Fibreglass vs Concrete Pools

October 26, 2023

Choosing the right pool for your home is a big decision. There are a lot of options and information out there, and it can be hard to figure out the best fit for you and your budget.

Before you commit to such a big decision, you’ll need to weigh all the factors. From the cost of concrete pools vs fibreglass pools, to install times, to maintenance needs, energy costs and more.

In this article, we’ll take you through all the key factors you’ll need to know in order to dive into this decision with confidence!

Fibreglass PoolsConcrete Pools
✓ Lower Purchase Price✓ Custom Designs Are Possible
✓ Lower Installation Costs✓ Can Be Made Longer, Wider and Deeper
✓ Faster Installation Time✓ A Range Of Textures and Finishes
✓ Less Prone to Algae✓ The Ability to Add Additional Features
(e.g. Spas)
✓ Less Annual Maintenance✗ More Hospitable For Algae Growth
✓ Less Long Term Maintenance✗ Acid Wash Required Every 3 – 5 Years
✓ Generally Warm Up Faster✗ Resurfacing Required Every 10 – 15 Years
✓ Lower Heating Costs✗ Less Suitable For Salt Water Pools
✓ A Better Option For Salt Water Pools✗ Long Install Times, All Done On Site
✗ Less Flexibility in Design✗ Higher Electricity Costs
✗ Dimensions limited by what can be transported on a truck

The benefits of fibreglass pools

Now, we here at MFP Easy are obviously in favour of fibreglass pools — but for good reason!

Let’s take a look at some of our favourite upsides to fibreglass pools, so you can understand why we believe in them so much.

1. Lower total installation costs

There’s no getting around it: fibreglass pools are cheaper than concrete pools.

A fully installed, high-quality fibreglass pool will typically range from around $41,000 to $66,000 (see our pricing page for an up-to-date price list). Concrete pools will generally cost around $50,000 to $100,000 for a comparable pool design — however, with the infinite customization available, there really is no upper limit on what the price tag may end up being.

This makes sense. With the materials and labour involved in the projects, it’s clear that fibreglass shells will be cheaper to produce. They require fewer raw materials and are built in a factory, mass produced easily and cheaply. This is naturally going to cost less than a team of people to pour concrete by hand at every pool site.

Not only are the base materials cheaper, this up-front manufacturing process also cuts down on installation time. The less time your installers spend waiting for wet concrete and paint to dry, the less money you spend on them!

2. Fibreglass pool shells are constructed off-site

In addition to cost-cutting, manufacturing your fibreglass pool offsite comes with an often overlooked bonus: there’s less construction time for you to put up with.

Installing any pool is a messy, muddy business. With a concrete pool, your yard can be a construction site for months on end. Concrete pools can’t be prefabricated, so all the work gets done directly in your backyard — along with all the noise that comes with it.

With a fibreglass pool, the shell is built offsite, in a factory rather than your yard. The install process takes just 2 – 3 weeks before it’s sparkling and swim-ready. This significantly cuts down on the disruptions you (and your neighbours) have to deal with!

3. Fibreglass pool shells are constructed off site

In addition to cost-cutting, manufacturing your fibreglass pool offsite comes with an often overlooked bonus: there’s less construction time for you to put up with.

Installing any pool is a messy, muddy business. With a concrete pool, your yard can be a construction site for months on end. Concrete pools can’t be prefabricated, so all the work gets done directly in your backyard — along with all the noise that comes with it.

With a fibreglass pool, the shell is built offsite, in a factory rather than your yard. The install process takes just 2 – 3 weeks before it’s sparkling and swim-ready. This significantly cuts down on the distributions you (and your neighbours) have to deal with!

4. Pool shell quality control is done in the factory

While we’re talking about overlooked benefits, fibreglass pools also offer one more point in their favour: The ability to conduct standardised quality control.

Each fibreglass pool shell is constructed in the same way, in a specialty factory with strict quality control standards. These pool shells need to pass a rigorous inspection process before they’re ever shipped out to your home.

While reputable concrete pool installers are cautious and absolutely do take measures to carefully check their work, there’s no substitute for the ability to thoroughly inspect both sides of a pool shell for imperfections.

5. Less prone to algae (which means less chemicals)

Algae is every pool owner’s bane. Fibreglass pools cut down on that problem.

Some types of algae will start to form spots on your pool surface if left unchecked and untreated. This can happen on any pool if you leave it long enough — however, rough surfaces and areas with poor water circulation are more likely to fall victim.

The relatively coarse, porous surface of a concrete pool makes this problem more likely — meaning you need more chemicals to compensate.

