Home Swimming Pools: Which is the right one for you?

swimming pool

A pool is just one of the classic signs of the easy life. From the theme song of the Beverly Hillbillies to the ending scene of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”, swimming pools are associated with the wealthy, the leisurely, and the easy-going in way of life.

That is the reason why it’s unpleasant when we learn, after we’ve spent a good deal of money and time deciding and installing a swimming pool, that that’s no easy way to get an easy life. Taking care of a swimming pool can be a lot of work, one that makes even the best of us sometimes throw up our hands and say “What was I thinking, digging this hole in my yard and filling it up with expensive water?”

In this guide, we’ll talk about swimming pools. We’ll explore the different kinds of swimming pools out there and how each is installed. We’ll talk about the maintenance concerns associated with each and what we need to do about different pools in different climates. And we’ll share a few horror stories– not to frighten you so much as to make you aware that when the worst happens, you still have choices– even if they are expensive.

As the contemporary poets say: the simple life is not so simple. The easy life isn’t always easy. But with a firm grasp on a few of these concepts of year-round pool maintenance, you’ll find it a lot easier than you otherwise would– and you’ll have that a lot more time to enjoy the fruits of all your long work and labors.


In talking about the different types of pools, it’s important to remember three common-sense qualities that all pools have in common.

  • All pools are gigantic holes in the ground.
  • All pools are filled with water.
  • The water in all pools needs to be filtered or purified in some way to make it safe for personal use.

kids in swimming pool

There are some exceptions to these rules, in particular the first–there are temporary inflatable pools, for example, or above-ground “tank” style pools–but these tend not to have the same maintenance issues as classical swimming pools, nor are they as difficult to maintain, nor are they usually as satisfying.  We’ll cover some specific issues about above-ground pools at the end of this chapter, for those who opt for that often-simpler solution.

But for the most part, there’s one crucial distinction between the different types of swimming pools available to the consumer: the type of lining used.

All pools more complicated than an “ol’ swimming hole” need to be lined.  To understand why, think about how much space in your home insurance policy is devoted to the topic of “water damage.”  Water is an inherently destructive force.  It naturally erodes any container into which it’s placed and it weakens stone moldings and the bonds between different construction elements.  Generally speaking, it shortens the lifespan of any construction project by at least half.  Your pool is no exception.

The key to pool maintenance is to think of your pool as a sustained battle between water and container.  If you think of your pool in this way, you’ll naturally think of the container’s attributes designed to defend against water damage and to preserve its structure over time, and you’ll understand intuitively what you need to do in order to keep your pool working safely and consistently over the years.

The fundamental choice that determines how easy or how difficult it’ll be to maintain your pool is the choice of lining material used to make up the “container.”

1. Fiberglass Pools

Fiberglass pools are simply molded housings set into a pool excavation, otherwise called “the giant hole in your yard.” Sand is used to the concrete real estate in order to allow the fiberglass mold to settle and move while staying fairly closely jam-packed to the actual earth. When you have actually picked a fiberglass mold style, there’s no possibility of moving or modifying it; you’re stuck to what you have actually got.

Fiberglass is among the most popular materials for a number of factors. For one, it’s extremely simple to mold into a range of shapes. There are factories that do absolutely nothing however dream up different swimming pool shapes and mold fiberglass swimming pools to fit them. On the “minus side”, all of this factory style work brings with it a certain overhead, and fiberglass swimming pools can be harder to install for this reason.

The trouble of designing fiberglass swimming pools likewise means that although you have a multitude of alternatives for how your pool will be shapes and how it will behave, you don’t have any freedom to personalize within those alternatives. If none of the factory basic fiberglass pools interest you, you do not have any method to design and develop a fiberglass swimming pool that you do like (without spending a great deal of money to retain a factory and a devoted team of pool engineers of your very own, that is.).

Fiberglass also has the benefit of being versatile. That does not seem like a substantial advantage in swimming pool style, but remember exactly what we stated about our fundamental concept: swimming pool maintenance is about handling the war in between the water and its container.

Fundamentally, all pools are holes in the ground– and the ground can and will shift over time. The added flexibility of fiberglass pools indicates that the swimming pool body is more resistant to fractures and warping brought on by changes in the earth surrounding the pool. On the minus side, if your fiberglass swimming pool does fracture, it can be very challenging to repair the crack in such a way that will not trigger you additional headaches down the years.

There are other advantages to fiberglass pools, in particular security advantages. Fiberglass pool surface areas are smooth, making it more challenging for kids or other swimmers to get scraped or hurt by brushing versus rough concrete. It’s also easy to install fiberglass swimming pools, specifically when compared to the endeavor that is putting a concrete pool in your backyard– a procedure that can involve weeks of waiting on concrete to dry and a seriously low margin for error if anything goes awry throughout the building and construction procedure.

2. Concrete Pools

Concrete pools are the most classic pool alternative, however bring with them a host of major drawbacks.

Once you have your hole in the ground, the process of developing a concrete swimming pool begins with the steel structure. Crossbars of rebar steel are inserted into the ground to supply the pool with a “cage” of support that’s resistant to earth movements.

After this, gunite or other sprayable concrete mixtures are applied to the steel framework, allowed to dry, and after that recoated in order to smooth the eventual pool as much as possible. Various finishes can then be applied to the pool, depending upon cost. Tiles, paint, plaster, and pebbles are the most popular finishes, however different alternatives are also available once the fundamental concrete is put in.

