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Thread: Please help me choose a pool surface type...

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    Please help me choose a pool surface type...

    All,

    Just spent hours in "Pool School" and I'm really glad I found this website... We are going to hire a pool company to install an inground pool next spring. I want to start by deciding between the three common types (vinyl, fiberglass, or gunite). Some info below. Let me know what else you need.

    - We live in southeast Michigan.
    - Soil type is sand and rocks.
    - Size we want is around 16x34 in an oval or slight kidney to fit our yard nicely.
    - Budget is 40K, doing a bit of research, your basic apples to apples comparison in this area has vinyl around 30K, fiberglass around 35K, and gunite around 40K. This is for a basic, complete package.
    - There appears to be about 5 local pool builders. 1 does vinyl, 3 do fiberglass, and 1 does gunite.
    - Talking on the phone with some of them, they all bash each technology (and each other) and have tried to expose and focus on some of the flaws of each such as: Fiberglass will pop out of the ground, stain easier, and crack. Vinyl will tear easily and "your house is too nice for a vinyl pool", come on... Gunite is too rough and needs too many chemicals and will scrap your kid’s knees. Going through pool school I understand some of these claims are slightly true, but have been elaborated too much by the sales guys.
    - This is not the house we will live in for the rest of our lives. Maybe 10-15 years max.

    I really want unbiased opinions if possible. We will fork up the extra money if one of the other technologies is worth it. Try to be honest. Perhaps one of you chose one type and wish you went a different route.

    After we decide on the type, I will do some detailed research on filter, pump, heater, etc. One step at a time. I want to know what I want and be educated before we setup appointments.

    Here is a picture of our backyard with my horrible editing with our vision.



    Thanks in advance,
    Mike

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    Re: Please help me choose a pool surface type...

    I did some searching and found vinyl may be a bit more popular in this area than I thought. I did find a 2nd local installer. I also found this post, 2.5 yrs old. http://www.troublefreepool.com/fiber...l%20fiberglass Don't know if things have changed much.

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    Re: Please help me choose a pool surface type...

    I'm a gunite guy, so I can't really help with any input on the other options. However, I do feel that for longevity and the most flexibility in design and interior finishes (tile, plaster, PebbleTec, etc.) you can't beat gunite. It is obviously the most permanent, and can be refinished when needed/desired.

    Your home does look very nice, and a nice built in pool would (IMHO) compliment your home nicely. Again, speaking with no knowledge of your other considerations, it would seem to me that a gunite pool would show as a more "custom" product when you do go to sell, possibly helping the resale value.

    Hope that helps! Good luck!

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    Re: Please help me choose a pool surface type...

    I'm from NEPA. Vinyl liners consist of 80% of the pools if not more and I'd say about the same amount of fiberglass and gunite maybe slightly more for gunite. In this area most 90% of the gunite pools are the really old pools with weird plumbing etc (haven't seen any new gunite pools up until this year). I like vinyl since it's low cost and is the most cost effective to refinish. The only thing I don't really like about vinyl is that they can leak if they are abused; toenails can puncture vinyl if they hit it the right way. I do a bunch of leak finds every year and the last non-vinyl liner leak find I did was before 2006. Even with the highest risk of leaking I still prefer vinyl liner pools. Regardless of what kind of pool you get my only recommendation is to keep the design simple, everything is cheaper for standard size pools. Everything just seems to be harder and more expensive with fancy shaped pools, custom winter covers, not being able to use a solar reel effectively, more annoying to clean etc.
    -Kevin
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    22,000 gal / 16' x 32' / Vinyl / Hayward s244t /Pentair SuperFlo 1 hp

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    Re: Please help me choose a pool surface type...

    In the past i'd agree with Bruce. Gunite looked more custom, had more options in terms of shape, swimouts, tanning ledges, etc. Now with the advent of laser, computer aided metal cutting, thats not the case. You can really get some pretty fancy stuff using vinyl liner pools. Also, if you use cantilever coping using stone or brick, you can have a pool with a vinyl liner that looks awsome. The "custom" look bruce speaks of can be had with both liner and gunite, IMO. I know bruce said gunite was more permenant" but you can get much more perenant than an IG pool whether gunite or vinyl. To me the drawback to gunite is:

    1)cost to install
    2) when the finish needs to be redone, it can run several thousand dollars, maybe close to 10k
    3) Can be a little more dificult to maintain. The calcium levels have to be watched closely. Scaling can be an issue
    4) More staining, or at least it can show much worse.
    The hard on the feet is a past issue, IMO. The new Pebble tech finishes they have negate this as an issue.

