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Fiberglass vs. Gunite Lazy Rivers: What’s the Difference?

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Fiberglass vs. Gunite Lazy Rivers: What’s the Difference?

Posted by: Maria Cortes
Category: Awards
Fiberglass vs. Gunite Lazy Rivers: What’s the Difference?

One of the quickest ways to cool off in the hot sun is by taking a dip in the pool. Whether you have a residential or commercial pool, it’s no secret that many parties, events, and gatherings occur around the poolside patio. It’s fun for loved ones to spend time together or quietly lounge while soaking up the sun’s rays.

However, when you install a lazy river, you’re giving water-lovers a fun adventure for little ones and a relaxing time for adults who want to unwind. But there are many variations of lazy rivers to choose from. So, what are the significant differences between fiberglass and gunite lazy rivers? Let’s look and see which would suit your property best.

How Lazy Rivers Work

Lazy river functionality is a lot simpler than you might think. Lazy rivers use momentum to send people around curves without stalling. Manufacturers rely on science to research, design, and create propulsion systems.

Lazy rivers often use a larger variation of the pumps that pools and spas share, with a set water speed of one to two miles per hour or two to three feet per second. Water gets pushed along the river through various jets and inlets, consistently feeding through pipes along the river floor. Because water pulses up and down, it effectively maintains its volume, shape, and direction as it passes along the lazy river trail.

Benefits of Lazy Rivers

Owning a lazy river has numerous benefits for both your property and swimmers. One of the best perks of lazy river is that they help with stress management. For example, many tourists on vacation look forward to relaxing after a long day of travel. So, taking a dip in the lazy river is alluring and relaxing, creating a calming effect for swimmers.

Moreover, lazy rivers are fun for the whole family. While grownups lounge with a cold drink, the kids can pretend to be dolphins and swim through the lazy river at high speeds. Lastly, lazy rivers offer customizability to the owner. If your property already has a pool, lazy rivers are easy to customize within your available space.


Fiberglass pools and lazy rivers come with a pre-built fiberglass shell installed in-ground or above-ground. Compared to vinyl pool materials which incorporate plastic or metal wall panels for side-wall support, a grout or vermiculite floor bottom, and a vinyl liner applied to the floors and walls that get vacuum-sealed. Meanwhile, fiberglass is manufactured in a factory and then arrives with a gel coating, ready to be installed in one piece. Keeping install times at an almost record-breaking fast timeframe compared to other products.


Fiberglass lazy rivers offer many benefits to the buyer. One of the best features of fiberglass lazy rivers is their faster installation times. The standard installation time of fiberglass lazy rivers is as little as one day for small residential rivers and one week for larger lazy rivers. Moreover, fiberglass lazy river maintenance requires less cleaning time and fewer repairs. This is due to the smooth gel coating that resists algae growth, resulting in slower bacterial growth. Fiberglass is longer lasting when properly maintained, not needing to be drained and resurfaced every few years making it the most cost-effective choice.


One con of fiberglass lazy rivers is the current design constraints. However, new molds and tighter radiuses are being designed all the time creating more designs.

If not properly maintained unbalanced water pH and alkaline levels can reduce the gel coating quality. Additionally, incorrect calcium balances can quickly diminish the gel covering. So, it’s essential to have the appropriate chemicals and stabilizers to keep the quality of your fiberglass lazy river up.


Many people often assume that concrete and gunite go together. However, there are some significant differences between the two. While concrete is a mixture of cement, water, sand, and other coarse materials, gunite relies on small materials and gets fired through a hose with water for application.

Equally, you can stop and start building a gunite lazy river whenever you please. It allows for a smoother finish and is less prone to cracking than concrete. However, it can be more time-consuming due to on-site mixing and dry clogs. Lastly, it can leave a mess behind.


There are a few reasons why gunite lazy rivers are so popular. Gunite lazy rivers are often built on-site, giving the owner numerous design options to choose from for their specific preferences. They offer impact resistance and numerous design choices to go with.

Additionally, gunite lazy rivers come in various shapes and sizes, decreasing the wear on landscaping and easily fitting in your existing space. Lastly, they have an appealing looking for homeowners that also offers customizability.


Despite the positives, there are a few downsides to gunite pools. One of the downsides to gunite pools is the maintenance and operation costs. Because gunite can accumulate more algae and bacteria than fiberglass, you’ll have to consistently use chemicals and stabilizers to keep the water sterile.

Secondly, plaster finishes need replacement every five to seven years, along with filter replacements, even after proper maintenance. Because gunite pools are porous, filter replacements are necessary, and chemical balancing is a must.

An additional con to gunite pools is the high price point and timeframe for installation. Making them a costly investment that cannot be installed in a short period of time.

Choosing Between Fiberglass & Gunite

Now that the differences between fiberglass and gunite lazy rivers have been explained, choosing between the two relies on your local laws and the level of maintenance you want. A fiberglass lazy river makes a fantastic choice if you want a budget-friendly option and little to no upkeep. Whichever you choose, ensure that you stay within your property lines and hire a dependable contractor to help install your customized lazy river.

Finding the right company for your dream fiberglass lazy river doesn’t have to take forever. At American Aqua Designs, we offer high-quality lazy rivers for commercial and residential spaces. We are one of the leading manufacturers of fiberglass lazy rivers, along with pools and waterslides. With over three generations of experience, our team will confidently help you create the lazy river of your dreams. If you have any inquiries about our fiberglass lazy rivers, pools, or slides, please contact us today, and we’ll happily help you.

Fiberglass vs. Gunite Lazy Rivers: What’s the Difference?
Author: Maria Cortes

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