Different types of inground pools
If you are planning for an inground pool for your back yard, there are basically 3 types of inground pools to chose from and these are concrete pools, vinyl lining pools and fiberglass pools. Other terms that you may have heard or read, like gunite pool, ceramic pool, porcelain pool but all these are just commercial terms for variations of a concrete pool, a vinyl lining pool or a fiberglass pool.
Lets first take a brief look at the advantages and disadvantages of each one of the three options and then later on we are going to discuss each one more in depth.
Types of inground swimming pools comparison chart
Vinyl liner pool
Limits on shape
Limits on size
16x40 ft (4,8x12m)
Need for resurfacing/new liner
Algae growth control
Easy, bit less so in liner seams
Effect on water
Rises the pH value
Will UV light affect the material
There really is no best pool option here, it really boils down to what is the best match for you and your family. But read on under the picture and we will give you a quick run through of the pros and cons of each pool option.
The concrete pool has been around for the longest and the pool with the most prestige. It has historically been the most expensive to build, but the prices have dropped considerably so price is no longer an issue when it comes to whether or not chose a concrete pool.
There are no limits to size or shape. If you have the money and the room for it you can build any way you want.
It takes a long time to build. Generally between 4-8 weeks and it is labor intensive. Relatively big trucks will need to be able to access the allocated space.
Once it is built however, you have a pool that will last you a life time and probably way beyond that.
Concrete, however does not feel very pleasant against naked skin, and of course being a pool there will be mostly naked skin that touches it so there will be some sore knees, elbows etc etc.
Concrete is also a porous material, this makes it easy for algae to settle in and it becomes difficult to manage because of the same porosity.
Also the concrete will tend to raise the pH in the pool water, and as you may know a high pH (above 7.8 ppm) will make the chlorine in your pool less effective and that in turn will make it easier for the algae to settle in. So in a concrete pool this is our little catch 22, that has us running around in a circle.
This is also why we will have to empty the pool every 3-5 years to give it an acid wash to get rid of the algae.
The price of an installation of a medium size gunite pool, without counting for protective fences, deck and other extras will start at around 30,000$. This does also not take into account getting the permit and approval. A concrete pool is the pool that will have you consume the most chemicals and hence spend the most money in the long run.
Tip: You could lower you chemical usage in the swimming pool with ionization.
Here you see a graphic showing the monthly costs of maintaining a pool. These will of course depend upon factors like the size of the pool and of what material your pool is, but generally speaking the concrete pool will be on the higher end of the graph.
Vinyl liner pool
The vinyl liner pool is generally speaking less expensive pool in terms of initial investment. You can make any size and shape you want, but if you want a very big size pool with an odd shape it may become very labor intensive. If you decide to go for a vinyl pool, we would recommend that you go for a pool kit. It is the most effective way to go both in terms of cost and labor. Getting a kit does not mean that you have to install it yourself. You can still get professionals to do it for you.
The vinyl liner will feel soft against naked skin, but the bottom may also feel a bit slippery under the foot. Especially if you have algae.
It is also very important that the ground under the vinyl liner is correctly prepared or you will easily get wrinkles or an overstretched vinyl, which will lead to tears.
The structure itself, meaning the wall system, the joining, coping, bracing etc of a vinyl liner pool will probably last you a life time, and then some. The liner will on the other hand eventually need to be replaced. It will probably last you 10-12 years if you don't have an accident and the liner gets punctured.
A pucture is something that can happen if something falls into pool, like a branch from a nearby tree or similar. The liner also tends to bleach with UV light and get a bit ugly so you will probably end up changing it at around 8-10 years. An investment that will cost you around 4,500$-5,000$
So there went all the money you saved on chemicals, into the new pool liner. But you did not have to swim in all those chemicals either. In fact you can expect to use almost half of the chemicals that you would use in a concrete pool in a vinyl pool.
The vinyl liner is inert so it does not have any effect on the pH in your pool. Many of the chemicals made for pools will however make the pH drop. Perhaps they are made with concrete pools in mind?
Bottom line is that you need to keep an eye on your pH level, because if it drops too much you can get a problem with the pool liner. If the pH drops below 7 ppm the water becomes acidic and the vinyl will absorb water. This will make it expand and hence create wrinkles in the bottom of the pool, and that does not look good. Needless to say, a wrinkled liner will tear easier.
A vinyl pool can generally be installed in 2-5 weeks. A medium sized basic DIY inground vinyl liner pool kit will cost around 4500$. You will then have to add labor, digging, leveling and accessories like a deck etc. A permit is also necessary in most areas.
Don't you like the idea of swimming in chemicals? Read our article about natural swimming pools
The biggest disadvantage with the fiberglass pool is the limitation on size. The issue is not the fiberglass itself or even the production process, the limitation is in the transportation of the pool from the manufacturer to your backyard. You cannot transport anything much wider than 16 ft and longer than 40 ft on the roads, so that is where the bottleneck is.
The preparation of the ground where the fiberglass pool is going to sit is of vital importance for its durability, so this is not something you should do yourself. You should make sure that this is being done by professionals with good references from happy customers. Because if the pool is not set well into the ground it will brake.
Of the three pool options the fiberglass pool is the pool that is easiest to maintain. Being a non-reactive material it is pretty easy to maintain the chemical balance. And as with the vinyl pool, it requires half of the chemicals the concrete pool does. Also it does not wrinkle and the resurfacing is mostly of aesthetic reasons.
The fiberglass pool does not feel as rough against your skin as the concrete pool nor as soft as the vinyl liner pool. The bottom of the pool is usually given a bit texture to avoid it feeling slippery.
As with the vinyl pool the pH tends to be on the lower end, which if it drops to much will cause the chlorine to be less effective.
A fiberglass pool usually is installed in about 2 weeks or so. A basic installation of a fiberglass pool could cost around 35,000$. To this you would have to add the deck and accessories.
If you would like to learn more about fiberglass pools, head over to riverpoolsandspas.com. Their website is a very good resource and they give really good advice.
You may have heard of pool popping, most often referred to fiberglass pools. However this will happen to any pool if it is being emptied and there is a great deal of water in the ground. It is basically Archimedes Law at work and is the effect of the pressure of water from underneath being stronger than the weight of the empty pool. This is why it is very important not to empty the pool on the wrong time of year and also why the best pool builders will install an underground pipe to allow you to drain water from the ground before emptying the pool.
General advice when the choice is made
We understand that once you have made up your mind for what type of inground pool you wan, you the pool to be installed as soon as possible. But this is not the time to cut corners. Reconsider before you chose the provider that promises the fastest delivery. You see, a well installed pool will give you years of pleasure. A badly installed pool will give you years of grief. As simple as that.
If it comes a time where you would want for any reason to get rid of the pool, a fiberglass pool or a vinyl liner pool is pretty easy to dispose of. The concrete pool however is a pretty big job to cut up and get rid of. The truth is that you cannot just fill it in with dirt because that would only turn it into a big smelly swamp at the first rainfall.