A Complete Vinyl Pool Buyer’s Guide
Vinyl pools came about in the 1950s as an alternative to concrete pools, which tend to crack when the ground freezes. They quickly grew in popularity in some regions of the country, particularly in cold climates where concrete pools were proving problematic. Buyers also appreciated the lower price tag.
Early vinyl pools had serious limitations. They looked cheap, and the size and shape options were very limited. But modern versions have come a long way: They are highly customizable, and they can be long-lasting. However, vinyl pools – like all other types – are not without their pros and cons.
Vinyl pools are the least expensive of in-ground pools, with an average cost of about $20,000 to $30,000. We’ll get into pricing details in a bit.
About Vinyl Pools
Vinyl pools get their name because they have a custom-made sheet of vinyl between the structure of the pool and the water. The structure of the pool is typically made of steel or polymer (plastic), and less often concrete. Historically, wood and cement blocks were also used, but those are not very common today.
When you think of vinyl, you might picture above-ground pools. Above-ground pools often have vinyl liners, too. But they’re not as well constructed, and they typically don’t last as long as vinyl in-ground pools. They’re also not as customizable.
Cost of a Vinyl Pool
The price of a vinyl pool depends on the many factors – the size of the pool, its features and accessories, the material used to build the pool walls, the time of year and your geographic location, among other things.
Mid-sized vinyl pools start at about $20,000 to $25,000, installed. At this price, you might get a 16×36-foot square- or oval-shaped pool with walk-in steps, a basic concrete walkway around the pool, and a pump and filter. Permitting and electrical wiring are usually included in the price, but be sure to find out in advance.
Features such as decking, fancier stamped-concrete walkways and lighting start pushing the price of an average-size vinyl pool closer to $25,000 or $30,000. Of course, very large pools or unusual shapes can be double or triple the price; however, few homeowners spend upwards of $40,000 on a vinyl pool. For one thing, the return on investment is just not there when you go to resell.
Vinyl Pools vs. Concrete and Fiberglass
In addition to costing less than concrete and holding up better in freezing temperatures, vinyl pools are softer on the feet and faster to construct. They are easier to clean, earthquake resistant, and they never require repainting. Also, vinyl is a natural insulator, so the pools stay about five or 10 degrees warmer.
On the downside, vinyl pool liners need to be replaced every seven to 15 years at a cost of $3,000 to $5,000 (about half the cost of resurfacing a concrete pool that has cracked, but it happens more frequently). And even though the designs have come a long way since the 1950s, some people simply prefer the look and feel or concrete, claiming it seems more like a “real” pool.
Vinyl pools have more in common with fiberglass pools, which also were invented as a replacement for concrete pools. They are both fairly easy to construct, soft on the feet, and they resist algae growth. However, fiberglass is more expensive and much easier to maintain because there’s no liner to replace. Fiberglass is also considered a stronger and superior material to vinyl. Unlike concrete and vinyl, fiberglass pools are not available in custom designs because they are pre-assembled in a factory.