gporter21

New member
Sep 19, 2022
4
Georgetown Tx
Hello,
I stumbled across this forum and have read many different posts. I am still doing some research but will give some details of where I am currently.
Planning installation and am about to sign a contract with a pool builder. We had many different quotes from different types of pool builders, from fiberglass, what we were originally going to go with, to gunite. We have decided to go with gunite due to the prices ending up being right about the same; however, the gunite pool option ended up giving a better bang for the buck.
Some of the reasons we decided to go with gunite:
1. pool ended up being bigger (35.5x18/3.5ft-6.5ft depth freeform)(92
2. we could get micro/mini pebble or quartz finish
3. Ludar coping over concrete
4. equipment was an upgrade (IMO), Pentair over Hayward, sand (with glass media) over cartridge filter,
5. the ability to design the pool size and shape over being held to what was being offered, this was the smallest weighted decision only because there are many different options with fiberglass.
6. Added brass sleeves for an umbrella on the tanning ledge, table/umbrella combo in the seating area small u-shaped area, and 3 additional sleeves for removable bar stools.

A few things I have questions about and am doing some more research on. Anyone with insight or guidance on pros/cons welcome your input and help make a more informed decision.
1. The only thing I am not clear on is the maintenance. Heard fiberglass was the easiest to maintain. I have also heard that if we use an aggregate like quarts or pebble a gunite pool may not be as easy as fiberglass but not far off.
2. We are leaning on the option of using the quarts finish. WHY? smoother than a micro/mini pebble, but we like the idea of having some texture to the surface as opposed to fiberglass super smooth. QUESTION: has anyone used the quarts finishes and can you give me your pros/cons and any insight you can share good or bad about the finish you chose? Also, we are looking at a medium blue color (Finest Finishes Blue Start color Lakeside)
3. We decided to go away from the salt reactor due to some feedback we received on the maintenance of the equipment and any living landscaping around the pool area. Does anyone have any thoughts about this? What our thoughts were to do in place of this and still get the soft water, recommended by two different pool stores and one pool maintenance company, was to use borates along with copper and an auto chlorinator (puck auto dispense). Does anyone have any experience with this, recommendation, or feedback?
4. We were looking at the Pentair Intelliflow3, for its ability to be controlled by phone. We were told there are two relays on that motor so we can control the motor and lighting from our phones. The Key is the 3THP giving plenty of horsepower for the pool and possible future water features. Does anyone recommend a different pump?
5. Last question, the tanning ledge. We have a tanning ledge planned, but with the size of the pool loungers, our shelf has a curved area with a width of 7ft, is this enough space to put the loungers and make them functional? should it be any larger?

If there was anything I left out let me know.

Thank you to anyone that can help contribute or chime in.
 
Last edited:

HermanTX

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
May 20, 2020
4,357
Katy TX
Pool Size
14600
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Jandy Aquapure 1400
Welcome to TFP. There are lots of members from the Austin area so plenty of local knowledge.

The TFP methodology focuses on self testing and following the FC/CYA Chart
It advocates the use of saltwater pool (using a saltwater chlorine generator (SWCG) or liquid chlorine As the primary methods to chlorinate and sanitize your pool. The salt level for a SWCG is 10x LESS then that of the ocean. There should be no issue with surrounding landscape unless you specifically dump pool water on the plants. Occasional splashes won’t be material impact.

The use of chlorine pucks as your primary chlorination method will drive your chemistry issues over time such as increasing the CYA to unacceptable levels. Also the use of copper products is not recommended as it provides false hope to prevent algae plus can cause staining over time.

Ultimately it is your choice but just wanted to outline what TFP focuses on is easy of pool maintenance and use of low cost chemicals to keep a crystal clear pool.

The Pentair equipment is good. The IntelliFlo 3 pump is their newest pump and not many members have experience with it. It appears quite good so keep with that. A cartridge filter will be easier maintenance then sand or DE but again, your choice as to what you wish to use.

A picture of your pool plan would be helpful. Some common suggestions are as follows:
Have 2 skimmers
Have each skimmer be run independently back to the equipment pad for better control.
If you have a main drain, have that run independently plumbed as well.
Ensure they use hard pipe PVC - not flexible. Have minimum 2 inch suction to your pump.

