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How to Choose Between a Gunite and Fiberglass Swimming Pool

When looking to install a new swimming pool, you will need to choose which type of pool you are looking for.  Concrete and fiberglass are among the three types, and in this article we will compare and contrast. We will discuss cost, maintenance, longevity, installation and other key points about each type of pool. 

Initial Cost

The initial cost of building a fiberglass pool is quite lower, when compared to that of a concrete or gunite pool. A fiberglass pool is a precast shell, available in a handful of shapes, sizes, and colors.  This pool is not customizable, but can be selected to include benches, seats, and other features.  A concrete or gunite pool is a much more complex product, consisting of a very labor intense process and is nearly 100% customizable.  Due to the pool finish and tile component of these pools, the material costs are also more costly than that of a fiberglass swimming pool. You should expect to see a large difference in price between these pools, when costing similar shapes/sizes.


A beautiful gunite pool can be customized

Due to its smooth, non-porous surface, a fiberglass pool has a much easier, lower cost maintenance requirement. Concrete pools have a decorative pool finish that after installation much undergo a 28 day start up process.  This is a slow chemical add process, involving lots of brushing and meticulous chemical observations.  Not following this strict process can cause the brand new finish to scale or pit, thus requiring a resurfacing or wet acid wash. 

After the initial start up, concrete pools must be monitored more closely to prevent scaling on the surface and tiled areas of the pool.  These pools need to be brushed weekly and a scale inhibitor should be used weekly to prevent build up.  These specialty chemicals can cost upwards of $75-100 per month on top of the other pool chemicals required to maintain the quality of the water.

Ease of Installation

When it all comes down to the ease of installation, fiberglass takes the cake.  A fiberglass pool is often dug and installed in one single day, with the pool being up and running and ready for use within 7-14 days.  

Installation of a concrete pool on the other hand takes longer than you would imagine, usually between 2 and 6 months, depending on climate and complexity of the project. A concrete pool is excavated, providing the hole in the shape of the pool planned.  Next, a rebar crew will come in and create a rebar cage in the shape of the pool. At this point, the plumbing will be completed. This could take 1-2 days. 

Next, a gunite team comes in to shoot concrete, forming the shell of the pool.  These four steps are usually completed within one week.  After the shell is formed, it needs to be watered and allowed time to cure.  This can take 14-30 days before tile and coping can be installed.  This process usually takes about 2-3 days to complete. Finally, tile and coping can be installed followed by the decorative pool finish.  After the finish is done, there is a 28 day start up process that needs to occur.  This pool will likely take 2-6 months to complete.


Even though a fiberglass pool edges over concrete pool in terms of operation costs, it does not last as long as a concrete pool. The expected life expectancy of a fiberglass pool is roughly 30 years, while a gunite pool can last over 50.  A fiberglass pool can not be resurfaced when the shell becomes outdated or damaged, while a gunite can be re-polished, sand blasted, and even replastered. 

Visual Appeal

If visual appeal is your priority when building a pool, then concrete is your ideal choice. With concrete pool, you have a lot of say in the design, size and shape you want. A good pool contractor should be able to incorporate any design and style. With fiberglass pool, you must choose from a limited number of shapes, sizes, and colors.  Features can not be moved or added.  

When deciding between a fiberglass pool or a gunite pool, one must consider budget, durability, customizability, and maintenance. Whatever you decide, you will surely be happy with your new inground swimming pool!