If you ask three pool companies that each build a different one of these types of pools. You will get three answers that are all the same. Their pool is the best! How can that be you may ask? Well maybe their pool is the best in their mind. The truth is they all have......
advantages and disadvantage. Lets look at the pros and cons of each.
First we will look at the in ground vinyl liner pool. This type of pool is an economical way to get an in ground pool. When properly installed they can be quite nice. I have seen these pools done in a way where they look like a gunite pool. One of the nice things about the liner pool is the softness/smoothness of the liner. I have swam in these pools and their is not any surface you can get in a gunite pool that can match it. Also similar to fiberglass pools these surfaces tend to not be as porous as a plaster finish on a gunite pool. So these type of pools actually use less sanitizer than a gunite pool. Somewhere around 25% less on average. On the con side. The liner is what holds the water in this type of pool. A hole as small as a pin head will leak and it can be difficult to find small holes in such a large area. They do make a patch kit for repairing small holes. I have seen pools where the liner has floated due to ground water underneath it and then when it recedes it can have wrinkles in it. Also the liners need replaced on average every 8-10 years. But for the budget minded person this may be a good choice.
The in ground fiberglass pool also has some of the same benefits as the liner. It has a very smooth, non porous surface like the liner pool. So the same chemical benefits apply. These pools do have one limitation that the liner pool and gunite pool don't have. They are limited in size. Primarily due to the fact that they must be hauled to your house on a truck. This limits the width of the pools. I think the widest pool that is available is around 17'. One other potential problem is the top portion that is exposed to the sun. I have seen these portions oxidize due to sun exposure. I believe this can be cared for by applying a wax to the surface that is oxidized. When properly installed they also can be quite nice. They can be installed faster than a liner pool or a gunite pool. Also they are a mid range price usually between the other two types of pools.
Gunite pools have a lot of pros and a few cons. On the pro side there is no limit to the size, shape or depth. It is limited only by your budget. Again when properly installed they are very nice. The options are almost limitless. With a gunite pool the structure is actually steel reinforced gunite. While the interior is usually plaster or pebble. This interior surface is porous as stated above. Sometimes if chemicals get out of balance the plaster can become rough. What happens is over time some of the cement in the plaster mix can be ate away and that can expose the marble. This can be like sand paper on your toes. If this happens you will need to re-plaster your pool. The good news is if properly maintained the plaster can last as long as 20 years. What we have seen is more of an average of 15 years before re-plastering. You can opt for the pebble finish, although not as smooth as plaster. The exposed pebbles will stay the same throughout the life of the pebble. It is kind of an reversed effect of a plastered pool, the cement is more under the pebbles rather than on top as in plaster. Gunite pools also take the longest time to build. Whereas the liner pool and fiberglass pools are installed in 2-4 weeks. The gunite pool can take 6-8 weeks or longer to build. On the plus side structurally, when installed properly, gunite pools are the strongest. Also this type of pool can be installed in almost any soil condition from sandy to rocky. Another plus is most Realtors and potential home buyers perceive gunite pools as a more permanent structure and will usually value it more.
I have tried to give you some information that you can use to make an educated decision on what type of pool you may want. We are gunite pool builders and we have built in ground liner pools in the past. We wish you good luck and happy swimming! If you live in our area and decide you want a gunite pool please give us a call.
Here is a link to an older post that talks about the different types of construction. http://bestpoolguys.blogspot.com/2010/09/isnt-pool-pool-or-is-there-differance.html
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