Today in the GTA, the majority of new in ground pool installations are vinyl lined pools. This is a local phenomenon as in most of the United States the vinyl liner is considered a rarity. This is largely the result of a dearth of skilled trades people with experience in concrete pool construction resulting in an insufficient supply of companies able to provide that type of product locally. It is certainly not because the vinyl liner represents a superior product or better value.
We at Oasis are big believers in the superiority of the gunite pool over the vinyl lined pool for the following reasons:
Although the base price of the gunite pool may be 25 to 30 percent higher initially, the concrete pool actually represents a savings in the long run. This is because of the permanence of the concrete pool, combined with lower annualized maintenance costs. Many of the concrete pools that we refurbish are over 60 years old. We routinely apply new ten year warrantees to these pools. Our experience has shown us that a properly constructed gunite shell has an essentially indefinite life span. Generally a concrete pool requires updating every 25 to 30 years or so. Contrast this with a vinyl lined pool which requires liner replacements every 7 to 8 years and complete pool replacement every 20 to 25 yrs. Even liner replacements can cost several thousand dollars these days. The plastic components that are integral to the vinyl lined pool are extremely susceptible to wear an often look tired after only a couple of years. Leaks are another significant source of aggravation and expense in a vinyl pool. Often, small tears in the vinyl (from the family dog etc..) are nearly impossible to locate and result in significant damage to the underlying metal structure. When the annual depreciation expense of the product is considered, the concrete pool is actually the cheaper choice.
Further, when incorporating accessory structures including attached hot tubs, retaining walls, water features etc.. into the pool, the gunite shell can be used as a foundation. This is impossible to do with a vinyl lined pool as the pool structure lacks integrity. The costs for these structures need to be carefully considered when looking at whether to use concrete or vinyl. We routinely see people start with a vinyl pool thinking it’s going to be cheaper and end up having to spend significantly more overall in order to incorporate these ideas into their plan.
Using gunite construction, the only limiting factor in pool design are your budget and imagination. There are no limits with respect to things like steps, benches, water features, depths, shapes, hot tubs etc…. In contrast the vinyl lined pool is a prefabricated product that comes in a limited number of shape variations due to manufacturing limitations. Further, the concrete pool affords almost unlimited choice when it comes to finishes including tile, interior colour, coping style and material. There are severe limitations with the vinyl pool when it comes to trying to customize the product for a particular installation.
Imagine the waste generated when a vinyl pool is ripped out of the ground and disposed of. This happens every day in the GTA. The vinyl used is not biodegradable and generally ends up in landfill. A typical liner weighs about 300 lbs and lasts about six to eight years. That means every vinyl pool out there is generating 50 lbs of vinyl waste every year. (and we’re worrying about our plastic grocery bags!) Further, the galvanized steel shells are usually mixed in with other waste products and not easily recycled. In contrast, a concrete pool is a permanent structure and in the rare event of a reconstruction, the waste generated is easily recycled back into crushed stone to be used in new construction. Even when the whole pool is removed, the concrete and steel are easily separated and fully recycled. Concrete is environmentally inert and has been safely used in building products for hundreds of years.
Realtor studies have consistently shown that a well maintained concrete swimming pool is considered a luxury item and has a positive impact on the value of a property. In fact, we often build pools for home builders who include the pool as a feature on a spec home. The pool is used in marketing the home and these builders report back to us that they indeed recoup the costs of the pool and then some when they sell the house to the owner. This proves to us that the pool has a net positive impact on the house price. The same cannot be said for a vinyl pool. The impact on house price has been shown to be neutral or slightly negative. We feel that this is because of the commonplace nature of the in ground vinyl as well as the previously mentioned high annualized depreciation costs.
For these reasons, Oasis Pools is exclusively committed to the installation and repair of concrete pools. We feel confident that as the customer becomes more educated about the differences between the various types of pools they will come to the same conclusion that we have.
Greg and Steve Selinger