    The drawbacks on vinyl are as x-pert said, they can leak a bit easier. But, I really dont think thats a minus since leaks in the actual liner not a big problem. Most pool leaks are around fittings, and above ground plumbing.
    They are MUCH cheaper to "refinish". A new liner, installed is around $3500 or so, +/-.

    Like X-pert said, gunite pools around the northeast tend to be older. you dont see many go in anymore. Gunite tends to be pretty standard in Califorina (where Bruce is) and florida, but there are a few around here in New England, but like i said, few and far between.
    We had a choice of gunite or vinyl and chose vinyl, but not because of the cost, really. We went with vinyl based on what i thought was a pool that looked great, and had lower maintenance. I wouldnt even consider fiberglass since i REALLY dont like them. But honestly, a vinyl pool wont be any less valuable than a gunite.

    FWIW, there are 75 houses in our addition, worth anywhere from 500k to over a million. There are 22 inground pools in the addition and not one gunite, all vinyl.

    Edit to add: I have 16x32 kidney. SWCG, heat pump, automation, cantalever coping, paver deck etc, and it was around 32k installed for the pool and equipment, not including deck and coping.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    Re: Please help me choose a pool surface type...

    Hi Mike!

    Welcome to this wonderful forum--a treasure for sure.

    Regardless of which type of pool you were to choose, you would want to be shown a few pools that each builder has done before deciding on which builder, right? So why not get a few vinyl "tours" and a few "gunite" tours. You will be deciding on the builder and the surface in one shot!

    I have an old concrete pool with stunningly gorgeous new PTec waterline tile and surface. I love it and wouldn't trade it for anything. However, I do remember a time long ago when my family had a basic vinyl liner pool. It was beautiful to us then, and the fun had with it was the same as what I enjoy now.

    A plaster surface demands diligence and will directly affect the water balance; I suspect vinyl is a bit simpler to take care of. For example, I believe I've heard on this forum that calcium hardness may be less of a worry. Vinyl couldn't cause pH rise as new plaster will...

    We all of us will be looking forward to following you on this adventure. Keep us posted!

    Lana
    23,600 gallon, refurbished 1960's inground concrete, Jandy sand filter w Jandy 2 hp variable speed pump, Pool Pilot Digital SWCG+Chemtrol 2100+CO2 tank; PebbleTec White Pearl with 10% Cobalt Blue Dark Beadcrete by Olympic Pool Plastering, Georgia. Taylor K-2006 Test Kit; Aqua Check Salt test; LaMotte borates test, and Jack's Magic Sequest test kit; SparklyPoolitis level: extremely high.

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    Re: Please help me choose a pool surface type...

    Suprised no one recommended fiberglass... I think gunite was going to be a $ stretch anyway and your comments comparing the two confirm that I would choose vinyl over gunite. Still on the fence about fiberglass vs. gunite though.

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    Re: Please help me choose a pool surface type...

    I called 2 fiberglass guys and 2 vinyl guys... setting up appointments over the next few weeks. Any other opinions/recomendations are welcome. I will likely make some other posts discussing the other decisions to be made.

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    Re: Please help me choose a pool surface type...

    Having never owned fiberglass, take it for what that's worth.... but if it were to come down to a choice between those two, I would recommend you stick with vinyl.
    Welcome to TFP
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    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
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    Re: Please help me choose a pool surface type...

    There are a few fiberglass pools in the northeast. They have some definite pros and cons.
    Pros -
    they are seamless and smooth so dirt just usually ends up on the bottom (no seams for dirt to collect in like vinyl)
    the finish lasts a long time if taken care of
    cons
    i've only seen them come in white, so i hope you like white
    they tend to be smaller than some other pools since they are once piece they have to be transported by flatbed
    you are locked into the styles that they sell, you can't really customize a shape
    I have seen some lifting out of the ground (a few inches) and small cracks and blistering look like a pain to try to fix and match without it looking like a patched area.
    -Kevin
    X-Pert Pool Service
    x-pertpool.com
    X-Pert Pool on Facebook and @XPertPoolServic on Twitter
    22,000 gal / 16' x 32' / Vinyl / Hayward s244t /Pentair SuperFlo 1 hp

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    Re: Please help me choose a pool surface type...

