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Contrary to popular belief, not all pools are created equal. Size is just one of many factors that determine how much an in-built pool could cost you. It is important that you do your research and gather all the facts from professionals before making a large investment like an in-ground swimming pool.
Jack Miller, founder of How I Get Rid Of, a home improvement blog, has over 15 years of experience as a home improvement and pest control expert. In the DIY sector, he has worked with many pool professionals over the years and has accompanied many construction projects.
American Swimming Pools CEO Stewart Vernon has worked in the industry for over 20 years and his company serves over 15,000 pools per week in the United States. “During the pandemic, the demand for pool construction was highest,” he says.
If you want to have a pool built on your property, you have three types of in-ground pools to choose from: fiberglass, vinyl, and concrete. Each type has a different architectural style and very different costs. So that you can make the most informed decision about which pool type is perfect for you, we spoke to some pool industry experts to break down each one based on cost and quality.
Fiberglass pools are the easiest, most affordable type of in-ground pools you can get. They are the easiest to install because the basin shell is made of fiberglass and is fabricated before installation. “It’s pretty much a plug and play thing,” says Miller. “If you can think of a hot tub, you can think of a fiberglass bowl,” adds Vernon.
The installation process for these types of pools only takes about two days from start to finish. “It’s also very low-maintenance because it’s made of a non-porous material called gelcoat, which prevents algae from forming,” Miller adds. This also means less consumption of chemicals. So cost and ease of installation are two main reasons most people choose fiber optic pools.
One of the downsides to choosing a fiber optic pool is that it is usually smaller and has had limitations to build since it was prefabricated. “They usually pick it up with a crane and drop it into a hole the crew would already build,” Vernon explains. “The beauty of [all three types of] Swimming pools are that they all need the same pool maintenance as soon as water is in them. “
In terms of cost, you could realistically build a nice fiberglass pool for around 30 to 50% less than a concrete pool. Vernon says, “So that you still have beautiful blue water to jump and swim with on a budget.”
According to Vernon, vinyl would rank second when ranking in-ground pools from lowest to most expensive. You can build a larger pool with vinyl than you can with fiberglass. As for the materials, “The bottom sits on a bed of sand while the cap holds the top,” explains Miller. Vinyl is also more malleable, so you can adjust the shape, size, or depth to your liking. “The vinyl lining is [what] makes it waterproof, ”adds Vernon. According to Miller, people choose vinyl because it has a lower initial cost compared to the other two types, but could cost more to repair after a while.
According to both experts, concrete pools are the most sought-after types of underground pools. From a design point of view, concrete pools are the most flexible. “There [are] no restrictions, ”says Vernon. You can build a pool of any size and give it any design you want using concrete. According to Miller, the largest pools in the world are made of concrete. In terms of structure, concrete pools are supported by steel bars and you can also plaster over the concrete for added durability.
“And because concrete is porous,” says Miller, “the plastered shell holds water better and thus offers the highest level of stability.” The finishing touch is similar to a smooth layer of plaster, just like the walls inside houses. “When you think of luxury, high-end pools, they’re made of concrete,” says Vernon. They are undoubtedly the most expensive, but also the most durable.
“Even if it takes longer to install, people choose concrete pools because of their durability and sleek finish,” Miller says. According to Vernon, tile is a popular finish among pool owners. “In my opinion, it’s the most luxurious, premium look an in-ground pool can have,” he says. You can also opt for an aggregated surface, where small stones and pebbles are added to the plaster above the concrete. Aggregant surfaces can be black, brown, blue, or whatever color you buy your pebbles.
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