Thinking about getting a fiberglass pool? There are many factors to consider, especially since each pool type has its advantages and disadvantages.
At Uptown Pools, we believe in providing all the information buyers need, whether or not they buy a fiberglass pool from us. We’ll tell you everything you need to know so you can make the right choice about which pool fits your needs.
There are numerous advantages to fiberglass swimming pools:
- Low maintenance
- Low lifetime cost
- Non-abrasive Surface
- Integrated steps and benches
- Manufactured in a controlled environment
- Quick installation
- Elegant aesthetics
Because fiberglass pool shells have a gelcoat surface, it doesn’t have large pores and cavities like concrete. This makes the surface smooth and algae-resistant, so algae has nowhere to hide.
It’s the opposite with concrete pools. Algae settles in the pores and it’s virtually impossible to completely eliminate. It requires chemicals to penetrate the surface, weekly steel-brushing, acid-washing every 3–5 years, and resurfacing every 10–15 years.
The inert surface of fiberglass pools doesn’t affect water chemistry. But concrete pools are alkaline-based, which constantly increases pH and makes the water more alkaline. To lower the pH, daily addition of muriatic acid is necessary.
Considering that a fiberglass pool owner will spend 75% less time and money on maintenance, they’ll also be spending more time enjoying the pool.
Low lifetime cost
Fiberglass pools may cost a little more upfront than a vinyl liner pool, your long-term expenses will be far less.
Fiberglass pool shells need only the most basic maintenance such as scooping or vacuuming debris and properly balancing the water chemistry. You’ll also save thousands by never replacing a liner, acid washing the pool, or re-plastering the surface, not to mention savings on chemicals and energy because fiberglass surfaces don’t attract algae or impact water chemistry.
Fiberglass pools extremely strong and durable. No need to worry about puncturing or damaging them through normal use, even if your dog enjoys the pool as much as you.
The same can’t be said for vinyl liners, which are easy to puncture through normal use. You also need to replace them every 5–9 years at a cost of $6,000+ each time.
The advantage of the gelcoat surface of a fiberglass pool is its smoothness. Compare that to the rough surface of concrete pools and their susceptibility to algae. Concrete surfaces are also rough on the skin, particularly children, who should wear water shoes to protect their feet. Abrasion won’t be a problem with a fiberglass pool.
Integrated steps and benches
Steps are incorporated into the shell of fiberglass pools, and most include built-in seating. Because these features are integrated into the design, they incur no extra cost. Nor do you have to be concerned about them detaching from the rest of the pool.
Manufactured in a controlled environment
Fiberglass pools are manufactured in a controlled factory climate, which regulates the atmosphere and environment. This produces consistent, high-quality products.
As concrete and vinyl liner pools are constructed outside, they’re subject to the negative effects of weather.
Compatibility with salt water systems
Salt water generators electronically convert salt into chlorine to sanitize your pool. However, lower chlorine levels in salt water pools are much kinder to your skin and bathing suits. Salt water pools stay clear, the water feels silky, and are much easier to maintain.
Fiberglass pools are the perfect match for a salt chlorine generator. They allow you to benefit from low maintenance costs and avoid pool damage. However, salt water systems can affect vinyl liner pools with metal wall panels as the salt corrodes the panels, handrails, and ladder anchors made with galvanized steel.
And for plastered concrete or gunite pools, salt water can be quite abrasive.
Fiberglass pool shells are manufactured off site, providing the enormous benefit of avoiding a destroyed yard. The shell is delivered to your home and typically takes about two days to install. The pool will then be swim ready!
After the pool up and running, then comes work on the patio and landscaping. This will take about 3-6 weeks to complete.
Compare this to the average of 3-6 months to complete a concrete pool before you can even think of enjoying a swim. That’s quite a long haul to be looking at a big hole in your back yard. Not only that, if you start construction too late in the year, you’’re likely to lose most or all of your swim season.
Fiberglass pools may have started with plain colours and basic shapes, but advances in technology and innovation have created stunning designs and features enough to rival any concrete pool.
All these features are possible with fiberglass swimming pools:
- Gorgeous gelcoat colours
- Waterline tile
- Tanning ledges
- Water features including waterfalls and deck jets
- Multicoloured pool and patio lights
- Spas and splash pads
- Poolside walls
At Uptown Pools, our team works with each customer to make their dream backyard a reality.
Disadvantages of fiberglass swimming pools
- Higher initial costs
- Repairs on some gelcoats won’t match original colour
- Risk of cracking or popping out of the ground
- Limited choice of shapes and designs
Higher initial cost
Fiberglass pools have a high initial investment ranging from $45,000–$85,000:
- averaging about $10,000 more than vinyl liner pools
- roughly equal to low budget concrete pools
This can be a deterrent for some customers.
However, long-term expenses for fiberglass pools are significantly lower than concrete or vinyl liner pools thanks to low maintenance costs.
Repairs on some gelcoats won’t match original colour
Most fiberglass pools won’t require repairs within the first 20-40 years. However, sometimes problems occur that repair, such as a rock striking the pool during shipping, or a structural crack. Though rare, damage can occur.
Because some coloured finishes are applied in several overlapping layers, such as solid colour, metallic flake, and clear coat, when a repair is attempted on these multi-layered finishes, it’s impossible to duplicate the manufacturing process.
A solid surface finish is only applied once, so repairs are generally a closer match to the factory finish.
Limited shapes and designs
Fiberglass pools are manufactured from pre-existing moulds, which limit the shapes and sizes available. And because fiberglass pools are shipped by road, shipping restrictions limit the width of the pool shell to a maximum of 40’ length x 16’ width x 8.5’ depth.
For those looking for a customized pool above these dimensions or in an unusual shape, fiberglass may not be the ideal choice. However, 90% of customers do find a fiberglass pool that suits their needs.
To summarize, fiberglass pools are quickly installed, extremely easy to maintain, are durable, and offer many stunning designs.
Keep in mind that initial costs can be higher than vinyl liner pools, and shapes and sizes cannot be customized.