Gunite vs Vinyl Liner Pools: Which Option is Best for You?

Robert Wimberly

gunite vs vinyl liner pools

When picking a pool material, we consider longevity, cleaning, aesthetics, and cost. Indeed, we desire a durable, safe, and fun pool to enjoy a relaxing time.

For swimming pools, there are two great options: gunite vs vinyl liner pools. This article compares cost, setup, durability, and customization of the two materials. By learning about these details, we can help you make a smart choice that fits your wants and needs.

A quick comparison

Aspect Gunite Pool Vinyl Liner Pool
Installation Time Longer, complex process

40 – 75 days

Quicker, simpler

25 – 45 days

Pool lifespan More than 25 years 5 – 9 years
Cost $100 – $300 / square foot  $100-$220/square foot
Customization Highly customizable Limited options
Resurfacing Can be resurfaced Requires liner
Maintenance More maintenance Easier maintenance
Eco-friendliness Environmentally friendly Fewer eco-friendly options

Compare in Detail: Differences Between Vinyl vs Gunite Pool

1. Installation time


Gunite pools go through a detailed procedure of spraying concrete and sand onto a rebar framework, followed by curing. Therefore, it can take you about 6 – 8 weeks to finish your Gunite inground pool.

In comparison, Vinyl liner pools are set up faster by placing a flexible liner into a pre-dug hole and connecting it to a frame, especially at the pool bottom. Therefore, expect the installation to last for more than 3 – 6 weeks.

2. Durability


Gunite pools are known for their sturdy concrete structure, capable of enduring various elements and minimizing long-term damage. They might last you over 25 years with good construction.

However, you will need to do surface repairs for this type of pool due to frost in colder climates. Also, make sure to check and do reapplication of plaster finish every 7-10 years.

Meanwhile, vinyl liner pools, although reasonably durable, demand more maintenance due to their vulnerability to punctures, tears, and fading, impacting their longevity. They will require replacement after 5 – 9 years or even sooner due to harsh elements.

3. Cost


Concrete pools cost more at the beginning because they require expensive materials and labor. If you install further accessories, a high-end one can easily cost you over $100,000. An estimated cost per square foot for a gunite pool is around $100 – $300.

But Vinyl liner pools are cheaper upfront, as the average construction cost is about $50,000 – $70,000, so they’re good if you want a pool without spending too much money.

4. Customization


Gunite pools have a lavish and high-class look. The sleek, personalized surfaces generate a fancy vibe that boosts the overall look of your outdoor area. In fact, Gunite pools can be shaped the way you like, with waterfalls and seating.

Meanwhile, Vinyl liner pools can also be customized, but they’re not as good for detailed designs as Gunite. Indeed, you can always pick among designs of liner pools that look like Gunite to achieve the aesthetic feature at a lower cost.

However, Vinyl liner pools does not look cheap, if you choose a nice and quality textured pool liner design.

5. Resurfacing


As years pass, Gunite pools might require resurfacing to maintain their appearance and strength. This involves applying new plaster or finish to the inside.

On the flip side, Vinyl liner pools only need new inground pool liners, which is a simpler process but still involves occasional costs.

6. Eco-friendliness


Gunite pools have the potential to be more environmentally friendly when built using sustainable materials and energy-efficient equipment.

On the other hand, vinyl liner pools offer fewer choices for eco-friendly materials. They could have a slightly greater impact on the environment.

7. Pros and Cons

1. Gunite pools

  • Durable construction, sturdy and retains shape over time
  • Versatile design: shapes, sizes, and finishes (plaster, paint, pebble, tile)
  • Perfect in warmer climates
  • Ideal for both residential and commercial settings
  • High impact resistance
  • Longer construction time (2-3 months)
  • Rough bottom can be abrasive and uncomfortable for swimmers
  • Higher maintenance and energy costs
  • Increased pool filter usage due to water interaction with plaster finish
  • Algae breeding ground on pool surface

2. Vinyl liner pools

  • Beautiful and various textures to choose from
  • Replaceable liners, thus ideal for changing the look if desired
  • Tight access installations
  • Customizable pool bottom
  • Suitable for diving
  • Lower initial cost and running cost
  • Liner replacements every 8 years
  • Prone to staining from debris and damage from sharp objects
  • Challenges with high water tables
  • Algae-prone and requires careful maintenance
  • Different pool feel compared to fiberglass

8. Cost to Convert Liner Pool to Concrete

Here is a breakdown of the costs involved in converting a liner pool to concrete.

Conversion Step Description Estimated Cost Range
Pool Excavation Removing the vinyl liner and digging for the concrete shell $3,000 – $5,000
Skimmer Box Installation Anchoring skimmer in concrete and setting water level N/A (Part of overall cost)
Steel Rebar Grid Installation Placing rebar grid according to engineering specs $1,000 – $1,500
Shotcrete Application Applying shotcrete for pool shell N/A (Varies based on factors)
Coping, Tile & Plaster Final stages including coping, tile, and plaster N/A (Varies based on factors)

Which Option is Best for Me?


The choice between two kinds of inground pool materials: Gunite and Vinyl liner pools depends on various factors:

  • Budget: If you have a tighter budget, a Vinyl liner pool might be the better option due to its lower upfront cost.
  • Design Preferences: If you desire a pool with intricate designs and luxurious aesthetics, Gunite pools provide greater customization possibilities. However, you can also check out many modern and aesthetic pool liner ideas and avaiable that match your house’s decoration.
  • Longevity: If you’re looking for a long-term investment, Gunite pools’ extended lifespan might make more sense.
  • Maintenance: A Vinyl liner pool could be more suitable if you prefer a pool with easier maintenance and fewer potential issues.
  • Timeframe: If you’re eager to start swimming sooner, a Vinyl liner pool’s quicker installation might be appealing.


In the Gunite vs Vinyl liner pools debate, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Both selections offer unique pros and factors to think about carefully. While Gunite pools offer superior customization and durability, they come at a higher cost and require more maintenance.

Vinyl liner pools, on the other hand, provide an economical choice with easier upkeep, albeit with some limitations in design.

Consider your budget, preferences, and long-term goals to make the right decision and create the perfect backyard oasis that suits your needs.

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