The 3 Types of Inground Pools: Gunite, Fiberglass, & Vinyl
Each type of inground pool has its pros and cons. We’ll go over each one below to help you better determine which one is right for your backyard.
Gunite, sometimes called shotcrete, is a type of concrete that is sprayed through a high-pressure nozzle. It creates the longest-lasting kind of pool, and it’s also the most customizable type of pool. Check out the many designs you can achieve with gunite.
First comes excavation. Then we stabilize that pool-shaped hole with reinforced steel bars, spraying them with gunite through a high-pressure nozzle and finishing the surface by troweling. Finally, we allow it to cure until the gunite hardens into your pool shell.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to the shape, size, and depth of a gunite pool. From geometric to freeform, every add-on feature you can imagine – if you can dream it, we can build it.
Gunite is the longest-lasting out of the three inground pool types, and if properly maintained, can be an investment that’s around for generations.
Proper maintenance of your pool is critical to achieving the durability mentioned above. To prevent algae blooms, you’ll need to brush your pool regularly, and how regularly depends on what part of the country you live in. A local Pinnacle office can help you determine the best schedule or sign you up for regular pool service (if available in your area).
You have many options when it comes to the finish. A plaster finish is common, but it can be a rough surface on your feet if you spend a lot of time in your pool. A pebble aggregate finish looks fantastic and typically lasts a lifetime. Glass tiles around your pool’s perimeter are another great choice. They can make your water appear as blue as the ocean.
Concrete pools are the most expensive upfront, but they’ll last longer than the other pool material types. And the fact that gunite pools are constructed on-site means you’ll save on delivery fees.
Gunite pools need to be resurfaced every ten years or so, except for those with the aggregate finish. Retiling and repairing cracks is also part of long-term maintenance, just like any concrete or tile product.
Depending on features and size, a gunite installation can take two to three months on average – much longer than Fiberglass and Vinyl.
Fiberglass is quick to install and will last for decades. Just a couple of the reasons the fiberglass pool market has continued to skyrocket over recent years.
Fiberglass pools are single-piece shells made in a factory and shipped to the pool site for installation. After excavation, the wait for your fiberglass shell can vary depending on the factory’s output times. But, once the pool arrives, installation is speedy.
While not as customizable due to prefabrication, fiberglass shells still come in a wide range of sizes. You can also add features to the premade shells, like tanning shelves or raised spas.
Chopped fiberglass, reinforced with a resin made from polyester and vinyl ester, and glass mesh material are woven together to enhance the strength of the shells. Their durability can rival that of a concrete pool.
The gel coat surface of a fiberglass pool is much smoother on your feet than a concrete pool. You can enjoy hours in the water without beating up your feet.
A fiberglass pool’s non-porous, non-abrasive surface also helps prevent algae growth, lessening the needed maintenance and making brushing much easier than with a concrete pool. And because there’s no metal in a fiberglass shell, you can use a saltwater system for easy cleaning.
The initial cost of a fiberglass pool is about the same as gunite, in addition to paying the delivery fee for your prefabricated shell. However, fiberglass’s durability and low maintenance will be less costly than concrete and vinyl in the long run. You won’t need to refinish it; repairs are fairly simple and inexpensive.
By the time you finish reading this, your fiberglass pool could have already been installed. Okay, not really. But it is a really fast install for a pool that lasts decades and, depending on delivery from the manufacturer, can be installed in a matter of days.
Similar to gunite, builders will need to excavate and build galvanized steel walls to stabilize the shape of our pool. A custom-made vinyl liner sheet is installed over that framing.
When it comes to customization, vinyl comes in second. It can accommodate both fluid lines and elegant curves. You can upgrade your vinyl pool with most of the features you can get with gunite. And even increase the durability of your liner with different levels of thickness.
Speaking of durability, even if properly maintained, your liner will last 5 to 6 years until needing replacement. Although a thicker liner will be more sturdy, they’re still susceptible to puncture, depending on how rough you are with them.
Like fiberglass, vinyl is a smooth operator that resists algae growth.
Vinyl requires the most tender loving care. Direct sunlight over the years will wrinkle the surface, so it may be wise to install a pool cover depending on the shade.
At least at first, vinyl is the most affordable of the three pool types. The replacement liners can become costly over time.
The 2nd fastest install – typically takes 4 to 8 weeks.
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