Updated: Feb 27
For me that answer is easy, but that's because I have been building pools for the last 24 years, have seen the good the bad, and the ugly of every type of swimming pool, and to be honest a fiberglass pool is not for everyone. There are times when a concrete pool or a vinyl-lined pool are better fitted for families.
To me, there are clear and concise reasons why I think a fiberglass pool is the best option for most pool owners but before I begin to preach on fiberglass pool superiority lets have you take a test so you can find out for yourself why a fiberglass swimming pool should be your pool of choice.
Question 1: How important is installation time to you? It matters or It does not matter
Question 2: What Shape would you like for your pool? Rectangle, Free Form, Roman or Custom Shape
Question 3: Do you want your pool to be over 40' long or 16' wide? Yes or No
Question 4: I eliminating Maintenance an important part of your decision? Yes or No
Question 5: Is the roughness of the surface of your pool important to you? Yes or No
Question 6: How much do you plan to spend on your pool project?
I ask these questions because each answer will help you formulate what type of pool is best for you. Let's dive into each question a little further.
QUESTION 1: HOW IMPORTANT IS THE TIME OF INSTALLATION TO YOU?
This question is a good starting point because each type of pool requires more or less time to install. Let's break it down for you.
A concrete pool takes the longest amount of time to install due to the fact that the entire pool is manufactured in your backyard. The pool dig, the rebar and forming, shooting the shotcrete/gunite, tiling the pool plastering the pool, plumbing the pool. All of this takes place in your yard so the process does take longer. To the tune of 6-8 weeks typically.
A Vinyl In-Ground Pool is a little less involved than a concrete pool. A vinyl pool typically takes 4-6 weeks to complete.
A Fiberglass Pool takes 1-2 weeks
So if a speedy pool installation is critical to your pool project fiberglass pools may be your choice.
QUESTION 2: WHAT POOL SHAPE DO YOU LIKE?
The reason this question is asked is because of the 3 types of pools there is only one that is limited in shapes and sizes and that's fiberglass pools. Fiberglass pools are limited to the shapes each fiberglass pool manufacturer produces. Vinyl Lined Pools and Concrete Pools can be customized into any shape, design or style you can ever dream of, within the limits of engineering of course. So if you are looking for a traditional rectangular in-ground pool, a free-form swimming pool, or a roman style pool any of these 3 in-ground pool types will work. If you prefer a custom shaped pool a concrete pool or a vinyl-lined pool would be your options.
QUESTION 3: DO YOU WANT YOUR POOL OVER 40' LONG OR 16' WIDE?
This question helps narrow things down pretty quickly Fiberglass Pools are limited to a maximum size of 16' x 40. So if you need a larger pool than this your best option would be a vinyl lined in-ground pool or a gunite pool.
QUESTION 4: IS ELIMINATING MAINTENANCE A KEY POINT FOR YOUR POOL?
To be honest all pools need maintenance. However, there is a substantial difference in the amount of work or cost put into maintaining the 3 different types of pools. Let's break it down.
Concrete Pools require the most amount of work to maintain. The cementitious surface requires vacuuming and brushing of the entire surface of your pool several times per week. The brushing is the most labor-intensive. Due to the porous surface of a concrete pool, dirt and debris like to stick into the plaster surface, and vacuuming alone won't remove it. So you will need to brush the entire interior of your pool to be sure to loosen up the debris that is stuck to the plaster to prevent staining and the start of algae. You can do this work your self or hire out a pool service company to perform this work for you. Either way, there is no getting around it. A concrete pool also requires more chemicals to maintain balanced water chemistry as well. Due to the nature of a plaster surface, the chemical makeup of a concrete pool is slightly different as the surface reacts with the water and requires more checmials to keep balanced to prevent etching, staining, or scaling. Concrete pools also will need to be resurfaced every 5-8 years on average at a cost of from $10,000.00 to $25,000 and up based on size and type of finish on the pool. Of all 3 types of swimming pools, concrete pools have the largest long-term cost of ownership over the next 2 types of pools.
Vinyl-lined pools do not have the rough textured surface of a concrete pool. So the amount of time needed to maintain this pool is lower. Vinyl Lined Pools also don't have a cementitious surface so balancing the water tends to be easier than that of a concrete pool. Surface maintenance of a Vinyl Lined Pool does have a cost though. Vinyl is very soft and especially so when it is warm. The softness of the vinyl pool surface lends itself to holes fairly easily. The good news is that there are vinyl patch kits available that can be used underwater to repair most small areas. Vinyl Liners are lasting about 5-10 years on average and can run from $10-$15k to replace. The more elaborate or customized the vinyl pool is the more costly the liner is to replace. Vinyl Lined Pools have the 2nd highest long-term costs of ownership.
Fiberglass Pools have the least amount of maintenance required out of all 3 types of pools. A fiberglass pool never needs to be resurfaced and its Gelcoat surface is inert so it does not react with the pool water allowing for the water to be balanced much more easily and this type of pool requires the least amount of maintenance. So if reduced maintenance and reduced long-term cost of ownership are on your list a fiberglass pool may be your best choice.
QUESTION 5: DOES THE ROUGHNESS OF THE POOL SURFACE MATTER TO YOU?
Concrete Pools have the most aggressive or rough finish of all 3 types of in-ground pools. Any of you that have swum in a concrete pool can attest to this. scratched up knees, toes, and feet are to be expected when swimming in a concrete pool. A vinyl-lined pool has a soft smooth vinyl liner that is pleasant to the touch. The same can be said if a fiberglass pool. So if pool surface texture is a concern Vinyl Lined Pools and Fiberglass Pools may be your best bet.
QUESTION 6: HOW MUCH DO YOU PLAN TO SPEND ON YOUR POOL
This ultimately affects which pool you can purchase. The initial purchase price of a vinyl-lined typically ranges from $75,000.00 to $100,000.00. A Concrete Pool Typically Ranges from $85,000.00 to $100,000.00. A Fiberglass Pool Costs from $90,000.00 to $120,000.00 for a complete project. Keep in mind that although fiberglass pools are initially slightly more expensive there is little to no long term cost of ownership. A vinyl pool will cost another $10k every 5 to 10 years to resurface and a concrete will cost $15-$25k every 10 years to resurface as well. Be sure you are aware of all long term costs of ownership of all 3 types. You may be shocked what some types of pools will cost you over the life of the pool.
WHY I THINK FIBERGLASS POOLS ARE THE POOL YOU SHOULD BUY
First off I am clearly biased as I sell and install them, but here are the reasons why I own a fiberglass pool and think you should too. I could go on and on but I will narrow it down to 5 reasons you should own a fiberglass pool.
1: A fiberglass pool is flexible and designed to withstand ground movement. This cannot be said about concrete or vinyl. Here in Wisconsin, we get a lot of ground movement from the annual frost and expansive clay soils.
2: A fiberglass pool is quicker to install, meaning more time for you to enjoy your pool.
3: A fiberglass pool does not need to be resurfaced. This equals long-term savings.
4: Our fiberglass pools feature a Lifetime Warranty from the Manufacturer
5: Our Pools are installed using "The River Pools Way" Fiberglass Pool Installation Methodology.
Let's be honest River Pools just does everything better so take a look at their pool quiz to help better understand what pool type is best for you. or if you are ready to explore what a fiberglass pool project may actually cost try the River Pools Build & Price Tool.