FIBERGLASS VS CONCRETE VS VINYL
For those of you who are new to pools, there are three types of inground pools: fiberglass, vinyl liner, and concrete (also called gummite).
Below is a detailed comparison of these pool types including the pros and cons of each.
Why are fiberglass pools so easy to maintain? It all has to do with surface porosity. The surface of a fiberglass pool, called the gel coat, is virtually non-porous. In contrast, the surface of a concrete pool is extremely rough and porous.
These rough cavities and pores give algae a place to hide and call home, making pool ownership much more difficult. Concrete pool builders teach their clients that weekly brushing of the entire pool surface is mandatory to keep algae at bay. In addition, chemical usage in concrete pools is much higher because of the need to penetrate the pool surface to kill algae.
Concrete pools also require daily doses of muriatic acid to lower the pH of the water. This is because concrete is alkaline based and constantly increases the pH of pool water. Fiberglass pools, on the other hand, are inert and do not affect water chemistry in any way.
For these reasons, fiberglass pool owners typically spend 75% less time and money maintaining their pools. This means anyone who owns a fiberglass pool will spend more time in the pool and less time maintaining it.
Speed of Installation
Because the fiberglass pool shell is manufactured off-site, the installation of the shell typically occurs in about two weeks. Compare this with three to six months with a concrete pool and we're talking about a huge difference in the duration of time your yard is in disarray and often the difference between swimming this year or waiting until next summer.
Because fiberglass pools have no liner, there's no need to concern yourself with puncturing the pool surface. Vinyl liners are not cheap....often upwards of $4-$6k to replace. This can happen from dogs getting in the pool, tree branches, patio furniture blown into the pool, etc. Fiberglass pools are incredibly strong and durable so there's no need to be concerned about damaging the pool during daily use.
Compatibility with Salt Systems
Salt chlorinators have proven to be a low-maintenance, high-water quality option for pool owners. However, if you have ever seen what de-icing salt does to the surface of a sidewalk you can guess what it does to the surface of a concrete pool. In our opinion, this makes the combination of salt systems and concrete pools unfavorable. Also, many vinyl liner pools are constructed with metal wall panels and most have aluminum coping around the perimeter of the pool....this is also a terrible scenario for a salt system. The liner will eventually leak and goodbye wall panel! In comparison, fiberglass pools and salt systems go together like peanut butter and jelly. With no adverse effect on the fiberglass shell, you can enjoy the low maintenance benefits of salt with the confidence that your pool is not compromised.
Vinyl Liner Advantages
Low Initial Cost
Vinyl liner pools are more affordable to install...usually at least $10,000 less than fiberglass or concrete pools. Thus, their most appealing attribute, allows many families to enjoy the benefits of an inground pool that couldn't otherwise fit it into their budget.
Despite the fact that the vast majority of vinyl liner pools are rectangular, it is possible to customize the shape, size, and depth of the pool. Custom shapes do cost more, but still typically less than fiberglass or concrete pools.
The biggest disadvantage of vinyl liner pools is the cost and frequency of replacing the liner. Today's vinyl liners will typically last between five and nine years at an average cost of around $5,500 to replace when factoring in the cost of the liner, labor, water to fill the pool, and other minor expenses that tend to arise. This means the low initial cost of the pool could be off-set within the first ten years after construction....and over the entire lifetime of the pool, it will cost many thousands more than a fiberglass pool in the long run.
Liner Warranty Not Straight Forward
Another point of discussion is the liner warranty, which is typically stated as twenty years or so. We encourage anyone expecting to receive any credit on a liner replacement to read the warranty in full. You'll probably find the following information:
1. The warranty only covers the "seams" of the liner, where the sections of material are fused together.
2. The warranty does not cover any labour, water, or other expenses.
3. The warranty is extremely pro-rated. You'll most likely get some credit toward a new liner during the first two or three years, but next to nothing after that.
Parts of Vinyl Liner Pools Do Harbour Algae Growth
Even though the surface of a vinyl liner pool is relatively non-porous, parts of the pool like where there is little circulation like the white plastic steps attached to the pool wall, and behind light niches in submerged areas that do not have circulated water. Consequently, algae grows in those areas and spawns new growth.