I personally like a smooth finish but some like the rougher pebble feel. Suggest you visit a pool already completed by the PB to get a feel and also verify how well the process went with that customer.

I am sure others will chime in.
 
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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
40,105
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
1. The only thing I am not clear on is the maintenance. Heard fiberglass was the easiest to maintain. I have also heard that if we use an aggregate like quarts or pebble a gunite pool may not be as easy as fiberglass but not far off.

Most people will have selection bias and rationalize why their choice was the best.

Each surface has its pros and cons. No surface is no maintenance. Plaster based pools surfaces are low maintenance if you maintain the proper water chemistry. Fiberglass is more tolerant of neglect and sloppy water chemistry.

2. We are leaning on the option of using the quarts finish. WHY? smoother than a micro/mini pebble, but we like the idea of having some texture to the surface as opposed to fiberglass super smooth. QUESTION: has anyone used the quarts finishes and can you give me your pros/cons and any insight you can share good or bad about the finish you chose? Also, we are looking at a medium blue color (Finest Finishes Blue Start color Lakeside)
I have Hydrazoo polished marble finish. It is a hard smooth surface. The original hydrazoo lasted 17 years and I put a second layer of it on.


3. We decided to go away from the salt reactor due to some feedback we received on the maintenance of the equipment and any living landscaping around the pool area. Does anyone have any thoughts about this? What our thoughts were to do in place of this and still get the soft water, recommended by two different pool stores and one pool maintenance company, was to use borates along with copper and an auto chlorinator (puck auto dispense). Does anyone have any experience with this, recommendation, or feedback?

Get the SWG. The salt has no impact on the equipment. Every pool equipment manufacturer sells SWGs. Do you think they would sell a system that damages their equipment?

And the salt in the pool water has no impact on landscaping around the pool area.

Copper is not a sanitizer. Copper in pool water turns blonde hair green and can stain pool surfaces.


An auto chlorinator will continuously add CYA to the pool and require you to drain the pool every year or less to keep your CYA levels manageable.

We get many folks every year who did not put in a SWG when they built their pool and then come here after a year or two and go on to install the SWG.

4. We were looking at the Pentair Intelliflow3, for its ability to be controlled by phone. We were told there are two relays on that motor so we can control the motor and lighting from our phones. The Key is the 3THP giving plenty of horsepower for the pool and possible future water features. Does anyone recommend a different pump?

So how do you intend to control those future water features?

The IntelliFlo3 is a fine pump but its automation with the phone app is rudimentary.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
40,105
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Here is someone who commented about fiberglass versus gunite. You may want to inquire with @TX2OBX as to why he said his next pool will be gunite again...


And here is his build thread...

 

gingrbredman

Gold Supporter
Jun 10, 2020
715
Chicagoland
Pool Size
11200
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Just a couple thoughts...

We decided to go away from the salt reactor due to some feedback we received on the maintenance of the equipment and any living landscaping around the pool area. Does anyone have any thoughts about this?
For some reason, there is an almost certainty, that a Texas builder will try and sway people away from a saltwater chlorine generator (SWCG). Even though all major pool equipment brands make them, and sell them right alongside their heaters, pumps, etc., but for some reason, a lot of uninformed pool builders will tell you they know better, and they will talk you out of it. It is almost dishonest, if they really didn't believe it, but their recommendation is surely not an honest one, and surely not in the best interest of the new pool owners. Sine you are here for some great advice, and you will find it, take a look at the many trouble-free pool owners who use SWCGs, love them, and wouldn't have a pool without them. When you heard about this feedback you mention, it was almost certainly not from any of the members here who know their stuff and use them.

recommended by two different pool stores and one pool maintenance company, was to use borates along with copper and an auto chlorinator (puck auto dispense)
The other thing about this forum, is the members here know their stuff, and primarily are experts on the perfect water chemistry. Borates can make the water feel smoother (to some) and copper could be an algicide. But neither sanitize the water, you will still need chlorine for that. You could get it the easy way with the SWCG, or you could lug the jugs, but you won't find the right sanitization in copper or borates.

