Vinyl Pool Liners

Comparing Pool Types: Vinyl Liner vs. Fiberglass vs. Concrete

Selecting the best inground pool requires careful consideration of various factors, including individual needs, preferences, and budget. Ensuring the chosen pool type aligns with individual needs, preferences, and budget is crucial in this decision-making process.

This article provides an in-depth comparison of the three primary types of pools–vinyl liner, fiberglass, and concrete–highlighting their advantages and disadvantages. By understanding the unique features of each pool type, homeowners can make an informed decision about which option represents the best inground pool for their specific situation.

Let's dive in!

Types of Pools: An Overview

When it comes to inground pool options, there are three main types of pools from which homeowners can choose. See how they compare and the characteristics that set them apart.

  • Vinyl Pools: Known for their durability and design flexibility, vinyl pools can be customized into unlimited shapes, sizes, and depths. They are constructed with a custom-made vinyl liner between the water and the pool structure, offering a smooth surface that's gentle on the feet.
  • Fiberglass Pools: These pools are pre-molded in various shapes and sizes and are known for their quick installation process. Made from fiberglass-reinforced plastic, they are a durable option that requires less maintenance.
  • Concrete or Gunite Pools: Offering a high level of customization at the highest cost, concrete pools can be designed in any shape or size. They are built on-site, allowing for unique designs and the incorporation of intricate tile work.

Each of these pool types offers specific advantages and disadvantages for homeowners. In the next section, we’ll dig deeper into each type of pool and analyze the pros and cons.

Vinyl Pools: Pros and Cons


  • Unlimited Shapes, Sizes, and Depths: Vinyl pools are the best inground pools when it comes to endless possibilities. They offer unparalleled flexibility in design, accommodating virtually any backyard size or shape.
  • Limitless Design Options: Homeowners can choose from a wide range of vinyl pool liner patterns and colors to match their aesthetic preferences.
  • Flexible Future: Vinyl pools uniquely offer the ability for homeowners to update their pool's interior aesthetics effortlessly. As personal tastes evolve, the pool's appearance can too, through new liner designs and colors.
  • Quick Installation: Vinyl pools can be installed more quickly than concrete pools, reducing labor costs and time.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Vinyl pools are a cost-efficient choice for both initial setup and ongoing maintenance. They present a lower upfront cost and maintain their value with periodic liner renewals every 8-12 years.
  • Durability: With a structure that can surpass other types of pools by up to two decades, and CFFA-P-101 certified vinyl that is tested to be more resistant to wear, punctures, and long-term UV degradation, vinyl pools represent a long-lasting investment.
  • Smooth & Comfortable: The soft, non-abrasive texture of vinyl liners offers a gentle swimming experience, making it an ideal choice for families, particularly for children who may find the softer surface more enjoyable.
  • Eco-Conscious: Built from recyclable components like steel and plastic, and lined with vinyl that can also be recycled, vinyl liner pools are a step towards sustainable living and eco-conscious recreation. The same can’t be said for fiberglass, which cannot be recycled.
  • Compatible Saltwater Systems: Vinyl liners are conducive to saltwater systems, offering a more skin and eye-friendly swimming environment than traditional chlorinated pools.
  • Increased Popularity: The global market for vinyl pools is expected to increase over the next seven years. That means homeowners can expect to see even more options, customization, and accessibility to new and innovative vinyl pool technologies.


  • Liner Replacement: While vinyl pool liners may need replacement every 8-12 years, this may not be a negative! Changing out a vinyl liner allows for easy design updates and renovations without a complete overhaul. It allows homeowners to try out new design options and update their entire backyard aesthetic!
  • Sensitivity to Chemical Damage: Improper maintenance and chemical imbalance can lead to damage to vinyl liners. It’s important to remember that all types of pools, including fiberglass and concrete, are susceptible to damage if chemicals are not properly managed.

Fiberglass Pools: Pros and Cons


  • Quick Installation: Fiberglass pools can be installed within a matter of days due to their pre-molded design.
  • Lower Maintenance: The smooth surface of fiberglass pools inhibits algae growth, reducing cleaning time and chemical use.
  • Durability: Fiberglass is resistant to cracking and provides a long-lasting pool surface.
  • Smooth Surface: The gel-coat finish of fiberglass pools offers a comfortable touch and minimizes the chance of skin scrapes you might get from concrete pools.
  • Compatible Saltwater Systems: Just like vinyl, fiberglass pools work well with saltwater systems, which can help reduce skin irritation.


  • Limited Design Potential: Fiberglass pools may not be the best inground pool option for those looking for something truly custom-made. Pre-molded shapes and sizes are one of the biggest disadvantages of fiberglass pools because they offer significantly limited customization. Typically, fiberglass pools only come in about 20 standard shapes, cannot be more than 16 feet wide by about 40 feet long, and can have a max depth of about 8 feet.
  • Higher Initial Costs: The upfront cost of fiberglass pools can be higher than vinyl liner pools.
  • Difficult to Repair: Damages to the fiberglass surface can be challenging to repair and much more costly to replace.
  • Size and Transportation Limitations: Because a fiberglass pool is the only type of pool manufactured and delivered as a whole unit, it must be able to fit on a delivery truck. That means the size of fiberglass pools is limited by transportation logistics.
  • Sensitivity to Chemical Damage: Over time, the gel-coat finish can fade or change color, especially when water chemistry is not maintained or the pool lacks proper upkeep.

