pool and house

Choosing an In-Ground or Above-Ground Pool

There is hardly any better definition of luxury of feeling of opulence than being able to slip into your own pool on a hot summer day or night. A pool is much more than an artificial body of water fit for swimming, it is a center of family life and a reason to come home on the weekends and holidays.

Pools are also more than a plumbing installation and can be a rather large undertaking, depending on the dimensions you’d like. But, after you know what size of a pool you’d like and where it will go, there is another important question to ask yourself: in-ground or above-ground pool?

The information included below can help you when making this decision.

1. Dimensions and Visual Appeal

In-Ground – digging a hole for your pool is definitely a bigger job but allows you to choose the size and design of the pool you want. Residential pools can be as deep as 11 ft. and have any other length width or irregular shape the pool owner and designer can conceptualize. The inside of the pool is often made of a type of high-density concrete, tiles or fiberglass. If the pool you are constructing has special needs, like therapeutic exercise or sports training, an in-ground pool would most likely be the best option. In-ground pools can also add an amazing new feel to an outdoor area and landscape with an integrated look that adds value.

Above-Ground – these pools are limited in size and depth and are most often in a round or oval shape, sometimes right angles can be used. The largest options having a diameter of 12 to 33 feet and a depth of 52 inches at the most. There are also many ways these can be arranged and decks can even be built around them to add to their visual charm. Still the biggest compliment an above ground pool will receive is that it looks like an in-ground.

2. Installation

An in-ground pool will take considerably longer and requires qualified professionals to install. The larger and more complex the dimensions the longer the expected time to completion. From marking off the position, digging the hole, constructing the walls and adding pipes, pumps and pool paraphernalia, the entire job can take months.

When installing a concrete pool complete with ceramic or glass tiles the process can take a bit longer. A fiberglass pool can be pretty much dropped in place and only require major construction if a paved concrete apron or any other additions are included.

Installing an above-ground pool is a fairly straightforward task and any one with intermediate DIY skills should have no problem assembling the entire thing in a day or two, depending on the size.

One of the largest and most important tasks will be preparing the ground where the pool will sit. Professional services can also do this work in record time and provide a warranty for their services, which is a good thing to consider.

3. Costs

In-Ground – the prices of two in-ground pools the exact same size, shape and depth can vary greatly depending on a variety of factors. In addition to the pool itself, there are options like showers, pump houses, slides, fantastic looking fountains or other extras that can be added to either in-ground or above-ground pools.

But, the national average cost for an in-ground pool is around $30,000. This cost covers a concrete pool 12’X 24’ with an apron, retractable cover and privacy fence. Those made of fiberglass are just slightly more expensive with an average of about $31,500. Slides, fountains, foot washes and more can potentially raise the costs to $70,000 and up for all the amenities.

And then… there are the costs of manpower for installation, plumbing, and electric work. These costs can add thousands to the price tag.

Above-Ground – this is the place where the above-ground pool leads the competition. Prices for cooling off on a hot summer day are very accessible with the above-ground option. The average fair-quality above-ground pool, with 19-foot diameter, is about $4000. Adding the privacy fence, walkway and retractable cover increases the costs to about $6000.

If you hope to add any additional features or hire professional services for your installation, you may raise this cost a few more thousand depending on what you want exactly. This leaves the average cost for a 19’-diameter pool with all the fixings, still under $10,000.

Then decking can be added at a cost of around $25 a square foot, depending on the quality of the materials and the installation.

4. Regular Maintenance

Maintenance is a task that must be planned for both in-ground or above-ground pools, according to the needs and desires of the owner. There are chlorine water treatment systems and salt water systems that can be used to conserve water and fight bacterial and algae growth. Furthermore, both the in-ground and above-ground pool will need to have its interior cleaned and vacuumed to maintain satisfactory sanitation levels. Typically, above-ground pools are the smaller of the two, so the task is generally less expensive.

5. Service

In-Ground – the in-ground pool is built of sturdy concrete or fiberglass and sunk down where it can’t be damaged by every minor impact. Even though damages are far less likely to occur with an in-ground pool, if they do they can be especially costly to repair. In general, if they are well maintained then in-ground pools can offer many years of hassle free fun.

Above-Ground – as they are generally more exposed to the elements, above-ground pools can be damaged by storms, pokey objects, rowdy play and more. Luckily, when problems do ensue they can usually be addressed for a somewhat minimal cost. Even complete sections of a pool can be professionally patched and optimal functions restored if repairs are handled quickly.

6. Lifespan

In-Ground – if service and proper maintenance are applied consistently an in-ground poll can last as long as 50 years. This will depend largely on the materials used to construct it. Fiberglass pools will only last about 25 years as long as the surface is properly refinished each ten years. Concrete pools will last a full half century and have only basic regular maintenance.

Above-Ground – an above-ground pool will not last so long and the typical lifespan of an average-quality above-ground pool is 10 to 15 years. If you buy top-quality and take very good care of your above-ground pool, you may expect as many as 25 years of service. For many people, the shorter lifespan of the above-ground is ideal, after the kids move away to college, the pool might not get much use anymore.

7. Safety Considerations

Pools can be dangerous to children, pets and even adult homeowners or visitors that fall into the water unexpectedly. You should think about any potential safety precautions to help prevent accidental drownings and water accidents. Safety fences, hard covers and pool alarms can go a long way in protecting children from accessing the water when unsupervised. Because 85% of drownings are children, this is the most important population to protect.