Lawn & Garden

In-Ground vs Above Ground Pools – Which Is Best For You?

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MuchNeeded
11 February, 2022 • Updated 15 days ago
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So you’re trying to make that tough decision that will affect many summers to come – “Should I get an in ground or above ground pool?”

This is understandably a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. In this article we will compare all factors of these two types of pools; from cost to care, we have you covered.

Don’t let indecision lead to another blistering summer in front of the fan. Read on to discover which pool is right for you and your family.

Key Differences

In-ground PoolsAbove ground pools
ExpensiveBudget-friendly
Require professionals for setupEasy setup
Very durableShort life span
Can be any size and depthLimited sizes available
Customizable appearanceLimited designs available
Adds value to propertyAdds no property value
Can be a safety hazard for children and petsPet and child friendly

Costs

In-ground Pools

In-ground swimming pools are notoriously pricey. In America, the average cost to install an in-ground pool is between $50-$125 per square foot. This cost is dependent on the materials you choose, the pool company you hire, and the pool design you have in mind.

You can opt for a vinyl liner pool for the cheapest initial setup, but unlike the fiberglass and concrete alternatives, vinyl liners require replacements every 5 to 10 years, which will make it the far more expensive option in the long run.

If you opt for a fiberglass or concrete pool construction, your installation costs, while very high, are a once-off sacrifice. You may even see your investment returned if you sell your property in the future, as swimming pools add monetary value to your land, while also drawing in more buyers.

The only cost you will incur after installation is upkeep. This includes electricity bills from running pool vacuums and pumps, occasional repair services should it be necessary, and chemicals to keep your water safe and clear.

The average amount swimming pool owners spend on pool maintenance a month is $125, which is nothing to scoff at, but may be worth it for the pool’s overall benefits.

Above Ground Pools

When we say above ground pool, we are only referring to the readily available options such as inflatable pools and Intex lining pools that can be set up without professional installation. We have chosen this category of above ground swimming pools specifically. as custom-built, stationary above ground pools have a lot more in common with in ground pools than other above ground pools.

An above ground pool comes with one major selling point – the affordable price tag. Not only will you pay considerably less for the above ground pool itself, but there is also no need to pay for days or even weeks of labor in order to get it up and running. If you are wondering what put under the above ground pool, check out our guide here.

With prices ranging from under $100 for basic inflatables to around $2500 for the biggest above ground pool on the market, there will be an above ground pool for any summer lover’s budget.

You will also find that the higher priced products offer an inclusive package, often including filter pumps, maintenance kits and even accessories for water sports.

Depending on how you decide to maintain and use your pool, your monthly operation bills could be anything from $35 to a couple hundred dollars. This includes maintenance as well as electricity bills from running the pumps.

This cost will of course be negligible if you have a small pool without a pump filter and don’t make use of professional pool cleaners.

Maintenance

In-ground Pools

Inground pools require a fair bit of maintenance and equipment to stay in good shape. This includes frequent chlorine usage, water testing kits, filter pumps and pool vacuums.

Many homeowners with an in-ground pool opt for professional pool maintenance from time to time as these pools require not only proper cleaning, but also good water chemistry for safety. This can, however, also be achieved on your own.

It is important to test your pool water at least once a week using a manual testing kit or a digital testing device that sends you periodic updates to your phone. These devices will relay information such as the pH of the water or the amount of chlorine in your pool (measured in ppm).

A healthy ppm is between 1 and 3 and anything less than that requires chlorine to be added to your swimming pool. Adding chlorine raises the pH of the water, meaning that you will then need to add pH reducers containing acid to bring the pH back down to around 7.

In terms of pool cleanup, it is important to have a consistent routine, be it manual wall brushing and debris removal, or the incorporation of a vacuum and debris filter. If these steps are neglected, the build up over time could lead to clogged pumps, poor water chemistry, and the need for a professional cleanup crew.

While pool maintenance might be a bit of an adjustment in the beginning, most pool owners don’t find it to be too much of a daunting task.

Above Ground Pools

The main thing setting above ground swimming pools apart in terms of maintenance is that you can get a way without a filter pump if your swimming pool is on the smaller side. This saves money on the pump as well as electricity bills, but comes at the cost of more labor for you.

Pool water that does not undergo constant filtering must be replaced at least once a week to not only ensure that the water appears clean and does not become unpleasant to swim in, but also to ensure that your pool is free of bacteria and algae that could be harmful to you or your family. Replacing your water on a weekly basis will also eliminate the need for chlorine treatments, though they can still be added optionally to improve the appearance of the water.

Above ground pools, just like in-ground pools, require regular water testing to ensure the water is safe. This can be done via manual testing kits or digital testing devices and will help you determine the pH and chlorine contents of your pool. There are robot cleaners in the market that can reduce the labor and help with maintenance.

If you do make use of a pool filter in your above ground pool, you need to run your filter for at least 8 hours a day and clean out your filter regularly. You can also purchase a cover for your pool to prevent debris from ending up in your pool water. This can minimize the frequency at which you need to drain your pool or clear out your filter pump.

Lastly, in order to ensure the durability of your pool, you’ll want to ensure that you never leave your pool liner in the sun without water in it. This will cause the material to deteriorate considerably faster.

Durability

In-ground Pools

In-ground swimming pools promise a considerably longer lifespan than their above ground counterparts, with 20 years being the minimum amount of time you can expect to enjoy your pool. But that does not mean that they are indestructible. If not cared for properly, you may just find that your investment has gone down the drain.

