Concrete versus Fibreglass

Concrete versus fibreglass – every year in Victoria  nearly 7000 new in-ground pools are being added to either new or existing homes. Historically concrete pools have always represented about 70% of the new pool market with fibreglass, vinyl liner and above aground pool making up the remainder. Concrete has always been the premium pool construction material owing to its longevity and ability to be fully customisable to suit the specific needs of the client and to best utilise the available space.

Fibreglass pools are ever increasing in their market share owing to lower installation costs and short construction time frames. This is especially so in rural areas where the lack of specialised trades needed to build a concrete pool  – make them cost prohibitive. Similarly vinyl liner pools and above ground pools are popular within segments of the market where the cost of a new in-ground concrete pool is price prohibitive.

Fibreglass Pool

A typical fibreglass pool

 As general rule fibreglass, vinyl liner and above ground pools with similar features and functionality will cost approx:

  • 85% of the price of a concrete pool for fibreglass
  • 60% of the price of a concrete pool for vinyl liner
  • 35% of the price of a concrete pool for above ground pool

Concrete pools are superior to fibreglass, vinyl liner and above ground pools for the following reasons:

  • Fully customisable
  • Structural integrity – and can be built to be free standing, in-ground or out of the ground etc. The pool often forms part of the structural integrity of the surround structure
  • Can be built to limitless sizes and configurations. And if you ever grow tired of your pools appearance you can simply update it by re-fixing many commonly available products to it like tiles , render coatings etc.
  • The principle component of a concrete pools structure: Concrete. Can be fitted with a multitudinous array of coating and fixings not afforded by the polymer linings of both vinyl liner pools and fibreglass. That’s why concrete pools are specified by architects and designers. Fibreglass pools merely try to look like concrete pools!
  • Every Local Government and Commercial contractor specifies concrete as the construction material of choice for any new pool construction. Because concrete is durable and proven in the market place.

Buying a pool is a big consideration, research widely and spend what you feel comfortable spending – it will be there for a long time; especially if you build a concrete pool.

Lifetime warranties offered by Fibreglass pool companies are essentially meaningless as they are voided by: poor installations (the root cause of most problems with fibreglass pools) and poor service and maintenance by the client.

Fibreglass pool installation diagram

The failure of Fibreglass pools as a result of installation problems is best highlighted in the attached image. Note the surround wash stone infill which is stabilised with cement. When this layer of material is poorly installed voids form around the pool walls placing the buttressing incorporated into the pool structure under additional loads which it is not designed to withstand, The result is the pool deforming in shape and possible failure of the structure.