Shotcrete or Gunnite Swimming Pools Everything you Need to Know

Shotcrete or Gunnite Swimming Pools Everything you Need to Know

Shotcrete or Gunnite Swimming Pools: Everything you Need to Know

Hey there, swimmers! Are you ready to dive into the world of shotcrete and gunnite swimming pools? These construction methods have gained popularity among pool owners due to their durability, design flexibility, and overall aesthetics. But choosing the right construction method is crucial for the long-term enjoyment and maintenance of your pool. In this blog post, we will explore the ins and outs of shotcrete and gunnite pools, including their definitions, construction processes, durability, costs, design possibilities, and maintenance requirements. Let’s dive in!

Understanding Shotcrete and Gunnite

Shotcrete is a construction material made of a mixture of cement, sand, and water, applied with a high-pressure hose. This technique allows for efficient construction and creates a strong and durable pool structure. Shotcrete pools offer advantages such as faster construction time, better crack resistance, and flexibility in design. However, they may require more maintenance in the long run.

Gunnite, also known as dry-mix shotcrete, is a mixture of cement and sand combined with water at the nozzle during application. This mixture is sprayed onto the pool structure using compressed air. Gunnite pools have similar benefits to shotcrete pools, including strength, durability, and design flexibility. However, they may require more time for construction and have limited crack resistance compared to shotcrete.

Both shotcrete and gunnite are popular construction methods for swimming pools due to their strength and durability. They provide design flexibility and can be customized to suit various shapes and sizes. The main difference lies in the application process. Shotcrete is applied using a wet mixture, while gunnite uses a dry mixture combined with water at the nozzle. This distinction affects construction time, crack resistance, and maintenance needs.

Construction Process

Shotcrete construction process

The construction process for shotcrete pools involves several key steps:

  1. Excavation and pool layout: The pool area is excavated and the layout is marked according to the desired design.
  2. Formwork and steel reinforcement: Wooden or metal forms are placed to create the shape of the pool, and steel reinforcement is added for added strength.
  3. Placement of shotcrete: The shotcrete mixture is pneumatically applied to the pool walls and floor using a high-pressure hose.
  4. Curing and finishing techniques: After the shotcrete is applied, it is left to cure and then finished with various techniques such as brushing or troweling to achieve a smooth surface.

Gunnite construction process

The construction process for gunnite pools is similar to shotcrete, with some variations:

  1. Excavation and pool layout: The pool area is excavated and the layout is marked just like in shotcrete construction.
  2. Formwork and steel reinforcement: Forms are installed, and steel reinforcement is added, similar to shotcrete construction.
  3. Application of gunnite mixture: The gunnite mixture, a dry-mix of cement and sand, is sprayed onto the pool structure using compressed air and water is added at the nozzle.
  4. Curing and finishing techniques: After application, the gunnite is left to cure and then finished using various techniques to achieve the desired surface texture.

While the basic construction process is similar for both shotcrete and gunnite, there may be variations in the techniques used for curing and finishing, depending on the chosen method. These variations can be discussed with your pool contractor to ensure the best results for your pool.

Durability and Strength

Shotcrete pools are known for their durability and long-term performance. The properties that contribute to shotcrete’s strength include proper mix proportions, low water-to-cement ratio, and the ability to bond well with reinforcement. With proper maintenance, shotcrete pools can withstand various environmental conditions. However, they may be susceptible to cracking over time and require regular maintenance to prevent and repair any issues.

Gunnite pools also offer excellent durability. The properties that contribute to gunnite’s strength include the proper mix proportions and the ability to form a dense and solid structure. Gunnite pools have a proven track record of withstanding environmental conditions and can last for decades with proper care. However, they may be more prone to crack formation due to the dry mix. Regular maintenance is necessary to ensure the longevity of the pool.

Both shotcrete and gunnite pools have comparable durability and strength. However, shotcrete pools may have an edge in terms of crack resistance due to the wet application method. Conversely, gunnite pools may require more maintenance to address cracks that may appear over time. Ultimately, proper maintenance and repairs are necessary for maximizing the lifespan of any pool, regardless of the construction method.

Cost Considerations

The cost of shotcrete pools can vary based on several factors:

  1. Materials and labor expenses: The cost of materials and labor, including excavation, formwork, steel reinforcement, and shotcrete application, will determine a significant portion of the overall expense.
  2. Pool design complexity: Unusual or intricate pool designs may require additional labor and materials, increasing the cost.
  3. Additional features and customization options: The inclusion of features such as waterfalls, slides, or special finishes will affect the final cost.

The cost of gunnite pools is influenced by similar factors:

  1. Materials and labor expenses: The cost of materials and labor, including excavation, formwork, steel reinforcement, and gunnite application, will contribute to the overall cost of the pool.
  2. Pool design complexity: Complex designs may require more labor and materials, impacting the final cost.
  3. Additional features and customization options: Features and finishes will add to the overall expense of the gunnite pool.

