Fiberglass and concrete in ground pools are actually very different from each other and each has their own strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately the decision for which type of pool to have installed comes down to preference, now let’s lay out the facts to help you understand the differences between the two. First off, the two pool designs have similar initial costs, although on average fiberglass is slightly more expensive upfront, averaging $78 a square foot. However, this slight increased initial cost is offset by the nonporous surface of fiberglass, which resists algae growth, thus saving money in filtration and chemical costs.
In terms of appearance both materials can be used to construct beautiful pools, but concrete is generally considered more flexible. This is because factories construct fiberglass pool shells in premade shapes and sizes. Which means that for high end pools with specific features such as beach walk-ins or waterfalls, concrete is going to have to be used for construction. Dry mix concrete like gunite can be mixed on site to fit whatever shape is needed for pools with more advanced designs and styles. One huge difference between fiberglass and concrete pools has to do with their respective installation processes. Since the shells for fiberglass pools are premade it makes them much easier and faster to install than concrete pools. Simply put, fiberglass pools just need to put the pieces in the ground and connect the plumbing. The process for installing a fiberglass pool typically takes a matter of only a few days, whereas concrete pools can take up to months to install. This is because the work to construct a concrete pool is more complicated and all the work must be completed on site.
Another difference between the two materials is in their durability. Both materials are incredibly durable and far more durable than a vinyl lined pool. It is generally accepted that over the lifetime of a pool built using gunite there will need to be a major renovation at some point, and gunite pool repairs cost on average $650, but can be as expensive as $2,500. Whereas fiberglass is nearly completely impervious to normal wear and tear. However, it is possible for fiberglass shells to crack after many years due to shifts in the earth, especially if the pool is drained. The final difference between the two materials is the way they feel to the touch. Fiberglass is much smoother, which also makes it more slippery. On the other hand, concrete can be so rough that it can leave scratches on the skin.