Inground Pool Kits: Steel vs Polymer Pool Walls

March 27th, 2012 | Posted by Chris Low in - Buyer's Guides | Inground Pool Kits

steel or polymer walls?I hear the question all the time ~ which is better steel or polymer pool walls? Both of our do-it-yourself inground pool kits have the same equipment and accessories.  Steel and Polymer (also called Resin) pools both offer the same options for steps, seats and spas.  Both steel and resin inground pool kits have a limited life time warranty.  Not much difference there, but there are advantages and disadvantages to both type of pool wall materials. Let’s discuss both – to give you enough information to make an informed decision on what pool wall material is best for your backyard.

So, which is better, Steel walls or Polymer pool walls? Let’s let them Fight!

polymer-or-resin-purchased thru istockSteel Pool Walls

Our steel wall pool kits use an industry proven steel wall, constructed of a 14 gauge galvanized steel. Each wall panel has a G235 galvanized coating which means that there is 2 ¾ oz. of rust retardant per sq. ft. on the panel which help prevent from any corrosion. Steel walled pools are much stronger than polymer; which is the why bridges are still built out of steel.

Another advantage of a steel walled pool are the adjustable turnbuckle braces which give you the ability to adjust the wall in or out. This makes it easier to make sure that the pool wall is plumb and level. This will allow more options in regards to steps and benches and for more coping options. With steel walls, you’ll find it easier to install a cantilever coping and pool deck, of concrete or brick, around the pool. A steel walled pool can also be backfilled without the need for water. Steel pool walls also allow greater flexibility with temperature changes and shifting soils.

Some of the disadvantages of a steel wall pool are that the panel is much heavier, and more difficult to handle and maneuver when you are installing the frame of the pool. Our steel panels have G235 galvanization so the panels should not rust, but after years underground, the possibility for spot rusting does exist. With wall foam installed over the steel wall, (between the wall and the pool liner), the possibility of a problem is reduced even further.

polymer-or-resin-purchased thru istockPolymer Pool Walls

Polymer pool walls are made from a non–corrosive structural polymer resin material that is strong and stable. Many local pool installers will probably recommend a polymer pool because most polymer walled pools area bit faster to assemble, and not as heavy to handle. Our polymer pools are available in both a 42” and 48” wall heights, and most of the time, polymer pools are used with aluminum concrete bull nose coping. Another advantage to polymer walls is that they typically require a foot less of over-dig. This is due to their more compact support structure.

One of the disadvantages of polymer pools is that they are usually more expensive than a steel wall pool. With a polymer pool, it is strongly recommended to fill the pool with water before starting to backfill around the panels, which can be kind of messy. With polymer pool walls, it takes more panels to create a curved radius or to connect to steps, benches or spas. Finally, it is recommended that gravel be used for most of the backfill up against the backside of a polymer wall. That can leave you with leftover excavated dirt, plus the cost of the gravel.

Ding-Ding! OK, fight’s over, to your corners…We sell both style pools – steel and polymer. The choice of steel vs. polymer is really your preference – go with your gut.  I built my own inground pool in my own backyard and installed the same steel walled pool we sell. I personally prefer the steel wall due to the strength and endless design possibility. Steel is stronger and polymer is lighter but with steel wall panels you can use the excavated dirt as backfill. The installation costs with a polymer pool may cost more because you need gravel as a back fill.

I do however, understand the appeal of a resin polymer pool wall, with the faster installation that is possible. Fact is, both wall types can (potentially/eventually) fail, under extreme conditions. Polymer may do better in extremely wet soil environments, or near salty sea air than steel. Steel walls tend to withstand greater movement of shifting or expansive soils, due to it’s flexibility. With most soil conditions, you may never notice a difference in performance or durability.

Whatever wall choice you make, I’m sure it’s a good one!

Give us your opinion below – what do you prefer Steel or Polymer? Which wall material wins the fight?

Chris Low
SPP Pool Expert

 

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