A comparison: concrete pool vs liner pool vs one-piece pool.

concrete vs liner vs one piece pool
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Concrete, liner or one-piece pool. Which one is best for me?

You might not have known there was more than one way to build a pool. 

This might be the first you are hearing about it.

But when you start to ask companies for quotes, one of the first things they will ask is what type of swimming pool are you building? 

If you can’t tell them this they won’t be able to give you an accurate quote. And it’s likely they will quote you for the pool they would like to build. Which might not be the right swimming pool fit for you and your family.

The best way to approach this is to get armed with all the knowledge before contacting a swimming pool installation company. Find out the advantages and disadvantages of each type of pool installation. That way you can find out which type of swimming pool suits you best. And you can contact the most appropriate installers in the area for that type.

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In this post we look at the three most common types of pool construction in the UK. 

1. Sprayed concrete swimming pools

2. One-piece/fibreglass swimming pools

3. Liner swimming pools

All three of them have many advantages and disadvantages. All three of them are right for some people, and wrong for others. There is no one pool for everyone.

Until recently, we installed all of these pools. However, we now only offer liner and one-piece pools. But we have been building pools since 1989, so have a lot of experience when it comes to the good and bad of each type of pool.

We’ve gone into each swimming pool constructions in more detail in their own dedicated blogs. So to keep this a little shorter we’ll not go into as much details. But you can read each of the blogs here:


Should I install a sprayed concrete swimming pool?

swimming poolSprayed concrete swimming pools are traditionally the most popular type of pool construction. 

The shells are built using steel re-bar to form the shape of the pool. This is then sprayed at high-pressure with concrete. Once the pool shell is formed, this is rendered to smooth and waterproof. And then usually tiled for finish.

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Sprayed concrete pool advantages

There are a number reasons that make sprayed concrete swimming pools a very popular choice. Sprayed concrete swimming pools:

1. Can be any size.

2. Are 100% customisable 

3. Are the strongest pool construction

A sprayed concrete pool is formed using steel rods, and then sprayed using high pressure shotcrete or gunite. This type of construction means that the pool can be built to any shape or size specification. You can let your imagination run wild. It can be fully customised as it is built entirely on site. 

This type of construction also forms one solid, smooth shell of concrete. So it forms a very strong and durable swimming pool shell.


Sprayed concrete pool disadvantages

Over the last few years we have noticed a move away from sprayed concrete. 

There are a number of problems that go alongside sprayed concrete pools. And while none have to be deal-breakers. They are definitely worth considering before you decide to install them.

1. The most expensive to build

2. Long installation times

3. High maintenance required

4. Difficult to build

If you are going to install a sprayed concrete pool you are looking at the higher end of in-ground swimming pool installation costs. On average somewhere between £125,000 – £150,000. However, this can increase depending on size and specification.  An experienced installer is not something you want to skimp on. The difficult level on sprayed concrete pools is high. And trying to push the cost down initially will usually only end up costing you more in the long run.

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Installation times for sprayed concrete swimming pools are generally a lot longer. You can be looking at approx. 17+ week just for shell construction alone if curing times are adhered to. Realistically, if you are building a sprayed concrete swimming pool now you will be swimming by next year.

Finally, sprayed concrete pools generally require more maintenance due to the porous nature of tiles and grout. So you need to account for the extra time or money that this will cost you.

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Is a sprayed concrete pool right for me?

If you have a big budget and a lot of time, then a sprayed concrete pool might be the right choice for you. They are very flexible from a design perspective and if well-built you will end up with a very strong, luxurious pool construction.

However, they are the most expensive type of pool construction. And they will take the longest to build. So make sure you take that into your planning and budget. Plus, you might need to consider that the maintenance on tiled swimming pools is a little more complex than a pool with a smooth non-porous finish. This will likely either cost you in terms of time or money. 

Sprayed concrete pools are perfect if...

Should I install a one-piece swimming pool?

One-piece and fiberglass swimming pools are becoming increasingly popular. And looking at the advantages below it might be clear to see why.

One piece pools typically come in one-piece, hence the name.  They are made from polymer or fiberglass. And they are manufactured off-site. Built in a factory with all the customisation options pre-assembled and delivered ready to install to site.

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Advatages of one piece pools

There are a number of amazing advantages to one-piece pools:

1. Fast installation time

2. Low maintenance time

3. Highly durable

4. Low cost installation

5. Customisable options

6. Manufactured off-site

Of all the pool types one-piece or fibreglass pools are the fastest and cheapest to install. They usually fall somewhere between £60,000-£80,000 for installation. Although this can vary depending on size and customisation options. 

Their smooth shell, makes for low maintenance, which is great for ensuring you spend more enjoying your pool than maintaining it.

One piece pools are becoming increasingly easy to customise. In fact, some even come in multiple pieces (which are then welded on site), so you aren’t restricted by size. 

