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What are the pros and cons of vinyl liner vs fiberglass vs concrete in-ground pools?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Each type of construction has both advantages and disadvantages to consider when you decide to make your backyard pool-party ready. Most contractors specialize in one type and are well-versed in the best features of their favored construction method. Here’s how they compare:

Vinyl Liner Pools


  • Lower Initial cost - Liner pools are usually, but not always, the least expensive in-ground pool.
  • Plenty of custom shapes available - Because the backing panels are manufactured in numerous shapes and lengths, they interlock into plenty of creative shapes. Photo above is a liner pool.
  • Smoothest surface - Less abrasive than other pools.
  • Less algae growth - Smooth surface makes it harder to algae to take hold.


  • Liners have a short life - Average of 7 to 10 years. Maintaining good pool chemistry is the key to longer life. The decorative “tile” imprint will fade noticeably above water line as it ages. 
  • Liner comparatively fragile - Dogs trying to climb out of the the pool, objects around the pool, or a tree branch falling into the pool can tear the 20 to 30 mil thick liner and start a leak.
  • Least prestigious - No matter how elegant the coping and surrounding deck, a liner pool is a liner pool.

Fiberglass Pools


  • Fast installation - Because the complete shell is manufactured off-site and craned into place, this is the fastest pool to install.
  • Built-in steps and seats - Incorporated into shell at factory.
  • Smoother surface than concrete - Less algae growth problems.


  • Limited size - Because the pool must be trucked to site there is a 16-foot width limitation.
  • Not as many shape choices - Each design requires a large custom mold, so selection is somewhat limited.
  • Refinishing  more difficult - Both liner and concrete pools are easier to repair/replace the surfacing. There are plenty of marcite pool resurfacing contractors, but not so many tradesmen for repairing fiberglas pools as they age, and the color can be difficult to match when repairing.

Concrete Pools (gunite or shotcrete)


  • No size limits - Any size, shape or depth you want. 
  • More design options - Vanishing edge, grotto, beach entry and waterfalls possible.
  • Most prestigious - Concrete pools look more substantial.
  • Longer lifespan - With regular maintenance.


  • Higher maintenance cost - Most expensive to resurface.
  • Needs more chemicals - The textured surface of the pool requires more chemicals and filtration to prevent algae.
  • Longest construction time - Usually several months.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about POOL AND SPA:

Does an above-ground pool require a building permit? 

Does an above-ground pool have to comply with code requirements for a swimming pool barrier?

Can a pool with green, cloudy water be inspected?

Should I refinish-resurface my pool with paint or plaster?

Why are pool pumps now required to be variable speed? 

What are the clearance requirements for an overhead electric service drop that is directly over or near a swimming pool?

    Visit our POOL AND SPA page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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