Thoughts on smallish fiberglass pool - answers to questions I had before installing

wolftune

Member
May 3, 2020
19
Davis, California
Howdy,

We put in a small fiberglass pool last summer. While trying to figure out all of the details, I had a lot of questions that couldn't be answered until it was installed. Would have loved to hear some of these thoughts to help make decision-making easier, so I figured I'd throw them out in case anyone else is in the same boat.

We had a smallish area in the yard where the pool could go without severely modifying the whole yard. We also had setbacks and other requirements that limited the space where we could put a pool, so we opted for the Bermuda fiberglass pool (Viking). It goes from 3.5' deep to about 5.5' deep, is 26' long and 12' wide. It wasn't really feasible to fit a much bigger pool than that. I'm hoping some of this info might be helpful if you're trying to figure out which pool to get, size-wise, and/or whether it's worth it to go fiberglass (which has fixed forms) vs. gunite (which can be custom-made).

Fiberglass vs. concrete: You can look up many expert opinions on this. Essentially, fiberglass is usually thought to be a bit easier to maintain (less porous = less algae), less overall maintenance (no re-surfacing, etc.), better in earthquake territory and/or soil that heaves, and is overall cheaper to take care of over the long run. However, it's not customizable. So while we wanted fiberglass, we were tempted to go with gunite because we could maximize the space in our yard and would have ended up with a bigger overall sized pool. We stuck with fiberglass and are, overall, happy enough with the size (more about that below).

Pool without a true deep-end? One of our concerns was not having a deep-end. We have 2 boys, 8 and 10. Would they still be able to dive in? Would they get bored or severely miss not having a deep end (for example, when compared to going to friends' bigger pools)? In fact, it's totally no big deal. If you watch most kids swimming in pools, they mostly hang out in the shallow end. If there's no diving board, they jump in wherever. So this turned out not to be a huge deal. Upsides to no deep-end include less total water (less electricity for pumping/filtering, less chemicals) and that the pool gets warmer earlier in the swim season. Adults also mostly just chill in the pool when they get in, so that's been totally great too. And the Bermuda has a good amount of seating, so you can fit a good number of people.

I have a few friends even thinking of eliminating their deep ends, since it keeps the pool too cold to use until summer and also is just a lot more water to clean, chlorinate, and maintain.

Will the pool get too hot because there is relatively little water compared to a bigger pool with deep-end? What about areas with hot climates? Will the pool be too warm to swim in mid-summer? I was pretty worried about this and even considered getting the lightest-color for the shell even though we preferred a darker color. Our summers (Northern California) have several days in the 100's, although it usually cools a bit at night.

We ended up going for darker color. The short answer is that it can get too warm, but usually doesn't. When it does, an easy fix is to, a) run your filter at night which moves the water around and increases evaporative cooling and, b) buy one of those pvc fountains that can go right into your pool outlets. They really do work. You run that sucker for a few hours and it definitely keeps the pool more fresh, again because of the evaporative cooling. So, in the end, I think that the longer swim-season outweighs the chance that the pool will occasionally be warmer than you'd like it.

Will the kids get bored? Since getting our relatively small pool, I've watched kids play in pools more closely. Turns out that most of what they do to play happens in a relatively small space. Games like 'Marco-polo' are definitely more challenging in a small pool, but they will make it work. But all the wrestling, underwater wiffle-bat throwing, noodle-slapping, squirt-gunning, jumping off the side and spinning, works with the smaller space just fine. So while the bigger pool is, in the end, better for playing, our smaller pool still gets a ton of playing time and our kids and their friends still love it.

Underwater swimming: I think most people enjoy pushing off a pool wall and cruising under the water for a bit. I was concerned that our pool was too small for that. Turns out, if I push as hard as I can off one wall and go underwater the length of the pool, I can barely make it to the other side. My wife can't. So you still get that nice feeling of cruising around underwater. Side-to-side is pretty narrow though.

Swimming laps: Ha! Definitely not big enough for that. After pushing off the wall, it's 2-3 strokes and you're at the other side. Kids might take 5-6, but this pool is not set up for swimming laps. We pretty much knew that, but it's a downside if you're looking for real exercise.

Size of pool vs. size of yard: We could have probably fit one size bigger into our yard. For example, the Cape Cod, which would have been 5' longer and 2-3' wider. Sometimes, I look at the pool and wish we had gone with that, but it would have entailed moving our sewer line, completely eliminating our grass (we have a dog, plus grass looks nice), and taking out more of our patio/seating area. It would have reduced the "hang out" spots around the pool. I think that either way would have been fine, but I do like that the pool, when not being used, is a nice water feature but doesn't dominate the yard. In other words, late-fall to early spring, we can still have gatherings, BBQ's, etc. with a good amount of people. So while it's tempting to cram in the biggest pool you can fit, try to remember the total number of hours being used in your yard. If you have 4 younger kids who swim all the time, then the bigger pool might make sense. If you have a more balanced situation (kids who swim and like it but also lots of gatherings, etc.), might make sense to go smaller to keep some of that real estate for hanging out. Also, visually, it might be nice to have a balance between pool and rest of yard. You can see the pics below.

Overall: When I use a pool, no matter what size, I usually jump in, hang out for a bit (ideally with a beer or cocktail), and then get out and enjoy the sun. For that, this Bermuda pool is awesome. For the kids, they totally love it and play for hours. They can still jump in from wherever and play games. I'm sure that when they're older teenagers, they might wish for a bigger pool, but that's just for a few years. Then, back to me and the wifey, who enjoy this size just fine.

That being said, if we had a bigger yard, we would have put in a bigger pool and that would have been the right move. But our yard is what it is, and given that, we're totally happy with the pool. Hope that helps anyone trying to make the decision about pool size.

Vince


IMG_0943.jpg
(panoramic, so a bit distorted closer to the camera, but gives you an idea of length)
IMG_0944.jpg
(from 14' x 16' deck)
IMG_0941.jpg
(from house, in pic the pool looks further away than in real life. also, looks a bit smaller than in real life)
 

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YippeeSkippy

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
14,824
Evans, Georgia
Hey!! That green paint color on the utility box is called "Go Away Green!"... Love it! That's what they use at the Augusta National Golf Club and Disneyworld to "hide things in plain site".

Welcome to TFP :). Good pool information, potentially bad flotsam and jetsam of useless trivia :laughblue:

Maddie :flower: