WHICH MATERIAL IS BEST FOR NEW POOLS?
So you’ve decided to have a new swimming pool installed in your backyard. It wasn’t an easy decision. Concerns over things like cost and safety doubtless kept you brooding over cup after cup of coffee. Now that you’re moving forward with the project, however, you’re pleased. More than pleased. Because hey—swimming pools, especially brand new ones, are a blast to spend time in. Not only that, but with a pool, the resale value of your home is going to increase. This is the right thing to do.
But have you thought about what you want this private oasis to be made of? You probably have. Indeed, pool construction material is going to play a huge factor in longevity, maintenance, and all-around fun. It’s important to make the right call here that provides a nice balance of all three. We talked with a concrete contractor in Carlsbad, CA to find out about his perspective on the big difference between two pool deck types; concrete and fiberglass.
INSTALLATION AND COST
A team of trained professionals should always do the installation of an in-ground pool. The job calls for precise excavation, plus specific tools and equipment.
Dry-mixed concrete is best for pools, as it is less porous and thus holds longer under the waves. Other equipment needed for the task of installing a concrete pool would be:
- Reinforcing bars
Because excavation for the material is more difficult, having a concrete pool installed can take months, with the standard size 12X24 foot job hovering around $60,000.
Fiberglass pools cost about the same. They are pre-cast and delivered to the site by vehicle. From here, installation goes much faster—the standard time for getting a fiberglass pool in and ready to go is about five weeks. Keep in mind, however, that because fiberglass pools are delivered over the road, their width is limited to around 16 feet.
Now, what are you going to get from your pool deck? You’re going to get a somewhat rough surface that can potentially be a hazard to sensitive feet (chafed skin, stubbed toes), though at the same time will be less slippery than fiberglass, which could mean fewer falling accidents around ladders and coping. Concrete can assume many shapes and sizes to fit its environment. This makes it a fantastic medium for customization.
Being pre-cast, a fiberglass pool isn’t quite as open to shapeshifting as concrete. The surface is smooth, almost like porcelain, which can present some treachery with walking and climbing; however, this also means it’s non-porous, so unlike concrete (which needs to be resurfaced every few years) bacteria will have a much harder time finding a place to grow. Here’s another great thing: Because fiberglass doesn’t readily absorb heat, the water is going to get warmer faster and stay that way for long. Concrete likes to steal some of that warmth from your pool heater, leaving the poor machine with more work.
MAINTENANCE AND DURABILITY
A concrete swimming pool does love its attention. You’ll likely need to scrub it once a week as well as make sure the chemicals are delicately balanced. Fiberglass pools are much easier going. Their smooth surface makes it hard for material to get trapped and start growing. Nor will you need so many chemicals to keep the water safe for swimming.
That being said, a concrete pool is somewhat tougher in the long haul. All of that maintenance is going to give an owner sprawling decades of enjoyment, whereas fiberglass owners can expect around 20 years’ screaming and splashing. Fiberglass also tends to be more prone to cracks, especially if the protective gel finish isn’t re-applied every 8-10 years.
WHICH SHOULD I CHOOSE?
To wrap things up, let’s put them this way: Fiberglass is far easier to take care of, which means more fun and games, less cleaning, and repair. Concrete gives you more options with size, shape, and depth.
Use fiberglass if you want:
- A small or medium-sized pool
- Low maintenance and repair
- Flexibility for shifting landscapes
- A smooth, shiny surface (the pool, not the water)
Use concrete if you want:
- A larger, deeper swim
- More choices with decoration and design
- Rougher texture to reduce slipping accidents
- Longer overall lifespan (though with frequent upkeep tasks)
Consider the above carefully before settling on a material. Your new swimming pool is meant for relaxation, not taxation. You’ll get decades worth of happiness from the fun it creates—so long as you make peace with the fundamentals beforehand.