One of the reliefs from the summer sun is a dip in the pool. The water helps to cool you off and offers a reprieve from the heat. There’s a reason why one-third of children and 15% of adults go swimming every year.
Fiberglass pools are one of the options on the market for those looking to install a pool in their backyards. However, the price for these pools can swing widely, depending on many different factors. Understanding those factors can help you keep your costs low while getting a wonderful way to stay cool and fit during the summer!
What is a Fiberglass Pool?
A fiberglass pool is an in-ground pool made out of fiberglass. Specifically, the pool shell, or the walls and floors of the pool, are made out of a single piece of fiberglass material. The pool shell is made by molding the fiberglass into the shape of the pool. Then, that shell gets installed into the ground at your home.
The unique thing about fiberglass pools is that you won’t see the shell made at your home. The shells are manufactured at the factory, based on which size and model you want to buy. This makes fiberglass pools unique in their construction compared to other types of pools.
Fiberglass Pool Cost Factors
When you go to buy a fiberglass pool, the company you work with will go over several factors that can affect the total price of the fiberglass pool. To make sure you aren’t caught off-guard by some of these, here’s a list of the common factors that alter the price of your fiberglass pool installation:
Size of the Pool
For upfront costs, the size of your fiberglass pool is going to be the biggest expense. The manufacturer has to use the right mold to make the size you request and have enough materials to make the shell. Small pool shells can go for $9,000-$13,000, while large pools can go upwards of $20,000.
Delivery fees will change based on the size of the pool shell, too. Larger shells require more money in delivery fees thanks to the weight of the shell and the handling requirements by the shipping company. Most deliveries range between $600 to $2,500, depending on the size of the pool shell.
The cost of permits will depend on what the regulations are in your local area. Building codes, environmental hazard assessments, and protected trees are all part of the things you have to build around when installing a new pool.
Many pool installation services will include this as part of their contract. They will double-check the rules and get the necessary permits to do work on your pool so that you don’t have to worry about it. Going with DIY options means that you have to spend your own time and money getting these legal requirements sorted out. In general, permits aren’t very expensive, typically costing a few hundred dollars from your total budget.
All the dirt you dig up to install a fiberglass pool has to go somewhere. Once it has been excavated, the dirt removed from your backyard will need to be transported somewhere safely and disposed of properly.
On average, an installation company will charge around $12,000 for this service. That money gets you the contractors to come in, excavate the dirt, remove it, and dispose of it safely. The amount this part of the project takes depends on the size of the pool, though. A smaller pool will need less dirt removed from the ground, meaning there is less weight to transport and thus less cost to you.
You will want to install electricity going to the pool to make sure that the lights and filtration system stay running. Hiring an electrician will cost a few thousand dollars to come out and make sure all the connections for the electrical system work as they should.
Hiring an electrician will also help make sure that your system is up to building codes. Doing this ensures that your pool system stays safe and will pass inspections or appraisals if you ever have to sell your home.
Most inground pool owners opt for a heating system for their pools. That way, they can be enjoyed more often throughout the year. A heating pump will have to be integrated with your pool’s filtration and electrical systems, so adding a heating system increases the cost of the pool.
The amount it goes up will depend on what kind of heating system you get. Tankless heating systems won’t be as much as solar-powered systems, so go over options with your installation company. They’ll have a list of options you can pick from for heating systems that work with the pool shell you picked out earlier.
Decking for the Pool
Building a deck or patio around your pool will increase the cost of the project, as well. Many installation packages will include a basic concrete deck around the inground pool, but you can add other options like a screen enclosure or fencing. It depends on what your installation service offers.
Many decking options are customizable. Stamping concrete or mixing in pigments and paints to get different colors will give you a custom look, though at a custom price point.
If you’ve seen some of those other features that can be added to a pool, it’s tempting to add those into your backyard. Spas, fountains, and other fancy features are nice to have, but they do all increase your total cost.
Spas in particular can add quite a bit to the cost. They take up more space, increase the amount of water you’ll need to use, and add to the cost of the material to make the pool shell. Spas also need to be hooked up to the filtration system. That addition adds extra piping and upkeep costs to the project.
