Gunite vs. Vinyl vs. Fiberglass Pools

When evaluating materials used in the construction of an in-ground pool, there are three primary choices:

  • Gunite (a mixture of cement and sand)
  • Fiberglass
  • Vinyl lined

Each has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages, and the choice for your pool installation depends on your specific needs, lifestyle, and budget.

Gunite Advantages

Gunite pools can be built to any size, shape, or depth, and offer the ability to incorporate engaging and interactive features such as spas, streams, and waterfalls. A major advantage of a gunite pool is that it is the strongest of the three choices, and also the longest lasting.

In addition gunite pools:

  • Can be built to any size, shape, or depth
  • Allow for creative additions such as built in bar stools, unique underwater benches, tanning ledges, and other enhancements
  • Offer a huge selection of decorative and long lasting finishes, such as pebble or quartz
  • Provide greatest flexibility when building a pool, especially when faced with challenging terrain and limited installation space

Gunite Disadvantages

There are a few disadvantages to gunite pool construction. The primary disadvantages are that it may entail a longer construction schedule, and gunite pools are generally more expensive to construct.

Fiberglass Advantages

These are prefabricated pools that are fully manufactured before they ever leave the factory.

  • Fiberglass pools are available in several shapes and sizes
  • They offer a range of interior finish options
  • Fiberglass inground pools offer the fastest installation time
  • Limited options are available such as raised spas, tanning ledges and underwater benches
  • Fiberglass provides a more finished look than vinyl in ground pools

Fiberglass Disadvantages

The main disadvantages of a fiberglass inground pools is that they do not have the longevity, or durability of a gunite pool.  Settled plumbing — typically resulting from a sand backfill — is often the cause of leaks in fiberglass pools. Also, these pools are more expensive to build than a vinyl swimming pool.

Vinyl Advantages

By far, the biggest advantage of a vinyl pool installation is the cost. It is the least expensive option.

In addition, vinyl pools:

  • Provide a soft interior finish
  • Offer a range of choices for style, size, and depth.

Vinyl Disadvantages

  • Liner replacement. On average a vinyl liner will last between 7 and 15 years with a replacement cost of upwards of $5,000.00.
  • Liner warranties are pro-rated. Many vinyl liner manufacturers have a 20 year pro-rated warranty.
  • Fragile–it can be cut by tools, dog claws, some robotic cleaners
  • Limited customization options. Built in seats, tanning ledges, and steps are limited.
  • When building a vinyl pool, it requires an “overdig” that cannot be compacted with soil, and can create construction challenges in some applications.


When choosing the construction method for your new pool, budget, style, and available space all will play a factor in your decision. A professional custom pool builder can evaluate your needs, and recommend the best option to fit those needs.