The Difference Between a Steel/Vinyl Liner Pool and a Fiberglass Pool

Although either type of construction will bring many years of enjoyment to your family, there are some significant differences that you, as a potential buyer, should be aware of.

STEEL/VINYL POOL

FIBERGLASS POOL

1. STRUCTURE

14 GAUGE STEEL USUALLY COATED WITH VARIOUS RUST PROTECTION PRODUCTS SUCH AS ZINC GALVANIZATION AND/OR ZAM COATING. NORMALLY MADE OF 3-6 LAYERS OF RESIN AND FIBERGLASS MATTING (DEPENDING ON MANUFACTURER).
VINYL LINER – NORMALLY 20 -30 MIL THICK WITH CERTAIN AMOUNTS OF ULTRA- VIOLET INHIBITOR (DEPENDING ON THE MANUFACTURER). USUALLY UP TO 30 PATTERNS AVAILABLE. AVAILABLE COLOURS TOTAL ABOUT 2 – 6 (DEPENDING ON MANUFACTURER).

2. EXPECTED LIFESPAN

STEEL LIFESPAN IS UP TO 50 PLUS YEARS (DEPENDING ON QUALITY CHOSEN).

FIBERGLASS LIFESPAN IS UP TO 50 PLUS YEARS (DEPENDING ON QUALITY CHOSEN. EX: TYPE OF RESINS AND MANUFACTURING PROCESS).
VINYL LINER LIFESPAN IS UP TO 25 YEARS (DEPENDING ON QUALITY CHOSEN AND WATER CHEMISTRY MAINTENANCE)

Ease of Maintenance

Not a lot of difference between the two structures. Water is water and it has to be sanitized somehow.

Chlorine is by far the most popular form of sanitizer, either the tablet form or the manufactured form via a salt chlorinator. Some systems such as the Clear Blue Mineral Water Ionizer, are the most effective in cutting maintenance time in either type of pool structure.

Typical Myths

MYTH: Vinyl liners will have to be replaced every 5 years.

FACT: We have customers with vinyl liners over 20 years old. Most people change the liner to update the pools look, somewhat similar to repainting the kitchen walls.

MYTH: Fiberglass pools pop out the ground.

FACT: If the pool is installed properly and kept full of water at all times (as it should be) and a proper sump system is built, this cannot happen. A full fiberglass pool weighs many thousands of pounds. Therefore, it would be impossible to pop out of the ground.

MYTH: A fiberglass pool is more energy efficient than a steel/vinyl pool.

FACT: Both pools will lose 95% of the heat vertically. Heat loss in a pool through the side walls is so insignificant it is not worth worrying about. It is far more important to consider the type of pump (variable speed vs single speed), type of motor (air cooled or water cooled) and if a floating or liquid surface blanket is or is not applied on the water surface. Plus the type of heater used, natural gas, propane, electric or heat pump. NOTE: Variable speed, water cooled pumps, plus a heat pump (rather than gas or an electric heater) is the most energy efficient system available.

MYTH: A fiberglass pool is less expensive to maintain.

FACT: A fiberglass pool is less expensive to maintain compared to a concrete pool. Concrete pools need periodic acid washing, painting or the really expensive marbleizing. Fiberglass and vinyl pools require none of the above. A vinyl pool will however require liner replacement on average every 15-25 years. This is an expense not needed with fiberglass but the initial lower cost of vinyl pools make it an even split.

MYTH: Fiberglass pools use less chemicals to sanitize the water than vinyl pools.

FACT: Again that is true of a concrete pool as the concrete may “leech” chemicals into the water resulting in a high amount of chemical balancing. Both fiberglass and liner pools are “inert” so nothing is on the surface that can alter the water chemistry. The least expensive product to sanitize any type of pool is a mineral water ionizing system such as the Clear Blue Ionizer(in conjunction with the minimal amount of chlorine). This system reduces chemicals by as much as 90%. Salt chlorinators, on the other hand are on the other side of the scale, ex: The most expensive form of pool sanitizing.

MYTH: A vinyl pool takes 3-4 weeks to install.

FACT: A fiberglass pool typically can be installed in 3 – 4 days. A similar size vinyl pool usually takes twice as long, ex: 6-8 days. Both are weather dependent. It is the landscaping after the pool is installed that can take weeks depending on the extent of the project.

The type of pool you choose should be based on your individual preference.

A fiberglass pool with similar features to a vinyl pool will typically cost a little more for the structure but will cost less for the installation. A vinyl pool is custom made to your specifications. You can choose the size, shape and depth. A fiberglass pool, however, is available only in factory ready design, size and shape. There is a large selection to choose from however so it is unlikely that you will not find a model suitable to your needs and your budget.

HAPPY SWIMMING!