Gunite vs. Fiberglass vs. Vinyl Swimming Pools
You’ve chosen a terrific time to build a pool.
We’ll let you in on a little secret: the months of March to November are the reason we all look forward to it.
The beautiful sunshine is still abundant, but with more comfortable temperatures, it’s the perfect time to bust out your inner buccaneer and celebrate everything from beach strolls, water activities, and cool splashes in a pool.
Looking for some advice on which type of pool to select? You have come to the right place as the best in-ground pool is chosen among gunite, fiberglass, or vinyl liner pools.
While each pool: gunite vs fiberglass vs vinyl have different reasons to build, here’s an unbiased view to dispel any confusion.
Premier Pools & Spas is the nation’s top-ranking pool builders that build a sophisticated pool environment, soothing atmosphere artfully blended with innovative touches that complements the beauty of your backyard
Gunite vs. Fiberglass vs. Vinyl In-Ground Pools
An in-ground pool type is the most popular build in the American backyard. When you look at a public pool or a commercial pool at a community fitness center, then it is most likely an in-ground pool, too.
Depending on your pool habits, lifestyle, budget, and the space in your backyard, choose the perfect pool type for you.
The gunite material, a mixture of cement and sand, is considered the highest quality material by pool lovers. You can achieve any swimming pool shape and size with gunite.
Gunite pools are constructed entirely on the site. First, the site is excavated in the desired design, and then the pool builders shoot gunite through a high-pressure nozzle and allow it to cure. This hardened gunite, applied over reinforced steel bars, later becomes the pool shell.
From a classic pool design or vanishing edge to a geometrical or natural-looking freeform pool, gunite can achieve it all. Any plan that your pool builder can sketch, from beach entries to tanning ledges, customization is possible. This advantage is also one of the primary reasons why the material is preferred for building commercial pools around the country.
With proper maintenance, gunite pools can last for decades without any major renovations or repairs. When built correctly, these are the most robust and long-lasting of the lot. Besides, in their lifetime, you can get them remodeled multiple times to suit your changes tastes and practically get a new pool every time.
History of Gunite Pools
- Debuted in the early 1900s
- Iconic multi-radius designs
- Affordable pools for suburban homes
- Roman and Grecian pool designs remain remarkably popular to date
- Original applications: Repair of battle-damaged structures post the Second World War
There are several interior finish options to choose from, ranging from river pebble aggregates to epoxy paint finishes. Or, you can make the pool water look sparkly and clear with glass tiles. You can create a seamless transition with the pool entrance and the surrounding deck and landscape. However, the surface may be abrasive to the skin.
There is no limit to the design aspect of the gunite pool building. These pools are versatile enough to transform your backyard into your own paradise. With curved or intricate, flowy shapes, gunite poolscapes offer elegance and visually pleasing sights. From tropical oasis to a soothing Zen Garden-style landscape, you can build a pool to suit any theme you can imagine.
When you compare gunite vs fiberglass vs vinyl, gunite pools are the ones that require the most maintenance. You will need to brush your pool regularly to prevent the buildup of algae. The surface may also need to be etched with acid washing.
While adding custom features raises your initial costs, you can save on delivery charges as gunite pools are wholly constructed on the site. They are more expensive than vinyl pool types.
You may have to resurface gunite pools every ten years. Repairing the cracks (if any) or retiling also adds up to the lifetime costs. You should also be careful with the chemical composition in the pool, especially with saltwater pools, because the metals used in installation may get affected due to the alkaloids present in the chemicals.
Features and Add-Ons
Whether you want to build a pool to get more exercise or to create a cozy private nook in your backyard, you can do so with this material. Custom pool features like scuppers, waterfalls, or fire elements give your gunite pool a dreamy and fantastical charm that is ideal for romantic staycations or even fun BBQ parties.
Gunite pools take the longest installation time – it could be two to three months, depending on your pool size and the features you like to add. For example, building an L-shaped pool may take less time than to build a pool with a spa addition.
Fiberglass Swimming Pools
Fiberglass is one of the most popular pool construction materials both in the U.S. and globally. The material is non-porous, making it a sturdy component for pool building.
Fiberglass pool installation begins when a factory-manufactured pool shell arrives at your site. The seating area, steps, tanning ledges, sun deck, and other pool elements come built-in with the pool shell.
While the fiberglass pool shells come in a variety of shapes and sizes, they are pre-fabricated. Meaning, you may have to make some compromises on getting each of your backyard pool fantasies into reality. However, for basic designs or small pools, fiberglass can be your safest bet.
The pre-molded pool shell has various layers of chopped fiberglass reinforced with polyester resin, vinyl ester resin, and glass mesh materials for added strength. Since their first debut, fiberglass pools have come a long way and can sometimes surpass the durability of concrete pools.