Most in-ground pools are constructed of cement, tile, and/or fiberglass. These are durable materials that promise many years of service. In-ground pools do, however, involve more delicate components such as electrical wiring to run the pumps, filters and lighting.

The pool wiring process is subject to a lot of safety laws to ensure that any swimmers are under no threat of electrocution. It is important in times of renovation or excavation to ensure that all pool wiring remains undisturbed and remain in compliance with all safety rules.

The overall structure of your pool is very unlikely to fail you, but it is important to keep the smaller components in mind.

Above Ground Pools

This factor is very dependent on your ownership habits, such as where you keep your pool in winter, your pool foundation and how careful your household is around the pool.

Unfortunately, inflatable pools and liner pools are prone to tears if not treated properly. This does not mean you have to freak out anytime the family dog glances at the pool, but it does mean you have a few more things to consider than an in-ground pool owner.

The durability of these pools vary greatly, with reports ranging from as little as 5 years to as much as 10 to 15 years.

In order to find yourself on the upper end of that scale, there are a few things you can implement:

  • Make sure your pool foundation is even to prevent leaning and resulting tears
  • Frequently ensure your pool foundation is free of jagged objects
  • Don’t leave your pool in the sun without water inside
  • Store your pool carefully in winter or cover it with a protective sheet if you leave it up
  • Don’t take glasses or any other objects that could form shards into the pool

Property value

In-ground Pools

The installation of in-ground swimming pools requires making permanent changes to the property your home is built on. If this pool is functional, visually appealing, and well maintained, it may very well push up the value of your home by as much as 5%-8%.

This is great news considering the jarring installation costs. An in-ground pool is not only an investment to benefit your family fun, but also potentially your wallet in the future.

That being said, it is crucial to keep your pool in decent condition, otherwise it may just become a burden on the next home owner. I myself have gotten stuck with an irreparable pool that was experiencing floor swelling and cabling issues and suffice to say, I wasn’t very happy with the seller.

Some tips to preserve the value of your pool over time include:

  • Ensure your pool pump cabling is protected during renovations and yard work
  • If your pool is lined with fiberglass, periodically get professionals to make sure water is not gathering underneath
  • Chlorinate your pool from time to time to prevent harmful organisms from structurally weakening your pool or eroding any visually appealing elements

Above Ground Pools

There is, unfortunately, virtually no way that an above ground pool will add to the overall value of your property. In fact, it may even lower the value.

This is due to the backyard modifications that have to be made to support your above ground pool. If you use sand as a foundation, you’re either going to be left with a giant sand patch or a patch of dead grass in your yard.

This will, of course, not be an issue if you placed your pool on a patio.

You can also take solace in the fact that you can take this pool with you, ensuring continued fun at your new home.

Size customizability

In-ground Pools

As you can already guess, the world is your oyster when it comes to in-ground pool sizes.

Whether you want a child safe pool, or want to go all in with a depth of 10 feet, your options are endless. You also have relative freedom of width and length, as long as your dimensions respect all property laws.

While money may be a limiting factor for in-ground pool sizes, possibility certainly isn’t.

Above Ground Pools

Despite the wide array of commercially available above ground swimming pools out there, your options will always be limited to just what the market has to offer.

You will find sizes ranging from 12 feet to 33 feet, which is nothing to scoff at, but still limited. In terms of depth, the deepest pool you can expect to find is 52 inches, which may not be able to provide the swimming experience some future pool owners are looking for.

In terms of shapes, circular pools are certainly the most common, with some oval and even rectangular options sprinkled in the mix.

Overall, if you don’t have very specific size requirements, you should be able to get an above ground pool that is fit for your family.

Aesthetics

In-ground Pools

In-ground swimming pools can offer some of the most amazing visuals that will leave any guest in awe. The best part is that this does not always have to come at more elaborate costs than a normal pool. Simply requesting a shape that’s flattering to your backyard, introducing a small sitting pool to the side, or including some uniquely colored lights can set you apart from the rest.

If you have the extra bucks to spend, you may even be able to introduce elements such as caves or waterfalls, making your pool the main attraction of your property.

Even if you just go the regular, rectangular route, you still have plenty of customization options. If you opt for a tile pool you get to choose the color and texture, as well as any graphics you want to include.

The rim of your pool also goes a long way when trying to ensure your pool blends seamlessly into your backyard. You could opt for big, grey stones to give the pool a pond effect, or include a smooth, white brim to give your swimming pool that Olympic pool feel.

There is absolutely no limit to what you can do with your in-ground pool.

Above Ground Pools

While no one has ever looked at an above ground pool and gone, “Yuck” it certainly isn’t a decorative item either.

Above ground swimming pools promise a budget-friendly summer of laughter and fun – not an attractive backyard that will make the neighbors jealous.

The most standard color for an above ground swimming pool tends to be blue, which feels right by association, but is unlikely to make your backyard more of a looker. Luckily, there are tons of more muted options available that may tie in with your property theme a little better or just fade into the background.

This is not a point of major discouragement, as these pools can be drained and packed away in the event of your property needing to look a bit more appealing, but this is a hassle not everyone is ready to sign up for.

Conclusion

Above ground pools and in-ground pools both have a great deal of benefits, with a few disadvantages worth considering.

While it is likely that you don’t have the money for an in-ground pool now, perhaps you want to hold off on your above ground pool purchase and start saving up for the real deal.

Alternatively, you may feel that the low maintenance and easy installation of an above ground pool is exactly what you and your family need.

Ultimately, when questioning above ground vs in-ground pools, there is no right answer, but we hope this article has helped you decide on the right pool for your individual needs.

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