Swimex Residential Blog

Fiberglass pools v. Gunite

July 18, 2017 / by

Fiberglass pools and Gunite pool construction are so different that it’s hard to claim if one is better than the other. However, if you’re trying to choose which is right for you, make sure you know the differences before you buy. At the end of the day, what matters is that you get the right pool for your specific needs.

While fiberglass and gunite can cost the same initially, the difference lies in expenses incurred post-construction. These include maintenance costs, chemical needs, and repairs down the road as the pool ages. Let’s dive in a bit deeper and explore the pros and cons.

Fiberglass Pools Pros and Cons:

Pros:

There are benefits of fiberglass pool construction that you can’t get with gunite.

1. Fiberglass is easy to clean and maintain. Out of all pool construction materials, the fiberglass surface requires the LEAST amount of maintenance on a daily/weekly basis. This mean less time spent on cleaning and less money spent of chemicals.

2. Fiberglass is a smooth, nonporous surface so algae won’t stick to the walls. Gunite walls, typically made of porous materials, can be a breeding ground for algae. While there will still be algae in fiberglass pool water, it won’t be on the walls. This means, you don’t have to scrub the walls as you would with a gunite pool, making it easier to maintain.

3.  Structurally speaking, fiberglass shells are impervious to normal wear and tear, as well as elements like sun and harsh weather. The result: they will not need major repairs down the road. For extra endurance and installation flexibility, some fiberglass shells are built like the hull of a boat with a Gelcoat finish for easy cleaning and an interior wood layer for extra insulation and added strength.

fiberglass pools
4. If you’re looking for a quick install, fiberglass pools can be up and running in as little as 2-3 days. Because the shells come pre-built from the manufacturer, installation is a matter of simply delivering the shell and connecting the plumbing. In addition, there are countless installation options available with fiberglass, especially if you find a fiberglass manufacturer that builds self-supporting pools. In this case, pools can be installed above ground, partially above ground, in-ground, inside or outside. And because they are much lighter than gunite, they can be installed on upper floors. If the fiberglass unit comes in sections (and many of them do) don’t worry about tight spaces. It’s much easy to install fiberglass units in smaller areas.

5. Fiberglass pools can be built as small as small as 8’ x 20’.  If you want a small pool and are looking for the same function as you would get in a large gunite pool, look into fiberglass pools with a water current feature. You’ll get as much from them as you would a full-sized swimming pool.

fiberglass pools

Cons:

1. Fiberglass pool shells are built at the factory and shipped intact to your home. Many times you have to choose from available options. However, the depth and length can be changed in some fiberglass pools but there are only a few manufacturers that create custom fiberglass shells. Check with each manufacturer to learn their specific limitations.

2. Fiberglass pools, if not manufactured properly, can develop bubbles or crazing. If this happens, the good thing is it is relatively easy to buff out flaws. Once done, fiberglass can look as good as new.

Gunite Pros and Cons:

Pros:

1. If you are looking for a specific shape, an extra-large or extra deep pool, gunite is great for this. Gunite pools are built on-site. While the building process takes longer than a fiberglass pool installation, this allows for more flexibility in shape and size. If you want features that include built-in rock formations, pond-like looks, waterfalls, etc., gunite goes much further in this direction than fiberglass. Although fiberglass can be made to look natural (it can be ordered in many different colors), there are limitations.

Cons:

1.Gunite pools can incur expensive repairs as they age. Some people would argue it is inevitable that at some point they will need major renovations. Every 7-10 years the interior plaster has to be re-coated.

2. They require much more maintenance of a weekly basis, such as higher chemical demand and more frequent vacuuming.

3. Gunite can be rough to the touch on feet, hands, and if scraped up against.

4. Gunite installation is much more complicated. As all the work is done onsite, it can takes weeks or months to complete.

In Conclusion:

As for the finished product, both fiberglass and gunite pools can be stunning and extremely functional. In the end, much of it depends on installation, builder choice, and budget. Make sure you know your facts, have done your homework, and trust your manufacturer and builder. After that, it’s all about fun, fitness, and relaxation.

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