Which is Best: Fiberglass, Concrete, or Vinyl Liner Swimming Pools

One the most asked questions when people are starting to look for pools and the most important one to ask!

Which is Best: Fiberglass, Concrete, or Vinyl Liner?

This is one the most asked questions when people are starting to look for pools and the most important one to ask because it helps you make a decision on which type of pool you want and allows you to research effectively.

My answer is always that all the pool types will give you and your family what you are looking for; a place to cool off and enjoy family and friends in your backyard Oasis. With the right builder and proper install the pool will bring years of memories and good times.

I have broken down some key differences with Fiberglass, Vinyl and concrete to help you along the decision process.


Fiberglass pools are much less expense to maintain. Electricity usage is typically 20 to 40% less. Chemicals are also cut by 50% to70% depending on climate and usage. Since Fiberglass is a smooth inert surface it has little impact in changing you chemistry in your pool. For example concrete or Gunite Pools alkalinity is naturally high so PH balance needs to be maintained more frequently.

Because the fiberglass pool shell is one piece and arrives at the site ready to install in the ground, the installation of the shell typically occurs in about two days. Compare this with three to six months with a concrete pool and we’re talking about a huge difference in the duration of time your yard is in disarray and often the difference between swimming this year or waiting until next Summer.

Because fiberglass pools have no liner, there’s no need to concern yourself with puncturing the pool surface. Vinyl liners are not cheap….often upwards of $4-$5k to replace. This can happen from dogs getting in the pool, tree branches, patio furniture blown into the pool, etc. Fiberglass pools are incredibly strong and durable so there’s no need to be concerned about damaging the pool during daily use.

Salt chlorinators have proven to be a low maintenance, high water quality option for pool owners. However, if you have ever seen what de-icing salt does to the surface of a sidewalk you can guess what it does to the surface of a concrete pool. In our opinion this makes the combination of salt systems and concrete pools unfavorable. Also, many vinyl liner pools are constructed with metal wall panels and most have aluminum coping around the perimeter of the pool….this is also a terrible scenario for a salt system. The liner will eventually leak and good-by wall panel! In comparison, fiberglass pools and salt systems go together like peanut butter and jelly. With no adverse effect on the fiberglass shell, you can enjoy the low maintenance benefits of salt with confidence that your pool is not compromised.

The one major disadvantage of fiberglass pools is that you can’t change the shape, size, or depth of the pool. So the question then becomes, can you find a fiberglass pool model that you’re happy with? We’ve found that about 90% of people do find a fiberglass pool that perfectly meets their needs. However, if you need a pool that’s 10′ deep, or an ultra- customized shape, fiberglass probably isn’t the best fit for you.


A concrete pool gives you the ability to customize the shape of the pool…this is far and away their greatest Asset. This is perfect for those wanting an extremely deep or large pool, or a pool with custom tanning ledges (which are also available in fiberglass) or other custom features.

Concrete pools are also very durable. Just like fiberglass, there is no concern with dogs swimming in the pool or fear of damage to the pool interior from sharp objects like with vinyl liner pools.

By its very nature concrete is extremely porous. This gives algae a place to call home. Once embedded into the surface of a concrete pool, algae is extremely tough to remove. In fact, concrete pool builders recommend brushing the entire surface of the pool with a steel brush at least once a week to remove any algae that is on the surface.


Vinyl liner pools are more affordable to install…usually at least $5000 less than fiberglass and $15000 less than concrete pools. This, their most appealing attribute, allows many families to enjoy the benefits of an in ground pool that couldn’t otherwise fit it into their budget.

Despite the fact that the vast majority of vinyl liner pools are rectangular, it is possible to customize the shape, size, and depth of the pool. Keep in mind not only does this increase your cost and time for installation your liner becomes a custom cut when it’s time to replace it.

The biggest disadvantage of vinyl liner pools is the cost and frequency of replacing the liner. Today’s vinyl liners will typically last between five and nine years at an average cost of around $5000 to replace when factoring in the cost of the liner, labor, water to fill the pool, and other minor expenses that tend to come up.

Read you liner warranty carefully and ask questions a pro rated warranty can be meaningless if they only cover the seams and not water, labour and other associated to do the repair.

Even though the surface of a vinyl liner pool is relatively non-porous, parts of the pool like where the white plastic steps attach to the pool wall, seams and behind light niches have submerged areas that do not have circulated water. Consequently, algae grows in those areas and spawns new algae growth.