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Thread: Gunite vs Fiberglass

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    Gunite vs Fiberglass

    Looking for a respectful debate of the two. Based on everything that I have read I am leaning heavily towards fiberglass. That is assuming that I can find a shape that meets my needs (starting to become more challenging than I had anticipated). I would just hate to have to redo either, for any reason. If this already exists, which I am assuming it does, please point me in the right direction.

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Gunite vs Fiberglass

    I know there are threads discussing this. Did you try to search?

    Fiberglass:
    - limited size and shape
    - once at end of life (~20-30 years???), have to start completely over
    - slightly easier chemistry
    - mid level cost

    Gunite:
    - unlimited size and shape
    - plaster / pebble surface should last 10-30 years and then just need to be re-coated. The pool shell should last forever.
    - highest cost for install

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    Re: Gunite vs Fiberglass

    Long term, done well, gunnite will outlast any pool type out there. A minimal amount more of care for the finish is required but to me, it is negligible. A vinyl liner will have to be replaced, so will plaster. Once a FG pool's finsh is gone, or it cracks, time for a whole new pool in many cases. If you go FG, quality install is critical. Go see some of their pools that vary in age. True with any type really, more so with FG ,IMO. Care for vinyl is easiest in terms of chemistry flexibility, but FG is extremely close in that regard. Gunnite has infinitely more possibilities when it comes to shape and configuration. Its virtually limited only by your imagination and budget. FG and vinyl, not so much. It's a debate that will rage on forever. Right or wrong Gunnite is and always will be considered top of the line in type. My personal preference in order would be Gunnite, Vinyl, FG.

    All that said, I love all pools and I'm not trashing any of them. AG, IG, any of them. I've had a cheap AG, and it served us well with lots of fun times. That FG pic in your other thread is a GREAT looking pool I would be proud of. Lots to consider, but don't rush it. Get something that fits your budget and lifestyle, but above all something that makes YOU happy. My opinion means nothing in that regard. Whatever you choose, I hope you stick around and share it with us.
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    Re: Gunite vs Fiberglass

    I was ALL bent on fiberglass, until I could not find a shape that worked with my particular requirements. I decided to go for cost savings and went with Vinyl. I personally could not justify the cost of the gunite, as I was fairly locked into a shape. I couldn't be happier with my choice.
    Steve ~16K IG Vinyl Pool, Hayward TriStar 1.5 hp, Hayward S244TE filter, Polaris 280 w/booster pump, Prologic PL-P-4, Hayward AquaConnect, 3 PAL LED lights, 3 Deck Jets, AquaComfort ACT 1100 heater and TF-100 Test Kit with SpeedStir.

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    Re: Gunite vs Fiberglass

    Thank you all for the thoughts. Since we have 3 boys (11, 8, 5) what I am struggling with in regards to FG is that I imagine us playing A LOT of basketball and volleyball in the pool. With that said I also want the "deep" end deep enough that the boys can do flips and stuff into it therefore I see the perfect pool as one with a large level shallow area for Basketball and a gentle sloping deep end. I struggle with finding that in a fiberglass pool. When looking at a picture I cant tell if a slope is too steep or not. I believe that you can add a texture to the flooring of a FG pool that will make it less slippery but I am one of those guys that can't vision it very well without actually seeing and experiencing it. This shape is very similar to the one in my other post but I like the size and slope of this one better...I think. What I don't like is that I want the basketball goal to be in the shallow end and this one, as with most FG pools, has the wrap around ledge in the shallow end. I like that idea just wish it stopped short so there is not a ledge right under the rim as I am worried that is a safety issue.

    Love the size (40x16) of this one but concerned the slope is too steep. I can't get a pic to load so the link is below.


    Love the slope of this one as I think that it is gentle enough to have a very large play area but the size 34 x 14' 3" really bothers me. I'm guessing the majority of the pools width will be closer to 12' or maybe 12' 6"


    This is the pool specs that i posted in the other post. Size is good 35 or 40 x 15' 2" but again concerned about the slope.


    Anyone have any thoughts regarding the slopes on these pools?

