When faced with the various options for an inground pool, Connecticut residents often ask, “What’s the big difference between a liner pool, a fiberglass pool, and a gunite pool (which is what Aqua Pool and Patio of Easter Windsor, CT specializes in)?”

Below, we lay out what may determine the price or cost differences between the various inground pool types and why our customers have chosen gunite pools from Aqua Pool.

Liner pools are just like an above-ground pool but inserted into the ground. It’s a “kit”. The builder buys the kit and assembles it in the back yard. You are going to be limited in terms of size and shape (whatever the manufacturer offers, that’s what you will get) unless you ask for “custom” and then the price jumps (now AND in the future).

The options will also be limited. Extra lights (or low profile “niche less” LED), as well as in-floor circulating/cleaning systems, require the installer to make extra holes in the liner and NO ONE wants to do that! Yes, they have come a long way with options for different liner designs (to mirror what is offered in the gunite market), but it is, and always will be, a plastic bag held in place with some fiberglass or steel reinforced walls. Dogs and lounge chairs CANNOT go in the pool and you should avoid toys (or anything) with semi-sharp edges.

Generally, a poured patio will be required around the perimeter of the pool thus most installers will “include” a 3-foot patio with the price (it is structurally required for many liner pools), so you are limited with plantings and custom backyard designs. Again, anything is possible, even custom vanishing edges and attached spas, but those are out of the ordinary and structurally not recommended (most liner companies will avoid “custom”). But liner pools can be done well and for not a lot of money. Your family will get years of enjoyment (above ground liner pools are also very enjoyable to swim in) and it absolutely will add value to your quality of life. There are excellent liner installers who offer great products for those that are unwilling or unable to get the more structurally significant or customized gunite pools.

Fiberglass pools are even more limited with design as, “size matters”. The pool is shipped to the house in one piece and then lowered into a hole with a crane. So if it cannot go on the highway, cannot be lifted over your home with a crane, you’re not getting it. Customization is also difficult as these structures are built off-site in a factory. You will find it difficult to get things like longer/larger stairs, benches, seats, etc. as those items are dictated by the manufacturer.

Fiberglass pools, although not subject to tears or ripping like the liner pools, have issues with faded gel-coats and settling (when water is put into the pool, the weight of the water can cause the pool to settle or become un-level). There is also a whole lot of “un-truths” on the internet about them being easier to take care of. All pools (we are always dealing with water, remember) require water balance (getting the water professionally tested a few times per year) and maintenance. The fiberglass benefit of “impervious” to algae and chemicals is NOT TRUE and require that it is slick and slippery, like a liner pool. They are also much more susceptible to “floating” (when the pool is empty, it can “pop” out of the ground). The APSP Fiberglass Council is weighing in on the issue by developing a standardized detail using a sump or drainage "crock" — a piece of 12-inch pipe that's installed vertically on the side of the pool that extends down two feet below the deepest point of the pool. Is the builder doing this? Are they taking all the necessary precautions required? The lightweight fiberglass pool is susceptible to floatation (more so than gunite) due to its lightweight.

The benefits of fiberglass are cost and time: you will not pay as much (although close) as you will with gunite, and the pools will be filled with water FAST (good for you AND the pool builder). Rushing to get a pool is never a good idea so don’t buy one because it is fast but because it fits your needs. Like a liner pool it will serve the purpose, can be good looking when the back yard is designed correctly and will be a pleasure to own. But do not believe everything the fiberglass people say about “carefree” or “easier to take care of” or less repairs”. Water (the whole reason we are all buying these products) causes issues with all types of pools and when that wonderful water turns to ice, it will cause damage to all types of pools as well (less to the more structurally sound pools like gunite).

Gunite pools are custom made. Basically, “If you can draw it, we can build it”. The crews are craftsmen who use raw materials to create the pool. Perhaps one of the last hand-built things you will buy, a gunite pool is, to many, a piece of yard art. And custom does not mean expensive: because there are no kits or packagers pre-determined by any manufacturers, every part of the pool is customized to the owners. Even something as simple as a rectangle is custom: the size and location of stairs, benches, seating areas, sun-shelves, depth of the pool – everything is customized to the buyer. It is also the only permanent pool you can build. The structure is a sprayed concrete over a mesh of 3/8” and ½” steel rebar. That combination gives the pool its strength and longevity. It can flex with the earth’s movement but not crack or break (it has what engineers call “tensile” strength as compared to compression strength). The pool can withstand everything mother nature throws at it and, over time, will be the least expensive pool you can build. Contractors that do not offer gunite pools will say dishonest things like, “They are good in the south where there is no frost”, or, “Gunite pools cannot handle ice like the liner or fiberglass can.”  This is simply not true. Speak with an engineer or just look at the way the pools are built.

Anything (like ice or frost) that can damage a gunite pool will surely damage the other type pools. Another piece of information that will demonstrate the truth of this is that all commercial pools are gunite pools (except maybe roof-top pools due to weight concerns). Commercial pools are built because the facility (for example a hotel) requires a pool. Honestly, they do not “want” a pool. Their clients insist they have a pool, or they find a hotel/condo/apartment that does have one. So they build a pool as an investment. Yet they spend, “more money”. Why is THAT? Because their engineers and financial professionals have done the research and know that in the long run, the pool made from gunite will last the longest, be the easiest to take care of, and cost the least.

And gunite pools offer the most options, like attached spas, in-floor cleaning systems, structurally attached waterfalls, etc. etc. etc. There are loads of options when you designing an inground gunite pool. Almost “too many”! It allows the designer to truly customize the structurally superior product so that the result is a pool that fits the user and lasts forever.

Want more information on why a gunite pool from Aqua Pool is the right choice for you? You can call us at 860-623-9886 or email us at info@aquapool.com.