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Fiberglass vs Gunite Pool: Which One’s Better?

Left: Gunite Pool, Right: Fiberglass Pool

If you are installing a new pool, one of the most significant decisions you will need to make is whether you are going to go with a gunite pool or a fiberglass pool. It’s not unusual to have a lot of questions about which one is better.

We are going to take an in-depth look at both kinds of inground pools and list all of the pros and cons of each to help you get a better idea about which type is right for your landscape.

Keep reading while we discuss expense, longevity, strength, maintenance, and more to help you make an educated purchase.


Gunite

Gunite is a particular type of concrete used to make swimming pools, sculptures, and other types of ornamental concrete structures. You spray gunite over wireframes, so you can design your pool to have any shape and sizes. The concrete and rebar also allow for a deeper pool than is possible with a fiberglass pool so you can use a diving board. Gunite pools look much more natural than a fiberglass pool. You can also add tile or pebble surfaces to gunite to enhance the natural look or to increase the durability of the pool.

Time and Money

Digging out the entire area, planning, and setting up the wireframe, then spraying the wireframe with gunite, can be a long and arduous task that can take several weeks to complete. Because of the time involved, you can expect to pay a lot more to install a gunite pool than a fiberglass one. Because of the sheer weight of a gunite pool, there is very little chance that it will lift out of the ground, even if the water level in the pool gets very low.

Safety and Maintenance

The downside to gunite is that it might have microscopic holes in it where bacteria and algae can grow. These holes mean that you will need to do a lot of regular cleaning and brushing of the walls to keep the contaminants from getting out of hand. The surface is also rougher and harder than a fiberglass surface, which could lead to more severe injuries.

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concrete gunite pool

Durability

Another thing to consider before going with a gunite pool is that they will need to be resurfaced from time to time as the chemicals in the pool water along with sunlight and other factors break down the cement. Most pools can last seven or more years before they need resurfacing, but the cost can add up spread across a lifetime.

Pros
  • Customizable shape and size
  • Allows more depth
  • Natural look
  • Suitable for a diving board
  • Won’t lift out of the ground
Cons
  • High maintenance
  • Porous walls might hold algae
  • Require occasional resurfacing

Fiberglass

Manufacturers make fiberglass pools at the factory, and they ship them as one complete piece to the pool store where you purchase them. There are far fewer options available with fiberglass pools as far as shape and size go, but they are much less expensive and just as durable. Since the walls are tiny glass fibers, they are very smooth and will not allow bacteria or algae to hide the way a gunite pool might. For this reason, fiberglass pools require much less routine maintenance than a gunite pool.

Time and Money

Since fiberglass pools are often much smaller than gunite pools, they are usually much less expensive to have installed and require much less time. You can install them in a smaller yard, and you can generally be filling your fiberglass pool in only a few days from when construction begins.

Safety and Maintenance

The downside to fiberglass pools is that they are very lightweight and have a tendency to pop out of the ground if the surrounding groundwater is too high or the water inside the pool becomes too low. Even when your pool is full of water, it can pop out of the ground after a heavy rainstorm. You cannot use a diving board with a fiberglass pool because they are not capable of the depths available with gunite pools.

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fiberglass pool

Appearance and Durability

Fiberglass pools are available in a broad range of colors, but if you are looking for a natural look, they will not compare with a gunite pool. Fiberglass pools will always look more like a tub or a spa. Meanwhile, fiberglass pools never need resurfacing and are incredibly resistant to the chemicals and other factors that break down concrete.

Pros
  • Low maintenance
  • Won’t harbor algae
  • Long-lasting
Cons
  • No diving
  • They can lift out of the ground
  • Not natural looking

Summary

Both gunite and fiberglass are excellent materials to make a swimming pool. They are both durable and can last a lifetime with very little care outside routine maintenance. If you are a swimmer, have a large yard, want to design your own pool, and don’t care much about cost, then a gunite inground pool is an excellent choice. It’s very natural looking, and there is a large variety of different surfaces you can get, including tile and pebble.

If you would like to be swimming in a few days instead of weeks, don’t care about a diving board, or designing your own shape, a fiberglass pool is a very cost-effective choice that will save you lots of scrubbing over the years as well as plenty of money on resurfacing.

We hope that our guide describing the differences between gunite and fiberglass pools has been helpful. If you have enjoyed reading, please share this comparison on Facebook and Twitter.

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