Frequently Asked Questions
Gunite is a mixture of Portland Type II cement and concrete sand that is applied pneumatically through a hose to the nozzle dry. To ensure the best quality, the material is mixed and pumped on-site dry, with a professionally trained nozzle-operator controlling the hydration of the gunite material at the point of application.
Gunite was invented in the early 1900’s by American taxidermist Carl Akeley, to fill plaster molds of animals. He used the method of blowing dry cement out of a hose with compressed air, injecting water at the nozzle as it was applied. Later on, this was used to patch weak parts in old buildings. He filed for patents for his inventions in 1908. In 1911, he was granted a patent for his inventions, the “cement gun,” the equipment used, and “gunite,” the material that was produced through the process. Gunite’s first commercial use started the same year.
Until the 1950’s when the wet-mix process was devised, only the dry-mix process was used. Gunite, however, remained virtually unchanged until the 1960’s, when the alternative method for gunning the dry method was created with the development of the rotary gun, with an open hopper that could be fed continuously. While machines have since become bigger, more powerful, and streamlined, the fundamental elements of the method developed in the 1960’s is still part of the process used today.
Gunite refers to the dry-mix process in which the dry cement mixture is blown through a hose to the nozzle, where water is introduced immediately prior to application. Shotcrete refers to the wet-mix process which involves the pumping of a prepared mixture, typically ready mixed concrete, to the nozzle. Compressed air is introduced at the nozzle to apply the mixture onto the receiving surface. The mixture usually contains −0.5-inch aggregate, although larger-size aggregate has also been used.
Unfortunately, to the untrained eye, unless side-by-side, it would be hard to tell if you’re getting a top notch product. If your gunite structure is done by Shur Shot Gunite Corporation, you can rest at ease knowing you’re getting the best gunite technique and material in the region. We take great pride in the quality of our product and our professionally trained crew. Shur Shot Gunite has set the standard for quality in the industry and is the innovator of some of the most commonly used gunite techniques used today.
While our employees have many years of past industry experience, we take the time to train each of our employees as if they are just starting out in the industry to ensure that the job gets done the Shur Shot way. Our professionally trained rig operators (many of whom have worked with us for over ten years) control the mixing and pumping of the gunite material while constantly inspecting the material to ensure that only the best quality of cement-to-sand mixture is being pumped. Our top nozzle operator has been part of our company for the last 23 years, running the nozzle while training our in-company apprentices. It takes years of apprenticeship to ensure that each nozzle operator has the proper training and experience to be considered Shur Shot certified. This practice ensures that each individual that operates our nozzle can do the job using our professional technique, while masterfully controlling the hydration of the gunite mixture. No other gunite company in the Northeast region trains their employees with the meticulous standards and attention to detail that Shur Shot Gunite does.
We subcontract our gunite services to numerous companies, many of whom we’ve done business with for over 20 years. A big part of having those lasting relationships is our strong beliefs in honesty, quality, and integrity on top of providing the best gunite material and services around. We take great pride that when someone needs the best, that Shur Shot Gunite is the first and only call needed to be made.
Just as in standard concrete use, the proper water-to-cement ratio is a very important aspect influencing the comprehensive strength, shrinkage, and overall durability of the material. Gunite is applied pneumatically at extremely high pressure, with only the amount of water necessary for hydration added to the gunite mixture. These two key factors make gunite more densely packed than ready-mix concrete. In fact, 14 yards of gunite equal about 10 yards of ready-mix concrete or shotcrete mix.
Density is an important factor, as it’s what gives gunite its superior strength and its high water resistance. The density of concrete also determines the concrete’s tensile strength, which is the ability of the material to bend before it cracks.
Nozzling technique is also a crucial factor in the finished quality of your gunite project. Good technique by the nozzle operator makes all the difference between a dense high-strength finished product, and one that looks good on the finished surface, but actually has underlying sand pockets, voids, and poorly-encased reinforcing steel. Poor application technique will result in a higher probability of cracking, resulting in compromised structural integrity, meaning you’ll need to revisit a project, that if done properly, should last a lifetime.
Gunite can be used for any shotcrete application, from the smallest construction or patching and sealing projects, up to the largest projects such as pools, tunnel linings, ponds, waterfalls, seawalls, retaining walls, canals, reservoirs, etc. There are nearly limitless possibilities for what gunite can do. People have even built houses using gunite. If there is a project you need done, we can likely help you out.
The only benefit shotcrete has over gunite is overall cost of the product. Beware of a builder that pushes for the wet-mix shotcrete process, as this is simply a way for a builder to save on their own construction cost, allowing them to pocket some extra money from your project.
