When you are purchasing a swimming pool for your backyard, it is important to choose the type of pool which best suits your needs. But what are the differences between the materials most often used to construct swimming pools?
Here we take a look at concrete vs fibreglass pools, and the main advantages and disadvantages of each type of pool.
What are the most common materials used for swimming pools?
The three most common types of pool in New Zealand are;
Vinyl-liner pools are by far the least common of the three, as they are not particularly hardwearing and can be difficult to maintain.
Concrete and fibreglass each have plenty of merits as swimming pool construction materials – but which is better? This depends entirely on what you are looking for in a pool. Here are some of the main considerations you need to make when choosing your pool, as well as information on how concrete and fibreglass pools compare in these areas.
1. Which is the easiest to install?
Concrete pools have to be built entirely from scratch on-site. This means all the building work will be done in your backyard, with no prefabricated elements. Because of this, the construction process can take several weeks or even months, which can mean a lot of disruption to your lifestyle, as you will have builders on your property each day until the pool is complete. Even once the actual construction work is done, a concrete pool needs to be surfaced with tiles or pebbles, which adds time to the project.
Fibreglass pools are pre-made in factories, so the pool shell is transported directly to your site. Once the initial excavation work is done, the pool itself can be installed extremely quickly. This is particularly the case with fibreglass pools which are designed to be installed fully above ground, such as Little Pools. A Little Pool can be installed and ready to use within days, enabling you to enjoy your pool extremely quickly once the installation process has begun.
2. Which will last longer?
Here both types of pools score extremely well. Concrete and fibreglass swimming pools are both extremely strong and durable, and are capable of withstanding all the most extreme elements of the Kiwi climate and landscape – even earthquakes! There are examples of both types of pool being left intact even when the properties around them have been destroyed.
Concrete pools always had the reputation for being the most durable type; but thanks to technological advancements and clever design, fibreglass pools are now equal to them in strength and durability. Either type of pool will last a lifetime.
3. Which looks better?
Aesthetics are always a question of personal taste, but there are a number of important differences here between concrete and fibreglass pools.
As concrete pools are constructed from scratch in your backyard, you can have a huge degree of control over the appearance of your pool. Concrete pools can be made in practically any shape and style; so if your backyard is an awkward shape and you need a pool to fit, or you have a clear idea for a custom pool design you would like constructed, a concrete pool is the right choice for you.
Concrete pools are also extremely easy to customise, as you have an almost endless choice of tiles or pebbles which can be used to create the interior surface of the pool. Because of this, concrete enables you to have a completely unique pool made to suit your tastes, which is not the case with fibreglass.
Fibreglass pools are pre-made in factories, in a range of standard sizes and shapes. This means you have less control over the design of your pool, but these days there is such as large range of fibreglass pool designs available that it is easy to find something to suit your backyard. You can also personalise them further with a choice of pool colours.
If you choose an above-ground fibreglass pool, you may also be able to customise the appearance of the outside of the exterior. Little Pools, for example, offer you a choice of three different exterior cladding options, so you can find a style which coordinates well with your backyard and the rest of your property. Alternatively, you can choose an option with no cladding, which enables you to landscape completely around the pool, making it blend in perfectly with its surroundings.
4. Which is easier to maintain?
Pool maintenance is a major consideration when choosing the right pool for you. Ideally, you want to spend as much time enjoying your pool as possible, which means most pool owners prefer a pool which requires less maintenance.
Fibreglass pools have the upper hand here. They have a gelcoat surface which is resistant to algae and bacteria, making them easier to clean. They also require less harsh chemicals to keep them clean, so they are more hygienic swimming environments for you and your family. This is particularly important if you have children.
Concrete pools, on the other hand, have to be tiled or pebbled. This makes them more porous, creating ideal conditions for the growth of algae and bacteria, so you will need to use more chemicals and clean them more often if you want to keep them clean and safe to swim in. Even this is not always enough – concrete pools can attract black algae, which is almost impossible to remove once it is established in your pool.
In addition, a fibreglass pool will never need resurfacing or repainting, which concrete pools tend to need every 10 to 15 years. These are important things to think about when choosing your pool, especially if you have a busy lifestyle and cannot commit to spending large amounts of time maintaining your pool.
5. Which is more comfortable to swim in?
If you plan to use your pool regularly for swimming and relaxation, it also important to think about the level of comfort you will enjoy in the pool. Again, here fibreglass swimming pools tend to have the advantage over concrete.
This is because of the gelcoat surface which is used to make the interior of a fibreglass pool shell. It is a smooth surface which is not abrasive, so you are far less likely to suffer scrapes or cuts, unlike in a concrete pool, which may be pebbled or tiled.
Additionally, fibreglass pools tend to heat the water more quickly, and the water retains its heat better, which creates a much more comfortable environment for swimming and relaxing.
6. Which is more affordable?
When buying a swimming pool, one of the most important things to consider is your budget. A swimming pool is a large and expensive item, so it is essential that you work out exactly what you can afford before going ahead.
Due to the amount of work involved in building a concrete pool, these are more expensive than fibreglass pools, as they have to be built from scratch on your property. They then need to be tiled or pebbled, which adds to the cost. A concrete pool costs on average $70,000 – $100,000 or even more, depending on the design and features you choose.
As fibreglass pools are pre-fabricated, there is less cost involved in the construction and installation process. The pool shell is simply transported to your property and then installed, and it comes complete with the gelcoat interior. As there is less work involved in a fibreglass pool, the cost is significantly lower than with other options.
As with all major purchases, fibreglass swimming pool prices vary depending on what size, style and features you choose. In-ground pools cost more than those which are installed above ground, as there is more construction work needed. For example, Little Pools, which are above-ground fibreglass pools in smaller sizes, start from just $25,750, which is a significant cost saving, and they can be installed on practically any site.
However, this low cost does not mean you have to compromise on quality. Little Pools have been designed in conjunction with one of Australia’s top fibreglass pool manufacturers and the best swimming pool engineers in the industry, so they offer the same quality standards as a full-sized pool in a smaller, more affordable package.
When considering the cost of your pool, you also have to think beyond the initial outlay and factor ongoing maintenance costs into your budget. Again, fibreglass pools are cheaper, as they require less chemicals to keep clean, and less energy to heat. With a concrete pool, you will also need to plan for the cost of resurfacing or repainting as and when required, which can prove pricey over time.
Find out more about concrete vs fibreglass pools
If you are unsure about which type of pool would be the best choice for you, there is always help available here at The Little Pool Co, our specialist team are happy to answer your questions you may have, and offer advice about the best pool solutions for your backyard. Please contact us for more details.