The cost factors for shotcrete and gunnite pools are quite similar, and pricing will depend on the specific requirements of each project. Generally, shotcrete and gunnite pools fall within a similar price range. To get an accurate estimate, it’s best to consult with a pool contractor who can provide a detailed breakdown of costs based on your specific needs and preferences.

Design and Aesthetics

Shotcrete pools offer exceptional design flexibility, allowing you to create unique shapes, features, and finishes. The wet application method allows for seamless integration of various design elements, such as curves, vanishing edges, and custom steps. This versatility makes shotcrete an excellent choice for those looking to create a one-of-a-kind pool.

Gunnite pools also offer impressive design flexibility. Builders can create intricate shapes, contoured edges, and customized features using the sprayed application method. While gunnite may be slightly less flexible than shotcrete due to the drier mix, it still allows for considerable design possibilities.

Both shotcrete and gunnite pools offer ample design possibilities and can be customized according to your preferences. The choice between the two methods mainly depends on your desired pool design and the level of customization you require. By working closely with a pool contractor, you can explore the design options available with both shotcrete and gunnite and choose the method that best suits your vision.

Maintenance and Repair

Shotcrete pools require regular maintenance to ensure their longevity and optimal performance. Here are some key maintenance requirements for shotcrete pools:

  1. Regular cleaning: It is important to regularly clean the pool walls and floor to prevent the buildup of dirt, algae, and other debris. This can be done by brushing or vacuuming the pool surface.
  2. Water balance: Maintaining proper water balance is crucial for the longevity of the pool’s structure. This includes monitoring and adjusting the pH, alkalinity, and calcium hardness levels of the water. Improper water balance can lead to corrosion and deterioration of the shotcrete surface.
  3. Surface maintenance: Over time, the shotcrete surface may develop small cracks or imperfections. These should be addressed promptly to prevent further damage. Repair techniques, such as patching or applying a sealant, can be used to maintain the integrity of the pool surface.
  4. Structural inspection: Regular inspections of the pool’s structure are necessary to identify any potential issues, such as cracks, leaks, or settlement. These inspections should be conducted by a professional pool contractor to ensure a thorough assessment of the pool’s condition.
  5. Pump and filtration system maintenance: The pool’s pump and filtration system should be regularly inspected and maintained to ensure proper circulation and filtration of the water. This includes cleaning or replacing filters, checking the pump for signs of wear or malfunction, and ensuring that all equipment is operating efficiently.
  6. Drain and refill: Depending on the chemical balance and the water source, it may be beneficial to drain and refill your shotcrete pool every few years. Fresh water can bring a more balanced chemistry, making it easier to maintain.
  7. Tile and grout care: Tiles may occasionally become loose or the grout may deteriorate. It’s essential to replace or reattach loose tiles and re-grout as necessary to prevent water seepage behind the pool’s surface.
  8. Sealant checks: The sealants used around fittings, drains, and other equipment should be checked periodically for wear and tear. Any compromised sealant should be replaced to maintain a watertight seal.
  9. Equipment updates: As with all technology, pool equipment can become outdated over time. Regularly review the performance and efficiency of your equipment, and consider upgrades when newer, more efficient options become available.
  10. Chemical storage and handling: Proper storage and handling of pool chemicals are essential. Store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, and always handle with care, following manufacturer’s instructions.

By adhering to these maintenance and repair steps, you can ensure that your shotcrete pool remains in top condition, providing years of enjoyment and relaxation.


Navigating the choices between shotcrete and gunnite pools can seem overwhelming, but understanding their respective attributes and distinctions is key to making an informed decision. Both methods offer robustness, design versatility, and enduring appeal, but they differ in application techniques, cost factors, and specific maintenance needs. As with any significant investment, due diligence is paramount. Ensuring that you partner with a reputable pool contractor, being proactive with maintenance, and staying educated on pool care can mean the difference between years of hassle-free enjoyment and unforeseen complications. So, whether you’re gravitating towards the fluidity of shotcrete or the robustness of gunnite, rest assured that with the right care and attention, your pool will be a centerpiece of relaxation and entertainment for years to come. Dive in with confidence!


Published by John

Dive into the world of swimming pool care and you'll encounter John Simpson, a luminary with over two decades of hands-on South Florida pool management experience. From a childhood fascination with water to earning certifications in pool maintenance and water chemistry, John's journey has been defined by unwavering expertise. For over 20 years, he has fine-tuned the art of pool maintenance, troubleshooting issues, and setting elevated industry standards. As the founder of a popular swimming pool care and tips blog, John's articles not only educate but also empower pool owners of all levels, reflecting his dedication to sharing his profound knowledge. Beyond the virtual realm, his workshops and seminars cement his legacy of transforming pool care into an accessible art form, ensuring that his influence ripples through South Florida's pool community, leaving pools crystal-clear and owners well-informed.

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