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 pools making up the remainder. Concrete has always been the premium pool construction material due 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 the market, due to lower installation costs and shorter construction time frames. This is especially so in rural areas where the lack of specialised trades needed to build a concrete pool make them more accessible. 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 these alternative pools with similar features and functionality will cost approximately:

  • Fibreglass – 85% of the price of a concrete pool
  • Vinyl Liner – 60% of the price of a concrete pool
  • Above Ground Pool – 35% of the price of a concrete pool

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

  • They are fully customisable
  • Their structural integrity – and can be built to be free standing, in-ground or out of the ground. The pool often forms part of the structural integrity of the surround structure
  • They 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 such as tiles and render coatings
  • The concrete – the principle component of a concrete pools structure. It 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. This is 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 either poor installations (the root cause of most problems with fibreglass pools) or poor service and maintenance by the client.

Fibreglass pool installation diagram

An example of the structure of a typical fibreglass pool

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