Since the 1960s, fiberglass as a construction material for swimming pools has been gaining popularity. Concrete pools are still the most popular type, but concrete has limitations that fiberglass can remedy. Not only is fiberglass more economical, but it’s also easier to maintain, and it feels better to the touch.
The advantages of fiberglass are causing a meteoric rise. In 2015, the number of fiberglass pools had doubled from 2006, and the increase continues. For some companies, the demand for fiberglass was so high in 2020 that builders had to book years in advance to satisfy demand.
This raises questions such as, “Should I hire builders in such a demanding market for my fiberglass pool, or can I do it on my own?” and for some, “Can fiberglass pools even be built above-ground?” Hopefully, through the rest of this article, we can answer those questions.
Advantages of Above-Ground Pools
Above-ground pools are usually easier and cheaper to install. Combine that with the economic aspect of fiberglass, and homeowners can save a pretty penny on installation. Not only will above-ground pools save money, but they are much quicker to install, and customers don’t have to uproot their entire yards to install one. Above-ground pools are also safer.
In-ground pools are usually perceived to be more attractive, so if someone wants to opt for above-ground, they probably want to use a material that looks better. Fiberglass pools can be quite beautiful. Also, above-ground pools are great “trial” pools that aren’t as costly to remove as in-ground pools.
There are clear advantages to above-ground pools and fiberglass pools, separately, so what’s stopping us from putting the two together?
The Limitations of Fiberglass as a Building Material
Fiberglass is still relatively new to mainstream construction because it’s not a very durable material. Building something like a pool that can last fifty years requires high-quality construction materials. Up until recently, some builders refused to even touch the fiberglass pool industry. That hesitation on the part of builders comes from the limitation of the material.
The limitations that fiberglass has are:
- It’s not meant to handle a lot of weight without the support of gravel and sand around the foundation in in-ground installations. Improper installations can result in water circulation issues and cracks in the foundation.
- Gravel and sand can bulge the fiberglass if improperly installed.
- Poor water quality and maintenance can strip the protective coating from the fiberglass in a few short years.
- While fiberglass itself is a cheaper material, it requires support to stay structurally sound, which can up the cost.
- Fiberglass pools are prefabricated, meaning they’re already built when they come to you. There aren’t many options for customization, and your property must allow for large machinery to come through in order to install.
- Spider cracking in the gel coat that protects the fiberglass can look unappealing.
Already, you may be noticing some of these limitations would make above-ground fiberglass pools difficult to implement. The main problem would be in maintaining the structural integrity of the pool, so it can stand on its own.
Despite these limitations, fiberglass pools are still viable options. What are some of the clear advantages of fiberglass over other materials?
The Advantages of Fiberglass as a Building Material
We have already touched on some of the best parts of Fiberglass. But what is it about fiberglass that has made it so popular in recent years?
- Installation is quicker, easier, and cheaper.
- There isn’t as much maintenance because the gel coating resists algae growth better than other materials.
- Though fiberglass is pre-built, there are many different shapes and size options, and customizability can increase the visual appeal. Tiles, stones, gel coatings, and topcoats, and the style of supports can make for a beautiful backyard.
- Fiberglass is durable. With good maintenance, these pools can last more than 25 years.
- They’re easy to repair in case of neglect or bad weather.
- Fiberglass feels better and smoother than other construction materials.
- While the gel coating can be affected by the PH level of the water, the PH level of the water can’t be affected by the gel coating. Unlike other materials, coated fiberglass won’t make the chemical treatment for your water a nightmare.
- Temperature isn’t likely to affect fiberglass, unlike vinyl.
- It’s compatible with saltwater systems because it doesn’t interfere with the water’s PH.
With all the wonderful things about above-ground pools and fiberglass pools, the hope is to make them work together, but there are a few building requirements to make it work.
Can Fiberglass Pools Be Built Above Ground?
The answer is yes, with some conditions. The easiest ways to make fiberglass pools above ground are to make them as structurally sound as they would be in the ground. Strong support is a must for the walls to hold the weight of the water. There are only two ways a fiberglass pool can be an above-ground pool.
- Compromise with partial in-ground pool in which some of the fiberglass pools extends above the surface of the yard.
- Create strong buttresses that simulate the in-ground support fiberglass needs to stay structurally sound.
While above-ground fiberglass pools must have some support, that doesn’t mean they have to sacrifice the visual appeal. Above-ground fiberglass pools look great when integrated into decks for a seamless infinity pool design or on a slope, so some of your pool is in-ground, and some of it is above. If fiberglass is your choice in material, there are ways to make it work with your installation experts.
That does beg the question, though: Is it possible to install an above-ground fiberglass pool yourself?
Can I Install an Above-Ground Fiberglass Pool Myself?
Yes, you can, though you should consider the level of experience you have and the workload you’re willing to undergo for the project. Here are some of the resources and skills you should have in place before you take on such a project:
- Make sure you have the budget for completing the installation. You don’t want to run out of money in the middle of the project. Once you’ve copped for the price of the pool, have your expenses written out and saved so you don’t have to halt the project.
- Excavation and building materials, including heavy machinery, must be able to make it into your space, and you must be able to operate and afford them.
- Strong buttressing material and the knowledge to properly install it. The easiest way to ruin a fiberglass pool is improper installation, so do research on the proper support for fiberglass before even bringing the material to your backyard.
- Equipment to get your pool started and ready for swimming such as PH kits or saltwater testers.
- Make sure you have the money to pay for water and the water to fill it as your final consideration.
Can and Should it Be Done?
As you can see, there are many things to consider when it comes to pools. Materials and above or in-ground are just two of the many considerations. The answer to whether it can be done is not a simple yes or no. If you have the materials, yes it can be done, but it must be done right.
Now, should it be done? If you want to do it, then absolutely. The only other things to worry about are the resources you’ll need to make it happen.