Fiberglass pools are an excellent option for homeowners looking for an efficient installation process. These pools come in several shapes, are relatively low maintenance, and feature several other benefits not shared by concrete or vinyl swimming pools.
Read on for more information on why fiberglass pools are the perfect low-maintenance pool option for your home that provides a high-end feel.
- Fiberglass pools are incredibly durable and are known to last longer than other pool types.
- Fiberglass pools are not a great idea for pool owners looking to install the pool themselves, as heavy machinery is usually required.
- Fiberglass pools come in various designs, but are not very customizable because they come premade.
What is a Fiberglass Pool?
Fiberglass pools are one-piece units created using a mold in a factory. This mold comes complete with the sides and bottom of the pool in various shapes and sizes. These fiberglass pools feature other materials aside from fiberglass, and they get shipped around the country.
Each of these molded swimming pools consists of several different layers that contribute to the strength and support of the overall design. These layers fuse together to form an incredibly tough shell that can include features like built-in seating, steps, etc. You can find fiberglass pools in many shapes, such as circles, rectangles, kidneys, ovals, and a combination of shapes.
Many of these fiberglass pools are blue on the inside, but other colors are available. Some fiberglass swimming pools even feature interesting textures, graphics, or other accent art. The finishes available will vary from one company to another, and higher-end pools frequently come with added features.
The Benefits of Fiberglass Pools
Fiberglass pools are an excellent way to install a swimming pool quickly. When adequately maintained, they also have a slightly longer life than concrete and vinyl. Here are a few of the primary benefits pool owners get when installing fiberglass pools.
Fiberglass pools are incredibly sturdy and can last a very long time. The strong material of the fiberglass gives your pool resistance to chemical exposure and wear and tear. If maintained well, pool owners can enjoy their fiberglass swimming pools for decades!
Another reason fiberglass pools are a great purchase is their easy and time-saving installation process. You will likely not be able to install the pool yourself without the help of a professional, but the installation process is relatively quick.
Unlike concrete pools, you will not have to pour concrete to form the surfaces, so less time is needed for allowing the concrete to set. And unlike vinyl pools, fiberglass pools come pre-shaped, so the pool simply needs to be set in place and secured.
Fiberglass pools are also relatively easy to maintain. The surfaces of the pool are algae-resistant, meaning you will not likely find green, yellow, or black algae growing on the walls of your pool. The surfaces are also resistant to chlorine or acids that you may use to clean the pool water, so acid washing and shocking the water will not bleach the sides of the pool.
Many homeowners forget that vinyl and concrete are water permeable, meaning that there are tiny holes in the material. Although the amount of water transferred through the walls is relatively small, you’ll notice it on your water bill. On the other hand, fiberglass pools are non-porous, so almost no water gets through.
Fiberglass Pools Compared to Concrete and Vinyl
There are many reasons to go with a fiberglass pool, but ultimately it comes down to your personal preferences. Read my guide on fiberglass vs. vinyl vs. concrete pools for a complete comparison.
Concrete pools offer several benefits to homeowners, including:
- Customizable designs for the shape and the size of the pool
- The ability to choose your preferred surface texture
- Very durable and can last a long time when properly cared for
- Increases the resale value of your home
Many people associate concrete pools with older models with scratchy interior surfaces that could scrape the skin. Newer concrete pools have different texture options, including an ultra-smooth option created by a layer of plaster or another aggregate material.
Tile, stone, and other manufactured materials are other options for the interior of your concrete pool, which means you can further customize it to match your decor. These surface finishes may also cut down on the maintenance needed for a concrete pool, but often don’t last longer than 8-12 years.
Some benefits of installing a vinyl pool include
- Cheapest installation cost
- Unlimited design options as they are very customizable and easy to install
- Attractive look and feel of the liner
Vinyl swimming pools are made of layers of thick vinyl set over a frame constructed from metal or plastic. These pools are suitable for above ground or inground installations and feature panels made from aluminum, steel, or plastic that make up the walls. These pools are potentially a DIY project for some homeowners who aren’t deterred by manual labor and a multi-step installation process.
Vinyl is a material that will degrade over time as it gets exposed to light and the elements and the chemicals you use to treat your pool. Some liners are resistant to UV and fungus, and they come in various colors. Vinyl pools can also feature custom sizes and shapes and will last 10-18 years on average, but liners may need replacing sooner.
Cons of Fiberglass Pools
Fiberglass pools have plenty of benefits and are undoubtedly a great option for many pool owners, but they also have definite downsides.
Not DIY Friendly
Fiberglass pools require professional installation and aren’t DIY friendly like vinyl pools. Fiberglass pools get molded as one single piece, which means there are some restrictions regarding their size and customization.
Installation Logistics Can be Tricky
It’s also important to remember that your fiberglass pool gets delivered as one piece and is placed in a prepared location. This process can take days to weeks.
Fiberglass pools are often lifted and moved using a crane, so you’ll need to consult with a reputable pool builder who has experience installing pools. Before the pool is in place, you’ll want to consider other items, such as the stonework or concrete that you’ll put down as a decking material, and other features leading up to the pool such as stairs, pavers, or other landscaping.
There are also more size restrictions on fiberglass pools than there are for concrete or vinyl because they get manufactured in one molded piece. Concrete and vinyl don’t have the same size restrictions, but often take longer to install and have a different finished look.
Will Degrade Over Time
Just because they are resistant to the elements does not mean they are invincible. Fiberglass will also degrade slowly under the sun and chemicals in the water, so you’ll need to consider resurfacing the pool at some point.
Common Problems With Fiberglass Pools
Here are some issues that could arise with your fiberglass pool and some simple solutions.