6. Reduced regular maintenance costs

All pools, no matter the size or materials, need ongoing maintenance to stay sparkling and sanitary year-round.

The smoother surface of a fibreglass pool means less algae build-up. This means less cleaning, yes — but also, the cleaning you do need to do is easier!

With a fibreglass pool, you typically only need to run your filter once per day to keep it looking pristine. The usual advice for concrete pools is twice that, for the same outcome.

Additionally, as the surface of your concrete pool deteriorates over time, it can actually alter the pH level of your water. This will lead to you putting in even more work (and chemicals) to keep the balance in check.

Ultimately, fibreglass pools need less electricity and fewer chemicals. And especially as the years go by, those cost savings add up!

7. Less long-term maintenance

Even if you’re willing to put in more short-term maintenance on your concrete pool, are you ready to commit to the long-term maintenance it will take?

A high-quality fibreglass pool shell needs virtually zero long-term maintenance. No resurfacing. No repainting. No acid washes. Just years and years of swimming and enjoyment, worry-free.

This leads to a significant financial saving over the lifetime of your pool.

8. Fibreglass pools warm up faster

But enough about maintenance — fibreglass pools also have many benefits you can enjoy immediately. For instance, they warm up faster, and retain their heat better than concrete!

Quite simply, this means you can enjoy your pool for a much longer season. And all without running the heater constantly.

9. Lower heating costs

Speaking of heaters: If you do use a heater, these same insulating properties also make for lower electricity bills. Since the water stays warmer, there’s less time running the heater and less of a burden on your electrical needs.

10. A better option for saltwater pools

Did you know that salt-chlorinated water breaks down the surface of a concrete pool over time?

Even with regular maintenance, this shortens the lifetime of your pool overall — and increases the maintenance burden in the meantime.

However, this is not a concern for fibreglass pools. Saltwater has no impact on the surface of a fibreglass pool, making it the ideal choice for anyone looking to avoid chlorine.

The drawbacks of fibreglass pools

While we’d love to say there are no downsides to fibreglass pools, the sad truth is that’s not the case. There are a few things you should be aware of when considering fibreglass.

1. Less flexibility in design

There are a lot of cost-saving benefits to the fact that fibreglass pool shells are prefabricated, but that savings does mean you can’t get a custom-designed fibreglass pool.

So even though there are many different shapes, sizes, colours and features to choose from, ultimately you’re limited by what’s offered by the manufacturers.

Those looking for a fully customised pool will need to go concrete.

2. Dimensions are limited by what can be transported on a truck

The other downside to prefabrication is the fact that the pool shell needs to be transported from the factory to the site as a single piece. This puts a maximum on the dimensions of a fibreglass pool, as it needs to be something that can be placed on a truck.

For the vast majority of people, this isn’t a problem — you can still get a pool larger than your average home swimming pool. For example, our Kensington fibreglass pool design comes in at 11.4m x 4.4m. That’s still plenty of space!

In fact, most of our clients are actually looking for designs smaller than this. But it is something to bear in mind if you’re looking for a larger pool.

The benefits of concrete pools

Okay, but there have to be some upsides to concrete pools, too, right? Fibreglass has its drawbacks, so surely that’s where concrete comes in?

Yes, in fact! There are several reasons why a concrete pool may be the right choice for you.

1. Designs can be completely customised to your exact requirements

One design advantage of concrete pools is the ability for completely bespoke designs.

Want a fully unique, customised design that perfectly fits your yard and vision? You can have it — though it will cost you.

2. Dimensions aren’t limited by transportation as they’re built on site

From standard rectangular designs to fully-customised shapes, all construction of your concrete pool takes place on site. There’s no need to fit the pool on the back of a single truck.

Concrete pools will be poured from concrete trucks and can be done in multiple trips, if needed. There’s simply no need to stuff all the materials into one truck.

3. A range of textures and finishes to choose from

Another customisation option: You can choose from a much wider range of surfacing options if you get a concrete pool.

The same is true for the finish that’s applied. While fibreglass pools do have many colours and patterns to choose from, concrete pools have more.

4. The ability to add additional features to the design

If you want your pool to have a spa, table, or even a bar as part of the design, concrete is your best option, hands down.

Concrete pools aren’t limited to predetermined designs. Basically, if it can be safely built out of concrete — and hold water — it can probably be worked into your pool.

The drawbacks of concrete pools

All this customization does come with some drawbacks, however. It’s important to be aware of all sides of the issue when choosing your pool, so be sure not to get lured in by the design choices without considering the downsides.

concrete pools require longer install times like in this image where curing is taking place. This can take upto 30 days for some pools.

