New Pools – The firbreglass or marbelite choice
Fibreglass lined concrete swimming pools offer all of the benefits of pre-formed, factory-moulded pools. In fibreglass lined pools, the structural strength is provided by the concrete, brick etc. structure of the pool. The surface finish of a fibreglass lined pool, whilst not as smooth as a premoulded, factory-built fibreglass pool, is smoother and less porous than gunite or marbelite plaster.
Fibreglass linings are applied to existing gunited or marbelite pools either for cosmetic reasons i.e. to offer an attractive finish which is strong, durable, and requires minimal maintanance, or for functional reasons, i.e. to provide a waterproof lining for pools that are prone to leaking. Cracked or leaking concrete pools must be repaired and correctly prepared prior to application of a fibreglass lining.
In either case, the fibreglass lining will provide a skin that is strong, durable, and requires minimal maintanance. More and more homeowners are finding that fibreglass lined pools are stronger, more durable and less susceptible to surface degradation or cracking, than pools made from more conventional materials.
Fibreglass reinforced polyester (GRP) composite materials, is the material that is revolutionising the pool industry by keeping water in whilst maintaining its good appearance and ease of maintanance.
Compared to a concrete or marbelite pool, a fibreglass lined pool is generally less costly to maintain on a daily or monthly basis. This is important to the pool owner, because a clean pool is a healthy pool. It is estimated that owners of a GRP-lined pool will enjoy enough savings in a 12-month period of having the GRP lining, to pay for the cost of the lining.
The savings come about through significant reductions in the chemicals required during summer, to maintain well balanced, crystal-clear water. Saving also accrue bacause the tough, durable, but smooth surface of the fibreglass lining creates far less wear and tear on automatic pool cleaning equipment compared with the relatively rough surface of gunite or marblite plaster.
Fiberglass or Marbelite?
Ahhhh…So the story goes on. Which one is better? Are concrete pools the best choice? Or has fiberglass taken over as the preferred pool of the new era? I’m sure you’ve heard arguments for both. And what you’ve likely heard has been quite biased.
You see, most installers only install one type of pool. If they install fiberglass, then they say fiberglass is the ONLY way to go. If they install concrete, then they say such statements as, “A pool is not a pool unless it’s concrete” or “Why would you ever even consider fiberglass?” or “All of your friends have gotten concrete, you’re not going to get something different are you?” or “You’ll never find a shape you want.” Etc, etc, etc… And if you talk to a friend that owns a concrete pool, then they’ll likely tell you to choose concrete. Likewise for the friend that owns a fiberglass pool.
So let me clarify a few points for you now:
You should choose a concrete pool if:
- You are looking for a VERY customized shape or size not offered in the fiberglass line. (An example of this would be an L-shaped pool or a pool wider than 5m)
- You are looking for a pool DEEPER than 1.8m. This would be because you’ve decided on a very springy diving board and you want to be able to do many tricks and unique dives off of said board.
- You are not concerned with expensive repairs down the road.
- You are not concerned with the maintenance time you spend with the pool on a weekly basis.
- You are trying to create a complete natural pool. In other words, you want the pool to have many natural rock features, grottos, possibly a ‘pond’ appearance, etc. (Although one may argue fiberglass pools can look very natural, I still have yet to see a natural masterpiece as I have seen many times with some very high-end marbelite projects.
- You are looking for a beach entry. (There are a few fiberglass pools with something similar to a beach entry, but it’s still not quite the same design you’ll find in a concrete pool.)
- You are NOT concerned with concrete’s roughness on your feet with older pools. (I’ve had second time pool owners choose fiberglass simply because their concrete pool tore up their children’s feet too much. This is pretty standard with most concrete/marbelite pools.)
You should choose a pre-moulded fiberglass pool if:
- You are looking for the LEAST amount of swimming pool maintenance possible on a weekly basis.
- You are looking for a quick pool installation.
- You are looking for a pool on the smaller end of large. In other words, you are looking for a size that is roughly 5m x 10m or less. ” You are looking for a pool that will have ‘flex’ strength if need be. (For example, let’s say you live next to a rock quarry with dolomite where there is constant ground vibration.)
- You are looking for a basic functional pool.
So there you have it. See which list fits your needs the best and that’s what you should go with, and if you want to listen to the counsel of your friends, listen to the ones that have owned BOTH types of pools, not just one or the other. For example, of the approximate 1 000 000 pools South Africa has installed, roughly 10% of the customers owned a concrete pool previously to a fibreglass pool. Because of the drawbacks of concrete, they chose to take a different route the second time around. These people are the true pool comparison experts. Whereas about 60% of all pools in South Africa are concrete or marblite pools to 40% fiberglass.
Notice also that I have not mentioned the pool’s appearance on this concrete vs fiberglass page.
Fiberglass pools are limited in the shape and are more functional than the more flexible shapes you get with concrete pools. Concrete pools are the top of the range in aesthetic value but are more costly.
Choosing to install a pool can be a major decision as well as a home improvement. There are many things to consider when making this decision. Pools come in every imaginable shape and size, so obviously, you would want to take some time to think about what you want. Aside from those two factors, the most important decision to make is what material the pool should be made of.
Aboveground pools make this simple because they are only available in one material, but inground pools are manufactured using different materials that have a large impact on functionality and the life of the pool. The most commonly used materials for inground pools are marbelite or cement, nylex and fiberglass. The best thing to do is find out all information on each of these and compare them. Deciding what material the pool is made of is an important decision, and one that should not be made in haste. Price will play a large role in your decision, as marbelite pools are much more expensive than fiberglass.
Marbelite pools are commonly installed on commercial property, such as hotels and condominiums. This type of pool is the most elite and expensive. There are many benefits to a marbelite pool, despite the high cost. Marbelite pools are created using cement and plaster. Because they are built on site, you will be allowed to customize the pool to your liking. Marbelite pools can be formed in any shape and at any size. They are often used to compliment existing landscape and to create a personal oasis. Many people add on to these pools by including waterfalls or custom steps. These additions can easily be done because the land will already have to be excavated to install the pool.
The installation process of a marbelite pool can be complex, especially if it is a custom shape. The benefit to these pools is that they are permanent and last a lifetime. The ability to freely customize the pool is another advantage. Even the flooring can be custom. Many marbelite pools have unique floors. Marbelite pools are the best quality, but come at a hefty price. They allow the owner to be creative and design their dream pool.
After marbelite, the most popular pool is a fiberglass pool. These pools are affordable and still provide high quality. A properly installed fiberglass pool can last up to thirty years with very little maintenance. The creativity aspect lacks with fiberglass pools however.
The pools are pre-formed and are usually rectangular in shape. They can be made into different shapes, but you will not have the wide range of choices as you would with a marbelite pool. The pool shell is manufactured in a controlled environment and installed in one piece. This makes installation much faster than a marbelite pool. Fiberglass pools do not need a liner and never need to be resurfaced. This is a major advantage. Cleaning and maintaining fiberglass pools is quick and easy, which makes them a popular choice.
When deciding which kind of pool to install, consider cost and the ability to customize. If you are intent on having a specific shape, a marbelite pool is the best choice. They are works of art that add to the existing landscape of the property.
Regardless of your choice, both of these pools will provide years of fun, relaxation and entertainment for many years to come.