Fiberglass vs Gunite Swimming Pool: Key Advantages to Know

Fiberglass vs Gunite Swimming Pool

Fiberglass and concrete (gunite) swimming pools are very different. They look different. They feel different. And once you look into it closely, you’ll find that they have different strengths and weaknesses. 

Deciding which type of swimming pool you would like to have in your back yard seems like a simple decision, not to mention easy until you realize what could be at stake. If you are paying for it, then you have to consider all the pros and cons when installing it. A swimming pool is not only a once of payment, but it is also an investment which will cost you money for as long as you have it.

The only difference is the amount you will spend and what exactly you will spend it on. I know this sounds confusing, but I will put everything into perspective for you.

Gunite swimming pools

Gunite swimming pool under construction

When it comes to a gunite pool, people tend to want this type of swimming pool because it is different compared to the usual fiberglass swimming pools most people have. Gunite has a more elegant, yet concrete look. No pun intended. The flexibility regarding gunite swimming pools occurs when it is being installed. You can decide then and there how you would like your swimming pool to be formed or moulded.

Gunite swimming pools are built while they are being installed, therefore it could become time consuming. This could however result in your creative juices flowing. You can even decide whether or not you would want a rock formation to be built into your new and stylish swimming pool. Your gunite swimming pool can be made to look a lot more natural when you consider the fact that you can build waterfalls and ponds which may be just the look you were hoping for. 

On the other hand, with a certain look comes a certain price. Any home owner should be aware of the fact that with a gunite swimming pool, you should have a certain maintenance plan in order. Gunite is a big attraction for algae; therefore these swimming pools have a higher demand of swimming pool chemicals.

The swimming pool also requires more frequent vacuuming than the fiberglass swimming pool, so be ready to do regular maintenance on your creepy crawly. The interior can be a rough surface on the feet and hands; one should avoid craping against gunite to avoid scrapes and bruises.

To top all of this of, keep in mind that the gunite interior has to be re-coated every 7-10 years which could cost you a pretty penny. Fixing a crack also becomes a tedious job as you have to drain the swimming pool to fix a small cack. If you can afford the look, brace yourself for a long installation period and a couple of guaranteed jealous neighbours

Fiberglass swimming pools

Fiberglass pool being installed in a backyard.

Although these swimming pools are not as flexible when it comes to the look of things, they sure are easier and more cost-efficient to maintain. To start with, you can pre-order your swimming pool to be a specific colour; this cannot be done with gunite pools. Because of the fact that you have pre-ordered your swimming pool, it will show up at your doorstep, ready to be installed.

The installation alone will only take two to three days depending on the size of the swimming pool and the ease of access it has to your yard. In several cases, people want their swimming pools installed in their backyards, which are usually connected to other people’s backyards. Thus, making it more difficult to place that big piece of fiberglass on the same place your lawn used to be.

Nevertheless, installing fiberglass is much easier and faster than physically building the big piece of gunite swimming pool to suit your needs. If you would want the swimming pool to be installed on any upper floors, you have no need to worry because these fiberglass swimming pools are much lighter and therefore easy to install basically anywhere. 

Besides its easy installation, fiberglass swimming pools are cheaper to maintain. Hairline cracks can be fixed under water, therefore the swimming pool does not need to be drained and refilled. Algae do not stick to fiberglass as easy as it does to gunite because of its smooth surface, which makes pool vacuuming a breeze.

Not only is the physical maintenance of the pool less than with a gunite swimming pool, the chemicals required to keep the pool sparkly and clean is also less.

Fiberglass swimming pools can be covered with a gel coat to protect its exterior from the sun which can be harmful and cause damage to your pool. This gel coat will prevent the exterior from being damaged which will be a benefit when it comes to the long term maintenance plan. 

The bad thing about fiberglass pools is that you may struggle to pre-order the pool to be a certain size and shape. Most swimming pool companies do not specialise in special requests. They have a couple of different shapes, sizes, lengths and depths to choose from and it stops there.

You have limited options with fiberglass swimming pools and your pool may develop bubbles which can cause hairline cracks as time goes on. It should be said that bubbles or crazing can be fixed very easily by buffing out these bubbles to make your fiberglass swimming pool look good as new. 

If the question of this article was to choose the cheaper swimming pool, I would definitely say fiberglass. Yet the article only asks Fiberglass VS Gunite swimming pools.

Fiberglass is cost-efficient from the installation to the maintenance to the long term plan of small damages that may occur. If you think about the trouble you would have to go through to keep algae of the walls by vacuuming the pool on a weekly basis or more, or buying so many chemicals that it may be harmful to your family, then you would agree on fiberglass.

But if you think of a swimming pool tailored to you and your family’s needs, whether you want a fountain or a waterfall feature, it can all be done. You have to decide whether or not it would really kill you to get some exercise and vacuum your swimming pool more than once a week, and believe me it can become difficult. Anything worth having will require maintenance and this is the case with gunite swimming pools, you have to put some effort in. 

If you were to ask anyone in the fiberglass swimming pool industry which one is the best, they will tell you that fiberglass is your best bet. The same would happen if you went to a gunite swimming pool factory or builder, they will convince you that their swimming pools are the best. The one thing you have to realise is that the swimming pool will require maintenance and it will cost you money, it does not matter which one you choose. 

The overheated home owner should also take into consideration that there may be certain guidelines when it comes to installing a swimming pool in your back yard. In a country like South Africa it is actually best to have someone from the National Spa and Pool Institute of South Africa to install your swimming pool.

