Fiberglass Pools 101

Fiberglass pools are an excellent option for homeowners that want a pool installed relatively quickly. These pools come in several different 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 a fiberglass pool is the perfect low maintenance option for your home that also provides a high-end feel.

What is a Fiberglass Pool?

Fiberglass pools are one-piece units created using a mold in a factory. This mold renders the sides and bottom of a swimming pool in various shapes and sizes, which get placed in the ground. These fiberglass pools feature other materials aside from fiberglass, and they get shipped anywhere people live.

Each of these molded swimming pools consists of several different layers that contribute strength and support to the overall design. These layers fuse together to form an incredibly tough shell that can include features like a hot tub, built-in seating, and steps. You can find fiberglass pools in many shapes such as circles, rectangles, kidney, oval, and combination shapes.

Many of these fiberglass pools are blue on the inside, but other colors are available. Some 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.

Benefits of a Fiberglass Pool Compared to Concrete and Vinyl

There are many reasons to go with a fiberglass pool, but ultimately it comes down to your personal preferences on whether you go with fiberglass or another type of pool. For a full comparison, read my guide on fiberglass vs. vinyl vs. concrete pools.

Concrete

Concrete pools offer a number of benefits to homeowners, including:

  • Choose any custom shape or size and alter the appearance to suit your needs and space
  • Unlimited ways to configure your pool and choose the surface texture you want which can vary from one area to another
  • Very durable and lasts a long time when properly cared for in all seasons
  • You can add a variety of unique features
  • Increases the resale value of your home

Many people associate concrete pools with older models that had 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 other 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.

Vinyl

Vinyl swimming pools feature layers of thick vinyl set over a frame constructed from metal or plastic. These pools are suitable for above ground installation, or inground, 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 in addition to the chemicals that you use to treat your pool. Some liners are resistant to UV and fungus and come in a variety of colors, much like fiberglass. Vinyl pools can also feature custom sizes and shapes and will last 10-18 years on average, but liners might need replacing sooner.

The Benefits of Fiberglass

Fiberglass pools are an excellent way to get a swimming pool installed relatively quickly, and they have a slightly longer life than concrete and vinyl when adequately maintained. Fiberglass also has these benefits for homeowners to consider:

  • Shorter installation time than concrete and easier to install than vinyl
  • Customization is possible to a certain extent with colors, shapes, and added features
  • Pool water and chemicals don’t get lost through the walls

Many homeowners forget that vinyl and concrete are water permeable, although the amount of water transferred through the walls is rather small. Even with this small amount of water and chemicals absorbed through the walls, you’ll notice it on your bills, and fiberglass is non- porous, so almost no water gets through.

The ultra-smooth interior of a fiberglass pool also makes it difficult for algae to form, so it stays clean and slick. The interior can also get re-coated as needed to extend the life of your pool, and it’s possible to add finishes to this surface to extend its useful life. Fiberglass pools are also relatively lower maintenance than vinyl or concrete.

Cons of Fiberglass Pools and Common Problems

Fiberglass pools require professional installation and don’t make for DIY friendly projects like a vinyl pool. Fiberglass pools get molded as one single piece, which means there are some restrictions regarding their size, and how they get customized with different features.

It’s also important to remember that your fiberglass pool gets delivered as one piece and gets set into place in a prepared location, and this process can take days to weeks.

Fiberglass pools are often lifted and moved using a crane, so you’ll want to consult with a reputable pool builder that has experience installing pools in your area. 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 this kind of size restrictions but often take longer to install, and have a different finished look. 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.

Getting an unusual fiberglass pool may prove difficult as there are usually a set number of options. However, higher-end fiberglass pools feature a significant amount of options and configurations if you’re willing to pay a higher price.

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 its 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 on average for a basic fiberglass pool; however, higher-end options will cost more. Read my full breakdown on fiberglass pool costs for more.

Keep in mind that shipping costs will add to the overall cost of your pool and may vary dramatically on your location. Most of the cost associated with 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 is different than a vinyl or concrete pool primarily due to the materials used and how they react to the water, chemicals, and the elements. Fiberglass is an incredibly durable material, and while it will need resurfacing and cleaning as with any other type of pool, they can last decades when properly maintained.

Surface Coating, Debris, and Contaminants

You’ll find that fiberglass pools require a lot 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 for algae to latch on, but some cleaning of the surface is required.

You won’t have to brush the sides nearly as often as you would in a concrete or vinyl pool, and there will also be less debris forming on the top layer that needs skimming. The non-porous surface also means you don’t need to add as many chemicals to your water to keep it clean and balanced because nothing is seeping through the walls as it would in a concrete or vinyl pool.

Also, keep in mind that a fiberglass pool features several layers of material that make it extremely 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 often than fiberglass, and vinyl is increasingly prone to punctures and leakage over time.

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 set up. 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.

Pool Covers

Using a pool cover can cut down on cleaning and maintenance by preventing debris from getting in the pool. This cover won’t protect your pool completely from all debris, but it will also help prevent as much water from evaporating and 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 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:

  • Rectangular
  • Freeform
  • Kidney
  • Roman

A freeform shaped pool just means that it’s not linear and that it resembles a kind of 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 those looking to maximize their 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.

How Long Does a Fiberglass Pool Last?

Fiberglass pools get built to last, which is why 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, in some cases, is an acceptable DIY project for homeowners.

Keep in mind 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.

Questions?

Have questions about fiberglass pools? Shoot us a note and we’ll be happy to help.

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