Fiberglass Pools, Vinyl Liner Pools and Concrete Pools – A Comparison? Pt. 1 – Concrete Swimming Pools

I have to state up front that I build Fiberglass pools, and I believe without question, this is the best product of its kind and San Juan Fiberglass Pools leads the fiberglass pool industry as a very high quality product. And with the largest selection of pool designs available anywhere – over 75 designs – there is certainly something for everybody.

That doesn’t mean that nothing else will work, but it does mean that after 400 or so pools built over the years, the benefits of Fiberglass swimming pools compared to everything else, are just overwhelming. This is not simply like/don’t like – this is a considered opinion as I have been asked hundreds of times what I think. But I also know it is important to have a clear understanding of the characteristics of each type of swimming pool, and our goal is to inform, and so this blog will probably help.

If someone askd me today, to make a decision about, let’s say Limousines, about the only thing I could tell you, is that I believe bigger is better – right – yes/no – wrong?? See I have no idea, but I am just learning. If you were to ask me the same question in about a month, I am certain I would be able to give you an opinion, because I am going to ask the experts. When it comes to building fiberglass swimming pools, we are the experts, and we want to help anyone considering a new swimming pool.

When folks first find their way into our showroom on Market Street, I can usually tell very quickly how far along they are in the process. If they start asking me specific questions about which equipment I use, installation practices or water control systems, I know they have been doing their homework. But when they look at me and tell me they really have no idea what they want, the first place I start is to define the different types of swimming pools built today, and what the pros and cons are of each type. Usually, after I have helped them see the differences, the benefits of fiberglass are very obvious and we can begin to design their backyard. So, let’s start at the beginning.

The three primary types of swimming pools built today are Fiberglass,Vinyl Liner and Concrete. There are others, but they are usually some specialized form of the Big Three. Each has its benefits, each has its drawbacks, but I believe the differences are profound, and once you add things up, Fiberglass inground swiming pools come way out ahead.


The first swimming pools built were usually concrete, and some are still around hundreds of years later. If you refer to the spectacular swimming pool above, this is an example of what a concrete swimming pool can be. This is designed after a Roman type concrete pool, and the Romans were building swimming pools before our ancestors learned to cook with fire.

The biggest advantage to using concrete to build your swimming pool, is that you can design and build any shape imaginable. While the simple rectangle will give you the best use of available space, concrete swimming pools are very easy to build in kidney shapes, bell shapes, Tiffany shapes – the design possibilities are endless. That is the primary advantage of a concrete swimming pool.

However, after the designs are finalized, and the excavator arrives, the clock starts ticking. From start to swimming, a concrete pool can take as long as three or four months to complete, and if the pool design is unigue, construction could take a year or more. The process is very complex, and things must be done in a certain order. Then the concrete must cure, the plastering done, tile and deckwork finished – and the fiberglass folks have been swimming for two months already.

The biggest difference, however, is in the maintenance – short term and long term – involved in owning a concrete pool. Because concrete is so porous, algae is a big deal. Certain algaes like Black Algae take hold and is extremely difficult to remove. That stuff is tenacious, and often homeowners must use a steel brush to root the algae out, after it has been treated. Even then, if you missed a small amount, you will have to keep applying algecide and brushing until the spores are all killed.

That same porosity that permits growth, is the reason your fingers and toes will start to rub raw and bleed in a concrete pool after they have been softened by a day’s swimming. If the pool has been plastered during construction, it should be fairly smooth, but even then, the roughness inherent in concrete can make for tattered fingers and toes. Bathing suits can be torn or hitched on the rough edge of the pool side. If the pool has been built with stone coping, and if the concrete interior has been finished in Pebble Tec or tiles, it won’t be quite as rough, but those are very expensive options – especially the tiled interior – depending on the type of tile used, the costs are many thousands, and in large pools, tens of thousands.

If the pool is plastered, as most are, the plaster is subject to staining – especially from iron in water, and sometimes the only cure is acid washing – or re-plastering, both of which require the pool to be drained. Sometimes, if the chemical balance has been permitted to wander, calcium can be drawn from the plaster, causing cracking, chipping and peeling, and eventually it will have to be repaired. Re-plastering is expensive and must be done by tradesmen skilled in the process.

Concrete pools have been around for years, and are still extremely popular, but the advent of the new fiberglass pool technology, and the stabilizing of fiberglass pool costs, has seen many people decide on a smooth, strong and beautiful fiberglass swimming pool. Concrete pools are clearly the answer if unusual designs are needed, and in most commercial situations a concrete pool has been required. This is also changing, and over the years we have installed fiberglass pools in hotels, condo complexes, and most recently in a beautiful marina in Southport. If you are not prepared to deal with the very large maintenance issues with concrete, and don’t need extreme design capabilities, then you will be more happy in a Fiberglass swimming pool, and you will certainly spend more time relaxing and less maintaining.

The pool in our photograph ab ove is a perfect example of the flexibility and design capabilities of concrete. This is the Neptune pool at Hearst Castle. It is lined in Vermont marble, it holds 345,000 gallons of water, and took twelve years to build…… and while this is an unusually long time to build any swimming pool, mostly because the owner re-did everything three times, for most folks, the time expense and effort involved in a concrete swimming pool is just too much.

But if your dream swimming pool will look like this:Violin_shaped_swimming_pool_small

… you will have to build a concrete swimming pool.

For a complete list of the more than 75 different San Juan Fiberglass pool designs available, have a look HERE and see if there isn’t something that will suit your needs, and then call us at 910-251-0038 or visit our QUOTE PAGE for the cost of your new fiberglass pool.

Next blog – Vinyl Liner Pools – the star of the 1960’s and 1970’s and still a viable choice for many homeowners.



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