Different Types of Swimming Pools: What’s the Difference? Does it Really Matter?


If you’re looking to build a new swimming pool, you might have already noticed that there are a few different options when it comes to the material of your pool. There are fiberglass pools, vinyl liner pools, and gunite pools—but what is the difference? Does it really matter what type of pool you build? Are there significant pros and cons to each?

Fiberglass swimming pools are the newest type of pool to hit the market. They are also the least expensive, making them very popular. They are prefabricated and come in specific shapes and sizes. While they are relatively inexpensive, quick, and convenient to install, they do not come with much artistic freedom or opportunity for customization. Aesthetically, they have a smooth finish that many find attractive, but the limited options in terms of shape, size, and color are not ideal. Fiberglass pool manufacturers boast that fiberglass pools only use half the chemicals that it takes to maintain a vinyl liner swimming pool. While this is an alluring cost option up front, it is important to note that they require half the chemicals because the average fiberglass swimming pool is half the size of the average vinyl liner pool. Fiberglass pools cannot be as big as vinyl liner or gunite pools because they are prefabricated, and cannot be transported if they are too large. The main reason we do not recommend fiberglass swimming pools to our customers is the climate here in Michigan. If you are looking for a basic, inexpensive swimming pool for your home and live in an appropriate climate, a fiberglass swimming pool may be a solution for you.

Vinyl liner swimming pools are a mid-range option. They can be built in many different shapes and sizes, with a much greater variety than fiberglass pools. They are much more customizable than fiberglass pools in size, shape, color, and design. There are many different liner styles to choose from, leaving plenty of options for making your swimming pool unique. Vinyl liner pools require regular maintenance, but they are not particularly difficult to maintain. It is important, though, that you perform regular maintenance; especially being sure to keep your water’s pH in check. Improper pH in your vinyl liner pool can create pH wrinkles, which are fine wrinkles in your liner. Vinyl liners do need to be replaced eventually; the average liner will last about 15 years if cared for properly.  Vinyl liner pools are a good option for a swimming pool no matter what your climate, and they are a great mid-range choice for many homeowners.

Gunite swimming pools are more expensive, and the most customizable option. They are made of cement and can be made in any size or shape. There are virtually no restrictions on the size or shape of the pool except what your backyard can support. Because they are so customizable, they are a great choice aesthetically. Gunite pools are perfect for a homeowner who wants a completely personalized pool that reflects exactly what he or she wants.  Gunite pools require a bit more maintenance than fiberglass and vinyl liner pools, but they are more durable overall. Gunite pools need to be acid washed every few years, which is a process in which the pool is drained and cleaned with acid. This is required because the surface of the pool is rougher than vinyl and fiberglass, giving a greater opportunity for algae and other buildup. Gunite pools are good for any climate, and can be a great option for homeowners looking for a swimming pool.

There is one more type of pool that Al Curtis, of Ask the Pool Guy and Legendary Escapes, is pioneering. This is a hybrid pool—a combination of vinyl and gunite. It combines the best of both worlds, allowing homeowners to enjoy the benefits of both types of pools. The pool itself is built with a vinyl liner, and accessories and additions are added in gunite. This includes additions like a sun shelf, seat, water slide, water features, and many other accessories. Homeowners get to enjoy the lower maintenance of a vinyl liner pool while taking advantage of the customization options of a gunite pool. Curtis uses hybrid pools to help customers’ dreams come true.  Hybrid swimming pools are a perfect option for any climate and are great for homeowners looking for a truly unique pool experience.