Congratulations. You have finally decided to pull the trigger on the big pool install in the backyard—the new centerpiece of your landscaping, and your next big investment. Now you are likely deciding between the big 3 types of in ground pools: concrete, vinyl, and fiberglass. Let’s break down some of the key points between these pools.
Concrete undoubtedly provides the greatest versatility with almost unlimited customization. If you want a pool bigger and deeper than your neighbor’s house, or maybe one that’s shaped like a guitar, you can do it. You can create unique shapes, water features, and levels that flow flawlessly with your landscaping.
Along with the ability to customize comes a rough surface, by far the most expensive maintenance, and an install time that takes months. The rough concrete surface not only can lead to scratches, but also becomes a desirable home for algae. Concrete pools require vigorous scrubbing and vacuuming, yearly acid washing ($200-800), more chemicals because of concrete’s alkalinity, and resurfacing which typically happens about every 10 years (~$10,000). Concrete also absorbs heat from the pool requiring more energy to keep the pool warm.
Undoubtedly, the biggest benefit of vinyl is the lower initial expense. While not as customizable as concrete, vinyl allows for customization and addition of steps, seating, etc. at an additional cost. Vinyl is non-porous, smooth to the touch, and therefore requires less maintenance than concrete.
Vinyl liners, which often tear and fade, need to be replaced about every seven years or sooner if punctured by pet claws, toys, or sticks. Unfortunately, most liners have minimal warranties and these replacements typically cost $4,000-5,000 plus labor and water cost. In the long run, the costs will surpass fiberglass. These liners can also be very slippery, show seams and sometimes even wrinkles depending on the quality of installation. If you would sell your house in the future, vinyl pools have the lowest resale value, especially if you are nearing the end of your pool’s vinyl life.
Fiberglass pools have the lowest maintenance costs, require about 30% less chlorine, and can be installed in 2-3 days. Prefabricated in a climate-controlled factory, fiberglass pools maintain a beautiful façade over time, are smooth, but not slippery, resist algae, and are also more flexible as the ground naturally moves. They are by far the most durable and come with the best warranties. With a fiberglass pool, you save big in the long run on maintenance and time while having a pool that continues to look beautiful year after year.
Fiberglass pools have the least amount of customizability because they come prefabricated. That being said, they can be customized by adding tile and mosaics, lighting, water features, etc.
The choice is yours. If you want a unique pool customized to your imagination and are willing to pay extensive long run costs—concrete is probably a good option. Vinyl is cheap to install, but fragile and more expensive than fiberglass in the long run. Lastly, fiberglass has the most benefits by far, but somewhat limited customization.
As you consider your options you should also consider your pool surroundings! You have the opportunity to create a tropical paradise right in your backyard. Our pool team at Vande Hey Company would love to help you make that paradise a reality!