    I cant figure out how to remove the images below.
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    Gunite vs Fiberglass

    The best pools I have seen on here with play areas AND deeps ends are L-shaped vinyl pools. They can get get quite large but are perfect for the two items you want to do. You could do it with gunite but I just haven't seen that design with gunite. I suppose because it is large and would get pricey quick.
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    Re: Gunite vs Fiberglass

    This is how I think they compare. Please share if you agree and if you disagree please share why. I would loved to be convinced that I am wrong because I want to make the most sound decision possible. Additionally, if there are important factors that I am not considering please let me know.

    Shape and Size: Gunite, hands down (This is a big one too)
    Resale Value: Gunite maybe
    Durability: Toss up?
    Low Maintenance: Fiberglass
    Chemical Usage: Fiberglass
    Comfort & Feel of finish: Fiberglass
    Low Lifetime cost of ownership: Fiberglass
    Energy Efficient: Fiberglass
    Compatibility with Salt Water: Fiberglass
    Initial Cost: Fiberglass
    My Pool Build Thread: 21 x 40 Freeform Gunite Pool, 12" Tanning Ledge, 3.5 shallow graduating to 4.5, 8.5 deep end, 4' Waterfall which doubles as a diving ledge with 6' x 4' Grotto underneath, 670 sq. ft., 106 Linear ft., Rock Salted Concrete Deck, Pentair 520 Filter, Intelli flow 3 HP VS pump, (4) Color LED lights, Intelli-Chlor SWG, Hot Springs Vanguard Hot Tub with ACE and BT Sound System, ODK, TF100

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    Re: Gunite vs Fiberglass

    There is not a great way to have a sport pool and a diving pool unless you go with either an L or a Lazy L shape. Have you considered one of those shapes?

    Adolescent boys are going to want to dive and flip, and you need to be safe and have proper depth and slope, so you have 24.5' there.

    As far as playing sports in the pool, people will make do with whatever dimensions to play whatever they want.

    You have obviously spend a great deal of time on comparing FG v Gunnite. Have you done the same thing for how the pool will be used. There are so many decisions about a pool, and it is easy to get focused on one area, and overlook other things. If you do a pool use comparison, you can weight what is most important (for example playing basketball, playing volleyball, diving board, deep enough to do flips, attached hot tub/spillover, sun shelf, etc.

    You have a huge yard, if it were me, and I was on your budget, I would go with a vinyl L or lazy l, and put in a diving board for the kids, sun shelves, and all the goodies. Modern vinyl pools can look very high end when they are done and save a ton of money.
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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Gunite vs Fiberglass

    Quote Originally Posted by SoonerWing View Post
    This is how I think they compare. Please share if you agree and if you disagree please share why. I would loved to be convinced that I am wrong because I want to make the most sound decision possible. Additionally, if there are important factors that I am not considering please let me know.

    Shape and Size: Gunite, hands down (This is a big one too)
    Resale Value: Gunite maybe
    Durability: Toss up?
    Low Maintenance: Fiberglass
    Chemical Usage: Fiberglass
    Comfort & Feel of finish: Fiberglass
    Low Lifetime cost of ownership: Fiberglass
    Energy Efficient: Fiberglass
    Compatibility with Salt Water: Fiberglass
    Initial Cost: Fiberglass

    Shape and Size: Gunite, hands down (This is a big one too) agree
    Resale Value: Gunite maybe agree
    Durability: Toss up? don't know how to quantify that
    Low Maintenance: Fiberglass disagree, the same amount of stuff is going to blow into your pool no matter what kind
    Chemical Usage: Fiberglass disagree, my chemical usage is way low and I doubt it would change if my pool were FG
    Comfort & Feel of finish: Fiberglass don't know, it is probably smoother
    Low Lifetime cost of ownership: Fiberglass don't know, pebblesheen can last 25+ years
    Energy Efficient: Fiberglass disagree, energy efficiency is based on pump choice first, heater choice second
    Compatibility with Salt Water: Fiberglass disagree, lots of people with gunite pools have SW
    Initial Cost: Fiberglass maybe, if you compare apples to apples, but FG often requires many compromises
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Gunite vs Fiberglass

    I saw SoonerWing's post this morning and was going to comment on it also ... looks like pooldv pretty much covered what I was going to disagree with.
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    Re: Gunite vs Fiberglass

    Quote Originally Posted by Yev View Post
    There is not a great way to have a sport pool and a diving pool unless you go with either an L or a Lazy L shape. Have you considered one of those shapes?

