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The Differences Between Above-Ground and In-Ground Pools

BY: Sara Hansen
POSTED November 29, 2022 IN
Types of Pools

Your neighbor just had a beautiful in-ground pool put in his backyard. But a family member had an above-ground pool with a deck installed recently, too, and it looks like a tropical oasis! You’ve been thinking about adding a pool for your family but now that you’ve seen both, you aren’t sure which would be best.

There is a lot to consider between an in-ground swimming pool and an above-ground pool. Here are the basics before you make such a large investment in a recreational purchase.

 

In-Ground Pools vs Above-Ground Pools

The first consideration is how you will use the swimming pool. Will it primarily be a fun “getaway” for your family and neighbors? Or will you use it as your fitness center to swim laps in every day? Or, maybe it will be both.

The answers to these questions will have a big impact on the type, depth, and design of your pool. Here are four categories of pros and cons of both styles to help guide your decision between an in-ground pool or an above-ground pool: 

#1 – Cost

In-Ground Pool:

Plan on realistically paying between $40K – $80K for an in-ground pool with a deck. This price range includes:

  • Decking around the pool
  • Electrical hookup
  • Grading and landscaping
  • Accessories and cleaning supplies 

The type of pool, size, and other options will determine where your final price tag will fall within this range.

 

Above-Ground Pool: 

An above-ground pool kit will cost between $2K – $8K, but that’s without a deck. Take into account these other cost areas once you have the basic kit:

  • Installation (typically $1K – $5K)
  • Surrounding deck and other amenities
  • Cleaning accessories

Keep in mind that without a deck, an above-ground pool is hard to clean. And getting that tropical island feel like your brother created around his pool can cost more than the pool itself. 

Make sure you understand the installation details before finalizing your purchase of the pool. A professional can usually have it set up and ready to go the same day. But, make sure you confirm who is doing the pool setup and deck installation. If not, you may be left to put it together yourself if you aren’t careful! This will be harder and take longer, but it will save money if you’re up to the task. 

Whether it’s a pro putting it up for you or you do it yourself, you’ll be able to start swimming soon after you get the kit delivered. Plus, it should be noted that you can take it apart yourself if necessary and move it when you go on to your next home. That’s an advantage you won’t have with an in-ground pool.

 

#2 – Size and Design

 

enclosure over an in-ground pool | above-ground pool vs in-ground pool

 

In-Ground Pool:

There are no limits to the size, shape, and depth of an in-ground pool other than the space you have available and your imagination! There are several software programs you can use to have fun creating a backyard swimming pool layout from scratch. Then, add in the decks and patios of your dreams to finish your plan. Or simply work with the pool company to pick a size and design that works for you. 

The size of an inground pool often depends greatly on the material it’s made of. 

There are three primary sizes that people consider when purchasing a vinyl pool:

  • 16 feet by 32 feet 
  • 18 feet by 36 feet 
  • 20 feet by 40 feet 

For a vinyl pool, 16 feet by 32 feet is the most common choice of these rectangular shapes. 

Concrete pools often have a kidney shape rather than a rectangle or oval shape. The most popular size for these pools is 16 feet (at its widest point) by 32 feet.

Fiberglass pools frequently have a more freeform shape and are often sized around 14 feet by 28 feet.

No matter what material is chosen, in-ground pools will all usually have varying depths from one end to the other.

 

Above-Ground Pool:

An above-ground pool can be as large, if not larger, than an in-ground pool. For example, a 30’ round above-ground pool has more area than an 18’ x 36’ in-ground pool. Work with the area you have available as well as the pool company to choose the best size for your family and how you plan to use the pool.

Keep in mind that with an above-ground pool, you’re generally limited to one depth throughout. Though there are some pool liners that are expandable to allow the pool to be 2′ deeper on one end.

 

#3 – Installation and Maintenance

 

above-ground pool vs in-ground pool | differences between above-ground and in-ground pools

 

In-Ground Pool:

The type of required maintenance is not very different between the two types of pools.  Chemical balances and cleaning are similar. In comparing an in-ground pool to an above-ground pool, though, you’ll likely have to spend more money maintaining it simply because you’ll probably have it longer. 

The installation of an in-ground pool will cost more and you’ll have to be patient. The area will need to be excavated, permits applied for and obtained, and then installation can take weeks if the weather is an issue. So, it’s best to set your expectations on swimming in a new in-ground pool within a month (sometimes longer) from the time of purchase.

 

Above-Ground Pool:

Above-ground pools are often considered easier to maintain than in-ground pools. This is because they are often smaller in size and have less water volume. But, maintaining water quality is similar regardless of your pool type. You still need to plan for regular cleaning, filtering, and chemical balancing regardless of whether you do it yourself or have a professional take care of it for you. This is where Pool School Videos is an invaluable tool, no matter which type of pool you choose!

The setup of an above-ground pool is fast, especially if you have a professional install it for you. A professional can set up the pool in one day, but remember that first, the area has to be cleared and leveled. Then, aside from the pool itself, the deck around it will take additional time. Fencing and landscaping have to be factored in, too. 

 

#4 – Longevity

In-Ground Pool:

The longevity depends on the type of material that the pool is. For concrete, the structure should last a very long time, but it usually will need to be resurfaced every 10 – 15 years. That can be very expensive depending on the size of the pool. Fiberglass pools can last over 20 years.

 

Above-Ground Pool:

The average above-ground pool can last 7 – 15 years before the structure wears out. The liner will last 5 – 9 years before it must be replaced. But, a well-maintained pool will extend the averages perhaps a bit more! 

 

Expert Advice on How to Maintain Your Pool, No Matter Which Type You Choose

 

pool maintenance for above-ground pool vs in-ground pool

 

Whether you decide on an above-ground pool or an in-ground pool, there is work necessary to maintain it. 

Pool School Videos has one goal: to help pool owners of all kinds easily maintain their pool while saving money doing it and preventing future problems. All of the videos from Pool School Videos provide clear, expert advice unlike any offered elsewhere. After you buy the videos, you can watch and review them as many times as you need. 

You will also have access to customized guidance through our private Facebook group. You can post specific questions in the group and you will receive a response within 24 hours!

Pool School Videos was created by Mike Steele, a seasoned pool professional with over 30 years of experience in swimming pool maintenance. Pool School Videos provides solutions that are clear, accurate, and easy to follow. You will be able to solve any current pool maintenance problems you may have while also preventing future costly problems. Our videos will save you both time and money, so you have more time to actually enjoy your pool instead of spending hours maintaining it.

Click here to preview our top 5 videos and meet the Pool Doctor, Mike Steele. Then get started on Pool School Videos today!

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