    I will have to see some custom vinyl pools in person but the ones I remember seemed cheap to me with wrinkles in corners/edges, very fake looking borders, and ugly transitions to the decking... looks like I will just have to see ehat these local guys offer.

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    Re: Please help me choose a pool surface type...

    Well, here my vinyl pool. Not cheap looking by a long shot.







    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    Re: Please help me choose a pool surface type...

    Very nice... I will take a look at some in person and go from there.

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    Re: Please help me choose a pool surface type...

    The pool looks nice, but I think the HD bucket, the hose across the deck filling the pool and the crumpled up cover makes it look really bad. I'm sure glad you're not my neighbor!

    Just messing with you, bk! Good looking pool and yard

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    Re: Please help me choose a pool surface type...

    Quote Originally Posted by simicrintz
    The pool looks nice, but I think the HD bucket, the hose across the deck filling the pool and the crumpled up cover makes it look really bad. I'm sure glad you're not my neighbor!

    Just messing with you, bk! Good looking pool and yard
    HA!! I'll have you know that the top picture was taken about 20 minutes after I opened up on April 11th. See, you can have a mesh cover AND have clear water when you open.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    Re: Please help me choose a pool surface type...

    Any close ups of the cantilevered edge and how the vinyl tucks under I assume?


    Quote Originally Posted by bk406
    Quote Originally Posted by simicrintz
    The pool looks nice, but I think the HD bucket, the hose across the deck filling the pool and the crumpled up cover makes it look really bad. I'm sure glad you're not my neighbor!

    Just messing with you, bk! Good looking pool and yard
    HA!! I'll have you know that the top picture was taken about 20 minutes after I opened up on April 11th. See, you can have a mesh cover AND have clear water when you open.

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    Re: Please help me choose a pool surface type...

    These folks did a vinyl pool for a friend of mine a ways back on Long Island, NY...although he ended up spending around $70K on his, this gallery should give you an idea of how nice a IG Vinyl pool can look. He's a grood friend, but too high maint for me...he has since moved a few miles away and is putting in a $175k gunite pool, with putting green Hopefully the gallery can give you some ideas and coping options, water features...etc

    http://www.sundesignpools.com/gallery.cfm?p=1

    Anyway...I used to drool over his old pool...really nice looking with a dark blue vinyl liner too.

    BTW BK...love the pool...even better is your water after being open for only 20 mins
    24'x52" AGP (13,500 Gallons), Intex SWG, (2)Solar Bear 4x20 panels, Hayward S220T Filter, 1/2hp Pentair Superflo

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    Re: Please help me choose a pool surface type...

    Below is a link to my bud's current PB...as you can see even though he is going the gunite route this time, the possibilities are endless with vinyl as well, it's just a matter of what you can fit in the $40K budget...also please take into account the cost of fencing and any other costs not included in your PB's quote...hope this helps

    http://www.jackanthony.com/pools/pools.asp?type=4
    24'x52" AGP (13,500 Gallons), Intex SWG, (2)Solar Bear 4x20 panels, Hayward S220T Filter, 1/2hp Pentair Superflo

    Pool School, TFTestKits, Pool Calculator

  19. Back To Top    #19

    Re: Please help me choose a pool surface type...

    Quote Originally Posted by X-PertPool
    cons
    i've only seen them come in white, so i hope you like white
    they tend to be smaller than some other pools since they are once piece they have to be transported by flatbed
    you are locked into the styles that they sell, you can't really customize a shape
    I have seen some lifting out of the ground (a few inches) and small cracks and blistering look like a pain to try to fix and match without it looking like a patched area.
    We only sell Vinyl here, but:
    - Tend to be smaller: You have dimensions in mind. They can't make it, too bad for them.
    - Locked into styles that they sell: Kidney and Oval are pretty standard, and make looking for a cover that much easier.
    - Lifting out and small cracks: Go see some of the installer's work. Pools that have a few years.

