Cement vs. Fiberglass

Jul 5, 2008
I am new to this site, so hello all.
I live in the Houston area, and need some guidance on having a pool installed.
We are buying a home with a tiny backyard (21x75) and would like to fill it with a pool. :)
We are open to cement or fiberglass. Other than the size of the backyard, the side yard to the back is only about 3 1/2' wide. The research we have done is limited to gunite and have 2 buiders in mind: 1. Platinum 2. Backyard Amenities, however we have yet to meet with anyone. We are having a hard time researching fiberglass pools and would like any advice on the matter.

Houston Area
No Pool Yet


LifeTime Supporter
May 11, 2007
Baton Rouge, LA
Welcome SthrnCharm,

Can't help you much on the advantages of fiberglass, but I did swim in one several years ago and really liked how smooth the finish was.

I'll give you my 2 cents on builder selection, no matter what kinda pool you choose:

Demand several references from your prosective builder, new builds and old builds... then call (or better yet, visit) EVERY one, and LISTEN to what they say... especially the negative stuff. Now IS NOT the time to slip on your rose colored glasses!! (can you hear the experience coming through in my typing???)

The easiest part of building a pool is sitting at someone's kitchen table and making the sale. Good salesmen can make you feel confident in them... no matter how bad their work really is. They are SALESMEN... not a single word should be believed without verification. (yes, I'm a salesman too) You heard me? NOT A SINGLE WORD SHOULD BE TAKEN WITH A MORE THAN A GRAIN OF SALT (and I mean that superfine grain that you use to salt your future pool with, perhaps)

If their references aren't SUPER-Posiitive, move to the next one. If they can't come up with SUPER good ones, how bad do you think their bad ones are??

Good pools, finished, are great, and I believe that most of the pain that lots of us have suffered is due to our own poor builder selection.

Enjoy the ride!!
Jul 5, 2008
Thank you for the advice.
BTW I was raised in Butte La Rose, on the Atchafalaya. That was many years ago and I remember when there was no I-10 :? My sis still lives there.


Fiberglass has many advantages over plaster (by plaster I mean all variations of gunite and shotcrete with a plaster based or exposed aggregate finish) and a few disadvantages. First the disadvantages:
You are limited to the pool shapes that are pre manufactured (however most manufacturers have a HUGH catalog of styles available. For an example check out San Juan's catalog http://www.sanjuanpools.com/pools.html
A big advantage to plaster pools is that they can be made into any custom shape and if you require an unusual pool shape they will be your best option.
Second, Fiberglass is often the most expensive pool you can get. A lot depends on how close you live to the factory because they need to be trucked to the final destination. The price differential has shrunk in the past several years as concrete prices have risen and if you happen to live close to a fiberglass pool manufacturers factory the price is very competitive and sometime lower than an equivalent plaster pool.
Fiberglass pools are more prone to metal staining than other types of pool surfaces BUT this staining is easily taken care of and can be minimized or eliminated by proper water balance.

Now for the advantages.
A well made fiberglass pool has a non reactive surface so you chemical demands will actually be less, as will the money you need to spend on chemicals. This makes water balance much easier and it a trait shared with vinyl pools.
Algae does not stick to the surface and brushes off easily so it's much easier to kill if it occurs.
Most fiberglass pools have a basically maintenance free surface for 25-30 years. Compare that to plaster and aggregate surfaces that need acid washing every 3-5 years and replastering about every 15 or vinyl liners that need to be replaced evey 7-10 years, depending on your climate and how well you maintain your water chemistry.
Some people will cite the lack of colors as a disadvantage. The colored gelcoats do have a tendency to fade over time BUT there is nothing wrong with a white pool. I have one. Just look at my avitar to see how blue the water looks in sunlight. I have color changing lights and the white surface makes them spectacular at night. A dark colored pool just can't compare. However, personal preference does come into play. Marcite is usually a white or blue finish but the exposed aggregates do come in a variety of colors, including black. Realize that the dark colored plaster surfaces are harder to maintain.

One disadvantage often cited for fiberglass pools is that they cannot be drained or they will pop out of the ground or buckle. Well ANY pool can pop out of the ground due to hydrostatic pressure when completely drained if special precautions are not takes. Fiberglass pools will often need to be braced if they are going to be completely drained and a pump run to remove ground water if the water table is high. Vinyl pools need a vacuum pump running to keep the liner from wrinkling and might all need gound water pumped out. Plaster pools will possibly need the ground water pumped also and plaster pools have been known to crack when competely drained also.
It really becomes a moot point.

Bottom line, whatever kind of pool you decide on it will have advantages and disadvantages but no matter what you decide on you will be happy with your choice. I do work in the industry and CHOSE a fiberglass pool because I consider their advantages to be much greater than their disadvantages compared to other pool surfaces. However, they were also a very cost effective choice for me because I live about 2 hours from one of my pool manufacturer's three national manufacturing plants.

Now do you want to discuss whether to get a sand, cartridge, or DE filter? :twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :twisted: (That is the OTHER great debate in pools! Which filter to choose almost is a religion to some people. The only advice I will give you is to oversize the filter no matter what kind you choose.)

Hope this helps.
Jul 5, 2008
Wow, thank you for so much knowledge about fiberglass. The odd thing is I did talk to someone from San Jaun Pools today and after more research have decided on fiberglass!! The sad part...there is no longer a San Jaun in Houston as he retired in Dec. :cry: and we thought we wanted the Manatee. Now the problem I have is the distance between fence and house @ 3 1/2' I was told there needs to be 7'. I have a lot to think about, but all things are possible...


LifeTime Supporter
May 22, 2007
Toms River, NJ
If the distance from the fence to pool is a requirement by zoning code, then you may want to check out getting a variance. My requirement was 15' from property line and house. Got a variance for 6' and 4' for a detached garage. This process does take time and can get a little costly. We used a lawyer and he got airial photos. This came in handy when a couple of neighbors showed up at the meeting to challenge the variance.


LifeTime Supporter
Mar 17, 2008
League City, TX
If I understand your 3 1/2' clearance correctly any in-ground pool may be a challenge. They have to get the equipment into your back yard to dig the hole. One of the guys on the excavation crew told me that they did hand dig a pool and wheel barrel the dirt to the street once. That must have added to the cost.

I met with both of the builders you mentioned and ended going with another company.
Jul 5, 2008
Ok we made a decission...we have resended the offer to purchase the property. As it turned out the seller was mistaken about the easement. The usable area was only 10' X 75'. We just can't see the expense on a pool that size. So we are still loking for a place to live :hammer: we have 2 weeks til we close on our existing home. Wish us luck. Thank you all for the advice.