The “Analogy Approach” to Understanding the Advantages of Fiberglass Swimming Pools over Vinyl and Concrete

Analogy is best defined as a similarity between like features of two different things. Often, analogies are used to help increase understanding of an unfamiliar topic by comparing it to something that is quite familiar.

In the case of comparing the relative advantages of Fiberglass Swimming Pools to Vinyl-Liner Swimming Pools and Concrete Swimming Pools, there are distinct analogies that most everyone can relate to in order to gain a better understanding of this technical subject matter.

First…. the bath/shower enclosure. Generally speaking, we can assume that anyone contemplating purchasing a swimming pool has one at their home. While this is not documented, it can also be argued with confidence that 99% of all homes contain some form of fiberglass or composite bathing enclosure. The remaining 1% is likely made up of ceramic tile showers and either cast or porcelain bathtubs with shower curtains.

It is logical to conclude that there are no bath enclosures made entirely of vinyl, nor are there any stand-alone concrete bath enclosures manufactured or constructed for consumer use. Why do you suppose this is?

The answer to this question is relatively simple and straight forward. Unlike vinyl or concrete, fiberglass possesses attributes that make it comparatively easy to maintain. Even the most neglected fiberglass bath enclosure is capable of being restored to near factory finish with a mild cleaning solution and 20 minutes of moderately aggressive scrubbing. In fact, a fiberglass Swimming Pool or fiberglass tub is easy to clean, impervious to algae and bacteria, maintains its manufactured finish indefinitely with minimal care, and, if subjected to structural damage, can generally be repaired flawlessly.

Fiberglass has enjoyed a track record of exceptional performance in the plumbing fixture industry for well over a half century. It is the undisputed product of choice. Fiberglass Swimming Pools exhibit the exact same features and benefits, and are rapidly becoming the product of choice as well.

To carry this analogy a step further, consider the typical vinyl shower curtain. Again, most everyone has owned one. In fact, most everyone has replaced perhaps dozens over the past twenty years. Yet they are likely still using the original fiberglass bath enclosure during this same time period.

The average vinyl shower curtain lasts about a year. Generally, vinyl shower curtains are porous, and therefore, moisture has the ability to penetrate through the material. As a result, algae and bacteria transmitted by moisture become impregnated in the vinyl material, thereby creating an environment conducive to bacterial reproduction. This condition is clearly apparent when the shower curtain becomes slimy to the touch from concentrations of bacteria and mold, and smells of mildew.

At this point, we normally throw away the vinyl curtain and purchase a new one. How many vinyl shower curtains have you purchased in the last ten years? How many fiberglass shower enclosures have you had to replace? The same thought process can be applied towards your Fiberglass Swimming Pool.

By comparison, the vinyl swimming pool liner reacts much the same way as the shower curtain with respect to facilitation and promotion of algae and bacteria. Consequently, it is well documented that vinyl liner swimming pools require as much as 60% more sanitizing chemicals and algae inhibitors than Fiberglass Swimming Pools require.

Additionally, it should be noted that while the average vinyl shower curtain lasts about a year, vinyl liner swimming pools are manufactured with a much heavier gauge (thicker) material and; therefore, have an average life of about seven years. It should also be noted that the average cost to replace a vinyl swimming pool liner is about $5,000 including pool water and chemicals.

Over a twenty year period, the vinyl liner swimming pool owner can expect to spend about $15,000 replacing liners, a cost never encountered with a Fiberglass Swimming Pool. Add to this liner replacements resulting from punctures, ultra-violet degradation, and the liner becoming brittle or cracking from chemical overload, and it becomes obvious that future liner replacement costs must be considered when comparing different types of swimming pools.

Concrete bath or shower units are simply not practical, too costly to construct, unsightly, and would require exterior waterproofing treatment such as plaster or paint to adequately contain water. Concrete is porous and leaches moisture. A perfect example is a concrete floor subjected to a high water table where water actually comes up through the concrete resulting in a damp floor. Additionally, cracked concrete is virtually impossible to repair with 100% certainty. Again, concrete is considered a poor alternative to fiberglass.

A second analogy considered helpful when attempting to understand the attributes of Fiberglass Swimming Pools over Vinyl liner swimming pools and Concrete swimming pools is the boating industry. Again, probably 99% of all boats and watercraft are manufactured using fiberglass composite technology. The remaining 1%, comprised mostly of military and commercial vessels, constructed of iron, and a small amount of wooden vessels which are rapidly becoming obsolete.

When consumers set out to purchase a boat or watercraft, they do not Google vinyl boat manufacturers on the internet, nor do they go down to the local marina and ask to see what is available in 26’ concrete with an inboard motor. You should ask yourself the question, why are all the boats and watercraft made of fiberglass? In this instance, the answer is fairly simple. Concrete boats do not float very well. They would be costly to maintain as concrete is porous and requires expensive exterior treatments to maintain water-tight characteristics necessary to stay afloat.

As for vinyl boats, no one in their right mind would put much faith in this material once out at sea.

In short, with over a half century of research and development, testing and favorable experience, the boating industry has determined that the best material to repel water is not a vinyl liner or concrete, but fiberglass. Shouldn’t this also support the theory that fiberglass is the most suitable material to effectively contain water in the swimming pool industry.

In summary, the information contained within this communication is not intended to be technical in nature, supported by volumes of research, data, or documented case studies.  It is simply an attempt to utilize a few straight forward analogies to help the reader understand the comparative advantages fiberglass swimming pools have over concrete and vinyl liner pools by comparing them to other, more familiar products that most of us can relate to.

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