What Type Of Pool For Your Backyard? Above-Ground Vs. In-Ground

By Alex Williams | Outdoor Fun

Jun 07
backyard swimming pool

Nothing shouts, “let’s party” to family and friends like a backyard swimming pool.  Pools also offer a great way to exercise without putting undue stress on joints. You’re convinced that you and your family are ready for a pool.  You must now decide whether to purchase one that sits under the ground or above it. A comparison of the benefits and drawbacks of both types of pools will help to make the decision process easier.

Underground Pools 101

In-ground pools are the most traditional form of pools.  They consist of concrete, vinyl or fiberglass framing that is fitted into a pre-sunk space in the ground.  Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of investing in an underground pool instead of an above-ground one.

Benefits

  • Long Lasting – Below-ground pools are made of materials that are inherently durable.  Since these pools’ frames are hidden several feet underground, they are mostly shielded from the sun’s deteriorating rays.  The insides of some in-ground pools that come in contact with the sun and chemicals need a little maintenance to extend their useful lives.  According to pool expert Marcus Sheridan of River Pools, concrete pools have to be resurfaced every nine to 13 years. Vinyl pools have a liner that must be replaced every six to 11 years.  Fiberglass pools require no maintenance. On average, in-ground pools can last well over 20 years.
  • Depth Variation – Have you ever seen one of those cool diving boards attached to an above-ground pool? Your answer is likely “no” because those pools are usually too shallow to allow for safe diving. Underground pools commonly come in styles that accommodate variations in depth.  This means that you can have a shallow end of the pool for small children and beginner swimmers and a deep end for diving and serious horse-play.
  • Aesthetically Pleasing  – Underground pools have lower profiles that don’t take away from the looks of decks, patios and landscaping. These pools can also be enclosed in attractive acrylic or glass sunrooms that allow you to swim year round.

Disadvantages

  • Initial Cost – The initial cost of an in-ground pool puts most people off at first.  A professionally installed below-ground pool can start at $30,000. This can be manageable if you’re purchasing a new home and can roll the price of the pool into your monthly mortgage payments.  Otherwise, it’s quite an expensive investment.
  • Not Portable – Underground pools are permanent fixtures in backyards.  If you’re planning to relocate within five years, it just doesn’t make good financial sense to purchase an in-ground pool. You can’t take this pool with you, and you likely won’t recoup your investment from the next buyer.

Above-Ground Pools 101

Pools that have framing and connections that sit on the surface of your yard are called above-ground pools.  These pools consist of steel or aluminum walls that are capped with weather-resistant resin. Here are the pros and cons of purchasing an above-ground pool.

Benefits

  • Initial Cost – You can get a quality above-ground pool for a fraction of the cost of an in-ground one.  Many above-ground pools come in kits, and you can pay a professional to install it on your property.  If you’re handy and have the right tools, you can put your above-ground pool together yourself and save even more money.  Above-ground pools start at $7,000.
  • Fast Installation – Depending on the pool’s size and style, it can take builders up to 10 weeks to construct and install an in-ground pool.  An above-ground pool can be purchased and installed over a weekend.
  • Portable – An above-ground pool can be dismantled and moved to another location rather easily.  You just need to keep track of all your pool parts. Smaller parts tend to get lost during the moving process.  Older pool parts can be harder to obtain from manufacturers. Overall, above-ground pools are great if you need to move, or you want to sell your pool to a friend.
  • Safety – Most above-ground pools are considered safer than below-ground ones.  They’re usually surrounded by railings or decks that prevent accidental falls.  Above-ground pools also tend to be shallower than below-ground ones. This makes them safer for inexperienced swimmers.

Disadvantages

  • Smaller Size  – Above-ground pools are typically smaller than their in-ground counterparts.  If you have a large family or you like to do long stretches of laps in the pool, size could be an issue.  Homeowners who have limited space in their backyards may consider this disadvantage a bonus.
  • Aesthetics – While special decks and landscaping can make above-ground pools blend better with your home and outdoor living spaces, these pools usually don’t look very appealing right out of the box. They can block the views of other areas of your backyard.
  • No Depth Variation – Above-ground pools don’t come with a deep end for diving.  Swimmers experience the same depth throughout the pool.

Conclusion

You’re a savvy shopper and regular maintenance costs for in-ground and above-ground pools are things that are of interest to you.  You’ll be happy to know that both pools can be relatively easy to clean with technology advancements such as automatic pool cleaner vacuums.  You’ll have to scrub the sides of your pool eventually. These tasks are a little harder to do on above-ground pools that are not surrounded by decks.

Both pool types require the same pumps and filters to operate.  They can accommodate the latest in salt-water and ultraviolet light cleaning systems.  You can also equip both pools with heating elements for more enjoyable play during chillier months.

Ultimately, your decision to buy an in-ground or above-ground pool should be based on the way that you’ll use the pool and your budget.

image credit: iriana88w (Deposit Photos)