Mistakes may still occur upon installation or afterwards, yet you are guaranteed to have someone there immediately to sort out the problem. It is similar to taking out insurance on your vehicle and having a service plan. 

Costs

The average gunite swimming pool will cost you $ 50 000 to install and as you know additional costs may occur when it comes to maintenance as time goes by especially regarding chemicals. Gunite swimming pools also take about 3-6 months to install.

A fiberglass swimming pool will cost you $ 45 000 on average and may take 3-6 weeks to install. 

There is the option to install your fiberglass swimming pool yourself if you have a great love for DIY projects. This will set you back about $12 000- $30 000.

A fiberglass swimming pool may cost you about $4000 over a ten year period which is much more cost-efficient than gunite swimming pools. The same cannot be said for a gunite swimming pool. Your upfront payment for installing the gunite swimming pool will be from $50 000 to $100 000. Given that large amount, you have to consider the time and management that has to go into maintaining these swimming pools.

Your long term cost for a ten year period will be about $25 000 just for maintenance. Now I understand why pool parties at hotels and guesthouses are so expensive, all those chemicals to remove your bodily fluids from the swimming pool, gross! 

If you are wondering about the types of chemicals needed to maintain your swimming pool, then you have come to the right place! A gunite swimming pool requires of you to acid wash the pool shell every 3-5 years; this will cost you about $900 if you do it twice. Furthermore, you will need a proper pool cleaning service, because that pool ‘aint gonna clean itself’. The cleaning service costs $500 per season, this amounts up to $20 000 per year, if my math has not mislead me.

As we discussed, your gunite swimming pool has to be maintained and for that you need to retile/ replaster the swimming pool’s interior every 10-15 years. This will cost you about $10 000. Chemical usage for any gunite swimming pool will be about $7500 per year, imagine what it will cost you within ten years. Last but certainly not least, we have to look at the electricity usage. This amount comes down to $4000 per year, if you would multiply this with ten years it will cost you $40 000. This is just your electricity usage if the rates do not increase.

As for any fiberglass swimming pool, the pool liner has to be replaced every 5-9 years. This will cost you about $4,500. The chemical usage for the fiberglass swimming pool is about $4,000 per year, which can also become a pretty penny ten years down the line. The electricity usage for fiberglass swimming pools is about $3,000 per year, which is only $1000 less than our gunite friend mentioned above. The proof is in the pudding when all of these amounts are added up and you can clearly see that fiberglass swimming pools are the cheap dates we have all been looking for.

A gunite swimming pool will cost you $27,400 each year, whereas a fiberglass swimming pool will cost you $11,500 each year. This means that over a ten year period the gunite swimming pool might cost you $274,000 and a fiberglass swimming pool can cost you $115,000. 

I think we can agree that it is much more cost effective to have a fiberglass swimming pool installed in your backyard or on any property you would like to, though the idea of a gunite swimming pool sounds so elegant, authentic and concrete that you do not want to overlook it.

Gunite swimming pools are strong enough to withstand terrible weather conditions and have the ability to be built into any kind of masterpiece. If it were me, I would want the gunite swimming pool because of its flexibility and its lack thereof. In the same sense that you could do anything with such a swimming pool regarding creativity, roots and trees and all things connected to nature, can do nothing to this swimming pool.

I have personally experienced fiberglass swimming pools being damaged by the roots of trees pushing up from the bottom and I have seen the way bricks tend to move away from the swimming pool’s sides as time goes by. The thing with a gunite swimming pool is that you are aware of your long term maintenance plan and you are prepared for expenses that are almost similar to that of the fiberglass swimming pool.

The only big thing you need to save up for is the plastering that needs to take place every 10-15 years. Other than that, the expenses of a gunite swimming pool do not differ that much from a fiberglass swimming pool. If you have the capital and patience and abilities to take care of a gunite swimming pool, then get one! 

Lightning and the thunder

The figures regarding the maintenance of swimming pools can also change depending on the weather in your area. Places that experience a lot of rain, experience a lot of thunder. Thunder and rain can influence the colour of your swimming pool.

Lightning creates nitrogen which floats around in the air, until it is washed down into your swimming pool by the rain. If you have the best maintained swimming pool in the world, there will still be traces of algae in it. Nitrogen serves as a plant food for algae which literally gives the algae food to grow. We have now come to the root of all evil, algae. The thing that makes swimming pools green and the reason you may have to spend thousands of dollars on chemicals to clean up your swimming pool.

The decision between a gunite and a fiberglass swimming pool is pointless and therefore useless if you do not consider Mother Nature. Your decision between these two swimming pools can only be made once you think of the area you want to install your pool in.

It may be true that gunite swimming pools may have more algae in them, yet this point is moot if you think about your beautifully maintained fiberglass swimming pool that may or may not have algae in it in any case. A thunder storm with a lot of rain and lightning can turn your squeaky clean swimming pool into a green mess.   

The question of a gunite swimming pool VS a fiberglass swimming pool should not be a question. The answer to this question literally lies within every person’s personal style, if money is no object, you cannot base your decision on these figures. You have to be sure that it is the look you would want on your property.

Your personal style is a reflection of your personality. Let it be known that your personality is as high maintenance and concrete as your swimming pool. OR you can let the world know that you are as cost-efficient and as easy to take care of as your fiberglass swimming pool. Whatever floats your boat, choose that one. 

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