There’s much information online about the various types of swimming pools available.
If you plan to install an inground pool, you only have three options: vinyl liner, fiberglass, and concrete.
Each type of pool has advantages and disadvantages.
Unfortunately, an unbiased review of all three is almost impossible to find.
That’s because virtually every comparison out there is written by a pool company that sells and installs only one type of pool.
That’s like going to a Toyota dealer and asking for a fair comparison between Toyota, Chevy, and Ford pickup trucks.
Even if they try to be honest, you know they have a motive.
So before you trust any of these comparisons, look at the rest of the website and see what type of pool they sell.
We guarantee that the pool they sell will be the cheapest, most accessible pool to install and own.
Here at The Pool Butler, we know that which type of pool you choose is a personal choice.
We want you to have the information you need to make an informed decision.
But we need something riding on which you choose because WE DON’T SELL POOLS! We clean, maintain, and repair pools, so we have firsthand knowledge of the costs involved with ownership.
But we need something to gain or lose by which type of pool you install.
So if you are looking for a genuinely unbiased review, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ll look at all the options and give you our honest opinion.
Whatever your choice is, we’re happy to help you maintain your pool.
Why an Unbiased Review is So hard to Find
Installing a swimming pool is a significant financial decision.
The installation and ongoing ownership costs are costly, no matter what type of pool you choose.
It is if an advertised pool seems too reasonable to be true.
With your spending money, you don’t want to cut corners to save some bucks in the short term.
Deciding which type of pool to install is your first step in your pool ownership journey.
You can only make other decisions once you’ve made that one.
But try to find an unbiased review, and you’ll be almost fresh out of luck.
Most thoughts are by companies that sell pools and therefore have a vested interest in your final decision.
The Pool Butler doesn’t sell collections, so we’re here to give you the real low-down so you can make your own decision.
To help you on your pool ownership journey, we will present the pros and cons of each type of pool.
After that, we’ll leave the decision-making up to you.
Fiberglass Pros and Cons
A fiberglass pool is manufactured off site as a giant fiberglass shell.
The shell is delivered to your home in one piece and dropped into a prepared hole.
A fiberglass pool comes prefabricated.
This means that installation is quick and easy.
The collection can be installed, leveled, and backfilled in just a couple of days, although it will be a few weeks before you can take your first swim.
The prefabrication includes steps, seats, and ledges.
It may even include rails and ladders.
Think of a fiberglass pool as a mobile home.
It shows up from the manufacturer ready to go.
Fiberglass pools also have low maintenance costs.
Most fiberglass pools have a gel lining.
The lining is non-porous, so there’s not much of a place for algae to take hold.
That makes cleaning a fiberglass pool less labor-intensive than other types of pools.
The non-porous shell also doesn’t absorb chemicals or react with the pool water, minimizing the cost of added pool chemicals.
A fiberglass pool is more expensive to install than a vinyl liner pool but cheaper than a concrete pool.
Over time, however, you can recoup some of the installation costs with the lower maintenance costs.
A fiberglass pool with a gel coating takes a long time to fade and rarely needs resurfacing or repairs.
The biggest drawback of a fiberglass pool is the limitations created by delivering the collection in one piece.
Fiberglass shells must be transported by a truck, so the maximum size is 16 feet wide and about 40 feet long.
Also, the design options are limited.
This is a prefab pool, not a custom pool, so you get exactly what the manufacturers are selling.
That being said, there are many manufacturers and styles to choose from, so beyond the size limitation, you have many options.
Fiberglass pools are made with a gel coating.
The gel coating is sturdy, but if it cracks or needs repairs, it can be challenging to match the color of the rest of the pool.
Regarding initial cost, a fiberglass pool is cheaper than concrete but still more expensive than a comparably-sized vinyl liner pool.
Vinyl Liner Pros and Cons
A vinyl liner pool is built by digging a giant hole, installing steel or polymer walls, then dropping in a paper-thin vinyl lining.
The lining is the inner wall of your pool and holds all the water.
Vinyl Liner Pros
A vinyl liner pool is the cheapest type of pool to install.
There are other lifetime costs, but the startup costs are the lowest of any collection.
Similar to the gel coat on a fiberglass pool, a non-porous vinyl liner doesn’t absorb chemicals.
That makes it less expensive to maintain than a concrete pool.
It also means less room for algae to grab hold, so you will spend less time brushing your walls than with a concrete pool.
Vinyl liners offer much more customization than fiberglass pools.
The liner is shipped folded up, so there are a few size limitations.
The shape and size of your vinyl lining pool are really up to you.
Vinyl liners have a soft, slick surface.
You can decide if that is a pro or a con.
It’s gentle on your toes but can be hard to grip.
Vinyl Liner Cons
A vinyl liner is fragile.
The liner is only 20 to 30 thousandths of an inch thick, literally paper-thin.
Vinyl is much stronger than paper, but you must still be careful.
Trim tree branches, pointy pool toys, or a pet’s claws can all puncture the lining.
