Fiberglass Pool Pros and Cons

In-ground fiberglass swimming pools

Fiberglass Pool Installation

Inground swimming pool installation is a science and not all inground pool installers understand the process of installing a fiberglass pool. As a fiberglass pool installation professional, the owner of Sonco Pools and Spas, Mike Peterson, discusses why certain myths related to fiberglass pools just aren’t true.

The fastest growing segment of the swimming pool industry in America and Canada is in the fiberglass swimming pool structure. Many other countries have seen the fiberglass swimming pool become the number one choice for residential construction with 55% of the market shifting to fiberglass. Fiberglass pools in the U.S. make up less than 10% of the market today; however, markets in Canada and America are seeing huge demand and growth for the latest in swimming pool technology and style.

The advancements in gel coats and resins have created a modern day swimming pool that is incredibly strong, flexible, UV resilient, and easy to own. The old myth that a fiberglass swimming pool can’t survive in climates that freeze is simply not true, in fact the fiberglass swimming pool has much more ability to flex in freeze/thaw conditions and ice does not damage the surface like we have seen in vinyl liner construction. The initial cost of installing a fiberglass pool will be higher than a vinyl swimming pool; however, the cost of one liner replacement almost repays the initial cost difference.

Advantages of Fiberglass:

  • Fiberglass swimming pools have the lowest cost of ownership over time. The fiberglass shell resists algae growth, the shell is a better insulator, and the structure never needs liner replacements or resurfacing like vinyl liner and gunite/concrete pools.
  • Fiberglass swimming pools have great molded steps, benches, coves, and sun deck configurations. Just like today’s hot tubs the molds that create the swimming pool designs are very luxurious. No other construction method has better design options.
  • Fiberglass swimming pools are the quickest to construct and weather does not affect the construction process as much as vinyl or gunite. The fiberglass pool can be constructed in about two weeks from concept to completion.
  • Virtually any type of impact damage can be repaired Just as a boat or yacht can be repaired. Fiberglass swimming pools can be easily repaired on site. The only way damage could occur is from a significant impact or improper installation. These pools are tough and flexible!
  • Fiberglass swimming pools resist the growth of algae far better than vinyl liner pools because the surface is less porous and does not harbor algae as easily. This also contributes to easier vacuuming, and water line cleaning.
  • Fiberglass pools are a greener choice, the emitted ions created during construction are regulated and the consistent replacement of the vinyl liner creates considerable vinyl waste. With lower operating costs and a longer life span the fiberglass pool is a greener choice.
  • No potential for corrosion, the fiberglass swimming pool is the best choice for today’s salt purification systems making pool ownership a breeze. Just think about how many vessels are made of fiberglass and remain in salt water for many years.
  • Fiberglass pools have the best feel on your feet when you are in the water. The shells feel very solid and the surface is not abrasive like gunite/concrete.
  • Non slip steps and floors are a nice addition in the fiberglass swimming pool, the manufacture can easily add non slip texturing to the swimming pool steps and floor. This makes the entry steps very safe and gives the user confidence while entering or exiting the pool.
  • Scratches can be easily sanded and buffed if the shell becomes damaged; just like a quality yacht the fiberglass gel coat surface is thick and can allow for buffing and sanding if necessary.

Disadvantages of Fiberglass:

  • Because of the high cost of quality resins and fiberglass reinforcement materials, the cost to construct a fiberglass swimming pool is higher than a vinyl liner structure. Only one swimming pool can be constructed per day from a mold and the crew building the swimming pool can include many employees.
  • Consumers have no way of knowing how well the swimming pool was built; the fiberglass swimming pool manufacture has many options in gel coat (surface material) and resins (structural material). The integrity of the shell over time is very dependent on the grade of resin and the method of construction the builder embraces. Fiberglass pools all look alike when they are new, however, they are not all created equally. The use of inferior materials may not show up for 5-10 years in a fiberglass pool. Choosing the right builder is more critical in fiberglass pools than any other construction method. Your Sonco pool professional can discuss the elements of superior fiberglass construction; we study the manufacturing process and know who builds the best fiberglass pools.
  • Logistic costs with wide load shipping can be very high; pools that are shipped across the country can add as much as $6,000.00 or more to a project. Sonco has a great advantage with shipping costs due to our local distribution facility. Fiberglass pools require escort vehicles during shipping if the load is over 14’ wide. Police escorts are required at 18’ wide and normally become cost prohibitive.
  • The fiberglass mold is very expensive to build and maintain over time. Fiberglass pools are not easily customized and can only be duplicated by the mold. Sizes and shapes are limited to the manufactures molds that are custom built in the factory. The cost to build a mold can be well over $50,000.00
  • Potential for damage during installation/moving is a factor with fiberglass pools. The structures are so large; moving the pool around homes and over structures takes great care and experience that is learned over time. Most fiberglass pool damage occurs by inexperienced builders during installation and delivery.
  • Limited Bottom configurations and limited diving pool options are a factor in fiberglass pools; the flat bottom design is not easily changed. The advertised depth is all that is available in each design and normally ranges from 4’ to 6’ in depth.
  • Just like a fiberglass boat or yacht the swimming pool surface can become dull over time. This maintenance is performed every 15-20 years with several hours of labor and special buffing equipment.