And they have the advantage of being manufactured fully off-site. So installation ins’t affected by adverse weather conditions.

Problems with one piece pools

The more we work with one piece pools, the more we are convinced of their versatility. There are very few problems with them and very few people they aren’t suitable for. 

However, for the sake of presenting a non-biased argument we will look at the potential disadvantages of one piece pools.

1. Limit to customisation 

2. Limit to size (for some manufacturers)

3. Looks “cheap”

Wait didn’t I just say in the advantages that they could be any size and fully customised? Yes. I did. 

And in most cases they can. 

But it does depend what manufacturer you choose. Some manufacturers have set shapes and sizes. While others can be custom made. And there are usually tonnes of customisation options. But you will still be limited in a way that you wouldn’t be with a pool that is fully formed on site eg. sprayed concrete pool.

But we find the main “problem” with one piece or fibreglass pools is that historically they have the perception of being cheap. The words glorified fish pond have been uttered before by haters. But this is because they look different to traditional tiled pools. And yes, they are cheaper to install. But this is due to time it takes to install and the manufacturing process. 

Niveko skimmer poolWe already know that no good pool installation is going to be cheap in the UK. And of course, there are cheaper versions of almost everything. But a good quality one-piece pool, installed with a beautiful surround can hold its own in the luxury stakes when compared with high end sprayed concrete pools. 

Don’t want to take our word for it? Take a look at the Niveko website for some inspiration. It’s all about redefining your perception around what a pool should look like. 

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Is a one-piece swimming pool right for me?

We don’t want to be biased, but we are going to be for just a second.

One piece pools are our favourite. That’s not why they have more advantages that disadvantages. But because they have more advantages than disadvantages

We personally think that one piece pools are great for almost everyone. And their increasing popularity is certainly reflecting this. If you are looking for something fast and economical to install. With a lot of flexibility on the design then it may be the swimming pool choice for you.

If you want something entirely different to a standard swimming pool shape. Like a circle. Or a silhouette of your face. Then one piece pools might not be right for you. But otherwise they are a pretty solid choice. 

Once you get past the fact that they look different from traditional swimming pools. Then you might just discover that they are an excellent option for your swimming pool installation.

One piece pools are perfect if...

Should I install a liner swimming pool?

Liner pools use a vinyl liner to form a waterproof layer between the base of the pool and the water.

The base is usually build using blocks or steel panels.

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Advantages of liner pools

Liner pools are becoming increasingly popular to install. This is due to:

1. Fast installation times

2. Economical installation

3. Low maintenance

4. Look like traditional tiled pools

Liner pools bases are usually built using steel panels or block work, which are fairly fast to construct. The liner is made to size off-site and then fitted to the base. One the base is built the liner usually takes a couple of days to install. 

In addition, liner pools are again cheaper than sprayed concrete pools. Usually costing around £70,000-£105,000 depending on size and liner used. The bonus of liner pools is that the liner can be made to look like tiles. So if the finished look of the one piece is too different from the image you had in your head of a pool. A liner can be a good compromise that offer fast installation, at a lower price. While not compromising on the traditional style. 

Much like one-piece and fibreglass pools, liners also usually have a smooth surface so they are easier to maintain than tiled pools.



Problems with liner pools

As with all swimming pool constructions there are a few problems with liner pools:

1. Low durability

2. High lifetime costs

3. Limited customisation

4. Hard to empty

Liner surfaces aren’t solid like a tiled or one-piece pools. The vinyl is what makes them waterproof and they can be ripped with pool accessories or toys. A thicker liner will offset this likelihood, but this will increase the costs. But they aren’t usually recommended for pools that animals or lots of kids use. 

This decreased durability means you are more likely to have to replace the liner over the lifetime of the pool structure. Which may lead to higher lifetime costs

Again, much like one-piece pools there is a slight limitation to design. However, the manufacturing process is becoming increasingly sophisticated. So liners can be manufactured to most sizes and shapes now. 

They do remain hard to empty, as this can cause the liner to lift. Draining a pool is a very rare occurrence. So this shouldn’t present too much of a problem. 



Should I get a liner pool?

But is a liner pool the right choice for you?

Liner swimming pools offer an excellent alternative to sprayed concrete pools. Cheaper and faster installation. Less ongoing maintenance. All while still maintaining the look of a traditional tiled swimming pool. 

But for those benefits you battle a less durable surface layer and limited customisation options. 

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Liner pools are perfect if....

In summary

No one pool is right for everyone. 

It’s up to you to look at the advantages and disadvantages of each type of pool construction to try and figure out which one suits your lifestyle and budget best.

Doing this before you go to a swimming pool company for installation quotes, will help make sure you make the right choice for you. And not for them.

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Debbie Ekins
Debbie Ekins
Eagle Leisure - Sales & Marketing Manager Mission = to arm you with the knowledge you need to make the best buying decisions. Fuelled by coffee (and naps). Explorer of Scotland and the world.
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