If you have kids or pets, a vinyl lining is risky.
Vinyl liners may have a low initial cost, but lifetime costs can be higher than a fiberglass pool.
The lining will need to be replaced every 5-7 years.
Between the cost of the new liner and the water to refill your collection, you’re looking at a $4,000-$5,000 expense.
Also, a vinyl pool does not include steps, ladders, or other external parts.
Purchasing those add-ons will add to the initial cost.
Because vinyl liners are so fragile, they tend to have minimal warranties.
Even the best vinyl liner warranties are prorated since the liner has to be replaced every 5-7 years.
A vinyl liner pool can also be a liability when you sell your home.
Vinyl liners have the lowest resale value of any collection.
In addition, the first question any potential buyer will ask is how old the liner is.
If it’s over a few years old, you may have to install a new liner before selling or reduce the total home value to pay the buyer to do it themselves.
Vinyl liners are non-porous, which helps with cleaning, but they also have seams and sometimes even wrinkles.
Those seams and wrinkles can harbor hard-to-reach algae.
Concrete Pool Pros and Cons
To build a concrete pool, a contractor will start by digging a massive hole in the shape of the pool.
Then, rebar will be installed around the edges and bottom of the spot where the walls will be.
Concrete is poured into molds around the rebar to form solid walls and flooring.
After the concrete sets are usually covered in plaster, gunite, tile, or pebble finish.
Concrete Pool Pros
The main benefit of concrete pools is that they are entirely customizable.
You can build anything your pool builder or architect can sketch.
Beach entrances, tanning ledges, vanishing edges, and any customization you dream up are all possible.
However, all that customization comes with a price tag.
Concrete Pool Cons
Concrete pools are not cheap or easy to build or maintain.
The concrete pool takes a lot of time and money to install.
How much time and capital depends on the size and complexity of the pool and the contractor you choose.
Once the pool is built, you will use more chemicals to keep the water clean and balanced than with another type of pool.
That’s because the walls are porous and absorb the chemicals.
If you use plaster, it will react with the pool water and raise its pH.
You will need to add acid regularly and closely monitor pH levels.
Porous walls also become a hideout for algae.
Keeping a concrete pool clean requires regular vigorous scrubbing with a pool brush and vacuuming.
If you buy an automatic pool-cleaning robot, it will set you back another thousand dollars.
You will also use more electricity than with other pools since you have to run your filter 8-10 hours a day.
About once every decade or so, you must completely drain your pool and acid wash the walls and floor.
Depending on the pool and the contractor, acid washing could cost $200-$800 or more.
A concrete pool needs to be resurfaced more regularly, about every seven years, which can cost $5k-$15k, again depending on the pool and the contractor.
- Fiberglass pools are quick to install and easy to maintain but have limited options.
- Vinyl liner pools are cheap to install but fragile.
The liner needs to be replaced every 5 to 7 years, or if it is damaged, leading to minimal warranties & low resale value.
- Concrete pools are as customizable as your dreams but costly to build and maintain.
Which type of pool you choose is up to you.
Much depends on your budget, vision, and how you plan to use your collection.
The Pool Butler can help you maintain whatever pool you desire so that it lasts as long as possible and is already ready for a swim.
You can find out more about our cleaning and maintenance services here.
Choosing the correct type of swimming pool is a significant decision, but finding an unbiased review can be challenging.
Most comparisons are written by pool companies that sell and install only one type of pool, which creates a biased perspective.
However, at The Pool Butler, we provide genuinely unbiased information because we don’t sell collections.
Our focus is on pool cleaning, maintenance, and repair, giving us firsthand knowledge of the costs associated with pool ownership.
We present the pros and cons of each type of pool and leave the decision-making process to you.
Whatever type of pool you choose, we’re here to help you maintain it effectively.
Why is it difficult to find an unbiased review of swimming pools?
Finding an unbiased review of swimming pools can be challenging because most comparisons and reviews are written by companies that sell and install only one type of pool. These companies naturally have a vested interest in promoting their products, which can lead to biased information. At The Pool Butler, we provide unbiased reviews as we don’t sell pools and focus on cleaning, maintenance, and repair.
What are the advantages of fiberglass pools?
Fiberglass pools offer several advantages. They are quick and easy to install, often taking just a few days. The prefabricated nature of fiberglass pools includes built-in steps, seats, and ledges, making them convenient. Fiberglass pools have low maintenance costs due to their non-porous gel lining, reducing the need for intensive cleaning and chemical usage. They are also durable and resistant to fading, rarely requiring resurfacing or repairs.
How long does it take to install a fiberglass pool?
The installation time for a fiberglass pool is relatively short compared to other types. Typically, the pool can be installed, leveled, and backfilled within a few days. However, it’s important to note that additional time is needed for the collection to fully cure before you can use it, which usually takes a few weeks.
What are the maintenance costs associated with a fiberglass pool?
