Fiberglass vs Concrete Pools: A Side-by-Side Comparison

Choosing between a fiberglass or concrete pool is one of those challenges many of us are facing whenever we want to build our new pool.

The truth is that both options are great, however, there are plenty of differences to take into consideration. Their look and feel are different, and each option has its own pros and cons.

In this article, we will focus on the differences between concrete and fiberglass pools to see which is the right option for you.

Are fiberglass pools cheaper than concrete?

Generally, when you compare fiberglass vs concrete pools, you will notice that these pools have a very similar initial cost. They are known for being top-quality materials for building a pool.

There are some differences that will change pricing, however, as you can imagine. Fiberglass is a bit cheaper when compared to concrete when it comes to the total cost of ownership. 

There’s also the fact that fiberglass is algae resistant, and that means you can save money on chemicals and pool maintenance. However, when it comes to actually build concrete or fiberglass pools, most of them have a very similar cost to one another.

That means it’s more about what material you like when compared to which one is the cheaper option. 

Cost of concrete pool vs fiberglass

Depending on where you live, material cost, transportation, and installation costs, you can encounter different pool prices for these materials. On average though, it’s possible for a fiberglass pool to cost you $50k, whereas a concrete pool can be $55k.

The difference is not huge, and it shows that fiberglass can be a little bit cheaper. 

However, concrete has its fair share of benefits, like the fact that it’s much easier to customize, and you can easily have a different feel based on what finish you choose.

Of course, installing a fiberglass pool takes a lot less time than it comes to a concrete one. So there are different costs that add on top of the pool cost itself. 

The cheapest option when it comes to pools is vinyl, but the reality is that vinyl is not super durable. That lowers the overall quality and results, and it just doesn’t bring in the results that you want.

This is why fiberglass vs concrete pools is such a common topic. These are premium, reliable materials that provide a lot more durability when compared to other options. 

We recommend taking your time and studying all the costs related to pool acquisition and installation. This will make it a lot easier to identify just how much it will cost to buy and also install a fiberglass or concrete pool on your property.

The costs listed above are estimates, it can end up costing you a lot more or a lot less, depending on your location and all the other factors.

Which one has the better appearance?

A lot of people choose fiberglass pools because they are much easier to install, however, their look isn’t really extraordinary. The fiberglass vs concrete pool comparison shows both tools can have complementary decking and landscaping, which is great.

The better option when it comes to creativity is certainly concrete since it’s a versatile material and it just allows you to work in various different ways. You are much less restricted when compared to fiberglass.

In fact, fiberglass pool shells are manufactured in a factory and then they are shipped to you. While you can choose various prebuilt models, you don’t have the versatility to adjust the pool as you built it.

Instead, you have a premade shell whose shape you can choose beforehand. That’s why concrete pools are better if you want something more creative and different. Otherwise, fiberglass pools will work just fine. 

Fiberglass vs concrete pool customization

This is another category where concrete wins because you get to customize its look the way you want. The fact that you can choose any shape you want and not worry about damaging a shell is very important.

You’re not limited to the pool size either, and you can have an extremely large luxury pool if you make it out of concrete.

Fiberglass can be a great material here as well, but it does have its caveats. Then again, some customers want fewer options because it can be overwhelming to choose the ideal one which suits their needs.

So in some cases, it pays off to go with fiberglass if you don’t have a massive customization requirement and you just want something simple and convenient.

Which option has the better feel?

What we noticed about concrete is that you can have different finishes, and those add a different feel depending on the material. Plaster is usually the most common option because it’s affordable.

The downside is that plaster has a rough touch, so it’s not exactly smooth and pleasant when compared to other materials. However, if you do pay a little bit more, you can choose ceramic, glass, or stone tiles.

These make the surface a lot smoother, and you will end up happier with the results. It’s all a matter of what you find ideal and what brings you extraordinary value and quality. 

Fiberglass on the other hand comes with a very smooth touch. That also means it can be slippery, so extra care is needed if you have a fiberglass pool.

If it’s slippery, that might also indicate you have problems with algae, something that can get solved more often than not.

In case you’re interested mostly in the feel of your pool, the fiberglass vs concrete pool debate favors fiberglass pools, at least for this particular category. 

Fiberglass vs concrete pool maintenance

Concrete is known for being porous, so it does involve a lot more maintenance when compared to a fiberglass pool. There are many debates regarding fiberglass vs concrete pool options online, and everyone has their own favorite.