Evolution of Fiberglass Pools
- Late 1800s: glass strands, wool, and silk were combined to produce a flame-retardant and durable material
- 1930s to 1950s: the Experimentation era
- 1960s: Use in shower stalls, bathtubs, cars, boats, and even airplane parts
- 1970s till date: Most popular for high-end backyard pools. At least 6 different layers for added strength
Fiberglass pools have a gel coat surface that is smooth to the touch, and unlike concrete, it does not feel awkward when you walk on the pool floor barefoot. The non-abrasive surface also helps prevent algae growth.
Since the pool molds come from various fiberglass pool manufacturers, there is a limitation in the shapes and designs. Also, they cannot be wider than 16 feet due to shipping restrictions via road. However, you can add fun fiberglass pool elements on the concrete deck with perfect pool lighting options and transform the whole ambiance.
Fiberglass pools are ideal for a saltwater system since no metal is likely to rust. The waterline cleaning or brushing is relatively easier than concrete. Besides, in a comparison of gunite vs. fiberglass vs. vinyl pool surfaces, fiberglass wins, hands down. Hence, there is no risk of algae growth.
The initial investment in a fiberglass pool is similar to that of gunite and higher than vinyl. You also need to pay the delivery costs to get the pool shell from the factory.
Fiberglass pools come fortified with extremely durable materials, which makes them difficult to break. They are flexible and tough with the right installation, and even if there are any damages, they are easy to fix. Since they need no replacements or resurfacing, they will cost the minimum on upkeep.
Features and Add-Ons
Rectangular, Roman, kidney, and freeform shapes may be the most common designs you see in fiberglass pools. But you can turn these simple pools into relaxing backyard retreats by adding a spa and a Baja shelf and bringing life to a wooden pool decking.
The fiberglass pool shells are built off-site, and hence, the installation takes very little time. Compared to a gunite pool, you skip the time for curing the concrete, and you can enjoy the pool in a few weeks.
Vinyl Swimming Pools
Vinyl liner swimming pools offer more flexibility in design than fiberglass, and the installation process is more straightforward than gunite pools.
The construction process of vinyl pools is similar to that of gunite, but instead of applying gunite, the builders install a custom-made vinyl liner sheet onto the galvanized steel pool wall panels. Then they vacuum the liner surface for possible air leaks. Finally, they lay down pre-decking steel and an interior block wall.
In terms of shapes, sizes, and designs, the sky’s the limit with vinyl swimming pools. They are highly flexible and customizable, which means you need not think twice to get your dream pool built. Although most pools are rectangular, you can get a custom-build with fluid lines or eccentric curves. The vinyl liner comes in varying thicknesses as well.
The technological advancements nowadays have made vinyl pool liner structures much more durable. They can withstand harsh weather elements and also offer UV protection. However, getting the right thickness is crucial, or the liner may get ripped apart easily.
Vinyl Liner Pools: Timeline
- Started out in the 1950s as less expensive options for gunite pools
- Components adapted from the boating industry
- Earlier, pool walls consisted of pressure-treated wood
- Corrosion-resistant polymer wall panels are used currently
- Holds in place with a track-and-beading system
The surface of the vinyl liner pool material is exceptionally smooth except where it is snapped into the deck, at the ridge. The polished and exquisite finish of vinyl also offers excellent algae-resistance.
The vinyl liner is available in many colors, and you can choose one that blends well with the overall theme in your backyard. They look stylish and sophisticated when you combine your lakeside retreat with unusual design contours and add pizzaz to your landscape.
Compared to other pool types, vinyl may need more care because being in direct sunlight for a prolonged time may cause the liner to sag or make the surface wrinkly. If you do not fix these issues in time, they could lead to significant repairs. On the other hand, brushing or sweeping is relatively more relaxed as there is less minimal algae buildup.
Vinyl liners are the most affordable options among the three types of pools. Even the installation costs are lower than those of gunite pools of a similar size.
On average, you may spend on expensive vinyl liner replacements every five to nine years. Upon the cost of the material, you need to pay other expenses like labor charges. Also, its resale value is the least among gunite vs fiberglass vs vinyl pools.
Features and Add-Ons
Vinyl offers a myriad of choices to reflect your personality. Whether you want a classy and luxurious pool or a functional one, vinyl is game for anything. Vinyl allows for creative designs to make your pool the focal attraction with freestanding water or fire features mixed with soft pool lights.
Within four to eight weeks, you can have your vinyl pool ready. A vinyl liner pool is also easy to install with the ready-to-assemble kits available in the market.
Contact Premier Pools & Spas to Build Your Backyard Pool
At Premier Pools & Spas, we ensure that our customers are delighted with our pool building outcomes. With more information on gunite vs fiberglass vs vinyl pools we hope you make an informed decision.
Contact us for a free estimate or call us to know more. Schedule an appointment to get your pool built.