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Best Pool Surfacing Materials

Nov 28, 2023

Today's pool owners have many safe, reliable, and stunning swimming pool finish options open to them. From some of the more straightforward pool surfaces, such as standard plaster, all the way to a rainbow of glass beads, the options can be very exciting and somewhat daunting if you don't have the right information sources.

Since there are so many spectacular interior pool surface options available in today's market, it makes sense that customers would want to explore the range, including the benefits and drawbacks of each pool finish.

To help guide you through the many options for your inground pool, we're here to offer you relevant information on the most sought-after options.

What Are the Different Types of Swimming Pool Finishes?

The top three options we'll be covering all have different strengths that should be considered before making a final decision on your pool and/or spa interior surfaces.

Fiberglass Finishes

Fibreglass is among the most popular choices because it's much stronger than plaster pool surfaces, which are known to crack and chip, thus leaving the pool exposed to algae and contaminating the pool water. Fibreglass, on the other hand, provides a superior resistance to stains and algae because it is nonporous.

Another reason this material is a favorite is because it lasts a very long time. If it's properly maintained, a fiberglass pool shell can last 20-30 years! Resurfacing is fairly inexpensive (as long as it doesn't surprise you!) and sets you up for another three decades without having to worry much about it.

Now, fiberglass pools, while fantastic, aren't flawless. One of the bigger drawbacks is that you may be limited in size and shape when working with fiberglass. Concrete pools can be poured into whatever shape you like, but fiberglass pool finishes come from manufacturers who are limited. Also, because of the longevity of this particular pool finish, you will likely see a higher upfront cost, but that tends to balance itself out over the years.

Vinyl Finishes

Vinyl liners are beloved because they're inexpensive, they're stain-resistant, they can be easily refurbished, and they're low maintenance. They may not be the most beautiful or stylish option, but they're functional and are viewed as a family-friendly option for pools.

That being said, they do need to be replaced every few years because they aren't very durable. They also have trouble with algae growth, and unbalanced chemicals can cause them significant damage.

Aggregate Pool Finishes

Similar to glass tile surfaces, aggregate has been growing in popularity over the last ten years or so. Some say that aggregate is usurping pool plaster as the most desirable surface!

Aggregate pool finishes are made up of river pebbles, stones, glass, or ceramic-coated crystals that are combined with a cement-based, pigmented plaster. One of the beauties of this material is that it can be lifted, exposed or it can be polished. Ex[psed aggregate is a bumpier texture because it's left whole. However, polished aggregate is generally preferred because of the flat, smooth texture that's easy to walk on.

Pool owners who choose the aggregate pool finish route usually do so because they desire a pool finish that's durable and aesthetic, but they also get some other benefits. For example, aggregate finishes are much more resistant to pool chemical imbalances than other pool finishes, and they last longer than plaster. Exposed aggregate pool finishes have been proven to last anywhere from 15 to 20 years!

These pool finishes often show fading and discoloration within about six years. If you're choosing this finish for aesthetic appeal, it might be something you would weigh heavily. You can always get it resurfaced more often, but aggregate is a little more expensive than some other options.

What Is the Lifespan of Different Pool Surface Materials?

The tricky part with vinyl liners is that they are a little finicky. A vinyl pool liner lasts about 6 to 12 years unless you find yourself struggling with chemical balance, and then you can expect that lifespan to drop significantly.

Concrete pools, by far win the race of endurance. The concrete itself can last 50 years or more. The only thing to remember is that they do need to be refinished every ten years.

Fibreglass pools usually last about 30 years, and there's no need to resurface them during that time. This is because fiberglass is extremely durable. You do sacrifice something for that durability, however, and that is versatility. As mentioned before, fiberglass is limited in size and shape.

How Do Climate and Weather Affect Pool Surface Material Choices?

Different kinds of materials react differently to changes in weather. Fibreglass is made of many layers and does well with a freeze-and-thaw cycle, while concrete may be a little more prone to its dangers. However, concrete more than makes up for it in everyday strength and longevity. Vinyl is a soft material that stretches well when water freezes, but it doesn't withstand much abuse as far as sharp objects or sudden impacts.

Where you live and what your seasons look like may affect what you choose to go with. However, understand that weather isn't the only consideration. If you take care of your pool and prepare properly to for each season, you are less likely to see damage.

What Pool Surface Material Do We Suggest?

We always recommend aggregate  (concrete). The reason we specialize in it is because we believe we can get you the most for your money. A properly built gunite pool that receives regular care can last 100 years or more! We've seen these pools last through all kinds of weather, lifestyles, and climates. We engineer the pool plans for your yard and your unique climate.  At DIY Pools and Spas, we desire that you have a pool that will bring your family closer together. In our opinion, that means a pool that will be beautiful and last a lifetime.

Let DIY Pools Help You Build Your Pool!

If you're shopping pools, you know how the price tag can get really intimidating really fast. However, with our business, you will save $20,000 or more on your project! We've been in the business for over 30 years, and we've seen just what a pool can do to bring people closer and make memories that last. That's why we're dedicated to getting you the pool of your dreams without breaking the bank.

Our priority is allowing families to make memories in a safe, high-quality pool on a budget. Join our weekly webinar to learn more about our  Homeowner Builder DIY Pool Installation Program.