@HermanTX already has you covered on the copper and the puck front, but also remember, a pool maintenance company will want to recommend to you what is best for them, and not for you. A SWCG means they do not charge you for chlorine or pucks. Adding copper means they have to drain and refill the pool from time to time to get rid of it. Or get rid of the excessive CYA or calcium from the pucks. If you do anything in your new pool, do not follow that line at all. That is a troubled pool to maintain and will not be easy or pleasant.

We were looking at the Pentair Intelliflow3, for its ability to be controlled by phone.
Do you mean the Intellicenter automation? The pump, SWCG, and a heater could all be controlled from a Pentair app on your phone.

Heard fiberglass was the easiest to maintain. I have also heard that if we use an aggregate like quarts or pebble a gunite pool may not be as easy as fiberglass but not far off.
I am not sure if fiberglass is easier to maintain, but it surely is easy. But I follow the TFP methods, so any pool would be easy with these protocols. My fiberglass pool is textured, so it is easy on the feet, just throwing it out there, but if I had a real choice in your area, I'd probably go with the gunnite as well. Fiberglass or vinyl is much more common here than gunnite, for the normal everyday pool, where as your area, would expect a plaster pool more common.

One more thought is on lights. If you are going Pentair, I would suggest you go with the Microbrites. These can be tied into the Intellicenter automation, are Pentair's newest light, and can be easily swapped out if necessary, in the future with these, or aftermarket ones. Stay away from Globrites, these have a proprietary niche and are know to not last as long. When they do fail, you can only replace it in kind, and as they are an older light, one day could be difficult.

Best of luck on this adventure!
 
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gporter21

New member
Sep 19, 2022
4
Georgetown Tx
Good info on copper use in pools.
HermanTX, thank you for the detailed response.
Now that you say that about the pucks it reminds me of the same issue I had with above ground pool a few years ago. Leslie’s recommended doing the copper/borates mix, sounds like that’s out for sure.

Regarding the SWG, inapplicable with the maint ace department’s of the pool builder and he didn’t specifically say to not do the SWG but did say that he has seen a lot of maintenance issue with pools that have the SWG and the cost of the, forget the name, replacement coil was quiet expensive.

Filter: was leaning towards the sand with glass media only for the research done that it can filter almost down to the same micron as DE, and the builder provides it as a standard. I have had cartridges before, in an above ground system, just seemed like I was replacing the cartridges every year.

I don’t have a copy of the plans yet but will post once I do. I know there is two drains, and 4 returns. I will have to verify how it’s planned to be plumbed, great intel on hard plumbing and separated.

I did go to one of their customers, to see a pool they built about a year ago. I switched to this company as I was having problems with another builder. They had great feedback and after looking at his pool com pairing to the other pool being build by the company I was going to go with I am happy I switched. They had The standard plaster finish so I will ask the builder if they can recommend any customer we could see touch and feel the quartz finish.
Thanks again
 

gporter21

New member
Sep 19, 2022
4
Georgetown Tx
Most people will have selection bias and rationalize why their choice was the best.

Each surface has its pros and cons. No surface is no maintenance. Plaster based pools surfaces are low maintenance if you maintain the proper water chemistry. Fiberglass is more tolerant of neglect and sloppy water chemistry.


I have Hydrazoo polished marble finish. It is a hard smooth surface. The original hydrazoo lasted 17 years and I put a second layer of it on.




Get the SWG. The salt has no impact on the equipment. Every pool equipment manufacturer sells SWGs. Do you think they would sell a system that damages their equipment?

And the salt in the pool water has no impact on landscaping around the pool area.

Copper is not a sanitizer. Copper in pool water turns blonde hair green and can stain pool surfaces.


An auto chlorinator will continuously add CYA to the pool and require you to drain the pool every year or less to keep your CYA levels manageable.

We get many folks every year who did not put in a SWG when they built their pool and then come here after a year or two and go on to install the SWG.



So how do you intend to control those future water features?

The IntelliFlo3 is a fine pump but its automation with the phone app is rudimentary.
AJw22, thank you for your feedback.
Based of earlier response sounds like copper is not the answer.
Water feature: The builder is going to put a sunlit for future water feature. We just can’t do the water feature we want now so we wanted to pre plan for the future. With all that said I hadn’t looked that far into the extra automation pieces.
I figured I would install a raspberry pie and wire in a powered valve and control it that way. Honestly I haven't gotten that far.

