When deciding what kind of swim spa to buy for your home, the number of options can be overwhelming. One of the most important factors to consider (aside from maybe how your brand new swim spa will actually look in your home) is the construction material. Is it a fiberglass pool, acrylic, or does it have a liner?
Picking your construction material is a necessary decision to consider before you buy because the type of material your swim spa is built with will determine:
The durability and strength
Number of years your swim spa pool will hold up
Amount of maintenance it will require
Flexibility of customization and design elements
Therefore, you will want to do a bit of research. Luckily, by the time you reach the end of this post, you will have all of the information you need to make an informed decision that best suits your needs and lifestyle.
ACRYLIC SWIM SPA
WHAT EXACTLY IS AN ACRYLIC SWIM SPA?
An acrylic pool shell is common for many pools, hot tubs, and swim spas. It is usually a lower cost option, but may require upkeep and recurring maintenance. The acrylic pool quality depends on how thick the acrylic layer is, as well as what material makes up the substructure. Acrylic swim spa pools with a hand-rolled fiberglass substructure are considered highest quality and more durable.
Difficult to Repair – If your acrylic pool cracks or blisters, it is hard to restore it back to the way it was when it came out of the factory.
Damages in the Sun – There is the potential for degradation of the acrylic un UV rays.
Quick Installation – Most acrylic swim spas are easy and fast to install.
VINYL LINER SWIM SPAS
WHAT IS A VINYL LINER?
The vinyl liner sits between the pool structure and the water. The smooth vinyl liners are fairly flexible when compared to concrete, which can easily crack.
Maintenance & Upkeep – Vinyl liners typically need to be replaced every 3-5 years. Some of these models feature a hydraulic motor that needs to be replaced every 3-5 years. These costs can add up over time.
Take care when using the pool – Most vinyl liner pools usually only have a thickness of 20 – 30 mil. Keep this in mind especially if you have children or will keep the pool outside where it will be exposed to the elements.
Often less expensive up front – The downside of this is the recurring replacement and maintenance costs.
Customizable shape and size – The length, width and depth of a vinyl liner pool is very customizable as they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. You can build in waterfalls, hot tubs, and a variety of features.
Liner feels smooth to the touch – The vinyl material is non-abrasive.
FIBERGLASS POOL SWIM SPA
WHAT EXACTLY IS A FIBERGLASS POOL SWIM SPA?
Picture the exterior of a sleek fiberglass boat – a fiberglass pool is made out of that same material. There are multiple fabrication methods – some are structurally independent and some require support. Only free standing units designed with layers of fiberglass, resin, and a gelcoat enclosed around a balsa wood core. These pools are incredibly tough.
Limited Shapes – If you want a crazy, rounded lagoon shaped pool, you probably won’t find it made out of fiberglass. Most are rectangular in shape.
Higher Initial Costs – If you are looking into buying a swim spa pool for your home, you’re making an investment for your home and your health. That being said, fiberglass pools tend to be more expensive up front compared to vinyl or acrylic.
Matching the factory color if you need to make repairs – If something happens and you have to repair your pool, a Gelcoat finish is the easiest to repair to look as good as new.
Maintenance & Upkeep – No liners to replace means upkeep costs are virtually nonexistent.
Put it anywhere – Fiberglass pools are built with a solid shell. Only a few (SwimEx for instance) is self-supporting. This allows you to install your pool indoor, outdoor, above ground, partially above ground, or in-ground.
Take it with you when you move – If you plan on moving in the future and want to bring the pool with you, you can install it above-ground and then easily transport it to your new home.
Gelcoat surface makes the pool smooth and prevents algae from adhering to the walls – Swim spa pools that have a Gelcoat finish provide a surface that feels nice to the touch, and is easy to maintain.
Fast Installation – Fiberglass pools are built off-site, and then shipped to your home in one piece or can be assembled on site in a few days.
Built-in steps and seats – This is a convenient option, particularly if you want to be able to use your pool for hydrotherapy exercises or simply want steps for ease of use.
AND THE WINNER IS…
At the end of the day, it will really depend on your needs. But if we take a look at the most debated qualities – ease of maintenance, lifetime value, and customization in design, fiberglass pool swim spas can’t be beat.
Now that you know the difference between the most popular swim spa materials, you can start to zero in on what brand will suit your needs the best. Good luck making this exciting purchase!