One significant advantage of concrete pools is their customizability. As we’ve said, the number of various fiberglass swimming pools available to you is limited by the pre-fabricated alternatives on the market. The number of different concrete pools offered to you is limited by nothing other than your budget plan, your creativity, and the technical proficiency of the contractors you decide to install your swimming pool– simply puts, you have more choice in how your pool will look and act.

Another major benefit of concrete pools is their resistance to hot temperatures. Fiberglass pools are good at stretching to resist changes in the earth itself, but can be damaged by severe, prolonged heat of the type most often discovered in southern or equatorial areas– simply puts, the kind of climate where you ‘d frequently want a pool to begin with. Concrete pools can expand to some level in order to resist the heat, giving your swimming pool a longer lifetime in extreme temperature levels.

Nevertheless, you have a bit more to fret about when it pertains to changes in the soil itself. This is the major downside of concrete swimming pools: the difficulty of doing anything if worst comes to worst and your swimming pool does break or break under the strain of above-average movement in the earth. Most of the time, concrete pools are a great, safe, flexible choice. But in some extreme scenarios they’re not as great at holding up to natural stresses as fiberglass.

As far as other drawbacks go, there’s building and construction time to think about. Concrete swimming pools take substantially longer to install and longer still to end up being functional– anticipate a minimum of about three weeks. This eventually leaves you with a more stable and adjustable swimming pool, however needs substantially more planning in order to benefit from a swimming pool before a hot summertime begins, as well as triggers more damage to your yard and landscaping while the swimming pool is lying there half-finished. If you have kids or family pets, you’ll also have to be very cautious to keep them from the pool area while it’s under construction. This can develop into a nuisance extremely rapidly.

3. Vinyl Pools

Vinyl swimming pools are among the most affordable and simplest choices for in-ground pool installation. Vinyl swimming pools begin like any other swimming pool: a huge hole in your backyard. The excavation is loaded with sand and the walls of the swimming pool are created by placing pre-fabricated “panels” into the earth.

The vinyl liner is placed in on top of this and connected to the top of the swimming pool walls, sealing the locations where the panels join (obvious weak points in the war between water and container.) The professional will cut holes to permit for the placement of skimmers, drains pipes, and other plumbing/drainage functions, and then the space in between the vinyl lining and the pool walls is stuffed with “backfill” in order to ensure that the lining won’t shift too much.

Vinyl have the unique advantage of being really excellent for cold-weather environments, given that they make it extremely easy to winterize your swimming pool by simply draining pipes the water. Concrete and fiberglass swimming pools are developed to hold water continuously, and they can suffer some significant problems if permitted to drain pipes for too long. As we’ll see in our chapter on winterizing, a lot of additional work is required to allow these swimming pools to stay full over the cold months without letting the water freeze and damage the plumbing. Vinyl swimming pools avoid these problems by merely letting you drain pipes the whole thing easily for the winter.

But regardless of their basic simpleness, vinyl swimming pools bring with them a host of upkeep concerns. The vinyl covering is extremely conscious scratches, holes, and other such damage, which needs you to position some extra safety guidelines on kids or pets who use the swimming pool, and eliminates certain kinds of sharp metal toys from use in a vinyl pool entirely. The vinyl covering will also need to be changed from time to time due to age and wear.

If you’re fortunate, this will take place just one or two times over a multi-decade swimming pool life time; if you’re unfortunate you can expect to shell this out every year or more. The requirement to replace the vinyl lining of a pool adds a continuous building and construction cost (to the tune of a few thousand dollars) and some procedure of headache to the entire scenario. A failure to do this leads to major leaks which can damage the underlying rock/soil behind the vinyl lining. If the leaks are severe enough it can in fact trigger damage to your whole house structure.

4. Above-Ground Pools

Above-ground pools carry with them a host of problems, but have one subduing benefit: you don’t need to excavate your backyard in order to set up one. Above-ground swimming pools can typically be set up using a pre-fab kit, assembled in a yard, and allowed to mean numerous months without significant upkeep issues. Above-ground pools are also portable, which remains in and of itself a reason to choose them if you do not own your very own home or do not have a steady career which allows you to stay in one place for the foreseeable future.

Above-ground pools do need 2 considerable pieces of upkeep. For one, you require to have a level backyard. In lots of suburbs, this will not be an issue because the land is currently fairly level. If your lawn geography is a bit more unorthodox, nevertheless, you’re going to have to get your backyard leveled in order to install an above-ground pool, which can be a considerable expense.

The other significant piece of maintenance is essentially the like any swimming pool would require: weekly chemical treatments carried out to ensure water quality, appropriate cleansing and scrubbing, and careful vigilance.

Think about above-ground swimming pools as “training swimming pools”: they’ll get you in the practice of caring for a pool regularly without requiring you to make expensive land adjustments or without requiring you to dive into the dirty waters of foundation upkeep and drain optimization. Just construct, set up, swim, and take pleasure in.

Which Type of Pool Is Right?

In general, here’s a good rubric for making your decision:

If security is your primary concern, OR if you reside in a location known for weak soil or tectonic activity, opt for fiberglass.
If customizability is your primary concern, OR if you reside in a location understood for severe summertime heat, choose concrete.
If cost is your main concern, OR if you reside in a location with constantly low/freezing temperature levels, opt for vinyl.
If you’ve never ever owned a pool in the past, you’re planning to move quickly, or you just do not wish to make a significant financial dedication or house adjustment, choose above-ground– but keep your alternatives open for the future.