Thanks again
 

gporter21

New member
Sep 19, 2022
4
Georgetown Tx
Just a couple thoughts...


For some reason, there is an almost certainty, that a Texas builder will try and sway people away from a saltwater chlorine generator (SWCG). Even though all major pool equipment brands make them, and sell them right alongside their heaters, pumps, etc., but for some reason, a lot of uninformed pool builders will tell you they know better, and they will talk you out of it. It is almost dishonest, if they really didn't believe it, but their recommendation is surely not an honest one, and surely not in the best interest of the new pool owners. Sine you are here for some great advice, and you will find it, take a look at the many trouble-free pool owners who use SWCGs, love them, and wouldn't have a pool without them. When you heard about this feedback you mention, it was almost certainly not from any of the members here who know their stuff and use them.


The other thing about this forum, is the members here know their stuff, and primarily are experts on the perfect water chemistry. Borates can make the water feel smoother (to some) and copper could be an algicide. But neither sanitize the water, you will still need chlorine for that. You could get it the easy way with the SWCG, or you could lug the jugs, but you won't find the right sanitization in copper or borates.

@HermanTX already has you covered on the copper and the puck front, but also remember, a pool maintenance company will want to recommend to you what is best for them, and not for you. A SWCG means they do not charge you for chlorine or pucks. Adding copper means they have to drain and refill the pool from time to time to get rid of it. Or get rid of the excessive CYA or calcium from the pucks. If you do anything in your new pool, do not follow that line at all. That is a troubled pool to maintain and will not be easy or pleasant.


Do you mean the Intellicenter automation? The pump, SWCG, and a heater could all be controlled from a Pentair app on your phone.


I am not sure if fiberglass is easier to maintain, but it surely is easy. But I follow the TFP methods, so any pool would be easy with these protocols. My fiberglass pool is textured, so it is easy on the feet, just throwing it out there, but if I had a real choice in your area, I'd probably go with the gunnite as well. Fiberglass or vinyl is much more common here than gunnite, for the normal everyday pool, where as your area, would expect a plaster pool more common.

One more thought is on lights. If you are going Pentair, I would suggest you go with the Microbrites. These can be tied into the Intellicenter automation, are Pentair's newest light, and can be easily swapped out if necessary, in the future with these, or aftermarket ones. Stay away from Globrites, these have a proprietary niche and are know to not last as long. When they do fail, you can only replace it in kind, and as they are an older light, one day could be difficult.

Best of luck on this adventure!
Gingrbredman, thank for the feedback.
Looks like most are stating going away from the SWG is a bad idea. So looks like I should be adding that back in.

Automation: not the intellcenter, it’s a very basic control for the intelliflow pump. Not an actual control center.

Great intel about the lights. I will find out what type of lights they planned on installing.
 

HermanTX

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
May 20, 2020
4,357
Katy TX
Pool Size
14600
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Jandy Aquapure 1400
Now that you say that about the pucks it reminds me of the same issue I had with above ground pool a few years ago. Leslie’s recommended doing the copper/borates mix, sounds like that’s out for sure.

Regarding the SWG, inapplicable with the maint ace department’s of the pool builder and he didn’t specifically say to not do the SWG but did say that he has seen a lot of maintenance issue with pools that have the SWG and the cost of the, forget the name, replacement coil was quiet expensive.
You state in a later post that you may now go with a SWCG which is GREAT!!!! I do not want to belabor that issue but a replacement cell for a SWCG is $1000 (avg) which should last 4-7 years depending on many factors. Go price a bucket of pucks and the SWCG will soon breakeven and not give you the issues that pucks give you.

Filter: was leaning towards the sand with glass media only for the research done that it can filter almost down to the same micron as DE, and the builder provides it as a standard. I have had cartridges before, in an above ground system, just seemed like I was replacing the cartridges every year.
I have a DE filter so I understand the research you did. However, it does appear that cartridge filters are less maintenance, and the cartridges should last longer than a y ear so there may be some other circumstances causing that event. However, the choice is yours and a sand filter will do fine, but do some research on this site regarding glass media vs. sand.

Feel free to post other questions.
 
