Swimming Pool Comparison Guide: Concrete vs. Fiberglass vs. Vinyl

Most swimming pools are made from concrete, fiberglass, or vinyl. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. I run through the basics of each pool type below to help you make the right decision.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Pool

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a pool. Cost is always an important factor, and it involves not only the installation of the pool, but also the pool deck, ongoing maintenance, and any repair work needed.

Here are some of the factors you should look at when considering a new pool:

  • Initial Cost: What is your budget for installing the pool?
  • Long-Term Cost: You need to consider durability when comparing pool types.
  • Maintenance: Some types of pools require more maintenance than others.
  • Shape and Style: Do you already have an idea of what you want your pool to look like? What features it needs to have?
  • Size: Do you want a large or very deep pool? Make sure it’s the right fit for your backyard.

Concrete Pools

Concrete pools are made with a shotcrete base (also known as gunite) – a mixture of cement and sand that’s sprayed using a high-powered hose onto a steel bar frame that you can contour to whatever shape you want for your pool. After the shotcrete is set, a cement plaster is poured over top that gives your pool that nice decorative finish. The budget for a concrete pool is usually upwards of $50,000.

Advantages of Concrete Pools:

  • Durability: Concrete is highly durable.
  • Flexibility: Concrete pools can be created in almost any shape and size.
  • Longevity: Concrete pools themselves can last up to 20 years, although they may require refinishing or resurfacing prior to this.

Disadvantages of Concrete Pools:

  • Price: Concrete pools usually cost the most to install and resurface.

Fiberglass Pools

Fiberglass pools are made from a finished fiberglass shell that is set into an appropriately-shaped hole in the ground. They are manufactured off-site and trucked to the residence. In order to prevent the fiberglass from bowing in either direction, the hole is back-filled with sand while the water is being pumped into the pool. The cost of a fiberglass pool is usually $35,000 or more.

Advantages of Fiberglass Pools:

  • Longevity: Most fiberglass pools will last 25 years or more.
  • Smooth Surface: Fiberglass is a naturally smooth surface if that’s something you’re looking for vs. the more natural feel of a concrete pool.
  • Chemical Use: Because fiberglass pools are non-reactive, they typically require fewer chemicals than other types of pools.
  • Cost: Over the lifetime of the pool, fiberglass is typically the least expensive.
  • Rapid Installation: A fiberglass pool can take as little as a week to install.

Disadvantages of Fiberglass Pools:

  • Shape: Because fiberglass shells are constructed off-site, they come in a limited range of shapes and styles.
  • Size: Fiberglass pools must be able to be trucked to the site, so they are limited to a certain width and length.

Vinyl Pools

Vinyl pools are created by making a frame for the pool within a suitably shaped hole in the ground and then placing wall panels and a vinyl liner. The vinyl liner is flexible and has seams to match the shape of the pool. Vinyl pools are the cheapest option, at around $25,000 to $35,000.

Advantages of Vinyl Pools:

  • Cost: Vinyl pools are the cheapest option in terms of initial price.
  • Size and shape: There are virtually no limitations on the size and shape of a vinyl pool.
  • Smooth Surface: The surface of a vinyl pool is non-abrasive.

Disadvantages of Vinyl Pools:

  • Short Lifespan: Most vinyl pool liners aren’t very durable and must be replaced every five to nine years.
  • Fragility: Vinyl liners are prone to punctures and tears.
  • Cost: Over the lifetime of the pool, vinyl will often be the most expensive option due to high maintenance and replacement costs.

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More Questions? I Can Help!

If you have more questions about the differences among concrete, fiberglass, and vinyl pools, I’ll be happy to answer them. Just shoot me an email via the contact form.

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