Concrete vs. Fiberglass

tim_pool_newbieMay 3, 2009

I'm in the early stages of planning an in-ground pool project and wondering the pros and cons of concrete vs. fiberglass. Am I correct that fiberglass tends to be more expensive? Is either one generally better than the other? I've already ruled out liners as I've heard stories of tears and about them only lasting about 10-15 years.

Any thoughts?

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Many fiberglass pools I have serviced go into smaller areas however that is only true in about half the cases. Rarely will you find one over 20,000 gallons. Most are not dive pool certified due to depth and slope requirements.

Some want the pool done quickly. Fiberglass is in the ground plumbed and filled in a day or two. Then comes the electrical, decking and fencing and inspections.

Concrete pools usually take substantially longer because the custom work for each pool makes the number of additional steps and inspections increase. Cure times for the shell and plaster are also major time factors.

Permits are a wash. They both have to go through the process.

Care is pretty much the same for finished products. Both need periodic scrubbing of the water line, vacuuming, emptying of baskets, backwashing or cartridge cleaning, and chemistry is the same, right down line. Even the same tools are used in maintaining them.

New concrete pools need care once they are "shot". The shell needs periodic watering down when curing, the plaster finish has additional brushing and chemical demands during it's first year before settling to a similar demand as a fiberglass pool.

Both require skilled workers to build and install well. Choose your dealer well. A few succeed in giving our entire industry a black eye. Service is another big thing to concern yourself with. Is it staffed with experienced people that have been there and done that and know the answers or commit to and follow through on your issues?

Both are competitively priced.

With a fiberglass pool, you can see it before it is in the ground. Some dealers have a large selection for inspection of not yet installed shells.

Concrete pools come in an infinite number of shapes and sizes.

When comparing prices, press to make things as equal as possible. Give reasonable weight to dollars, needs, size, patients, equipment, added features such as decking, Finish upgrades, water features, etc..

Hope this helps.


    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 5:50PM
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I have a plaster pool and from my experience and many others, plaster tends to be much more reactive than fiberglass so fiberglass tends to be a bit easier to maintain. Plaster is prone to scaling and pitting if the chemistry is not kept in balance where as fiberglass is bit more forgiving. Plaster pools require at least 200 ppm of calcium where fiberglass can get away with very little although some claim that heat exchangers will benefit some from a little calcium. The surface of fiberglass is generally smoother than plaster and so algae and dirt do not adhere as well as with a plaster pool and so are easier to clean off.

I went with a plaster pool because I couldn't find a diving pool big enough in fiberglass although they are now making a much larger selection. If I could have found the right one, I probably would have gone with fiberglass. Also, I think that currently, at least in our area, fiberglass is cheaper than a plaster pool. It use to be the other way around until gunite prices went way up.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 7:34PM
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From a builders standpoint, I build only fiberglass pools for a number a reasons. One reason is the ability to be more in control of the time it takes to build the pool. As a general rule it takes several sub-contractors to build a gunite or shotcrete pool. That means several companies that will either show up or won't show up when they are supposed to. They either make a builder shine or make him/her look like an idiot. There are exceptions to the rule especially with builders that have their own in-house crews. When I install a fiberglass pool, I do most of the work my self and it gives me more control and a greater ability to keep my word to the customer. In the end the finger of blame for any problems can only be pointed in my direction. I have also found that the client that puts in the fiberglass pool is not working nearly as hard trying to keep the pool maintained. This is strictly my opinion from my own experience.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 3:09PM
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