Fiberglass pools generally have lower maintenance costs compared to other types. The non-porous gel lining makes cleaning easier and reduces the labor-intensive tasks of brushing and chemical treatments. Additionally, the non-reactive nature of the shell minimizes the need for extra pool chemicals. These factors contribute to cost savings over time.
Are there any limitations or drawbacks of fiberglass pools?
While fiberglass pools have many advantages, there are some limitations to consider. The collection delivery in one piece imposes size limitations, typically up to 16 feet wide and around 40 feet long. Design options are limited since fiberglass pools are prefabricated and not fully customizable. Additionally, repairing a cracked or damaged gel coating can be challenging, as it may be difficult to match the color of the rest of the pool.
What is the advantage of vinyl liner pools?
Vinyl liner pools offer several benefits, including low initial installation costs compared to other types. They also provide more customization options, as the vinyl liner is flexible and shipped folded, allowing for various shapes and sizes. The smooth and soft surface of the liner is gentle on the skin, creating a comfortable swimming experience.
How does the initial cost of a vinyl liner pool compare to other types?
Vinyl liner pools are generally the most affordable option for initial installation costs. They are often less expensive than both fiberglass and concrete pools. However, it’s essential to consider the long-term costs associated with periodic liner replacements, which should be factored into the overall cost of ownership.
What maintenance requirements are involved with vinyl liner pools?
Maintenance for vinyl liner pools is relatively straightforward. Regular cleaning, including brushing the walls and vacuuming, helps prevent algae growth. The non-porous nature of the vinyl liner minimizes chemical absorption and simplifies water balance maintenance. However, handling the pool carefully is crucial to avoid puncturing or damaging the thin vinyl liner.
What are the disadvantages of vinyl liner pools?
One major disadvantage of vinyl liner pools is their vulnerability to damage. The vinyl lining is relatively thin, making it susceptible to punctures from sharp objects like tree branches, toys, or pets’ claws. Additionally, the need for periodic liner replacements every 5-7 years can increase long-term costs. Vinyl liners also have limited warranties, and their resale value tends to be lower than other pool types.
How often do vinyl liners need to be replaced?
Vinyl liners typically last around 5 to 7 years before needing replacement. Factors such as water chemistry, UV exposure, and how well the pool is maintained can affect the liner’s lifespan. Regular inspections for tears, leaks, or fading can help identify when to replace the liner.
What impact does a vinyl liner pool have on home resale value?
While a pool can enhance the appeal of a home, the impact on resale value varies. Vinyl liner pools generally have a lower resale value than concrete or fiberglass pools. However, the effect depends on the local real estate market, buyer preferences, and the pool’s condition and maintenance history.
What customization options are available with concrete pools?
Concrete pools offer the most size, shape, and feature customization options. They can be built in any form, allowing for unique and personalized designs. Concrete pools also offer various finish options, including tiles, pebbles, or plaster, allowing homeowners to create the desired aesthetic.
What are the installation and maintenance costs associated with concrete pools?
Concrete pools have higher initial installation costs than other types due to the labor-intensive construction. The price can vary depending on the pool’s size, complexity, and desired finishes. Concrete pools require regular maintenance, including brushing, vacuuming, and chemical balancing, which may involve higher ongoing costs than other types.
How do water cleanliness and balance differ in concrete pools?
Maintaining water cleanliness and balance in concrete pools requires more attention than other types. The porous nature of the concrete surface can absorb chemicals, which may affect water balance. Regular brushing is necessary to prevent algae growth and remove debris trapped on the surface. Proper filtration and chemical treatments are essential to maintain water clarity and sanitation.
What maintenance tasks are required for concrete pools?
Concrete pools require regular maintenance tasks such as brushing the walls and floor to prevent algae growth and scaling. Skimming the surface to remove residue, vacuuming the pool, and backwashing the filter are also necessary. Regular water testing, chemical balancing, and filter maintenance are crucial to ensure optimal water quality.
How often should a concrete pool be drained and acid washed?
The frequency of draining and acid washing a concrete pool depends on factors such as water quality, usage, and maintenance practices. Generally, a concrete pool may require draining and acid cleaning every 3-7 years to remove mineral deposits, stains, and algae buildup. It’s essential to follow manufacturer recommendations and consult with pool professionals to determine the appropriate schedule.
How frequently does a concrete pool need to be resurfaced?
Concrete pools typically need to be resurfaced every 10-15 years, depending on the quality of the initial construction and ongoing maintenance. Over time, the plaster or other surface finishes can degrade, leading to roughness, staining, and water quality issues. Resurfacing restores the pool’s aesthetics, smoothness, and structural integrity.
What factors should I consider when choosing the right type of pool for me?
Several factors should be considered when choosing a pool type, including budget, installation time, customization options, maintenance requirements, durability, and aesthetics. Evaluating your specific needs, preferences, and long-term plans for pool ownership is essential. Consulting with pool professionals and considering the local climate and regulations can also provide valuable insights into making an informed decision.