1. Rough surface texture makes them more prone to algae development

As we talked about above, algae loves a rough and porous surface.

This makes the surface of a concrete pool particularly inviting. Algae will easily start building up on the surface, forming spots and reducing your water quality.

2. Acid wash required every 3 – 5 years

No matter how diligent you are with your pool maintenance, stains and algae spots will still build up on a concrete pool surface over time.

To keep it looking immaculate, you’ll need to have a pool maintenance professional come in to give the surface an acid wash every 3 – 5 years. This is a costly exercise involving harsh chemicals, but there’s no avoiding it — not if you want your pool to last.

3. Resurfacing is generally required every 10 – 15 years

Speaking of lasting, there’s one more expense you’ll need to take on when maintaining your concrete pool: resurfacing.

No matter how careful you are, over time the surface layer of a concrete pool will break down. This is true no matter what type of chlorination system you use.

On average, keeping your concrete pool in good condition will mean paying around $3,000 to $7,000  every 10 – 15 years to have it resurfaced.

4. Less suitable for salt water pools

Unfortunately for salt water lovers, this chlorination method breaks down the surface layer of concrete pools even faster than normal.

Saltwater significantly reduces the lifespan of your concrete pool, making it a poor choice. Sorry, saltwater lovers, but this isn’t the pool for you.

5. Long install times as nothing can be prefabricated in a factory

The customisation is fun when planning your pool, but it does mean your installation will take much longer. Concrete pool installation is a far more labour-intensive job, as nothing can be prefabricated in a factory beforehand.

This adds at least several extra weeks to your install time, and delays how long it is before you’re in the water.

The concrete pool installation process can take from 8-12 weeks and involves significant work in your backyard over that time. While any pool installation will require excavation equipment of some king a concrete pour will also require heavy machinery for that purpose.

concrete pouring for a pool

6. Requires more energy for heating

The water in concrete pools doesn’t hold heat as well, especially when the weather is cooler.

This effectively reduces the amount of time you can use your pool each year. You can use a heater to extend it some, of course, but that’s another cost to consider!

Speaking of which…

7. Higher electricity costs

Because concrete pools don’t hold their heat, it takes a lot more electricity to maintain a comfortable swimming temperature, even in the middle of summer.

But there’s another energy cost: Since concrete pools are more prone to algae buildup, they also require you to run your pump and filter system more often to keep them clean and hygienic.

Overall, concrete pools are just fussier, and your wallet will need to bear that burden.

concrete vs fibregalss pools pros and cons

Frequently asked questions about concrete vs fibreglass pools

So with all these choices to consider, what’s the bottom line? Who benefits from a concrete pool vs fibreglass? Let’s swim through some of the most common questions.

Is a fibreglass pool better than a concrete pool?

For most people, yes — fibreglass pools are generally a better choice as they cost less to install and maintain.

People who are looking for a custom-designed pool, however, will want to invest in a concrete pool. Concrete is the only way to have a truly unique design.

What are the disadvantages of a fibreglass pool?

The only real drawback of a fibreglass pool is the fact that you can’t build a completely custom design. You’re limited to the designs offered by the manufacturer.

However, most people don’t need a completely custom pool. And with 26 fibreglass pool designs to choose from at MFP Easy, you’re sure to fall in love with at least one of them!

Are concrete pools more expensive than fibreglass?

Yes, concrete pools are more expensive than fibreglass pools.

This is true for purchase and installation, as well as lifetime maintenance costs — and even your electricity bill.

How long does a fibreglass pool last?

A high-quality fibreglass pool is expected to last well over 30 years.

Realistically, you can expect more than 50 years from a top quality manufacturer like AquaTechnics, which is why they’re the brand we use. All of our pools are covered by Aqua Technics’ lifetime structural warranty.

No matter what, your fibreglass pool will still be looking fantastic long after the concrete alternative has needed to be acid washed six times and resurfaced twice!

Do concrete pools last longer than fibreglass?

No, concrete pools don’t last longer than fibreglass.

In fact, trying to keep up with the longevity of fibreglass will require expensive maintenance on a concrete pool. They’ll require resurfacing every 10 – 15 years, if nothing else!

Are concrete or fibreglass pools warmer?

It may surprise you, but fibreglass pools are warmer than concrete ones.

Thanks to the insulating properties of a fibreglass pool, the water will hold its heat for longer — even when the weather is cool! That means you can swim in your pool for a larger portion of the year without a heater.

Even if you do opt for a heated pool, the long-lasting warmth of fibreglass pools will reduce your heating cost.