Sand vs. Glass Pool Filters

Sand vs. Glass Pool Filter - Which Is Better?

Glass filter media have been gaining popularity in the last decade as a more luxurious alternative to sand. As glass filter media is now sold at most pool supply stores, you may be wondering: is glass better than sand in a pool filter?

In this article we will talk about how sand filters work and how glass filter media works in comparison. We will also compare sand and glass media by upfront costs, durability, filtration performance, and ease of maintenance to help you decide which is the right choice for your pool.

How Do Sand Filters Work?

When your pool is equipped with a sand filter, your water is cleaned by being forced through a container full of sand at a high pressure. Clean water can fit between the fine particles of sand, but almost all debris gets stuck in the sand, separating it from the water.

How Do Glass Filters Work?

Glass filter media works the same way as sand does in a sand filter. The pool water is forced through fine grits of glass that then catch any debris that passes through.

Glass filters are gaining popularity because they allow you to operate a mineral pool system, which is not compatible with a sand filter.

Sand vs Glass Pool Filter: Comparison

We’ve weighed the pros and cons of using glass media vs sand to see which is the best option for your pool. To help you pick the best one for you, we’ll let you know which filter media is the winner in each of the following categories.

Upfront Costs

Sand filter media is much cheaper than glass filter media. Because even smaller filter units typically require over 100 kilograms of filter media, the initial cost of sand or glass media can add up quickly. While 100kg of sand media can cost around $125, 100kg of glass filter media is likely to cost around $245, making it a much more expensive option.

What is listed above is just an example. Because filters require slightly less glass media than sand media, the price comparison may not be as steep depending on your model of filter. If your filter can use glass media, it should provide instructions on how much to use relative to sand.

While the sand used in pool filters is typically clean and of a fairly high quality, it is often sourced naturally which allows for cheaper distribution. In contrast, glass filter media is often sourced at least partially from post-consumer recycled glass, which has a lengthier manufacturing process thus increasing the cost.

Winner: Sand

Filtration Performance

Glass filter media are far better at filtration than sand. While sand is still highly efficient and can catch particles that are 0.03mm in diameter, glass media can capture even smaller particles that are only 0.01mm in diameter.

Some types of glass media are also marketed for their ionisation abilities. Ionised particles are efficient at neutralising microorganisms such as bacteria or algae cells. While sand does have some of these abilities, glass filter media are better in this respect.

Winner: Glass


Sand tends to last for an average of 5 years depending on how much debris they work with on a regular basis.

In contrast, glass filter media tends to last for an average of 8 years, making it a better choice for durability.

Winner: Glass

Ease Of Maintenance

In order to be cleaned, sand and glass filters need to be backwashed. This process involves forcing water into the filter cartridge from the opposite direction as normal in order to flush debris out to a waste drain. For this category, glass filter media is the best choice.

Due to the size of the particles and the amount of filter media, it takes much less time to backwash a filter with glass media than one with sand.

Because this backwashing process is faster and easier with glass media, you lose less water from your pool. This is important because it means that less chemicals and water will need to be added to your pool after a backwash.

Winner: Glass

Which Is Best?

In our opinion, glass filter media is worth the hype. While it boasts a higher initial startup cost, it more than makes up for this price difference on other fronts.

Providing better filtration, longer-lasting durability, and improved ease of maintenance when compared with sand media, glass media makes a great option for anyone who can afford the investment.

In some cases, it may not make sense to invest in a glass media filter. For example, if you plan on moving from your current residence in the next few years, a sand filter would likely last long enough for you to enjoy your pool.

However, a glass filter is a simple upgrade that can be a long term investment for your pool and your property value.

Regardless of which one you get, make sure that it is appropriately sized for your pool and pump!

Louis from Pool Advisor


A chemical engineer by trade, Louis is committed to debunking myths in the pool industry by explaining the underlying chemistry and making it accessible to all.