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AQUA~HOLICS

In The Industry
Jul 19, 2021
903
Southern California
The first picture is of a 7’ tanning ledge with ledge lounges on them, it has over 1’ of distance in front of the lounge and the back hangs over the coping.
Also pictured is sod completely around the pool that has a SWG.
 

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TX2OBX

Silver Supporter
Nov 26, 2021
175
OBX NC
Pool Size
12000
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-9)
Here is someone who commented about fiberglass versus gunite. You may want to inquire with @TX2OBX as to why he said his next pool will be gunite again...


And here is his build thread...



So I feel like the type of pool you like comes down to personal preference and a $ factor. I am going to put the disclaimer that living with fiberglass is where I have the least amount of experience on. I have only been maintaining my FG pool for the last 4 weeks or so and am not running salt yet as the systems aren't up. However I do feel like with FG keeping the chemistry perfect isn't so daunting. Both during construction and later on. With my Gunite pool I was super paranoid about the wrong chemistry screwing up the plaster. We went away on vacation a couple weeks ago and I came back to a pool on the verge of being a swamp (cloudy water with a green tinge and 0 FC). I caught it in time and its back to crystal clear (as much as can be with sand blowing in it every day), but I had no worries about screwing up the finish. Which was really nice. I think once salt is up we can leave and not being there to tend to it daily wont be so detrimental to water chemistry. If it were Gunite I simply wouldn't have left until I could trust I had the pool set up to leave it for a week.

But if its a significant savings FG is worth it over gunite as I think its a better bang for your buck. I wouldn't spend 150k on a gunite pool if I really could have gotten my FG pool done for 75k. I could absolutely live with and be content with that, and ultimately will be content anyway as i'd rather have the pool vs no pool lol. I also partly blame an inexperienced builder for this. A lot of the extra $ I have spent has been covering for the PB's mistakes to avoid liens being put on my house and contractors walking off, (lots of 1-2k extras for things he didn't factor, like $1800 more for the crane to get stuck in the sand, etc). Blessedly have been able to absorb the extras as we can dial back some of the other changes to the house to cover the pool. At the time I started researching the build (almost 18 months ago) I was told a FG pool would be 70-80k and gunite would be 100-150k. I went the route of fiberglass with that info which was true at that time, I can't fault anybody on that choice I made with the info I had available to me. For the same 125k-150k Im going to ultimately end up spending on this pool (including landscape) I could have gone Gunite, could I have gotten my dream pool for that cost however? I honestly dont know, but I forget that the area you live is a huge factor in costs of goods and services. But If you find the cost is the same or only slightly higher, its a no brainer to go Gunite.

On the FG route I will say that I wish I had gone with a FG model that didn't have the built in stuff. This is 100% my own fault I picked this model pool and still am happy with it. The spa is decent but the tanning ledge is pretty small and cuts into swimming space a lot more than it did with my gunite pool. This being a constraint on FG and the fact it has to fit on a truck and trailer. I would have preferred to just have a big 16x35 pool with swimming space and done a separate spa and the added on tanning ledge which you can do with FG but was worried about taking up yard space, now that its in I would have had plenty of yard space to do this. However for a social pool its perfect. Im not a lap swimmer, I wanted my pool to lounge in and entertain and this will do that wonderfully. Its just for being 16x35 its a small 16x35 to me, mainly because of the shape.

I know It seems I speak very negatively towards my pool and I dont want to come across that way, i'm overall extremely pleased with the product even if I have some issued to iron out. Once the project is done and Im not as busy with other things in life im comfortable enough in my DIY skills to fix a majority of the issued I have had. What I mentioned above is just the limitations FG pools have in general vs Gunite and that may not even apply to you based on what you want to build.


This got super long winded, so a TLDR

At the end of the day its just a cost vs return to me and I feel that Gunite is a better return $ for $. If FG can be done for a 25-35% (or more) savings then by all means thats the right way to go. The benefits of Gunite to me aren't worth an extra 50k (and may not even be benefits based on your personal preference) But if you can build pool A or B for the same money, IMHO I would pick the option thats Gunite and never look back. But if I go to build a pool again in a few years and thanks to inflation it's 150k to build a FG pool and 250K to build Guinite. Im going FG no question, with a different builder (lol) Picking the right builder can make or break your pool project regardless of pool type.
 
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