out to glass-making company Owens-Illinois (which was Owens-Corning at the time) for that happy accident.
Fiberglass was first used to produce military aircraft parts during World War II. It was strong, light, and durable, so after the war it expanded into consumer products such as boats and race cars.
In 1957 this newfangled technology expanded to the swimming pool industry. Hello, fiberglass pools.
Fiberglass pools gained popularity as the technology advanced to make them even stronger and more durable. Many new designs became available, with colored pool finishes, ceramic tile, and poolside spas, and tanning ledges.
Between 2005 and 2015, fiberglass pools jumped from 6% to 17% of inground pool market share in America, nearly tripling in size in only a 10-year period. It was, and continues to be, the fastest-growing segment of the nation’s swimming pool industry.
Fiberglass is incredibly durable. Think of yachts, airplanes, race cars, bridges, and other composite-type structures. That’s some sturdy, high-quality fiberglass material.
For pools, the lifespan includes two parts:
- The structure
- The gelcoat surface
How long will the structure of a fiberglass pool last?
The structure of the pool will last as long as the home—certainly 50+ years.
Here at River Pools, we build our fiberglass pools using our cutting-edge Cross-Lynx Composite Technology to fuse every layer together into a single composite structure.
To learn more, watch our 8-part video series about how your fiberglass pool is made!
Because of this confidence, we have a lifetime structural warranty, which says that the pool will not leak as long as it’s used as a regular pool.
How long will the gelcoat surface of a fiberglass pool last?
The big question mark for most people regards the durability of the fiberglass pool surface.
We maintain that if a pool is properly manufactured and properly maintained by the customer, the gelcoat surface of a modern fiberglass pool should last decades—as in 30–40 years.
Inferior gelcoat blends from decades past have proved themselves incredibly durable, in most cases lasting decades. The improved gelcoat used on fiberglass pools today is far more durable, so we anticipate this modern technology far outlasting its predecessors.
How to keep your fiberglass pool from fading prematurely
Even 20 years after installation, your fiberglass pool's gelcoat should still look excellent if properly manufactured and properly maintained. Any color lightening would be gradual, even, and barely noticeable.
Premature or uneven fading of the gelcoat surface of fiberglass pools is almost always because of improper care of the pool's water chemistry.
To extend the life of your pool, keep your water chemistry levels within the recommended ranges.
- cyanuric acid
- calcium hardness
Develop a consistent weekly routine of checking these levels and adding chemicals as needed to balance the water chemistry.
How long do concrete and vinyl liner pools last?
Do fiberglass pools last longer than vinyl liner or concrete pools?
Concrete pool lifespan
Concrete pools are structurally immortal as long as they don't float/pop up, but their surfaces require a lot of expensive work, even in just the first 10–20 years:
- Acid washing every 3–5 years
- Resurfacing/refinishing every 10–15 years
- Professional cleaning service each season (for most people)
Concrete pools also require a lot of chemicals and energy to keep algae from making an unwanted appearance like your least favorite neighbor.
Vinyl liner pool lifespan
Vinyl liner pools are the least expensive upfront but, sadly, you get what you pay for. You’ll need to replace the liner every 5–9 years. Not so durable.
The wall panels can last several decades. However, metal wall panels will rust/corrode if water leaks through the liner, especially if you use a salt chlorine generator.
What to look for in the manufacturing warranty for a fiberglass pool
How can you tell how long the manufacturer thinks the fiberglass pool will last?
When you’re in the process of purchasing a fiberglass pool, read the manufacturer’s warranty before buying. A poor manufacturing warranty usually indicates that the manufacturer expects to sell a poor product.
Fiberglass pool manufacturers provide two warranties:
- One to cover the structure of the pool shell
- Another to cover the surface (gelcoat)
Look specifically at these 4 aspects of each warranty:
- How long it lasts
- What it covers
- What it excludes
- Whether it’s transferrable
River Pools’ structure and surface warranties hold up against any other fiberglass pool manufacturer in the world. You can read our warranties for yourself—we’re completely open about them because we’re confident in our pool products!
River Pools’ lifetime structural warranty
- Covers structural failure due to defects in workmanship or materials
- Covers the cost to drain and brace the pool
- Covers the cost to refill the pool and replace chemicals
- Is transferrable
River Pools’ 15-year surface warranty
- Covers osmotic blisters for 15 years
- Is transferrable
We manufacture and install fiberglass pools in Virginia and Maryland, and we have dealers in other states. Get in touch with us, and we’ll be happy to help you on your pool journey!
Do you have any other questions about the process of buying the perfect fiberglass pool? Dive into our ebook, which includes all the details you’ll need to make the best decision for you and your family!
Editor's note: This blog article was updated on March 15, 2019.