Nothing beats cooling off in the pool on a scorching summer day but what’s even cooler—no pun intended—is the convenience of having one in your backyard. If you have the space on your property and have decided to have a pool installed for your next hot season, there are quite a few options to choose from. However, they all can fit in one of the two categories of in-ground pools and above-ground pools.
Each of these two categories has pros and cons that make them suitable for a specific set of situations and to help you decide which one you should opt for, we have provided a comparison between the two discussing their various aspects. Here is everything you need to know to make that decision.
The Cost Differences
The cost gap between in-ground and above-ground pools is perhaps the number one deciding factor for most people. The difference is considerably large.
For an in-ground pool, the average cost is somewhere between $20,000 to $60,000 which is a wide range but the exact amount largely depends on a number of factors: the market you’re in, the type and design of the pool you want to install, the size and the area of the pool you want to build, and the degree of customization and additional features you want to have installed.
The biggest cost factor in an in-ground pool is its size not only due to the amount of materials but also because the equipment used and the labor required for larger pools are more expensive. The average size is 14×28 ft.
The material with which you choose to build an in-ground pool also largely affects its cost. The typical materials used in these pools are vinyl, fiberglass, and concrete. Each of these materials has different installation and maintenance costs with concrete being usually the costliest.
Above-ground pools tend to be a lot cheaper, with their average cost being between $3,000 to $10,000 but for tighter budgets, there are options as low as a few hundred dollars. Similarly, the price of these pools is determined by their size and material but their shape also plays a role. Oval and rectangular above-ground pools generally cost more than circular ones mainly due to higher installation expenses.
The above-ground pools are comprised of a wall structure and a liner. Typically, the materials used for the walls are either aluminum, steel, or resin with aluminum being the most expensive and steel being the least. With regard to liners, they are generally made of vinyl but the cost difference lies in how they are installed and attached to the pool wall. There are three types of vinyl liners: overlap, beaded, and unibead. Overlap liners are the most inexpensive ones as they are easier to install and unibead liners cost the most because they need to be sized and customized.
Depending on the model and the manufacturer you go with, you might need additional equipment that doesn’t’ come with the main pool kit. The essential equipment includes a pump whose cost can vary by its size, a filter, plumbing fittings, underlayment, and the materials needed to set up a dedicated electrical circuit.
In terms of additional features, there is not much that can be done for an above-ground pool other than building a nice deck around it to improve its appearance which can add a chunk to the original cost. For an in-ground pool, there are many options from lighting to fences, slides, and diving boards.
Lastly, there is a conception that building an in-ground pool can boost the resale value of the house. While this can be true under certain circumstances, it’s not always the case. When taking the plunge to have a pool installed, you should consider it as a lifestyle investment for your family as the maintenance costs over the years may exceed the difference in the resale value.
Portability and Installation Process
The installation process for above-ground pools takes somewhere between a couple of hours to a couple of days at most. And since an above-ground pool is not a permanent structure, it can be easily taken down whenever you need to use the space in your backyard for another purpose and have it installed back whenever you wish. For easier setups, you can take it down after each summer and store the equipment for the winter. Having the gear up only for a couple of months can cut your maintenance expenses and save you a lot of headaches from debris, leaves, twigs, and algae spores.
An in-ground pool on average can take from 4 to 12 weeks to install. It is a permanent structure and stays as a part of your property unless you’re willing to spend around $3,000 to $15,000 to have it removed.
The maintenance costs and efforts are more or less within the same range for above-ground and in-ground pools but there are some differences that you need to consider. Most above-ground pools use surface skimmers to clean the water. This means that in order to prevent issues like algae, you have to actively stir up the water from time to time so that the skimmer can better clean debris from the bottom of the pool. Whereas most in-ground pools have one or more main drains and the debris gets drawn out of the pool from the bottom.
Moreover, most above-ground pools don’t have a deck set up around them which makes cleaning and vacuuming the pool and its bottom more difficult than in-ground pools. In terms of chemicals such as chlorine and bromine, the maintenance costs and efforts depend on the volume of the water, usage, and the location of the pool which apply for both of them equally.
In conclusion, choosing between these two options ultimately comes down to your preferences, circumstances, and the budget you are willing to invest. An above-ground gives you the basic fun, use, and play of having a pool without the need for heavy investment while an in-ground provides a more cosmetically appealing and customized pool for a bigger investment.