by Joyce Lau, July 19, 2018
Types of Inground Swimming Pools
Having your own private pool right in your backyard has a lot of perks. For one thing, you can save a trip to the local gym - or host all the pool parties you want! But what type of inground swimming pool should you get?
There are three main types of inground pools - vinyl liner, fiberglass and concrete. There isn’t one that is “better” than the rest. They are all built differently and have their own distinct features. We’ll explain the construction of the three types of inground pools and discuss the pros and cons of each one.
Vinyl liner pools have a custom-made sheet of vinyl that forms a barrier between the water and the pool walls and floor. The walls are constructed using a series of galvanized steel or thermoplastic panels that are bolted together. Then the pool floor is formed using a sand or cement type of base that blends up to the pool walls. A brace is added behind the panels to create additional support. The vinyl liner has a bead that securely locks onto a track located at the inner top of the pool, and a vacuum is used to pull out the air between the vinyl and the pool for a smooth finish.
One of the biggest advantages with vinyl liner pools is the fast 1-2 week build time and a generally lower upfront cost than fiberglass or concrete pools. The vinyl liner is flexible, non-porous, and produces a smooth surface that won't stain as easily as concrete finishes. You won't have to deal with cracks, and the soft and smooth surface also makes for a pair of happy feet! They are also offered in a variety of colors and patterns. A vinyl liner can typically last around 8-10 years, depending on maintenance, usage and weather conditions.
The vinyl pool surface is not as durable as fiberglass or concrete, and the soft vinyl surface (which is so nice for your feet) can tear, scratch, fade and wrinkle. The damage is usually repairable when fixed in a timely manner. Eventually, you will have to replace the entire liner, so vinyl pools require more care to avoid replacing a liner too often and enduring a high long-term maintenance cost. It’s also important to ensure that you are applying the correct chemical levels (especially chlorine) to prevent the liner from fading. You should try to avoid completely draining a vinyl liner pool, because the liner can shrink or be difficult to reset properly.
Fiberglass pools are built from a mold to form a single piece fiberglass shell. A water resistant, non-porous gel coat (similar to cars and pool slides) and resin is applied to give it a smooth interior finish. The one-piece fiberglass shell is created inside a factory beforehand and then delivered to the pool owner’s home. It get placed into the ground where the site is dug, after the plumbing and filtration system is put into place. Then the hole around it is backfilled before a deck or any fences are installed.
Fiberglass pools are the fastest type of inground pool to install - as soon as a week or less! Their smooth and non-porous surface means they are less susceptible to stain formation and are algae resistant. The rigid fiberglass pool shell is very durable, and because of their small size, fiberglass pools may require less effort and cost to maintain.
The main disadvantage of fiberglass pools is the limitation in shape and size, due to the shell molding from the manufacturer and transportation restraints. They are offered in a low range of sizes and depths, so they aren't suitable for diving. They also have a higher upfront cost than vinyl liners. Draining a fiberglass pool completely is also discouraged, as water and soil conditions can shift or lift the shell out of the ground in some cases.
Concrete pools are custom built to almost any size, shape and depth. Concrete pools are formed of either gunite or shotcrete, which is sprayed over a rebar framework to make up the shape of the pool structure. After a curing process of about a month, crews will return to install your choice of perimeter tile and coping stones, mortared in place around the top edge of the pool. Tile accents or mosaics can also be placed at this time. Next the builder will apply your desired finish like plaster, pebbles, quartz, glass bead and more.
Concrete pools are very durable, long-lasting and offer the highest level of customization and design. Pool owners can also choose from a variety of natural finishes and build custom styles, shapes, depths and seating areas. Being heavy, solid and built with relief valves, concrete pools can be drained fully for cleaning or repairs, and are at home in any soil conditions.
Concrete pools take the longest time to construct (1-3 months is a common time frame) and usually cost the most to build, as they require more labor and steps in the building process. Unlike vinyl liner and fiberglass pools, concrete has a rough surface that can crack and/or cause scratches on the skin. The porous surface makes it more susceptible to algae growth and surface stains.
As you can see, there are many distinct differences between the three types of inground swimming pools - most notably in construction time, maintenance, upfront and long-term cost, and customization. By knowing what you want to use your pool for and understanding the amount of time/money you may need to invest, you should now be able to make a more informed buying decision. If you have still questions, our friendly staff is ready to help - contact us!