Can Gunite Pools Use Salt Water?

You’ve probably come across the word “gunite” if you’re browsing the options for a new pool on your property. Gunite pools have a reputation for providing a durable structures and versatile design options. But you may be wondering if gunite pools can use saltwater.

Contrary to what most people believe, gunite pools can hold salt water. Some people express concerns about the gunite surfacing undergoing corrosion and pitting due to the salt content of the water. However, salt is no more harmful to the concrete structure than chlorine.

As soon as you notice stains on any gunite pools that make use of saltwater, the first assumption might be that salt is the cause. But in its purest form, salt only contains sodium chloride, which doesn’t stain your pool. Let’s take a look at some key details about gunite pools and how salt water can affect them.

What Is a Gunite Pool Made of?

Swimming Pool In Backyard Of Home

Gunite is a mixture of cement, sand, and water that forms concrete. It has a reputation for being very strong and durable. The water content of gunite is usually applied through a high-pressure hose. Once it dries, gunite becomes hard, and in its final form, it becomes a very solid structure.

Over the years, gunite has become a common word in the realm of swimming pool construction. It’s usually combined with steel, another very durable building material, together with an interior finishing plaster coat.

This is actually really great, because plaster is pretty simple to work with and if you ever get any leaks, you can use a simple plaster patch kit like this one (on Amazon) to take care of them yourself.

How is a Gunite Pool Constructed?

Once the hole needed for a new pool is excavated, a set of steel bars also known as rebar will be installed by a professional crew. The metal rods will be placed carefully at specific intervals in such a way that they form a frame that looks pretty much like a cage.

It then extends throughout the whole stretch of the finished pool, as well as the spa — if there’s going to be one. Certain areas require a high level of reinforcement, and these areas will be supplied with more steel. Examples of such areas include a free-standing raised wall or a deep end.

The cage is usually set on concrete blocks and then suspended in the air by several inches. The essence of this system is so that it doesn’t touch the soil underneath it. Hence, there is usually enough space left to be occupied by the fresh gunite material.

After the steel backbone has been put in place, the pool is now ready for the gunite. The concrete blend is sprayed at high velocity by a professional pool crew onto the steel across the entire pool, establishing the walls and dense pool floor.

Gunite can adapt well to the pool’s form, creating different contours, flowing lines, shapes, and depths. They all combine in a very cohesive manner that is also visually pleasing.

After the gunite has dried, plaster will then be applied to the gunite pool. Colored quartz may be added to a blend of composed cement and marble dust to boost durability while also adding more to the look.

Plaster is what actually supplies the waterproof feature of the gunite pool, and this final coating is usually what is seen as the attractive interior surface of the pool.

Can Gunite Pools Hold Salt Water?

The simple answer to that question is yes. Gunite pools are perfectly safe with saltwater. If you’re using a saltwater chlorination system like the Intex Krystal Clear Saltwater System (on Amazon), that’s not going to harm the surface of your gunite pool at all.

The most worrying problem with using saltwater in gunite pools is the fact that there’s a chance that the plaster will get stained when salt touches it. However, this problem has two very simple remedies.

As long as your chlorinator is properly maintained and your pool’s surfacing is kept at normal, projected levels, there’s no reason why your saltwater chlorinated pool shouldn’t be more physically appealing (shinier) than other pools.

How to Prevent Salt Water Staining in Gunite Pools


Make sure you use the right salt and apply it correctly: The suitability of the salt in the saltwater pool is solely dependent on how pure the salt is. Simply put, the greater the salt purity, the better the suitability. Don’t use bags of rock salt that were intended for icy sidewalks, for instance.

Make sure you simply get salt that is designed for a saltwater pool. This example of Morton Pool Salt (on Amazon) demonstrates what you should be looking for. In the end, you want something granular and pure, basically good enough to eat, because by the way you’ll likely be swallowing a bit of it in the pool!

Carry out regular tests: Stains that are caused by the presence of metals in source water, salt impurities, or corrosion of metallic equipment are usually aggravated by pH levels that are too high or too low.

You should conduct pH testing weekly and also carry out monthly testing for metals, especially if the source water is high in stain-causing metals or if there are copper heaters in the pool.

Carry out treatments when needed: There are a lot of stain removal products you can get to help you keep your pool looking great. An example is the CuLator Metal Eliminator and Stain Preventer for Pools & Spas (on Amazon), which can be used in saltwater pools.

A couple of the salt products that are more advanced contain anti-stain agents, and some manufacturers provide a guarantee as well. Stay away from stain fighters that are phosphorus-based as they eventually break down to form orthophosphates.

These are nutrients for algae and they are usually responsible for promoting the development of phosphate scale in chlorine generators.

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