Gunite vs. Fiberglass Pools: Which one is Right for You?
Gunite pools are constructed from a mix of cement and sand, and water is applied via a high-pressure hose. They are known for their reliable structural strength as well as custom-made options, fitting any size or shape that suits its surroundings.
Installation time might be one of the biggest disadvantages gunite pools have. This is mainly due to their customized fabrication that happens right on site, a process that takes longer than any other swimming pool, but the result is a unique design that lasts for decades.
The installation process goes through a few stages. First, the crew installs rebar on the bottom and sides of the excavation. This helps to construct the perfect mold needed for the pool’s shape, while still reinforcing the concrete. Once the shell is done, you need to wait at least 28 days for the concrete to cure. During that time, the crew can install the patio (if that’s the case) and do any electrical work.
Maintenance and Cost
Based on the installation process, you might assume that gunite pools need more maintenance than fiberglass pools. Being porous, they need more chemicals to maintain the water at a satisfactory level, and the filter requires cleaning every two weeks. Plus, you would need to scrub the pool’s surface often to keep it free of algae. Overall, costs for maintenance can range from $50,000 to $100,000 per year.
Pros and Cons of Gunite Pools
- Flexible design – being custom-built swimming pools, no matter if you want some specific shape, dept or size, gunite pools can offer it. And while their construction process takes longer, it offers flexibility.
- Extra features – from a lagoon-style pool to waterfalls and bench seating, gunite pools can offer all that and much more.
- Customized finishes – as gunite plaster is available in various color ranges of colors, everything is possible. Even tile or pebble finish is an option. It is all about your creativity and imagination.
- Maintenance costs – customization brings extra maintenance. Every 7-10 years you will need to resurface your gunite pool so it can be in great condition and look like new.
- Chemical usage – this is another point connected to maintenance. Due to the used materials, more chemicals are needed for their and the surface’s maintenance.
Fiberglass pools have manufactured pre-built shells that are installed as inground or above-ground pools in the client’s desired location in just a few days. These pools are known to have a very smooth finish, which comes from the gel coating spread over the raw fiberglass.
The fiberglass inground pools arrive on a flatbed truck in a form of a big tub (monolithic shell). Because of their already existing form and shape, they are a lot easier to install but not quite as durable as the gunite inground pools. Compared to the 8-10 -inch gunite think walls, the fiberglass walls are only ½-⅜ inch thick. As such, if not installed properly, or if there is an impact of outside force, cracking can occur.
Maintenance and Cost
Fiberglass pools are easy to maintain as well. As they are smooth, non-porous, and algae-resistant, they do not require as many chemicals. And while the cost of maintenance is based on its size, shape, and design, it can range from $20,000 to $40,000 per year.
Pros and Cons of Fiberglass Pools
- Low maintenance – fiberglass, as a smooth and nonporous surface, will not allow algae to stick to walls, meaning you will need fewer chemicals and will have a shorter cleaning time.
- Durability – fiberglass pools have solid resilience against regular wear, tear, as well as outside elements, so you should not expect any major repairs.
- Sizes – fiberglass pools can range from 10×16 (4ft) up to 16×40.
- Lack of flexibility – as fiberglass pools are built in a factory and just installed at the desired location, there is not a lot of room for creativity regarding shape and design.
- Low availability – based on seasonality, fiberglass pools have their high-demand moments, which can leave you waiting longer than anticipated.
- Manufacturing flaws – if they are not manufactured properly, fiberglass pools tend to develop imperfections on the surface. Luckily, if it happens, the process to buff out the flaws is easy.
How long does a gunite pool last compared to a fiberglass pool?
An average fiberglass pool lifespan is 20-30 years. But if built and installed by a quality manufacturer, they can go even up to 50 years. Gunite pools can also go for 50 years or more, however, every 7-10 years you need to do resurfacing, plus have regular maintenance.
The Bottom Line
Both types of pools have pros and cons, so it is truly up to your needs and wants on the type of pool you will install. If you prefer custom-built, specific size, shape, and dept, a gunite pool is your go-to potion. But if you want to buy something not as expensive that can be installed quickly and is easy to maintain, a fiberglass pool is for you.
Still, trying to decide? Talk with one of our professionals to get their insight, ideas, and a free quote.
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