Cost of Fiberglass vs. Other Materials
Many of the costs outlined earlier are shared with other kinds of pools. To make sure that a fiberglass pool is the best option for you, here are some of the other materials you can build a pool out of and how their costs tend to pan out:
Vinyl-liner pools are inground pools that use a custom vinyl sheet instead of concrete to hold the water for the pool. Since these liners are similar to a fiberglass pool shell to make and install, vinyl pool liners tend to be a little less expensive. That lower cost comes from the fact that vinyl liners are less expensive to make than an entire pool shell.
However, that reduced cost comes with extra maintenance. While a fiberglass pool shell will need replacing every 25 years, a vinyl liner only lasts ten years. After that, a new liner has to be installed by draining the pool, taking out the old liner, and putting a new one in.
Concrete inground pools use a concrete layer to hold the pool water inside the pool construction. Pouring and setting the concrete tends to cost a little more than a fiberglass pool shell. All of the excavation, electrical, and installation work tends to be the same cost as installing a fiberglass pool.
Concrete comes with its own set of maintenance costs. Concrete in pools needs to be replastered every eight to ten years, and harsh chemicals have to be used to maintain the concrete. Overall, concrete pools require an average of $27,000 to maintain over ten years.
Above Ground Pools
Most of the costs associated with an inground pool come down to the developmental work that has to be done to the land. Hiring contractors to dig up the dirt and haul it away is the largest cost for the installation project. Above-ground pools eschew those costs in favor of a cheaper but less visually pleasing solution.
Most above-ground pool kits cost between $2,000-$5,000 to purchase and getting professional service done to install them is another couple thousand dollars. Most of the kits on the market right now last seven to fifteen years. Also, the liner of the above-ground pool tends to need replacing after six years. This is thanks to the harsh pool chemicals eroding it over time.
Fiberglass Pool Benefits and Drawbacks
With the costs and comparisons reviewed, you should know that there are benefits and drawbacks to having a fiberglass pool as your swimming choice:
The pros for fiberglass pools mostly come down to cost and time savings.
- Cheaper Than Concrete: Most fiberglass pool shells are 20% cheaper than a concrete pool of the same size.
- Faster Installation Time: Fiberglass shells are dropped into the hole that gets dug out, meaning less time is spent on installation.
- Minimal Maintenance: Gelcoat finishes on the fiberglass shell prevent a lot of the corrosion other pool materials experience. That means less maintenance time and costs for a fiberglass pool shell.
- Saltwater Options: Fiberglass can handle saltwater, unlike some of the other options on the market.
The benefits together mean that fiberglass pools are money and time savers during both the installation and maintenance process of ownership. Having saltwater as an option for your pool also lets you replicate some aspects of the beach without ruining your pool shell.
The cons for a fiberglass pool come down to the lack of options they present for the pool’s construction:
- Limited Sizes: Since fiberglass pool shells are transported as one big piece, they are limited to smaller pool sizes. Usually, that is less than 16 feet wide.
- Limited Options: Choosing a premade mold for your pool shell means you have fewer options to customize the shape of the pool you get.
- Shipping Hazards: Fiberglass pools ship in one piece, meaning that if an accident happens while shipping, the shell might get damaged.
Because of these drawbacks, folks that want to highly customize their pool might find fiberglass pools aren’t the best option for them. Still, many folks will find a fiberglass pool works well for them since many of these drawbacks apply to the shipping and installation process.
Fiberglass Pool Installation Mistakes to Avoid
If you decide to go with a fiberglass pool shell, there are ways you can make sure that the installation process goes smoothly. Here are what’s recommended to look out for as common mistakes to avoid:
Choosing the Wrong Size
When you go to select the size of the pool shell you want to get, make sure that the size of the pool matches your needs. It doesn’t make sense to get a super deep pool if all you want to do is laps. Likewise, a smaller pool for larger parties and get-togethers might not be the best choice, either.
