We hear this question all the time and it really isn’t even a debate. What type of swimming pool is better? Vinyl, concrete or fiberglass pool. Customers want to know how different the cost and maintenance is, which one’s are freeform, can be modified, etc. Each pool type has advantages and disadvantages. Pools require surface maintenance no matter what type of material comprises it. But let me save you the time, concrete pools have no rival.
Some additional questions we’ve heard from clients over the years. An FAQ of vinyl liner pools.
How Long Do Vinyl Liners Really Last?
Liners can last a long time, but when exposed to elements such as rain, debris, & snowstorms, they tear easily. Other things that lead to an early liner repair are pets, kids, and other things that can puncture the liner.
They say, an inground vinyl liner generally last 6-12 years. But it depends on the heat, weather changes, cleaning chemicals, and how well you take care of your pool and how many different situations you put it in. High UV exposure leads to a shorter life span. Last note, improper use of chemicals will drastically reduce the lifespan of your vinyl liner.
Concrete Pool Comparison: Pool plaster slowly degrades over time, and staining and etching are common. After 10-15 years, the surface degrades and when it does a new coat of plaster is needed. The cost to replaster an inground pool is generally twice the cost of a liner replacement, and not something that a homeowner can do, unlike a liner replacement (If your are DIY).
Fiberglass pool Comparison: Fiberglass pool surfaces hold up well, but will require repair somewhere in between the 10-20 year mark. Fiberglass pools fade & crack and repairs are not easily hidden. For major repairs, fiberglass pools are re-glassed with a new gelcoat. Cost can be twice the cost of a liner replacement.
So, yes, a concrete resurfacing may cost more for the one time occurrence, but the surface doesn’t run the risk of being damaged in a back-to-back episode like a liner can and doesn’t look suspect like a fiberglass repair can. A final note, repair is so hard to predict due to the elements, maintenance, faulty installers, and so many more variables. The one thing that remains constant is that pools require repair.
What if a Vinyl Liner Gets a Hole?
Small holes are pretty common and not every hole leaks. If getting a vinyl liner pool consider a 20-28 mil thickness. When holes happen, they are patched with an underwater vinyl patch kit. Luckily, not all holes require you to drain the pool to repair the liner.
How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Vinyl Pool Liner?
Everything depends on the pool size, and in this case the liner thickness. Additionally, the cost is higher if it is professionally installed.
Do Vinyl Liners Fade or Bleach?
Yes. Fading at the waterline, for pools in the Midwest, is inevitable with vinyls. They lose their luster rather quickly; this is one reason gunite pools rule the Midwest. Pools in the northern states parts, it’s not as much an issue. Direct sun is hard on liners, especially those with a printed border.
Bleaching of a liner is a type of chemical fading that usually is caused by repeatedly pouring shock directly into the pool (always pre-dissolve first), or throwing tablets into the pool. Chlorine tabs will stain any pool surface type, and are best used in a chlorinator.
How Does Wall Strength Compare?
Inground vinyl pool kits are installed with curved and straight wall panels. No comparison to concrete, but some say they aren’t as durable as some fiberglass pools either. It really is situation specific and what elements are interacting with your pool.
Vinyl Pools Are Limited in Shape AND Design
Inground vinyl liner pools have many different design options. But the options don’t shake a stick at gunite pool options. But there are way more vinyl options than fiberglass options. Concrete pool designs are more flexible and significantly more freeform then a vinyl pool. Fiberglass is completely limited in design. Ever heard of a custom designed fiberglass pool? Me either. Dealers of fiberglass pools will usually have dozen or so designs to choose from
Can a Vinyl Pool have Stone and Tile?
Yes – you can use stone, brick, or any natural material as the coping around a vinyl pool. You can even install real tile around the border perimeter. You can use this type of coping on above-ground pools as well, on the poolscape areas. Many will double over as semi-above ground pools. If considering a liner based in ground pool, consider a semi-above ground pool. Liner based pools don’t have the customization capabilities that a gunite pool does, especially in regard to the interior of the pool. And if you’re doing a vinyl pool, you’re likely looking at a printed tile border on the vinyl.
Can Dogs Swim in a Vinyl Pool?
Sure, but be warned, it may cost you a liner. If you have a dog, show them how to swim to the step area. Or plan on replacing your liners, especially with larger dogs. if you have a concrete pool, don’t sweat it, no liner to puncture. These are the Problems With Inground Vinyl Liner Pools that we can think of. There are disadvantages to every pool. We believe gunite pools however, have the most upside. Learn more about residential swimming pools here.