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Vinyl vs. Gunite: What's the Difference?

February 27th, 2024

Life is full of choices: paper or plastic, should I eat this donut or should I go to the gym… do I want a vinyl pool or a gunite pool? We may not be able to help you with all of the other choices you have to make, but we can certainly weigh in on your choice between a vinyl pool and a gunite pool. Below we’ve outlined all the differences in construction, customization, cost, lining/finish, and maintenance for the two different types of pools so you can make your choice with confidence.


  • Construction: A vinyl pool’s frame is constructed of galvanized steel inside the hole’s perimeter, then concrete is poured along the exterior walls of the pool for added support. A mixture of concrete and vermiculite is hand troweled along the bottom of the hole, and then a vinyl liner is secured to the structural wall.
  • Customization: Vinyl pools are sold as “pool kits” and only come in specific shapes and sizes. While that sounds limiting, there is plenty of variety so you don’t have to worry about settling. True customization will come in how you decorate the space around your pool and whether or not you want additions like water features or a slide.
  • Cost: The cost will depend on the shape and size of the pool kits you choose. Obviously, the bigger the pool is the more you’ll pay.
  • Lining/Finish: Vinyl pools are lined with vinyl liners. The liners often feature a blue water pattern, but they can also be printed with photographs of tile or rocks to give the pool a more upscale look that mimics that of a gunite pool. If properly maintained, the liners should last for 5-12 years on average.
  • Maintenance: The liner itself will not require any special maintenance and should last for years as long as you’re maintaining the water’s chemical balance (pH) as instructed.


  • Construction: A gunite pool is built by constructing a rebar frame inside the hole where the pool is destined to go, and then spraying a mixture of cement and sand, called gunite, over and around the rebar frame. The interior of the pool is then finished, often with plaster, but sometimes with an exposed aggregate.
  • Customization: The possibilities are nearly endless as gunite pools are infinitely customizable. They can be built to any size, shape, or depth and can include any number of special features like tanning ledges, underwater benches, or a spa. It’s literally as simple as digging a hole and spraying in the gunite. Because of how unique gunite pools are on a pool to pool basis, you can be the only person in the world with your specific pool!
  • Cost: Because every gunite pool is custom designed, the costs vary widely. The bigger the pool and the more features you have, the more expensive it’s going to be.
  • Lining/Finish: Instead of a one-piece liner, gunite pools are finished with aggregates made of glass beads, pebbles, quartz, pool plaster, or more! As a side note, keep in mind that very light colors and very dark colors discolor easily.
  • Maintenance: Gunite pools can be a touch more high maintenance than vinyl lined pools because of the textured aggregate finishes which can become pitted or scaled. The small bumps and cracks are prone to algae growth, and if the growth gets out of hand your pool will need an acid bath or a re-plastering job. Again, most of this can be easily combated with regular pool cleanings and water maintenance.

Now that you know the differences between vinyl and gunite pools, you can make an informed choice on which is best for your home. To get started on your own personal paradise, contact us for a consultation!

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