Concrete allows your pools to be deeper and you have more designs, but it can get more expensive with the numerous options. The fact that it’s rough and it also needs more maintenance doesn’t make it ideal for everyone, which is certainly a thing you need to take into account.

Fiberglass pools don’t need any maintenance, for the most part, just some cleaning to prevent algae growth. These are not deep pools, they can go up to 8 feet deep, maybe a bit more at times.

That means you’re not going to have a very good diving experience here. However, the fact that you don’t need to use chemicals or worry about pool maintenance that often is a major plus in the eyes of most people. 

With that being said, fiberglass pools also have shock resistance. The materials used to create fiberglass pools are actually absorbing shocks, which makes these pools ideal for places where you have earthquakes very often. 

Installation process

One of the challenges that a lot of people face when installing a pool is that the installation process can be long, tedious, and messy.

The fiberglass vs concrete pool discussion is important here because these materials have different installation methods. Fiberglass pools are sent from the factory to your home, and they are easy to install.

The important thing about fiberglass pools is that they are super easy to install since you have the prebuilt shell and you drop it in a hole you dug previously for it. You also have to connect it to the plumbing, then you are almost good to go. 

Concrete pools are not the easiest ones to install. First, you need to dig the hole that you want, and then you need to prepare the concrete installation system.

Usually, you must pour concrete a few times to ensure everything ends up being exactly the way you want.

It will take some time and effort to bring that idea to life, but it’s going to be worth it since you will have a very durable pool installed. 

The downside to concrete pools? Installing a fiberglass pool can take a few days at most, however, installing a concrete pool can take weeks or even months.

Then there are things like weather issues which can end up postponing the installation process quite a lot more than you expect.

At the end of the day, it’s a matter of preference and budget. When it comes to the installation process alone, you end up with a much faster installation time if you go the fiberglass route.

Whether this is the right material for you or not, that’s up to debate. But it will give you a very good value, and that’s exactly why it can be the appropriate option in most situations.

Which material is more durable: fiberglass vs concrete?

When you want to decide between fiberglass vs concrete pool, durability is one of the things that need to be at the forefront. Discussing the overall durability of your pool is extremely important since you get to see the overall return on investment you will receive.

What you will notice during your research is that vinyl is the least durable material for any type of pool.

However, when we talk about fiberglass vs concrete pool, the truth is that both options can last for decades. Some say that concrete can last for a lifetime, and that’s true if the pool is built properly and the workers used high-quality materials.

Yet at some point concrete will end up with cracks and damage showing its age, and those repairs are going to be expensive.

On the fiberglass side, the pool shell can also crack, especially due to the earth shifting.

If you drain the pool often, these cracks can appear a lot more often, and that will be a problem. There were also reports stating that some fiberglass pools actually popped out of the ground if left drained due to pressure in the ground. 

Generally, you will notice that most manufacturers or contractors offer a long-term warranty for both pools, so you will end up with some protection regardless of what materials you choose.

It still pays off to read the contract and see what’s covered by the warranty and what’s outside of the manufacturer warranty, just to be on the safe side.

Algae issues

Concrete pools don’t really have algae problems, however, algae become an issue if you go with a fiberglass material. More often than not, fiberglass pools will accumulate algae, and that becomes an issue.

However, there are ways to try and solve such a problem, depending on the situation. A good idea is to opt for a fiberglass pool that comes with gel coats.

These are smooth, and also algae-resistant. Those pores are microscopic, which means algae will have a very hard time getting into the pool. 

Chemicals and electric systems

A fiberglass pool doesn’t require any chemicals or electricity to ensure the water in your pool is clean. That means you’re using much less energy, money, and time. It’s one of the reasons why a lot of people choose fiberglass when compared to other materials.

On the other hand, concrete is alkaline-based, so the pH levels of your pool water will end up affecting it. That’s why you want to add acid to ensure the chemical balance is in order.

However, you must be careful, because too much acid can be an issue. 

Is a concrete pool better than fiberglass?

It all depends on what you want from your pool and the budget you are working with. Concrete pools are popular because you can have more designs, but they are hard to install and also cost more.

If you have a smaller budget and you want less headache when it comes to installing your pool, fiberglass tends to be the right option. The truth is that any of the two options are great in this fiberglass vs concrete pool comparison.

It all comes down to personal preference and the material that satisfies your needs and requirements the most. Take your time and remember, both options are great, it’s all a matter of finding out what works according to your climate, pool usage, required size, and other personal preferences.

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