Concrete Pools: Pros and Cons


  • Customization:If budget isn’t a concern, concrete pools offer flexibility in design, allowing for unique shapes, sizes, and features.
  • Durability Concrete is a durable pool material that, with proper maintenance, can last many years.


  • Highest Cost: The biggest differentiator between types of pools is cost. Concrete pools are the most expensive option, both in initial installation and long-term maintenance. Concrete pools easily cost thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of dollars more than vinyl or fiberglass because they are built on-site with high-cost concrete and custom tile which require more labor and materials to perfect.
  • Highest Maintenance: Concrete pools require more upkeep, including regular acid washing every 5 years and total resurfacing every 10 years.
  • More Chemical Use: Due to their more porous nature, concrete pools are more prone to algae growth and calcium build-up problems compared to other types of pools.
  • More Expensive Repairs: Concrete pools are more prone to cracking which can cause expensive structural damage. If concrete needs to be repaired or replaced, homeowners could be facing the costs of installing an entirely new concrete pool. With vinyl pools, repairs are typically much easier and more budget-friendly.
  • Long Installation Time: The construction of a concrete pool can take several months to prepare. Then, once the concrete is poured or sprayed, it can take 30 days or more to set. Not to mention, weather conditions can affect the timeline of the concrete curing process, adding even more days before a pool can be enjoyed.
  • Uncomfortable Surface: The pool floor and walls are not as smooth as vinyl or fiberglass, which means they may not be the best inground pool option for all swimmers.
  • Not Saltwater Compatible: Salt chlorinators can be five times more abrasive on concrete than traditional chlorine. That means that the salt in the water can gradually erode the cement finish of a pool over time.

Vinyl vs. Fiberglass vs. Concrete Pools: Comparisons

When comparing vinyl, fiberglass, and concrete pools, several key factors come into play:

  • Flexibility in Design: Vinyl pools lead in this category, offering the most customization options. Vinyl is also the easiest and most cost-effective type of pool when it comes to future renovations and adding on features, an option not available for fiberglass pools.
  • Colors and Patterns: Vinyl pools excel in this category, offering a variety of colors and patterns. Unlike fiberglass and concrete pools, vinyl liners come in an extensive array of designs, allowing homeowners to personalize their pools to match their aesthetic preferences or landscape themes.
  • Maintenance: Fiberglass and vinyl pools require about the same level of maintenance, unlike concrete, which often requires more chemicals and cleaning.
  • Lifespan: Vinyl liner pools can last over 40 years with a couple of liner changes, while fiberglass pools last around 25 years with regular maintenance. Concrete pools typically have the shortest lifespan of up to 20 years, before major repairs or replacements need to be made.
  • Initial Cost: Vinyl pools usually have the lowest initial cost of all the types of pools, with initial costs ranging from $40k to $110k depending on size, shape, and custom feature additions. Fiberglass follows with an initial install cost of $60k to $100k. Concrete pools cost the most to install at about $110k to $300k. This alone makes vinyl a more attractive option for many homeowners.
  • Long-Term Cost: Vinyl liner and fiberglass pools tend to have lower long-term costs compared to concrete pools, which require more frequent and expensive maintenance at a higher cost.

The Best Inground Pool Type

Determining the best inground pool depends on individual goals, budget, and preferences. For those seeking maximum flexibility and future potential at an affordable cost, vinyl pools stand out as an excellent choice.

They offer a blend of durability, customizability, and eco-consciousness that appeals to both pool professionals and homeowners. This vast selection makes vinyl pools superior in terms of aesthetic versatility, enabling a more tailored pool experience.

While each type of pool has its advantages, vinyl liner pools provide a versatile and durable solution for those looking to blend aesthetic appeal with practical functionality.

To learn more about the benefits of CFFA-P-101 certified vinyl pools, consider exploring further resources and connecting with industry professionals.

About CFFA

The Chemical Fabrics & Film Association Inc. (CFFA) is an international trade association representing manufacturers of polymer-based fabric and film products used in industries like building and construction, contract upholstery, automotive, healthcare, and many others.

The CFFA is organized by end-use markets, and the members of CFFA who belong to the Performance Products Division manufacture chemical fabrics and film used in numerous applications–just one of which is vinyl pool liners. Industries across the globe rely on these certified polymer-based products for their durability, versatility, and lasting value to make an array of products better.

This content was produced by the Vinyl Pool Liner Subcommittee of the CFFA to educate consumers on vinyl liner pools, inform industry standards, and distribute credible and accurate information regarding certified vinyl products. Click here to learn more about CFFA-certified vinyl pool liners.

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