Fiberglass models tend to last the longest of all three of the most common pool types.
Pool Lifespans: How Long Do Pools Last?
Since they all consist of different materials, there are significant differences in the expected average lifespans of the three most common types of swimming pools.
Fiberglass is a highly durable material making it perfect for a swimming pool. It doesn’t usually need resurfacing, it’s tough, and it doesn’t need painting. It’s relatively easy to clean, and it is very resistant to staining and discoloration.
The two most significant determining factors in how long a fiberglass pool will last are the quality of the installation and the manufacturing process. Reputable pool builders use the best manufacturing companies, install their pools according to the industry’s best practices, and stand by their product. It’s not uncommon for a fiberglass pool to have a manufacturing and installation warranty.
A high-quality, well-installed fiberglass pool should last thirty years and perhaps more.
Concrete pools are the most expensive type of pool construction. They usually look great for a decade or so, but then the porous aggregate of the interior walls starts to become a haven for algae. Discoloration becomes more apparent, and you may even end up with small cracks in the surface.
Even a well-maintained concrete pool will need resurfacing at some point. You should budget for this every ten to fifteen years. And, if your swimming pool develops a severe crack, you may have to drain the pool to repair the concrete. That’s a big, expensive job.
A concrete pool should last twenty years or more, but the maintenance along the way can be intensive and expensive.
Vinyl Liner Pools
Pools with a vinyl liner are relatively inexpensive to build. But, the liner itself is nowhere near as durable as concrete or fiberglass. For some owners, the predictability of replacing the liner every ten to twelve years is appealing. It’s just a budget item, and if you develop an issue, you don’t mind because the installation was reasonably affordable.
You should still expect the pool to last for a few decades without a major overhaul, but the liner will not last anywhere near that long. Ten years is pretty standard.
Why Are Fiberglass Pools So Tough?
Fiberglass pools have a few traits that make them quite durable.
Fiberglass pools are non-porous. That means the surface is extraordinarily resistant to staining, scale, and algae. If you ever develop an issue, a quick power wash or acid bath does the trick in no time. When combined with a protective gel coat, the surface is even tougher.
Resistance to Cracking
Fiberglass has phenomenal tensile strength, especially for such a lightweight product. That’s one of the reasons why it’s used so widely in automotive, boating, and aeronautic applications. So, while a concrete pool might crack from a frost heave, and a vinyl pool may lift under increasing pressure from the water table below, a fiberglass pool usually won’t.
High-quality fiberglass pools consist of many layers of fiberglass. That makes them highly resistant to heat, corrosion, chemicals, water penetration, and impact damage. They can stand up to poor water balance, harsh chemical applications, and environmental factors that can dramatically shorten the lives of other types of pools.
What to Look For in Fiberglass Pools
There are a few main factors to consider when planning for a fiberglass pool installation. Unlike other types of pools, fiberglass models start their life in a factory. Then, a truck brings the pool shell to your job site, where it receives its plumbing. Finally, the builder can install your pool into the ground, hook up the filter and lighting, and fill it with water.
Before you start, focus on three significant factors.
The best fiberglass pools come from the factories with the best craftsmanship. Depending on who you choose, there can be a big difference in price and quality. Your pool builder can be a helpful guide, but it’s essential to do your research too.
Each manufacturer has a different way of doing things. You may also find significant differences in pricing, the scope and term of the warranty, and even in the number of layers and how they are applied.
One other question to ask relates to features. Some inexpensive factories can’t make complicated designs. So, consider looking elsewhere if you ask for an integrated bench seat, and they tell you it can’t be done.
The company installing your pool plays a huge role in its longevity. Make sure that you talk to more than one outfit and that you check their references. Factors like drainage, hardscaping, electrical preparation, and plumbing can have a considerable effect on the pool’s durability and your enjoyment of it.
A good installer will understand how to integrate the pool into your current backyard, and they’ll also be able to explain where you need to spend the extra money to make sure things last. For example, if your home tends to develop standing water near the pool site, you need to invest in the appropriate drainage as part of the build’s process. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for long-term trouble.
A reputable installer will not only understand the manufacturing process, but they’ll be able to perform all the work it takes to complete the project. That means they’ll hook up the plumbing, pressure test it, and fill the pool with water. That’s at a minimum. If your installer tells you they don’t provide the water, run away and don’t look back.
When your pool is new, it makes a lot of sense for the installer to be your point person for maintenance. That way, if something isn’t right, there isn’t any chance of a blame game. You should try to add the first year or two of maintenance to the upfront cost of the pool, thereby ensuring that you and the builder are on the same page and that all of your rights and warranties are protected.
When you take over maintenance yourself or bring in another company to perform it, make sure that your filter is running properly. Always keep the chlorine level at an appropriate concentration, and make sure to balance the water. Doing so will help keep your pool looking new for years to come.
Fiberglass Pools: Helpful Hints
Every pool is different. But, by following these tips, you will set yourself up for decades of enjoyment with your fiberglass swimming oasis.
- Only use UV and chemically resistant fiberglass for the shell
- Consider manufacturers who follow industry standards and build shells constantly
- Demand a lifetime warranty against factory defects
- Expect a long-term guarantee against installation errors
- Make sure your builder mitigates groundwater, erosion, and other environmental threats
- Pre-plan for future upgrades by running extra pipes, conduits, and more
- Plan for the first few years of maintenance before the build
Fiberglass pools can deliver fantastic results. They’re favored for their relatively inexpensive long-term costs and minimal maintenance requirements. If you find the right builder and the right factory, preferably with hundreds of builds in their references, you can expect to enjoy your fiberglass pool for many years to come.