Considering switching from Gunite to Vinyl

Gottabewet

Silver Supporter
Jun 18, 2018
32
Hudson Vally NY
We just sold our home which has a beautiful 20 x 50 gunite salt water pool with lots of features. It has proven to be very challenging keeping the pool clean and healthy, even with automatic muriatic acid machine and salt cell keeping levels proper. Its has always been a hassle, tons of brushing, finicky calcium levels, phosphates, and other nuisances.

We are building a new home and putting in another large inground pool. I was wondering if there is anyone who ever picked a vinyl pool over a gunite pool, with money being no object. I would be willing to spend heavy on whatever pool I choose since it's so important me. Just because gunite is considered king of the hill and it's the only pool that supposedly raises the value of your home, doesn't mean I'm not heavily considering doing a vinyl pool. I hope there is someone else here who struggled similarly. I figure the vinyl pool will look almost as good since the bluestone patio will be responsible for good amount of the optics, and the cleaning and hassle would hopefully be far less. Dealing with the mottling and uneven plaster on the gunite pool is gut wrenching for picky people. The vinyl is perfect in this regard. Plus it seems exciting to just swap out the liner if needed and getting a new lease on life. If I were to replaster my gunite pool, I shriek thing about what a mess that would be, and then just hoping and praying that crew did a good job. Seems like a vast majority are disappointed with there plaster finishes for one reason or another. If I did decide to do another gunite pool, I would have to find a finish other that diamond brite, as I would definitely want a smoother finish to help keep algae at bay and feel nicer on the feet and knees.

I would love to hear some thoughts on this.
 

cowboycasey

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 3, 2013
4,779
Fletcher, OK
I am doing an all tile pool for those exact reasons... Great for water balance, no harsh sandpaper or rocks on the body and feet, lasts 30 to 70 years without having to redo and really raises the value of the home... best of all the pool surfaces and why most commercial pools are built using tile..

I have an above ground vinyl pool now and they are great but the vinyl pools have there own issues... the liner will fade, it will rip and get holes in it, it will get water behind it and move the liner around, it will need replaced every 5 to 7 years, the complete pool will need to be replaced in 25 to 35 years or so unless you get a complete polymer pool shell, you have to keep a minimum amount of water in the liner or it will move...
 

PoolGate

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 7, 2017
5,233
Damascus, MD
Pool Size
29000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Jandy Aquapure 1400
Some of the issues you mention are water balance issues, which is course is your responsibility. But mottling and such is depressing. Have you considered fiberglass?
 

CrystalRiver

Well-known member
Jun 19, 2020
382
Massachusetts
You mentioned a couple of things that had me raising my eyebrow. Phosphates and wanting a smoother surface for anti-algae. I have no clue what my phosphate level is, as it doesn't matter. Phosphate is algae food, but it doesn't matter how much food there is, if the water is properly chlorinated, no algae can survive. It's like putting a bunch of people food on the surface of the moon - it doesn't matter, as there's no oxygen so we can't survive no matter how much food is available. The environment is hostile. It's the same idea with chlorine making the environment hostile to algea, it doesn't matter how much phosphates are there. Have you been following the FC/CYA chart? What is your CYA?

I have a vinyl pool, and relatively soft water to boot. Without a heater or SWG, I don't have to think about calcium levels or CSI. It's nice knowing that no matter what, my CSI is very negative, and that's perfect for my pool. The vinyl doesn't hurt elbows, knees, or feet, but it can be a bit slippery because there's no traction.

The liner does fade, especially above the water line. Mine looks bleached, but only above the usual water line. It's from the sun. The only thing that will fix it is replacement, and the only way to prevent it is to keep all sun off the pool.
 

steve_NY

Active member
May 22, 2020
35
Long Island, NY
would an auto cover eliminate some of the issues, with whatever type of pool you choose?
We are in process of having a liner pool built. Liner just went in a few days ago, and it is being filled. We are having an auto cover built for the pool. Wondering if that would help with some of your issues.
 

Newdude

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 16, 2019
5,499
NY
I went with vinyl for feel alone and will be doing it again soon like you. Growing up we were just a bunch of small beach communities before the money moved in and made them resort beach communities full of rich people. Nobody needed a backyard oasis because the beach was everywhere so the pool was just for easy swimming without having to pack up, so they were all vinyl. The only time we were in gunite pools was if they were public. Still to this day if I’m in a gunite pool I have not so pleasant memories of swimming in the Howard Johnson’s pool somewhere on vacation.

