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Concrete vs Fiberglass Pools: Which is Better

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Even with summer drawing to a close, now is as good a time as any to install a pool at your Florida home. When installing a pool, one of the most important things to consider is what material to choose. The material you choose for your pool will affect your pool maintenance routines, as well as the overall longevity of your pool. When considering the difference between concrete vs fiberglass pools, there are a couple of things you’ll need to know.

Fiberglass vs Concrete Pool Installation Costs

Both concrete and fiberglass pools will cost roughly the same to install. The average cost of fiberglass pools is approximately $50,000, whereas a concrete pools tend to cost about $55,000. This price difference is hardly significant enough that it should affect your choice of pool.

There are so many factors that can make either a good choice. It all depends on your needs and preferences. Because of this, installation costs shouldn’t be your main concern when installing.

While both concrete and fiberglass pools cost roughly the same to install, fiberglass is cheaper to maintain. Fiberglass is more resistant to algae and will generally be cheaper to maintain than concrete, so if a low-cost pool that’s easy to maintain is what you want, fiberglass might be a better option.

Customization Options

Once again, both fiberglass and concrete pools offer an excellent variety of customization options. With careful planning of your pool entertainment area, both materials can have a stunning look.

However, unlike with pricing, concrete and fiberglass aren’t entirely equal. For a fiberglass pool, you’ll need to choose from a selection of prefabricated fiberglass pool shells. While this might sound limiting, you’ll be surprised by the large selection available. When choosing a prefabricated fiberglass pool shell, you’ll soon find there’s no lack of choice regarding size, shape and overall design. If you’re simply looking for a regular family pool, you’re almost sure to find a prefabricated option that works for you.

There are cases where prefabricated pools aren’t customizable enough. In these cases, concrete pools are a better option. While fiberglass pools come in a variety of shapes and sizes, they can’t truly compete with concrete in terms of customization options. Concrete pools can offer the following customization options:

  • Concrete pool designs are only limited to the skills of your installer. When installing a concrete pool, you can customize size down to the last inch.
  • Plaster is a popular choice for finishing concrete pools. However, if you’re willing to spend more, you can use ceramic, glass or stone tiles. Choosing between different tiled finishes will greatly add to your choice of color and texture.
  • Pool islands, walkways, spill-overs or fountains can be incorporated into the design for an architectural masterpiece.

Taking full advantage of the customization options offered by concrete pools will increase installation costs greatly. But if showing off your personal style with your pool is a priority to you, the additional cost may be worthwhile.

Durability Comparison

Concrete and fiberglass pools both have pros and cons in terms of durability. While it could seem obvious that concrete seems more durable, this isn’t always the case.

A concrete pool can form cracks and pool finishes can fade from the sun. At some point, every concrete pool will need major renovation to fix pool leaks and redo finishes. Even though concrete can last longer than a lifetime, the costs of maintaining and renovating a concrete pool might compare to that of installing a brand new one.

To avoid the cost of refinishing a concrete pool, it may seem obvious to rather get fiberglass. Unfortunately, fiberglass pools also aren’t impervious to damage. Fiberglass pools can crack – a common problem caused by earth shifting. Draining the pool can often lead to earth shifting and, subsequently, cracks.

Another problem that can occur with fiberglass is earth shifting under the pool leading to an air pocket beneath the pool shell and earth. This will make the pool sound and feel hollow when you step on it. Seeing as this creates a spot where there’s not ground supporting to pool structure, it will also increase the risk of damage to the pool.

Aside from major problems such as cracks and ground-shifting, fiberglass pools are surprisingly durable against regular wear and tear, meaning pool maintenance will generally be easier.

Pool Maintenance

As mentioned, fiberglass pools are more resistant to algae than concrete. Seeing as the pool finishes are highly durable, the pools need little to no maintenance with regards to finishes.

Concrete pools have rough, porous surfaces that are prone to algae growth. This could require extra maintenance to avoid algae in the pool and to maintain an optimal pH level. To keep the pool completely free of algae, you might need to empty it from time to time and scrub the inside with acid. The finishes on a concrete pool will also need to be redone every few years.

Overall, fiberglass pools are arguably lower on maintenance than other alternatives.

Pool Installation Time and Ease

If you’re looking for a reliable pool that’s quick to install, fiberglass is without a doubt a better option. Because the fiberglass pool shell is already fabricated, installing the pool is easy – the pool shell simply needs to be buried in the ground.

Installing a concrete pool is a far more complicated and drawn-out process. While fiberglass pools typically take only days to install, a gunite one will take weeks, or even months. If you truly want a concrete pool, this shouldn’t put you off, however. Your pool should last a lifetime once it’s installed, so waiting a bit longer for installation shouldn’t be the ultimate deciding factor.

Should you ever wish to have your pool removed, you’d be better off with fiberglass. Seeing as these pools are essentially prefabricated shells buried in the ground, you can get rid of the pool by digging up the shell and filling the hole with ground again.

Concrete vs Fiberglass Pool Feel

As mentioned earlier, concrete offers a variety of choices, but the cheapest and most common one is plaster.

Plaster pools tend to feel a bit rough, which is great if you want to avoid slipping, but in some cases, it can feel too rough.

Fiberglass pools, on the other hand, are smooth. If you struggle with algae growth in the pool, this smoothness can pose as a slipping risk, but this isn’t usually an issue if the pool is kept clean. Overall, fiberglass pools tend to feel a bit nicer.

When choosing between different finishes for a concrete pool, like tiles or aggregate, you’ll have your options open regarding the feel.

What About Vinyl Liner Pools?

While fiberglass and concrete are two of the most popular material choices for pools, there’s another option you might not be aware about. Vinyl liner pools are one of the easiest pool materials to keep clean and free of algae growth.

Another great thing about vinyl liner pools is that they’re fully customizable. This makes a vinyl liner pool great if you want a compromise between concrete and fiberglass. As your pool size, shape and depth will be customizable like a concrete pool, but the pool surface will feel smooth and be resistant to algae like fiberglass.

The major drawback of vinyl liner pools is durability. While vinyl liner pools cost significantly less upfront, the pool will be more expensive over a lifetime. This is because the vinyl lining will only last about 5-9 years. Seeing as the pool surface is less durable, you’ll need to be more careful about how you use your pool. A hard thump might cause damage.

If you’re willing to spend approximately, $4500 every few years on relining and refilling your pool, a vinyl pool might still be the right choice for you.

Your choice of pool will depend on what you want from your pool. While concrete offers the most customization options, many will come at a high cost. Vinyl pools offer good customization options and are easy to keep clean, but will be more expensive over a lifetime. Fiberglass is durable and relatively easy to keep clean, but your design options will be limited to standard pool shells available on the market.

 

Rozanne WildsConcrete vs Fiberglass Pools: Which is Better

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