Gunite vs. Vinyl vs. Fiberglass Pools
When evaluating materials used in the construction of an in-ground pool, there are 3 primary choices:
- Vinyl lined
Each has it’s own distinct advantages and disadvantages, and the choice for your pool installation must take into account your specific needs.
Gunite Inground Pools:
The main advantage of a gunite pool is that it is the strongest of the three choices, and also the longest lasting. In addition:
- Gunite pools can be built to any size, shape, or depth
- They allow for creative additions such as built in barstools, irregular underwater benches, tanning ledges, and other enhancements
- A huge selection of decorative and long lasting finishes can be added to Gunite pools, such as Pebble Tec
- Gunite pools allow the greatest flexibility when building a pool, especially when faced with challenging terrain and limited installation space
- Gunite pools have the longest warranties
- Offer the ability to incorporate monolithic vessels such as spas, streams, and waterfalls.
There are only a few disadvantages to Gunite pool construction. The primary disadvantages are that it entails a longer construction schedule, and gunite pools are the most expensive to construct.
Fiberglass Inground Pools:
While fiberglass pools have had a checkered past, they have improved tremendously over the years.
- Fiberglass pools are available in many shapes and sizes
- They offer beautiful and unique interior finish options
- Fiberglass inground pools offer the fastest installation time
- There are good warranties for fiberglass pools
- Limited options are available such as raised spas, tanning ledges and underwater benches
- Provides a more finished look than vinyl in ground pools
The main disadvantages of a fiberglass inground pool are that they are more expensive than a vinyl swimming pool, and they don’t have the longevity/durability of a gunite pool.
Vinyl Lined Inground Pools:
By far, the biggest advantage of a vinyl pool installation is the cost. It is the least expensive option. In addition, vinyl pools offer a soft interior finish. There are many choices for style, size, and depth. Repairs for vinyl pools can be very affordable as well.
Unfortunately, the interior (vinyl liner) is most easily damaged by bleaching with chlorine or from dropping heavy or sharp items into the pool. In addition, the liner can come out of the track that holds it in place, creating sagging sides and the potential for further damage when not addressed immediately. Vinyl pools are also limited to rounded shapes rather than the sharp, crisp lines of fiberglass and gunite pools, as sharp corners can shorten the life of the liner from the potential tears that can occur often in these corners.
Vinyl pools are also limited in color choices, and are the least refined of all the styles. Creative construction options such as raised beams, bar stools, and ledges are extremely limited.
When building a Vinyl In Ground Pool, it requires an “overdig” that cannot be compacted with soil, and can create construction challenges in some applications.
These disadvantages result in vinyl in ground pools having the shortest life expectancy of all the construction methods yet still providing a good value when considering the lower cost.
When choosing the construction method for your new pool, budget, style, and available space all will play a factor in your decision. A professional custom pool builder can evaluate your needs, and recommend the best option to fit those needs.