The costs of a fibreglass swimming pool and a concrete one differ immensely when looking at the construction and installation. Both are high-quality, long-lasting materials. However, building a concrete pool will cost more as it takes a lot longer to construct meaning you have trades working onsite for longer.
Elements such as filtration systems, heating, lighting, and additional landscaping (e.g. decking) will make the biggest difference to the price between two different pools. These options are generally the same for both concrete and fibreglass, however, their presence doesn’t directly affect the price — either material could be cheaper or more expensive depending on the add-ons.
Long-term maintenance costs do introduce some variability in the pricing. Concrete pools tend to be more prone to issues such as algae, requiring more regular cleaning and chemical treatment. Concrete can also wear faster, so may require more regular repair work. These differences are measured across decades however, so don’t worry about getting too hung up on them.
The installation process of concrete and fibreglass pools does vary a fair amount. Fibreglass swimming pools come as pre-made and cast units straight from the factory. This means the only work on-site is digging the hole, inserting the pool, connecting filtration systems, heating, lighting, and completing any additional landscaping work. It takes only a few days to install a fibreglass pool whereas it takes months to install a concrete pool.
A concrete pool, on the other hand, is built from scratch on-site, first by constructing a metal lattice framework, and then spraying layers of concrete onto it. After the concrete has been sprayed and left to set, before adding the finishing coating of tiles or plaster. Naturally, the more involved process means that concrete swimming pools will take a bit longer to install and get running than fibreglass models. This is a trade-off as the pre-built nature of fibreglass pools means they are more limited in terms of shape, design, and size — they have to fit onto a truck for delivery after all!
Both concrete and fibreglass pools look great when installed and finished, and for most people, it will be impossible to tell the difference between them. Where the real difference in appearance and design comes in, is concrete’s ability to be constructed in any shape or size you wish, whereas fibreglass pools are only available in the pre-made models from the factory.
The feel of the pool may also differ depending on the options you choose. Fibreglass pools tend to have a very smooth finish due to the gel coating applied over the raw fibreglass. Concrete pools are generally either plastered or tiled, which makes them slightly rougher underfoot than fibreglass but does give them a better grip.
Fibreglass and concrete are both hard-wearing, long-lasting materials. Fibreglass is generally more resistant to long-term everyday wear than concrete, but it is more susceptible to damage and cracking due to soil and ground movement. Meanwhile, concrete may require repair work at some point during its lifespan to handle general wear and tear. Whatever material you finally decided on, however, you can expect to get decades of enjoyment from your new swimming pool.