Fiberglass pools can last a very long time and sometimes will not even need a replacement of their gelcoat, but the color can fade over time from constant exposure to UV rays.
Keep the chemicals in your pool water balanced and test your pH consistently to ensure the water does not become acidic.
Cracks in the Fiberglass or Gelcoat
Cracks can form in the gelcoat on the surfaces of fiberglass pools for several reasons. Most of the time, if your gel coat cracks, you will find tiny spider web cracks. These are not necessarily something to be worried about as they are relatively easy to fix. But if you notice that a large deeper crack is forming, you will want to act quickly.
Inspect any cracks you find in your pool. Smaller spiderweb cracks can be left alone as they do not generally spread much. But larger cracks need to be fixed before they become a problem. The first step is to drain the pool so that the water level is under the crack. Use fiberglass paint to cover the crack and allow it to fully dry before replacing the water.
For cracks deeper than half an inch, I recommend contacting a professional.
Cost Considerations for Fiberglass Pools
The cost of a fiberglass pool will vary somewhat based on your location and the company that you use. The size of the pool, the features, and general construction quality may also impact the final cost considerably in some cases.
Keeping these details in mind, you can expect to spend anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 for a basic fiberglass pool. Higher-end options will cost even more. To read further, check out my full breakdown on fiberglass pool costs.
Keep in mind that you will also have to pay for shipping costs, which will add to the overall cost of your pool. The shipping cost will vary dramatically depending on your location. Most of the cost of installing a fiberglass pool comes from the labor involved, as quite a bit of site preparation is required before a fiberglass pool gets set in place.
Fiberglass Swimming Pool Maintenance: How Does It Compare?
The maintenance for a fiberglass pool differs from vinyl or concrete pools, primarily due to the materials used and how they react to the water, chemicals, and elements. Fiberglass is an incredibly durable material, and while it may need resurfacing eventually, it can last decades when properly maintained.
Surface Coating, Debris, and Contaminants
You’ll find that fiberglass pools require less maintenance than concrete or vinyl, thanks to the surface coating that creates a non-porous layer and protects the pool from micro debris. This non-porous surface makes it very challenging for contaminants to get through or algae to latch onto. However, some cleaning of the surface is still required.
You won’t have to brush the sides nearly as often as in a concrete or vinyl pool. The non-porous surface also means you likely won’t need to add as many chemicals to your water to keep it clean and balanced because nothing seeps through the walls.
Also, keep in mind that a fiberglass pool features several layers of material that make it highly durable wherever you install it on your property, even if that’s near trees or in full sun. Concrete and vinyl require patching and resurfacing much more frequently than fiberglass, and vinyl is increasingly prone to punctures and leakage over time. You can read my article on resurfacing costs for more information.
Necessary Cleaning and Pool Care
Fiberglass pools need to be cleaned at regular intervals to protect the surface but don’t require cleaning as often as other types of pools. You’ll also need to check the water chemistry and run a pool filter as you would with any other pool setup. Lastly, you’ll need to keep the water level high enough to flow over the skimmer to remove debris, but this is also true for concrete and vinyl pools.
When you have an outbreak of algae, a fiberglass pool is straightforward to treat within 24 hours, so you can return to enjoying the pool sooner. The same treatment for algae in a concrete or vinyl pool can take 3-4 days or even a week for more porous surfaces.
Using a pool cover can cut down on cleaning and maintenance by preventing debris from entering the pool. This cover won’t protect your swimming pool entirely from all debris, but it will help to prevent as much water from evaporating and to retain heat within the pool itself. A good pool cover is easy to deploy over your pool and can save you hundreds of dollars each year on professional cleaning surfaces.
A pool cover also reduces the amount of cleaning to a level that most homeowners can manage themselves with stunning results. Some covers also have features that help prevent accidental drowning when individuals fall in the pool.
Fiberglass Pool Design Choices
When looking at fiberglass swimming pool design options, you’ll see a variety of shapes to choose from, including:
A freeform-shaped pool just means that it’s not linear and resembles a lagoon or uneven shape that is perfectly at home in many modern backyards. This splashy-looking shape lacks symmetry and frequently employs dramatic curves that add a bit of fun but may also cut into the amount of swimmable space inside the pool itself.
Kidney-shaped pools are also a good option for a more modern design, but it can be challenging to find a pool cover for this shape. Rectangular pools are another popular option for maximizing your swimmable space, but these shapes can look severe in specific environments.
Fiberglass pool designs often incorporate steps, curves, seating, hot tubs, and other features like tanning ledges. It’s also not uncommon to see pools that range from a few inches deep to almost nine feet deep at their deepest point.
The designs printed on the interior of a fiberglass pool are endless, but often resemble tile, stone, or other high-end finishes. Most fiberglass pools are a delightful shade of blue that makes the water look very inviting, but it’s possible to get different colors.
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How Long Does a Fiberglass Pool Last?
Fiberglass pools get built to last, so they often come with excellent warranties. The gel coating may need resurfacing every ten years or so, but a properly maintained fiberglass pool can last for 2-3 decades or longer. The average lifespan is around 25 years, which is far longer than the ten years you can expect from a concrete pool or 6-10 years for a vinyl liner.
Resurfacing your fiberglass pool is a reasonably straightforward process, but repairing or restoring a concrete pool is significantly more labor. Likewise, a vinyl liner can be time-consuming to replace, but it is an acceptable DIY project for homeowners in some cases.
Remember that fiberglass pools come with such excellent warranties because they are durable and long-lasting without excessive care or maintenance. Any small cracks that appear get easily remedied by an added surface layer.
Have questions about fiberglass pools? Shoot me a note, and I’ll be happy to help.