    Adolescent boys are going to want to dive and flip, and you need to be safe and have proper depth and slope, so you have 24.5' there.

    As far as playing sports in the pool, people will make do with whatever dimensions to play whatever they want.

    You have obviously spend a great deal of time on comparing FG v Gunnite. Have you done the same thing for how the pool will be used. There are so many decisions about a pool, and it is easy to get focused on one area, and overlook other things. If you do a pool use comparison, you can weight what is most important (for example playing basketball, playing volleyball, diving board, deep enough to do flips, attached hot tub/spillover, sun shelf, etc.

    You have a huge yard, if it were me, and I was on your budget, I would go with a vinyl L or lazy l, and put in a diving board for the kids, sun shelves, and all the goodies. Modern vinyl pools can look very high end when they are done and save a ton of money.
    Can you explain the 24.5 to me. I am assuming that is an 8ft deep end and I am guessing that there are safety regulations governing the length at that depth and the angle of the slope for a diving pool which puts you at the 24.5 feet.

    How the pool will be used:
    1) Basketball: Friend has a standard 14x28 rectangular pool and they play tons of basketball. Mainly shooting type of stuff but with 3 boys I am imagining that there will be a ton of that going on. Heck I'm 37 and that is what I spent most of my time doing. Additionally, I am imagining all of the kids friends coming over for the next 15 years and I am guessing that it will get pretty crazy back there.
    2) Jumping and flipping etc would be second. Even I spent a lot of time trying to do flips like I did when I was in my teens, I think the earths gravitational pull has increased as I have aged The boys not so much yet but I think the older two are getting closer to trying some of that. I initially wanted a diving pool but had pretty much talked myself out of that if its an additional $10K to get to 8' or more plus board. I do want it deep enough for boys to be boys and for them and their friends to be safe. I was a teenage boy once and if you told me no diving in a 6' deep pool I would just wait until you weren't looking and shallow dive. That is a pretty big concern of mine as well.
    3) Wife wants a spa with spillover and would like a tanning ledge / sun shelf as well. She will get the spa but like the diving board I'm not sure about the tanning ledge.
    4) Just hanging out and relaxing.

    With 3 boys it needs to be able to accommodate play. We have figured out how to play in every pool that we have ever swam in so I'm not sure why this would be different I just really want to try to make it perfect for everyone. I have note really considered vinyl. How long will a vinyl pool last? Not the liner but the structure itself?

    Thanks so much for the thoughts and help.
    My Pool Build Thread: 21 x 40 Freeform Gunite Pool, 12" Tanning Ledge, 3.5 shallow graduating to 4.5, 8.5 deep end, 4' Waterfall which doubles as a diving ledge with 6' x 4' Grotto underneath, 670 sq. ft., 106 Linear ft., Rock Salted Concrete Deck, Pentair 520 Filter, Intelli flow 3 HP VS pump, (4) Color LED lights, Intelli-Chlor SWG, Hot Springs Vanguard Hot Tub with ACE and BT Sound System, ODK, TF100

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    Re: Gunite vs Fiberglass

    Diving pools require quite a bit of space. How much exactly changes depending on how you measure. By the time you have the minimum size deep end for diving and slope up from there to a reasonable depth for playing you have often used about 24', and then you need to add any play area to that. The exact length for diving will depend on what your "play" depth is, longer for a shallower play area as that requires more slope area.

    One rule of thumb is to have a reasonably balanced diving pool you need 40' total. Keep in mind that this assumes a conventional pool with a reasonably sized 3.5' shallow area. For a conventional volley ball pool you need even more length, but for an "all slope" pool you could get away with less length.
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    Re: Gunite vs Fiberglass

    Thanks JasonLion, that is another question I have, how steep of a slope is too steep to play on. Is a continuous drop of 3' over 40' (4' shallow end to 7' deep end) a playable slope?
    My Pool Build Thread: 21 x 40 Freeform Gunite Pool, 12" Tanning Ledge, 3.5 shallow graduating to 4.5, 8.5 deep end, 4' Waterfall which doubles as a diving ledge with 6' x 4' Grotto underneath, 670 sq. ft., 106 Linear ft., Rock Salted Concrete Deck, Pentair 520 Filter, Intelli flow 3 HP VS pump, (4) Color LED lights, Intelli-Chlor SWG, Hot Springs Vanguard Hot Tub with ACE and BT Sound System, ODK, TF100

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    Re: Gunite vs Fiberglass

    Here is a link to a typical diving end Diving Deep End

    It shows 24', but I thought it was 24.5'. Anyway, the whole concept is that the sides and the deepest wall have steep slopes, so that if people dive into the pull and angle downward, if they hit their head, it would be more likely the force would deflect them off of the side rather than jamming their neck and possibly breaking their neck. Conversely, the slope to the shallow end must be gradual, so that if you dive flat, the same safety type thing happens. If the slope were really steep, it would be like diving into a vertical wall and bad things would happen.