You’ll also have to make sure that you don’t try to install more pool space than your neighborhood and city allow for. There are regulations on how much lawn has to be green in some places, so check out what you can do in your backyard before committing to a certain size.
Poor Maintenance Plans
Most pool types can last a long time, However, if you don’t keep up with the pool’s maintenance, or don’t do the right kind of maintenance for your pool, you’ll shorten the lifespan of your pool.
Have a list of all the parts in your pool and how often those parts need replacing. That way, when you’re going through that list, you can see what maintenance needs to be done without having to remember everything yourself.
Not Buying A Warranty
Warranties are there to help protect the customer and make sure they get quality parts. It’s better for the company as well. It gives the company a chance to improve a customer’s experience and keep them around. If a part has a warranty offer, it’s best to get the warranty.
That way, if a part is broken or not installed properly, you’ll be covered by the warranty. This could save you a lot of money if something big like the filtration pump goes out before it should.
Lack of DIY Experience
DIY projects are becoming a big trend in homeownership. People get to feel a sense of pride and validation when they install or fix up their own homes. Pools are technical since they have a lot of parts and systems that come together to form the swimming experience we enjoy.
If you don’t have much experience installing pools, the challenge can be high. Breaking a part or messing up a step of the installation can be very costly. If you’re not 100% confident in your abilities, it’s better to let an experienced contractor handle this kind of work.
Here is our list of common questions we see across the Internet about fiberglass pools and their costs:
Is Fiberglass Cheaper Than Concrete?
On average, a fiberglass pool will cost 10% to 20% less than a concrete pool of the same size. Also, thanks to the coating on the outside of the fiberglass pool shell, maintenance costs are lower for fiberglass pools. Over ten years, a fiberglass pool will cost 75% less money to maintain than a concrete pool.
What Would a Standard 12 x 24 Fiberglass Pool Cost?
A standard 12’ x 24’ inground fiberglass pool will cost around $34,000 to mold, deliver and install. The range on this price will swing widely depending on where you are and what other extra features you add to the cost.
To compare, a concrete pool of the same size would go for around $37,500. A vinyl-lined pool of the same size would go for around $26,000.
How Long Does it Take to Install a Fiberglass Pool?
Most of the time spent on installing a fiberglass pool is in the permit stage. Permits can take a while for government officials to take the gathered info and go over everything with the builders. In general, this process takes one to six weeks.
Once the permits are cleared, the actual installation of the pool will take around three to five days. That includes excavating the area, installing the fiberglass shell, and wiring up the electrical and heating systems for the pool.
How Long Will The Fiberglass Shell Last?
On average, a fiberglass pool shell will last 25 years or longer. Over time, the shell will wear out, which can cause leaks to happen around the pool. At that point, replacing the fiberglass pool with concrete or gunite is the most common fix.
Can Fiberglass Pool Shells Pop Out of the Ground?
If properly built, a fiberglass pool shell will not pop out of the ground. This happens when groundwater leaks build up around the pool, causing the fiberglass shell to float on the water and pop out.
To keep this from happening, pool installers will place a concrete locking collar around the rim of the pool shell. Proper drainage around the pool will help keep water from building up around the pool, too.
Can Fiberglass Pools Have Saltwater?
Fiberglass doesn’t react or corrode from salt water, making fiberglass pools a good candidate for a saltwater pool.
To make your fiberglass pool into a saltwater pool, you’ll need to install a chlorine salt generator with your pool when it’s being installed. These generators add the salt into the water as its being pumped back into the pool. Usually, these generators cost $500-$1000.
Fiberglass pools are a good option for people looking to add a low-maintenance swimming pool to their backyard. They come in preset sizes, install quickly, and don’t require excessive chemicals or work to keep pristine. Fiberglass pools also have many of the same options for add-ons and luxury features that other types of pools offer.
If you’re still curious about if a fiberglass pool is the best choice for you, then reach out to a pool installation service in your area. Talk with some of their contractors and see if their expertise can point you in the right direction on a fiberglass pool. Your summer days could be a lot cooler soon!