    Now what I would recommend: Draw a plan of your house, as seen from above, to scale. Pool included. Tell each one of them you absolutely don't want a pool from their competitor but that you want to be absolutely sure about your project before going forward. That you need to see how it'll look in a few years. Tell them the concerns you might or might not have: test them if you feel the need. If you're comfortable, jump in.

    If they still bash the competition and don't come up with real arguments, flee the premises immediately (''You know what, nevermind, you convinced me to go see them directly.''). [EDIT] And P-LEASE interrupt the guy in his speech. It might sound rude but you don't want to waste the next half-an-hour speaking of something he cannot sell you. In the long run, he might even benefit (learn) from it. If he doesn't, well, that's a shame.[/END EDIT]

    This is the kind of situation a good salesman (not those you describe) would actually help. Asking a few questions, analyzing your needs (both factual and emotionnal) and offering you the good product for the good reasons:

    Why did you decide to get a pool installed?
    - Added value, keeping the kids home, exercises... This can really influence the pool shape you'll need. If you want to do lenghts to help your cardio, a 'round pool won't be of much help. If kids are older, a rectangular or oval pool might allow a net for aquatic sports...

    Did you already owned a pool before, or taken care of one? (And if so, how did you took care of it?)
    - This will help a lot the salesperson to focus on your need. By telling your likes and dislikes, and how much you know (and are willing to do) about taking care of a pool might serves you. For exemple, I wouldn't survive without a main drain for one.

    What do you expect from your new pool?
    - From what I see you want your pool in the front yard. That means might not want anyone to see the state of your pool. So you might need an hard, automated cover or something if you tend to have a lot of guests: Miscalculate your chlorine demand and that water will be murky white for a day or two.
    - Want it for sports or personnal training? If you're gonna get the pool painted, might as well get some marks painted, either goal zone or to certain lenghts depending on the needs. Even if the pool's vinyl, discuss with your salesperson, they make the liners one by one, MAYBE they could get a pattern for you (I doubt it, but when you'll ask, the worst you'll get is a puzzled look and a no.)
    - A nice relaxing zone? Maybe a smaller pool with a nice clear area for just the right furniture will suit you better. And with the money saved, an heat pump/SWCG could work wonders. Some surfaces might work better than others with the style you want to give to your pool. Salesperson have to adapt to your needs. ****, it's a 30 grands investment you do, salesperson might be doing 450$ or more out of this, make him work for it!
    - Not to mention 10-15 years before selling. If I was a Vinyl Pool salesman (which I am not, sadly), I'd use the opportunity to sell the idea of replacing the liner a year or less before putting the house for sale. Even with the liner replacement, total cost should be lower than the two others and your pool will look brand new, adding to the pool value. That's my point of view anyways.

    Being cheaper and more standard have perks as noted before. Replacement should be cheaper too, more people doing vinyl so you can bargain when (and if) a new liner is needed. Spare money can be spend on things that will increase your comfort (and if the one selling the pool sell those, like we do, you might get a discount or something): Heat Pump, Robotic cleaners, SWCG, hard covers, automated systems, a fence, safety cover, liquid chlorine dispenser, an awning, a patio furniture set... you name it!

    Hope it helped.
    And sorry for the text wall.
    Pool: None, and All.
    ''What's really interesting is finding some way to explain some technical concepts with simple terms so that everyone might understand, to vulgarize.'' CaOCL2

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    Re: Please help me choose a pool surface type...

    Thank you very much for the links... I can now see with pavers, a cantilevered edge is very nice looking with a vinyl pool as well. Still not thrilled with the goofy "fake" tile patterns that come with some liners. Perhaps we just shell out for real tile. Thanks again. We went and looked at some of the fiberglass pools tonight with the fiberglass guy I am most comfortable with. Very, very nice. The wife was impressed. A vinyl guy is coming over on saturday to work up a quote.

    Quote Originally Posted by dmanb2b
    Below is a link to my bud's current PB...as you can see even though he is going the gunite route this time, the possibilities are endless with vinyl as well, it's just a matter of what you can fit in the $40K budget...also please take into account the cost of fencing and any other costs not included in your PB's quote...hope this helps

    http://www.jackanthony.com/pools/pools.asp?type=4

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