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Fiberglass Vs Vinyl! Cost,Customization,Surface,Install And Durability

Fiberglass Vs Vinyl! Cost,Customization,Surface,Install And Durability

When it comes to in-ground swimming pools in the Midwest there is a lot of talk about fiberglass and vinyl! It’s not to say you can’t install a concrete/gunite pool, but by popularity, these two “heavyweights” are far more common in this region of the country!  

If you’re considering purchasing a fiberglass or vinyl liner pool, you’ve come to the right place!  We understand that purchasing a pool is a big commitment for any family, and in order for you to be as confident as possible with your choice, you need to be well-educated on each type of pool. Some of the main concerns that we always address with our clients here at Royal Pools when comparing the two styles are cost, durability, and customization!  

So, in the article that follows, you will find an extensive review of the topics mentioned above plus much more!  We want you to truly understand fiberglass and vinyl liner poolsboth the good and the badto aid in the process of deciding which pool is a better fit for you.  

Round 1: Pool Cost 

Vinyl Liner 

Initial Cost: $60,000-$85,000

Coming in with the lowest upfront cost are vinyl liner pools. If you are looking for a pool that can be installed at a fairly low initial price, vinyl liner pools may be the fit for you. 

However, the low initial cost comes at a price down the road. 

10-year Maintenance Cost: $12,00

Although the initial cost is cheaper than fiberglass pools, the cost to maintain the pool in the coming years can be quite hefty. 

Within 4-9 years of owning a vinyl liner pool, you will need to replace the liner which typically runs about $4,000-$5,000. And if you own the pool for years to come, you will need to add in this cost each time the liner needs to be replaced.  

You will also need to factor in the chemical and electricity usage which rounds up the maintenance cost, so the initial cost can be offset down the road. 

Fiberglass 

Initial Cost: $60,000-$90,000+ 

While the initial cost of a fiberglass pool is higher than that of a vinyl liner, the lifetime cost is far less than that of a vinyl liner. Therefore, the initial cost is the brunt of the lifetime cost that you’ll have to account for.  

10-year Maintenance Cost: $4,260 

With no need for a liner in fiberglass pools, the replacement costs are eliminated. So, the only maintenance costs you will have to keep in mind are electricity and chemical usage, which are far less than that of a vinyl liner. 

Winner: Fiberglass 

While fiberglass pools have a higher initial cost than vinyl liner pools, the maintenance cost is far less, making them a less expensive investment in the long run.  

10_year_cost_chart_inground_pool_image7

Round 2: Customization 

Vinyl Liner 

One of the great things about vinyl liner pools is that you can customize them according to what you want or need.  

While we typically think of swimming pools as rectangular, vinyl liners allow you to customize the shape and size. You can essentially design your own vinyl liner pool with a pool designer.  

Fiberglass 

Fiberglass pools do come in a variety of shapes and sizes that are pre-designed. There is a catalog of choices that you can look through and we have found that 90% of people do find a fiberglass pool that is a perfect fit for them. 

Winner: Vinyl Liner 

While fiberglass pools do come in a variety of shapes and sizes, vinyl liners allow you to customize the smallest of details.  

Therefore, vinyl liner pools take the win here.  

Round 3: Installation 

Vinyl Liner 

Since the entire construction of your pool takes place in the backyard of your home, it will be in disarray for about 4-8 weeks 

Fiberglass 

One of the great things about fiberglass pools is that the pool itself is constructed off-site in a warehouse.  

When the pool is completed, it is then brought to your home on a trailer and placed in the ground over the course of 2 days 

Patio and decking may take another week or two, bringing the entire process to anywhere from 3-5 weeks. 

Winner: Fiberglass 

Since fiberglass pools are constructed off-site, not only is the installation process quick and less painless than vinyl liners, but it saves your yard from the messiness as well. 

Round 4: Interior Surface 

Vinyl Liner 

The surface of a vinyl liner pool is almost entirely smooth except for the ridge where one piece is connected to another. And even with this ridge, the pool is smooth and gentle to the touch. 

