Vinyl liner pools are usually the least expensive to install, and go in fairly quickly. They are also the simplest to maintain. They are available in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. Fully custom shapes are also possible, but cost substantially more. The lifetime of a vinyl liner is typically shorter than the lifetime of any of the other surfaces. When the liner wears out, it can be replaced.
Fiberglass pools install more quickly than any other kind of pool and last a long time. They typically cost substantially more than a vinyl liner pool but less than a gunite pool. They are available in a limited selection of sizes and shapes. In particular, the width is normally limited to what can fit on a truck. Fiberglass is more prone to metal stains than other surfaces, but otherwise is fairly easy to maintain.
Gunite pools are available in a limitless variety of fully custom sizes and shapes. They also offer many options for enhancing the plaster surface, including coloring, and adding small quartz crystals, glass beads, or pebbles of various sizes. They take the longest, and are the most expensive, to install, and they require the most maintenance.
Caring for the plaster properly during the first month is very important and is more work than most people expect. After the first month, it gets easier, though maintenance is still more work than the other kinds of pools. If properly cared for, the plaster surface can last a very long time, especially if quartz or pebbles are added to the plaster. When the plaster does wear out you can re-plaster, though that can be expensive.
Darker colored plaster often has a mottled appearance that many people don't like. Adding quartz crystals to the plaster can look wonderful, and increases the lifetime of the plaster. Adding pebbles to the plaster can look amazing, and extends the life of the plaster even more than quartz crystals. The larger pebbles can sometimes cause the surface to be uncomfortable to walk on. Adding quartz, glass, or pebbles to the plaster is often expensive.
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