    A thought on a narrow FG pool is that if a kid dives flat into the pool, it is very easy to run into the wall if it is only 12' wide.

    OSHA or someone like that developed the safe shape.

    For some people, they say their diving board increased their home owners insurance rates. I checked with State Farm and for me they said it would not change my rates rates.

    I considered a sport type pool, where both ends are shallow and it is a bit deeper in the middle, people will list it as 4-5-4, but I didn't feel that it met my needs as I like the deep. Plus I was worried that some kid would dive in no matter what was posted. And For me, pools my whole life have a deep end and a shallow end. So I would dive into any pool regardless of depth into the deep end. I never would have thought the deep end would be actually in the middle.

    But moving into more of your questions/concerns. Vinyl liners typically will last 8-10 years if you buy the thicker 27mil one. If the pool is full sun all day, could be closer to 7. The walls will last indefinitely as far as I am aware. The steel walls could rust a bit and have to be cleaned up, but there are polymer walls that will never rust. Someone else might give you a better answer on this than me as I am currently a new owner of my first pool (though a lifelong swimmer).

    One thing about vinyl is I ended up using a higher end vinyl PB guy. There are some local shops here in Cincinnati that don't focus on extras, they focus on selling a large number of pools. While they might build you a good product, they might not educate you on all that can be done with a pool. My PB really allowed me to do whatever I wanted. Of course, my budget didn't allow me to do everything I wanted, but I could have.

    The traditional vinyl lined pool has a fiberglass insert for steps. Very rugged, very functional, but not elegant. Newer vinyl steps have liner over the steps and they look far more elegant. One thing that my builder did for me, that only cost maybe an extra $900 was to extend my top step to make a tanning ledge. So I have a staircase into my pool that is 9' long, but the top step is 6' feet wide, so it makes a nice tanning ledge. You can see a picture here. This pool is a 20x40 oval, so I have a 15.5 x 20 shallow area after my 24.5 long deep end. Maybe not exactly big enough for a true volleyball game, but pretty big. If you went with a L shape shown here you could end up with a diving deep end as well as a shallow end that is 16x30, which is a huge "sport" area. (I am not advocating for that particular company just that they have a picture that shows my point).

    Vinyl is not for everyone, but it is cost friendly, and can be fancied up, though it will never look as elegant as a gunnite pool.
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    Re: Gunite vs Fiberglass

    Thanks so much Yev, I like what you did with that top step there. I also agree about the deep end and the play pool. I seriously doubt we play volleyball all that often unless we have people over and that would probably only be a couple times a year. Basketball on the other hand is much easier to play and what I envision us doing the vast majority of the time. I'm just trying not to fall into the trap of trying to make a pool do many things and it turn out that it doesn't do any of them very well.

    Problem with all of the FB pools I have found that would meet my need have something just not right. Whether it's a bench that wraps around the entire shallow end posing a potential problem for basketball or the width being an issue, I just can't seem to find the perfect FG pool.

    Any idea what a Gunite build of your pool would have run you?
    My Pool Build Thread: 21 x 40 Freeform Gunite Pool, 12" Tanning Ledge, 3.5 shallow graduating to 4.5, 8.5 deep end, 4' Waterfall which doubles as a diving ledge with 6' x 4' Grotto underneath, 670 sq. ft., 106 Linear ft., Rock Salted Concrete Deck, Pentair 520 Filter, Intelli flow 3 HP VS pump, (4) Color LED lights, Intelli-Chlor SWG, Hot Springs Vanguard Hot Tub with ACE and BT Sound System, ODK, TF100

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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Gunite vs Fiberglass

    We don't play official volleyball anymore and we have completely given up on the net idea. But, we do like to have a team on each side of the pool playing some form of launching volleys at each other!
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