Fiberglass 

The surface of a fiberglass pool, A.K.A the gel coat, is smooth and durable. This is also gentle to the touch and features like steps are designed to be anti-slip. 

Winner: Draw

Both vinyl liner and fiberglass pool surfaces are smooth and will remain as such with proper maintenance.  

Round 5: Durability 

Vinyl Liner 

As we previously pointed out, the liner of a vinyl liner pool must be replaced every 4-9 years 

Animals and other foreign objects can easily tear the liner, so that is something to keep a close eye on. And even if something like that doesn’t occur, normal wear and tear will still call for the replacement of a liner in the future.  

Underneath the liner, wall panels will corrodebecome brittle, and break. Therefore, even though the liner may appear to be in good shape, you may have to have the walls repaired. 

Fiberglass 

Several layers make up a fiberglass pool, resulting in an incredibly strong and durable structure. Paired with a well-finished gel coat, you can be sure that your fiberglass pool will last a lifetime.  

Winner: Fiberglass 

Since the liners and wall panels can become damaged over the years, vinyl liners lack the durability that fiberglass pools are known for.  

As we’ve pointed out, the structure of a fiberglass pool is designed to last a lifetime thanks to the many layers it contains.  

Round 6: Maintenance 

You know by now that the liner needs to be replaced every 4-9 years. If you take the necessary steps to maintain your pool, you may be able to wait until the end of this time frame to replace the liner. 

However, you will have to consciously take the measures you deem necessary to ensure that anything other than normal wear and tear does not damage your pool. 

Fiberglass  

With the great durability of fiberglass pools, you have little to worry about with maintenance on that front.  

Water chemistry is something that you shouldn’t be too concerned about since the gel coat doesn’t affect the pH of the water, but you should still test it regularly in all pools, regardless of type.  

Winner: Fiberglass 

Fiberglass pools require significantly less maintenance than vinyl liner pools. 

Think of it in relation to a car. If you do routine maintenance and keep it in good shape while using it, you shouldn’t have to do much else.  

Round 7: Algae Resistance 

Vinyl Liner

algae_in_pool

The surface of a vinyl liner is relatively non-porous, meaning that there are no pores on the surface of the pool where algae can hide and grow over time.

However, there are small areas such as where steps connect to the pool and lighting areas that can harbor algae.

It may be difficult to see these areas with the naked eye, making them more difficult to clean.

Fiberglass

The gel coat is entirely smooth and algae-resistant.

Therefore, you will not have to worry about nooks and crannies that can harbor algae growth.

Winner: Fiberglass

Both pools are designed to combat algae growth. However, fiberglass pools pick up the edge here with their entirely smooth gel coat.

Round 8: Chemical and Electricity Usage

Vinyl Liner

With the relatively algae resistant surface, chemical usage to balance the water chemistry will be minimal.

However, with a slightly higher possibility for algae growth than in fiberglass pools, you may have to use chemicals more frequently.

Your pump and filter system may require a bit more electricity to make sure algae is kept at bay in the specific areas previously discussed.

Fiberglass

Since the gel coat is algae resistant, you will not have to use as many chemicals as you would with a vinyl liner to make it safe to use.

You will also be able to conserve energy by running the pump and filter in shorter cycles.

Winner: Fiberglass

While all pools have their own needs for electricity and chemicals to keep them in working order, fiberglass pools edge out vinyl liners in this category.

Final Scoring

So, to provide you with a quick overview of which pool won in each category, take a look at the table below!

fiberglass_versus_Vinyl

As you can see, fiberglass pools took the comparisons 7-2 if you factor in the tie between surfaces. However, this table doesn’t even begin to tell the whole story.

What this comparison ultimately boils down to is how much you want to be hands-on with your pool.

If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty with your pool or taking care of maintenance such as replacing the liner, and customization is a big factor in your decision, then a vinyl liner pool may be perfect for you.

But, if you don’t want to be as hands-on with your pool and can find a design that you love, then a fiberglass pool may be the one for you.

With this detailed comparison between both types of pools, we hope to have guided you toward what will provide you with the best experience for years to come!