Gunite Pools vs Shotcrete Pools

worker spraying concrete mixture to form the base of a pool
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What You'll Need
What You'll Need

If you're ready to dive into summer weather, you may also be thinking about digging deep and building a pool. Whether you're going full DIY on your pool or just trying to decide between a gunite pool or a shotcrete pool that someone else will build, here are a few things to consider.

What is Guinte?

Gunite and shotcrete are very similar—the difference lies in the application. Gunite is a concrete mix often made up of different types of cement, sediment (like gravel), and sand. Gunite is applied dry and then water is added. When you build a gunite pool, you receive the gunite dry and have to add it to a hopper where compressed air mixes the gunite with water as it is sent through the nozzle. The force of the compressed air makes the mixture form and on contact, the guite is thick and solid.

What is Shotcrete?

Shotcrete, like gunite, is concrete. Though different brands have different mixtures, shotcrete is also made up of cement, sand, and sediments like gravel or pebbles. Shotcrete comes to the pool party already mixed up and ready to apply. The shotcrete is also placed in a hopper where compressed air shoots it through a nozzle for easy application. The fully-mixed concrete is also easily compressed because of the application process.

worker spraying shotcrete to form the base of a pool

Which is Right for Your Pool?

There are benefits and drawbacks to both gunite and shotcrete. Depending on your budget and your building plan, there are a few things to consider with both pool building modes.

One of the biggest advantages to gunite is the ability it gives you to start and stop a project without getting cracks or cold joints in the project. With most normal concrete projects you can't stop and start the project because the new pour does not adhere well to the old pour and cracks and cold joints form, gunite solves that problem.

Gunite is also less expensive than shotcrete as a general rule, so if your pocketbook is calling the shots, this may be the route for you. That being said, the drawbacks to gunite include needing to be applied by someone with a lot of experience and cleanup. Gunite is not a beginner DIY project. In order to apply it to your pool build correctly, you need a lot of expertise. And regardless of who is applying the gunite, it makes a mess that has to be cleaned up quickly.

Shotcrete comes premixed which saves you some time and hassle, and means that you don't have to be as technically trained to apply it. While some prior experience with concrete is a definite plus, you'll have better luck DIYing a shotcrete pool. Shotcrete is a strong concrete mix that will hold well and is a little forgiving of small mistakes. It's also a faster process than applying gunite.

That being said, shotcrete has to be applied quickly. You can't start and stop the process of you'll end up with a pool that doesn't really hold water. You can also compromise the quality of your shotcrete by adding too much water and it's more expensive than gunite.

worker scraping the edge of a concrete pool under construction

How to Decide:

As you make the decision for your pool, start by talking to your neighbors or people in your area with pools. Ask them which material they decided to use and why. There may be certain recommendations for pool building materials based on the ground or soil type in your area.

Also, talk to local pool builders and see what they recommend. Getting some expert advice, even if you plan to build the pool yourself, never hurts. If you're on the fence about what to do, see if any local builders offer complimentary site assessments to help you make your decision.

Lastly, take into account your budget and timeline. Both of these factors can play a big part in what pool material you choose.

Pools can cost thousands and thousands of dollars, so you want to make sure you're getting the most splash for your cash.