Nowadays the gunite pools are taking over but I can’t shake that feeling no matter how pretty they are to look at. To top that off I am routinely at homes worth 1-5 million dollars that have vinyl pools so I don’t buy the ‘it has to be fancy’ argument for us in the northeast. Other parts of the country, yeah, if you’d be the only one with a vinyl, it might be different.

I also found it funny that you mentioned money ‘not being an object’. Money wasn’t specifically the reason that we went vinyl, but because we did, money for everything else was much less of an object because there was about $40k left over for anything non pool related that arose.

To everybody building all those gorgeous oasis’s, please keep doing so. I absolutely LOVE gawking at them. I just don’t want one for myself.
 

homegameroom

Bronze Supporter
Sep 23, 2015
293
Sunrise,FL
There is also some kind of epoxy-like coating you can coat a gunite pool with. That way you would maintain the design flexibility and minimize your maintenance AND have a smoother finish in it; it also minimizes ph change. Someone brighter than I am will probably chime in.....
 
  • Like
Reactions: borjis

Gottabewet

Silver Supporter
Jun 18, 2018
32
Hudson Vally NY
Thank you all for the feedback.

My current pool has an autocover and the next one will too. They are invaluable. So if I do get a vinyl pool it would hopefully not suffer too badly with sun fade since it will be covered a vast majority of the time.

The Howard Johnson reference actually makes sense and brought me down memory lane.

I would pick a fiberglass pool in a flash if it wasn't limited to 16' width. That is too narrow for me. In fact, I think 20' is too narrow. I'm thinking of going with a 25' x 50' on the next pool.

I agree with the phosphate theory described above. But round and round I went with pentair who said since my phosphate level was very high at 6000, they refused to help with my orp probes that were not working properly. A real merry go round from ****. Pentair was pretty much taking the only exit ramp available to them in order to not help me.

The more I read, the better vinyl sounds. I would get the thickest vinyl available.I would be quite disappointed if the liner were to move around and get wrinkles though. Hopefully I can find a quality company to do a world class install.
 

homegameroom

Bronze Supporter
Sep 23, 2015
293
Sunrise,FL
Ahhh - I found it! Stick with gunite for the design flexibility and read this Pool Surfaces - Trouble Free Pool I believe the reviews on this forum have been pretty favorable on these finishes...... quoted below:


Plaster Alternatives
Such as aquaBRIGHT by ecoFINISH or ResoCoat by Resodyn Pool & Spa Finishing Systems

These thermo-polymer finishes are an alternative to plaster, quartz or pebble finishes in a gunite or shotcrete pool. It is a thin, thermo-polymer finish that is applied pneumatically with heat. It is essentially melted to the pool substrate leaving a very thin, smooth layer of material that is non-porous, chemically inert and pH neutral. This eliminates most of the problems associated with water chemistry management in a plaster pool, most notably to pH, TA and CH like plaster finishes do. It is also UV resistant and colorfast.

The water chemistry should be managed the same way as a pool with a vinyl liner. If there is tile and grout present then some consideration should be given for maintaining CH levels to avoid deterioration of the grout due to etching.

Thermo-polymer finishes must be applied to a very smooth substrate, it cannot be applied to gunite or shotcrete directly. The best surface to apply these finishes to is a new plaster finish. In new construction the pool must first be plastered and then the final thermo-polymer finish is applied. When remodeling a pool it is necessary to ensure the structural integrity of the old plaster and apply new plaster patches as needed to obtain a smooth substrate for the new finish. These additional steps can add significantly to the cost of installing thermo-polymer finishes in a pool.

A thermo-polymer finish is generally more expensive than pebble finishes and is considered a very high end pool finish. It is also suitable for application to fiberglass pools, water features, water slides, beach entries and other surfaces exposed to air.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Liz315 and borjis

borjis

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 19, 2014
3,343
Pacific NW
I was in a similar situation, sold home w gunite, wanted to build a vinyl inground at whatever new house I found. For me it was purely budget. I weighed fiberglass vs vinyl and chose vinyl. The first house I was outbid, then I found a house with a vinyl in ground all needing to be redone and why nobody else put a bid in. Lucky me!

If it were me I'd go liner or if money is no object, consider a white aquabrite surface over gunite.