The Ugly Truths Regarding Gunite or Concrete Pools
There is no doubt that any kind of inground or above ground pool can have its own unique share of issues. Fiberglass pools are somewhat limited to what the manufacturer offers for sizes, shapes, and depths. Vinyl liner pools are as well limited for the same reasons PLUS liners require replacing every few years and are subject to punctures by tree limbs, sharp edged toys and pets, or wild life being in the pool. Gunite or concrete pools definitely have more issues that can occur so please take a moment to make sure that you fully understand the ramifications of the problem list to follow before deciding on which type of swimming pool works best for you.
1. MAINTENANCE: Positively, absolutely, without a doubt, a gunite and concrete pools require more chemicals and maintenance than any other type of inground pool. Why? Since the pool surface is rough, porous, plus has an alkaline bleed from the gunite and plaster for years after the pool is constructed, this equation adds up to an abnormal amount of extra chemicals and maintenance. Further, if you do not properly keep these chemicals imbalances in check, you should expect the surface roughness to get even worse, watch the plaster start pitting, and eventually see the pool develop black algae and prolific staining. Lastly, expect to spend a lot of your extra time brushing the pool surface.
2. MONTHS TO INSTALL: That’s right, I said months. The average construction time for a gunite or concrete pool is typically 8-10 weeks. We all have heard about neighbors and friends that waited forever to get their pool finished. Even under the best circumstances, rain, failed inspections, and workmanship issues you bring to the pool builder’s attention, can add weeks to the pool’s completion. I would recommend that you obtain a written start and completion date prior to building a gunite or concrete pool. This agreement should include concessions for inclement weather of course.
3. AN UNCOMFORTABLE SURFACE: Just try swimming for hours or trying to play volleyball in your bare feet in a concrete or gunite pool. You probably already have tried this at some time. Your feet will be chewed up, red, and uncomfortable. And wait until the pool is a little older; it will be even rougher and in a short amount of time (usually 4-5 years) you will spend $5,000 – $7,500 to resurface it.(If it is a typical backyard pool)
4. RESURFACING: Most people that purchase gunite or concrete pools never take into consideration at the point of sale that the pool will require resurfacing every 4-6 years and to set aside $5,000 – $7,500 for the resurfacing job that will definitely be needed. Few people grasp that the “Lifetime Structural Warranty” does not include the pool surface. In fact, many major pool companies will not warrant a pool surface at all.
5. SALT SYSTEMS SPEED UP THE POOL SURFACE PROBLEMS: Correct, you read this right the first time. Many gunite or concrete pool builders no longer will install the most popular option installed on pools, the saltwater generator. Some tests have been performed that seem to prove that the pool surfaces erode when exposed to the saltwater. Guess that makes sense when you consider that salt regularly damages concrete driveways and streets up north.
6. TYPICALLY ALL WORK IS SUBCONTRACTED: In 90% of new gunite or concrete pools constructed around the country, the entire pool building process is subcontracted. This means in a nutshell that you as the buyer are not involved in the selection process of all the various tradesmen involved in constructing the pool of your dreams. You don’t know if the A team or the F team of tradesmen are working at your house. You have to rely completely on the pool builder you chose to pick out the right troops to build the pool properly. In some cases that may be a huge leap of faith.
So let’s sum things up. Please know that I am not trying to say that concrete or gunite pools are passé. I am saying that they are more expensive to own than any other type of inground pool. So consider all the facts, investigate as much as possible, and make the most educated choice of which type of pool you wish to swim in and take care of it.
“Diligence is the Mother of good luck”. Benjamin Franklin
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