The Scoop on Fiberglass Pools - Pros & Cons, Cost & Options
Ah, ‘tis the season. We know that’s something you traditionally hear around wintertime, but we’re talking about a different season altogether: swim season!
In some places, it’s warm enough to be swim season year-round, while in others this is the peak of hot, sunny days. Whether you’ve been sitting on the thought for awhile, or this summer’s heat is just starting to get to you, you’re likely here because you’ve been thinking about getting your own inground pool. More specifically, you want to learn more about inground fiberglass pools.
If we haven’t met before, allow us to introduce ourselves: we are River Pools, an inground fiberglass pool manufacturer that distributes one-piece fiberglass pools across the country. We like to be transparent upfront: fiberglass pools are where our strengths and expertise lie, but we also like to bring education to those interested in an inground pool of their own. Being in the swimming pool industry for years, we’ve picked up some bits of knowledge regarding all inground pool types available on the market. So even if you decide to get a pool that isn’t fiberglass, that’s a-okay: after all, fiberglass pools aren’t the best fit for everyone. We’ll feel like we’ve done our job if you are able to make a more informed decision that lets you spend backyard time together with your loved ones for years to come.
This leads us to why we’re here today: we’d like to give you the 411 on fiberglass pools: their pros and cons, the basics on what to expect during fiberglass pool installation and cost, and what your options are for smaller pools. If these topics seem up your alley, then let’s go!
Fiberglass Pools Pros and Cons
Oftentimes the best way to compare options is to look at the pros and cons of each choice. Inground fiberglass pools certainly have their perks, but they also can have their downsides. Let’s take a quick look at each:
- Lower maintenance.
We say lower, but that doesn’t mean none. All inground pools, no matter the type, will require time and energy to maintain. If you’re itching to know the ins and outs of inground pool maintenance, we have a great eBook that compares the 3 pool types by maintenance as well as installation, durability factors are more (and it’s free!)
- Smooth surface.
Fiberglass pools are often recognized as being both durable and comfortable when you walk on them. Some fiberglass pool manufacturers will use a non-slip gel coat (aka what gives the pool its ‘purdy color) so it can be both smoother and safer for swimmers. So if you’ve been wondering “are fiberglass pools slippery?”: their non-slip qualities make for a lesser risk of falling. However, any smooth surface in water can pose risk, so always exude caution!
- Generally quicker installation times.
We also say “generally” because there are factors that can increase your project’s completion time such as increased demand, shortages in labor or materials, etc. As a general rule, fiberglass pool installation may take anywhere from 2-6 weeks on average.
- Not customizable.
Manufacturers of inground fiberglass pools construct their pools from a mold. This mold, like a baking pan, contains all of the details and features of that particular pool. Once all of the “ingredients”/materials are applied and the pool has cured, it is removed from the mold and you’re left with a pretty pool and a pretty mold that’s ready to make another pool. Because all pools are produced from the same mold, you’re unable to move features around or add/subtract them. If you have a very specific design in mind for your pool and you can’t find it on the manufacturer’s website, you may need to look towards gunite or vinyl instead.
- Can only reach up to a certain size.
This is mostly because of shipping restrictions. Have you ever seen a swimming pool being carried down the road on the back of a truck? That was most likely a fiberglass pool shell traveling to its final destination. In order to travel where it needs to go, fiberglass pools can only reach about 16 feet in width and 40 to 41 feet in length. Anything beyond that and you may run into trouble getting it where it needs to be.
- Not always the most affordable option depending on your budget.
Vinyl liner pools are typically the most affordable inground pool type with fiberglass coming in second and gunite/concrete often being more expensive. Of course, there are always exceptions depending on where you live, what pool type is most common/comfortable for pool builders in your area, your individual pool project needs, etc.
Are There Options for Smaller Fiberglass Pools?
Of course, if you have a big yard with tons of free space, a pool is likely a viable option to fill it. But what if you have a smaller yard, or just envision you using a smaller pool? Fear not, dreaming homeowner: there are certainly small fiberglass pools out there for you to choose from.
What is the smallest size fiberglass pool you can get? This will depend on what manufacturer you choose. At River Pools, our smallest available rectangular design is 10’ x 20’, and our smallest freeform design comes in at 12’ x 25’. However, some manufacturers may offer options like wading pools that come in even smaller sizes and give you a place to soak your feet or have little ones splash around.
“But River, what about fiberglass hot tubs? Can I add a hot tub to my fiberglass pool? What about a standalone spa?” All great questions. Fiberglass hot tubs are absolutely a viable option, and you can even get pools that include one! Our X36 design is an example of a rectangle fiberglass pool with a spa AND a tanning ledge, all wrapped into one.
Cost of Fiberglass Pools
One of the most common questions we receive is “how much does it cost to install a fiberglass pool?” As with any pool project, how much you pay for a fiberglass pool will depend on what you’re looking for. Are you wanting the biggest pool available? Are you wanting water features? Will you need retaining walls? How about some top-notch landscaping? All of these things and more will play a role in how much you’ll end up spending.
It’s hard to give you a definite number without knowing the specifics of what you want, plus local factors based on your location. Generally though, we can say that homeowners typically invest anywhere from $70,000 to $135,000 for turn-key packages. Just to be sure we’re on the same page, when we say “turn-key”, we’re referring to a pool project that’s completely handled by the installer. You as the homeowner don’t have to oversee any of the pool installation, the concrete, landscaping, etc. - it’s all taken care of.
We recommend trying out an inground fiberglass pool cost calculator for a general price range, just to give you a rough idea before speaking with your local installer. We also have an inground pool cost guide that outlines the basics here. But if you’re looking for exactly how much your project will cost, reaching out to the installer is the best way to get that number.
If we took the time to say everything we wanted to say about fiberglass pools, we’d be here all day.
If there’s one thing you take away from this article, let it be this: we truly believe a fiberglass pool is the place for you to bring your family together. Scratch that - to bring your loved ones together. We’re not just talking family reunions and holiday parties: a fiberglass pool can be the perfect place to establish yourself as the “cool parent” with your kids and their friends. It’s a great place to host your best friend’s bridal shower. Or it can even be the perfect place to renew your own wedding vows. Whatever the occasion, a fiberglass pool provides a place for relaxation, comfort and fun.
While we couldn’t say everything we had on our minds, we have said a lot already. So if you’d like to learn more about all things fiberglass pools, you can check out our inground pool learning hub for bunches o’ content. Are you feeling ready to take the next step with fiberglass? Click the button below to get in touch with us and request pricing.