A shotcrete company needs to rely heavily on the cement plant that they order their concrete mix from for quality. These cement plants need to make products to hundreds of different specifications and incoming orders each day, leaving you at risk of having your project end up with fluctuating areas of strength. Having to order the material also means that the company needs to wait for the cement plant to deliver. If too much time passes between truck loads of cement, you could end up with a cold joint. This puts the overall structural strength of your project in danger, increasing the chance of splitting or cracking immediately, and decreasing the amount of time into the life of your structure that this will likely occur.
Shotcrete material, since it is pre-mixed, is actually curing on the way to the job site. When it is finally applied to the project, craftsmen need to rush to shape and finish off the material to the desired finish in the limited time they have until it cures fully and becomes hard and unworkable. Adding to the difficulties of shaping the shotcrete, the −0.5-inch aggregate that is embedded into the shotcrete, that is necessary to the structural strength of the product, impedes the craftsmens’ progress, slowing them down where speed is absolutely essential. It is not an uncommon sight to see the contractor you selected that used shotcrete return to your project a few days later with cement chisels, saws, drills, and other tools to fix the shaping errors or even repair the flaws in the shotcrete material.
With gunite, the material is stockpiled at our own yard. A professionally trained rig-operator loads their own mixer personally. They then transport the unmixed material to the job site, where the operator waits for their turn to offload the mixer. There is no rush with gunite because the curing process does not begin until the very moment it is applied to the surface of the project. While, on average, a shotcrete mixer offloads in 15 to 45 minutes, gunite takes more time approximately 45 to 90 minutes per mixer. This extra time ensures that each load of gunite is carefully mixed on site and that the mix is able to be constantly inspected for quality by the rig-operator while their mixer is being emptied.
While shotcrete pours out of the hose already curing, gunite is shot pneumatically at extremely high pressure through the hose while still dry to the nozzle. At the end of the hose, the nozzle-operator hydrates the mixture immediately before application starting the curing process seconds before impact of the material to the surface. The significantly longer curing period and lack of any large aggregate in the material means the craftsmen can take their time, leaving a perfectly finished project to whatever finish or shape the customer desires. The lack of aggregate and the pressure at which gunite is applied allows it to adhere to nearly any surface, therefore filling any void making it the most versatile product on the market for all cement applications.
Gunite pools are the strongest and one of oldest forms of swimming pools around. They provide the superior strength while still maintaining their design flexibility. Gunite takes any shape or feature you can imagine and makes it a reality. Vinyl liner pool designs are limited to whatever shape kits that builder has available. Vinyl liners only last on average about seven years before you have to replace the liner. A gunite pool, when built with quality material and craftsmanship, will last you a lifetime. When done properly, a gunite pool’s only major maintenance is needing to re-plaster your pool. This occurs on average once every fifteen years. The better care you give your pool determines for how long your plaster will last. Even when the time eventually rolls around to re-plaster the pool, it will have lasted twice, possibly three times, the life of a vinyl liner while only costing a fraction of replacing a liner once.
The overall cost of a gunite project is dependent on the size, and materials needed to finish the project. While it is impossible to tell you exactly how much your project would, or should, cost you without us personally seeing it, Shur Shot Gunite offers a professional consultation service to help guide and inform you. We are not here to sell you something you don’t need, and we believe that helping people by guiding them to the right conclusion is better business then just selling something for the sake of making a quick buck. We believe in being up-front and honest with our customers to avoid any types of surprises. Our best form of advertisement has always been word of mouth. We strive to be everything you expect us to be and more. Please feel free to call us and experience why we are so highly regarded.
All gunite projects vary in total construction time. While we strive for perfection in a timely manner on all projects, the larger and more detailed a project is, the longer a project will take to complete. Another factor for a builder when it comes to time on a project is dealing with the permit and inspection office. This is the one part of the job that no company can cut corners on, as all standards and codes is need to be approved. Shur Shot Gunite is a well-known name amongst inspectors as being a quality, no corner-cutting company. It is reflected by our professional positive working relationship we have with these important people. The quality of your project and the following of proper safety procedures and regulations, ensures that your project’s construction time won’t be dragged out by failing inspection, and that the project will both last a lifetime, while being safe for all to enjoy.
Shur Shot Gunite Pools Inc. has over thirty years of experience in the business. Over those thirty-plus years, we have subcontracted our gunite services to over one hundred different companies and home owners. We have also provided the gunite to, or built, over seven thousand seven hundred different pools, spas, or other gunite projects. We still shoot for many companies that we began shooting for when we first started out back in 1989. We maintain a close personal relationship with each and every person we work with. We are not a “here today, gone tomorrow” company. Many of our employees have been with us for over ten years. We are one of the only gunite companies in the nation to have a third generation of family working in the business.
Give us a call today and we can show you the difference between a Shur Shot, and a shot in the dark.