How To Prepare For A Gunite Pool Renovation

gunite pool renovation 101

Gunite pools are one of the longest lasting, highest quality pools you can build.  Though the concrete structure of the pool can be sound for generations, cosmetically a gunite pool needs renovation every 10-20 years.  What does a gunite pool renovation consist of?  In this article we’ll discuss the major categories of renovations required over time, and how you can maximize the time frame between renovations.

Most Common: Tile Gunite Pool Renovation

The most commonly considered renovation is new pool tile.  Maybe your tile is falling off piece by piece, or the tile is out of style.  The first thing you want to understand is whether or not your coping is loose also.  Take a hammer and tap the top of the hammer lightly on the top of each coping piece.  You’ll notice the sound is different at the pieces of loose coping versus the pieces which still are mortared in.  This will tell you whether or not you need to replace or reset the coping as part of replacing your tile.

gunite pool renovation on tile

If you want to consider making your tile last longer next time, you may want to consider replacing your deck with cantilever poured concrete.  This eliminates the coping, and instead has one deck surface extending over the pool structure, cantilevered over the tile.  This helps protect the tile from frost and water infiltration from above.

How To Prepare For Renovating A Gunite Pool

If you are not replacing your interior finish, the pool will need to be drained down and a saw cut made into the plaster just below the tile line.  This will ensure the removal of the tile does not cause portions of the plaster to be removed as well.  This will however require a small patch line below the new tile.

Coping Gunite Pool Renovation

When removing the coping, it’ll be important to inspect the expansion joint between the deck and the coping, replacing it as necessary in the process.  Also, it’s important to look at the elevation between the coping and the deck.  Has the deck sunk or heaved so it’s out of level with the coping?  Someday you may want to replace the deck as a part of your renovation, but first it’s a good idea to inspect your skimmers.

Skimmer Renovation On A Gunite Pool

Take the lid off your skimmers and pull out the basket.  Then look around the skimmer throat and inspect for any cracks.  If you have a cracked skimmer, now is the time to replace it.  Skimmer replacement is an invasive renovation process and will require a portion of your deck to be rebuilt.  The existing skimmer needs to be chipped out of the gunite, the pipe below exposed and connected to a new skimmer.  Rebar needs to be tied around the skimmer before concrete is poured, encapsulating the new skimmer in place.  Then your deck can be poured or placed around the skimmer lid.

Interior Finish Gunite Pool Renovation

gunite pool renovation on interior finish

If you are considering a new interior finish as part of your gunite pool renovation, you may think painting the pool is an economical option.  We recommend against painting a pool in all cases.  If you want a longer lasting good looking interior finish, you should avoid the colored plasters and white plaster finishes. Instead consider exposed aggregate finishes like PebbleTec and PebbleSheen or Wet Edge Signature Matrix. These finishes look the same for far longer than the plaster finishes and are much more durable over time.  

Pool Equipment Gunite Pool Renovation

Finally, you may consider replacing your equipment as a part of your gunite pool renovation.  It’s a good idea to consider replacing your old pump with a variable speed pump. Likewise, contemplate replacing your filter with a new cartridge filter. This will reduce the backpressure on the system. 

gunite pool renovation on pool equipment

You may think you want to add a salt system but we’d suggest first adding an inexpensive erosion chlorine dispenser, and maybe an ozone system and UV disinfection chamber instead.


Your gunite pool renovation will be successful as long as you make sure to replace what needs replacing and set yourself up for long term pool ownership by planning out your future renovations whenever you do work to the pool.  It can be daunting to imagine all the renovation work taking place. However, rest assured there are seasoned professionals who do this every day. They are not afraid of tearing into these structures and bringing them back to life.