As you may or may not know, there are several types of in-ground swimming pools available. Some may see an in-ground swimming pool and think it just another in-ground pool. The difference in the types of in-ground pools is the materials they are constructed with. Some materials and styles act as indicators of class ranking. Basically, people look at a gunnite/concrete pools and see them as being the upper echelon of in-ground swimming pools. This may be due to the fact that they are the most expensive type of in-ground pool on the market. However, there are two other types of in-ground pools to consider. One piece fiberglass and vinyl liner pools are becoming more popular in today’s world. In the following paragraphs, I will offer a closer look at the differences in the three types of in-ground pools and explain why I believe the vinyl liner in-ground swimming pool is the best.
To begin, let’s evaluate the gunnite/concrete pool. I have already mentioned that this is the most expensive type of in-ground pool on the market. There are some other things that might make this type of pool less desirable to the average person. Let’s look at the surface of the pool. It is porous and the most susceptible to damage caused by water chemistry. If you didn’t already know, the water in a swimming pool has to be maintained through the use of chemicals in order to keep it clean and safe for swimmers. This includes the proper levels of pH, chlorine, total alkalinity, calcium hardness, cyanuric acid, and total dissolved solids. For some, this process is more difficult to do than they may think. (For more information see my post “How To Maintain Your Vinyl Liner In Ground Swimming Pool”) The truth is, pool chemicals on their own are rather harsh and should definitely be kept out of reach of children and pets. When their levels become unbalanced in a pool, they can have negative effects, especially on gunnite/concrete pools. Unfortunately, even if you keep your water properly maintained in a gunnite/concrete pool, at some point you will have to have the pool resurfaced at a considerable cost. This usually occurs between seven and fifteen years. In addition to that, the pool’s surface is pretty abrasive and will prove to be a common cause of skinned knees, and elbows. Also, its porous surface is ideal for algae and bacteria growth. Now, let’s look at the fact that it is made of concrete. This means that all your plumbing lines for the main drains, skimmers, and returns are encased in concrete. In the event that you get a leak within one of the lines, you might find yourself having to have the concrete busted up to fix the leak and then have it re-poured again. With that amount of work, you are looking at a fairly costly project. Not to mention that the pool will have to be drained and re-filled ($$$). Concrete also has a tendency to crack. This is not ideal, and any concrete worker you ask will tell you the same. This is why sidewalks are cut into sections. The cuts are made to try to control where the concrete will crack. Last but not least, the installation process can take months, and because the pools are manufactured on site, they typically have very short if any warranties.
Now, let’s look at the one piece fiberglass in-ground pool. In my opinion, these have some major drawbacks. First, they are made from molds, and these molds only come in a small variety of sizes and shapes. Even the largest pools are at most average in size, and commonly the advertised sizes are not an accurate representation of the actual size of the usable pool. Another thing about these molds is that they don’t allow the pool to be custom designed to fit your personal tastes and backyard needs. Going back to water chemistry, if the surface fades or deteriorates it is difficult and expensive to resurface. A major problem with one piece fiberglass pools is that they are not self supportive and may collapse or buckle if emptied. I have also seen this type of pool pop out of the ground after a hard rain. The last thing that you should know is that one piece fiberglass typically come with suspiciously short warranties on some color surfaces, and no warranties against floating or buckling.
Now, let’s look at the vinyl liner in-ground swimming pool. This type is the easiest and least expensive to repair when needed, because the pool consists of components. Problems can be more easily isolated and solved without having to go through unnecessary steps to get to them. A huge benefit is that a quality structure is self supportive. This means that if installed properly by an experienced pool builder, they will not buckle when emptied. Also, this type of pool can be custom designed to fit your personal tastes and backyard needs. Basically, they can be made in any shape, or design that you might want. With vinyl liner pools, the components are manufactured in a controlled environment and generally have long manufacturer warranties. Last but not least, there are some added benefits when it comes to the liner. One is that there are countless liner designs and colors to choose from. Another is that the liner’s surface is very smooth, making maintenance, and cleaning much easier. The algae and bacteria that may form has a more difficult time sticking to the smooth surface of the liner, and can easily be brushed away versus gunnite/concrete pools where the rough surface allows the algae and bacteria to dig in and get a firm hold. The other thing is that the smooth surface is skin friendly, so there won’t be any skinned knees or elbows from the pools surface. Finally, if the liner ever becomes damaged by chemicals it is more economical to replace rather that having to resurface a gunnite/concrete, or fiberglass pool. Typically a liner will last anywhere between seven to ten years, but I have replaced twenty year old liners in the past, and with a liner replacement you get the option of changing the liner design which gives the pool a completely new look.
So, there you have it. A vinyl liner pool offers consumers the high end look of a gunnite/concrete pool without the high end costs, and it is more economically sound when it comes to repairs. You get more design options, easier maintenance, and a structurally sound build. The last thing that I would recommend when getting a vinyl liner in-ground pool is to have an in floor cleaning system installed. With the liner’s smooth surface, and a properly installed in floor cleaning system, you will get a virtually maintenance free pool, inevitably allowing you to spend more time relaxing and enjoying your pool and less time cleaning it.
For more information on vinyl liner swimming pools, please take a look at my other posts. They cover many pool related questions, ranging from swimming pool safety to how to have your vinyl liner in ground pool clean itself, and many things in between.