Families deciding to install an in ground swimming pool can face dozens of decisions in the process, but none is more important than deciding on what KIND of pool to build in the first place. You may be thinking- “What do you mean? I want an in ground pool, that’s all!” Well yes, that may be true, but the type of pool you choose to build today will impact your life for years to come.
The three most popular types of in ground pools are fiberglass, vinyl, and concrete. In the past many companies only dealt with building one type of pool, but with the rising popularity of fiberglass pools we have seen many concrete and vinyl pool companies either start building fiberglass pools exclusively or adding fiberglass pools to what they currently build. As you will see below all three of these pool types have advantages and disadvantages.
Let’s take a look at the three major categories of in ground pools and highlight the benefits and downfalls of each.
Fiberglass Swimming Pools: Fiberglass pools are constructed as one piece shells in an offsite factory controlled setting. The pools are then set into the excavated site in your backyard, back filled with sand and stone, and then finished with the patio of your choice (concrete, pavers, stone, etc.)
Advantages: Fiberglass swimming pools are generally less expensive than an equivalent concrete pool, but more expensive than vinyl. However, because there is no re-surfacing, re-plastering, or finish to re-apply on the pool, there are not any major maintenance expenses down the road. The saying “Do it once, and you’re done!” truly does apply to fiberglass swimming pools. Also, because the surface of the fiberglass is a non-porous material, algae cannot adhere to the pool walls and chemicals are not leached from the pool walls. Fiberglass pools always have steps and benches built into your shell in the same finish as the rest of your pool. Construction time is much quicker with a fiberglass swimming pool as well. It typically takes 1-2 weeks to build a fiberglass pool.
Disadvantages: Fiberglass pools are limited in size and shape. Fiberglass pools are available in sizes from as small as a spa all the way to approximately 40’ x 16’. Because fiberglass pools are built as a one piece pool they can be difficult to install at certain properties due to access restrictions.
Concrete (Gunite) Pools: Concrete Pools are essentially rebar walls with concrete “sprayed” on top to create the pool vessel. Plaster is then troweled over the concrete to give the final surface of the pool.
Advantages: Concrete pools can be built into any size or shape. If I wanted the letter ‘J’ for Jim built in my back yard- No Problem! Concrete pools can be designed to fit your exact length, width, and depth specifications. Steps and benches can be added almost anywhere you choose.
Concrete pools are the most labor-intensive type of pool to build, and in the mid west are generally the most expensive to build as well. Although a concrete pool may sound strong, think of any sidewalk or house foundation over time. Concrete always cracks- no matter what. Especially with the freeze and thaw cycles in the Midwest, concrete of all types is stressed and strained every season. Additionally, the plaster on concrete pools needs to be maintained and re-surfaced ever 7-10 years. This means some major costs down the road to keep your pool up and running. Plaster resurfacing can easily run into the $5000 – $10,000 range for residential pools. Also, the porous surface of the plaster allows for algae to grow in the crevices of the pool finish and leaches harmful chemicals into the pool. This means that you will constantly be adding even more chemicals to the water, trying to keep everything balanced. Construction time on a concrete pool is typically 10 – 12 weeks.
Vinyl Liner Pools: Vinyl pools are constructed of steel walls with a vinyl liner on top that acts as the surface of the pool.
Advantages: Vinyl liner pools are typically the least expensive type of in ground swimming pool. Also, you are able to construct a wide variety of shapes, sizes and depths in the construction process and match the vinyl material to fit the pool shape.
Disadvantages: Because of the lower initial cost, most customers do not realize that vinyl liner pools are actually more expensive to own in the long run. Over time the vinyl gets wrinkles, fades dramatically, pulls away from the pool wall, and can get tears in the material. Some customers have had good success with a vinyl liner pool, but the truth is that over time, every liner must be replaced. Furthermore, as with concrete pools, algae will form in the pores of the vinyl and makes it difficult to keep a vinyl pool clean. Chemical treatments are similar to a concrete pool, as are the costs associated with replacing the liner. Additionally with a vinyl pool built in benches are very rare and steps will not match the color of the rest of your pool. Construction time of a vinyl pool can take 6-8 weeks depending on the size and shape you choose.
We hope this explanation of the various kinds of in ground swimming pools will help you make a decision that best fits your lifestyle, budget, and needs as a homeowner. If you have further questions or would like more information about swimming pools, please contact us at 630.845.1145 or visit us on the web at www.signaturepoolschicago.com.