Concrete vs Fibreglass Pools: Which Is Better?

Australia has long been a nation of pool lovers, but today’s swimming pools are very different to those which were around twenty years ago. Trends change and new technology has arrived improving the structure and longevity of a pool.

Once you’ve made that decision to dive in and buy one, take some time to mull over what type is best for you. The two leading pools are concrete and fibreglass. To help you to make your choice, we’ve come up with some pros and cons of each, so you can be reassured you’re making the right selection.

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How long does it take to install a pool?

Do you buy things on the spur of a moment and want to make use of them as soon as possible? If that’s you, then a concrete pool is no good because it requires patience. Concrete pools take longer to install. A concrete inground pool can take as long as three months because it needs to be built from scratch.

Excavators will have to dig the pool hole, and once the concrete is in it will need to be sprayed and left to cure. Then comes some arduous, hard graft work such as tiling, coping, paving, fencing and other finishing details. You’ll be surprised that a perfect concrete swimming pool can take several months from start to finish.

If you opt for fibreglass, then you’re effectively buying something off the shelf, which will be manufactured off site and lifted into place. Soil will need to be excavated but once the pool is installed, fill it with water and then backfill the structure. Once that’s done, it’s just a case of fitting your pump and electrics, including any lighting features or filtration, and concreting the surrounding area of your pool. Believe it or not, that can be achieved within a week, so a pretty swift turnaround compared to a concrete pool.

Which is more affordable to install?

Fibreglass pools win hands down when it comes to cost. Installation is less labour intensive because they are prefabricated.

Concrete pools are up to 30% more expensive because they are built from scratch for an individual customer, but they are very strong and sturdy. They’re not compatible to all soil types. Be warned, if the soil isn’t compacted enough or is unstable, the pool itself may start to sink on one side.

Although Australia benefits from an all-year-round warm climate, don’t forget the summer storms! Any rain or wind may delay your concrete pool installation. Think of the further costs associated with waterlogged soil.

Which is more expensive to maintain?

Ongoing maintenance costs are cheaper with a fibreglass pool, the hi-tech gelcoat technology means it’s smooth and non-porous so there’s less opportunity for mould and algae to grow. Buying a fibreglass pool is an eco-friendly choice because you’ll have minimal cleaning and you’ll need less chemicals, which in turn will reduce energy consumption and your bills.

A concrete pool requires more chemicals and brushing, especially over the summer months as algae is drawn to the concrete walls and floor. Every seven to twelve years it will require an expensive resurface or acid wash where strong acids are used to strip the outer layer of the pool. It can be a messy and time-consuming process.

What about functionality?

Many people prefer swimming in a fibreglass pool because the gelcoat finish is smooth to touch, with less chance to hurt yourself on any sharp edges which you may find in concrete pools. The water is often warmer because fibreglass pools retain heat better.

Fibreglass pools can come with inbuilt spa, tanning ledges and steps, so with plenty of added extras. Because they are mass produced, the downside is that you’ll never own that one-off unique designed pool, whereas a concrete pool can be constructed to suit your personal requirements.

With a concrete pool there is more scope for variety with different colours and interior textures. It can be painted or tiled but with fibreglass pools you’re limited on colour options.

In Summary

Pros Of Fibreglass Pools

  • Quick to install
  • Easier to maintain over a long period
  • Can come with in-built spas, tanning ledges
  • Look modern
  • Retain warmth better
  • Smooth gel surface means you can’t scratch or hurt yourself while swimming

Cons Of Fibreglass Pools

  • Come in standard sizes so they’re not unique

Pros Of Concrete Pools

  • Sturdy and solid so can last a long time
  • Can be individually made for your requirements
  • A range of finishes available

Cons Of Concrete Pools

  • Long turnaround time to install
  • More expensive
  • Not suited to all soil types
  • Not as economical to run and requires more maintenance
  • Concrete surface more easily attracts bacteria and mould
  • Surface finishes are rough

It looks as though fibreglass pools have the edge, but it’s your choice and you need be comfortable with any decision you make. If you need further advice, speak to the team of experts at Barrier Reef Pools. We have won multiple SPASA awards year after year, which acknowledges that ours are some of the best pools and spas in Australia. All our pools are made in a state-of-the art facility. We’re the only fibreglass manufacturers nationally to achieve the prestigious Australian Standards 5 tick logo and certified product certification, which means you can be reassured you’re buying the best. Why not visit one of our display centres to find out more?