Pool Buyer Advice

Above-Ground vs In-Ground Pools: 15 Pros and Cons

Author: Josh Koop
Posted: April 10, 2020
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There are two key factors that determine whether most people get an in-ground pool or an above-ground one. It usually comes down to space and budget. If you have a limited amount of space and a low budget, an above ground pool is a solution.

There are various other factors that you need to take into consideration before settling on either one. What better way to figure it out than by listing the pros and cons of each one?

We will briefly explain each of the pros and cons to ensure that the context is not lost. 

Above Ground

PROSCONS
MobilityThe sizes and depth are restricted.
Easy to installCustomization options are limited
Lower Pricing PointProne to damage
Easier to cleanLess risk of fatal accidents
Maintenance costs are lowerActivities that you can use it for are limited
Running costs
Can be resold
Repairs are cheap
More energy efficient
Terrain issues are easier to overcome

In Ground

PROSCONS
SpaciousImmobility
Better Structural IntegrityDoes not have resale value
DurabilityRepairs are more costly
Wide range of customization optionsHigher risk of fatal accidents
Running costs are reasonableCosts more to install if the terrain is sloppy
It is less prone to damageUsually requires professionals to install
It is less prone to damage
May improve property value
Above ground pool sets on a concrete pad - Above-Ground vs In-Ground Pools

Above-Ground vs In-Ground Pools

When you are looking at choosing your pool for a house you have two options which each have a list of benefits and drawbacks.

Today we will cover what we see as the pros and cons of each to help you make the right decision for your home and family.

In Ground Pool Pros

More spacious

One of the biggest advantages of in-ground swimming pools is the space that it affords you. The smallest average swimming pool is 18x10 feet, which is quite large for a normal family use.

Considering that the average above ground swimming pool comes in at 9x9 feet, which means you will get more space with the in-ground pool.

There is more scope for going much larger with an in-ground pool than with an above-ground one. There are less structural constraints involved in this case than there would be with an above ground pool.

For instance, imagine the number of things that would be required to build a safe and steady above ground pool of Olympic size. 

Better Structural Integrity

A chunk of the structural integrity of an in-ground pool comes from the ground in which it is built. The building process involves making just enough space in the ground for the pool.

The earth surrounding the pool is left untouched. It then plays a massive role in ensuring that the structure of the pool is sound.

An in-ground pool, on the other hand, requires physical structures to be put in place to create the same sturdiness.

Durability

Durability is a key differentiating factor between these pools. The average lifespan of an in-ground pool is said to be about 25 years. This can be significantly longer if the pool is well cared for.

An above-ground pool, on the other hand, has a lifespan of about a decade if well cared for. 

A wide range of customisation options

The larger size of the in-ground pool provides more room for customization. If you have a deep end one, you can add things such as diving boards.

The list of things that you can customize is quite lengthy. Most of them can be linked to the activities that you would like to use the pool.

It can also be linked to making the needs of the users. Things such as stairs can be added to make it easier to get in and out of the pool. 

Backyard In-Ground Swimming Pool - Above-Ground vs In-Ground Pools

Running costs are reasonable

The general costs of running a pool are the filling of the pool with water, occasional maintenance, water treatment and debris clean up. At least once a year, you would need to empty to pool for a proper scrubbing. These costs are fairly low. 

It is less prone to damage

An in-ground pool is less exposed to harsh weather conditions in comparison to an above ground pool. For instance, the wind that would directly strike an above ground pool will not have an impact on the in-ground pool.

The same can be said of other weather conditions. From a material standpoint, the in-ground pool is constructed with some robust materials.

The most commonly used materials are polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, galvanized steel or metal, fiberglass, concrete, and polyurethane foam. [Source].

Based on the material used, you can probably tell why these pools are as durable as they are.

Improves property value

Although this is not quite ironclad, you will often find that the value of your property will benefit from having a pool. There are various other contributing factors that are worth taking into consideration. These include the effect of a pool on your liability.

Above Ground Pool Pros

Mobility

This is arguably the biggest advantage that an above ground pool will give you over an in-ground one. You have the option of moving it from one place to another. Depending on the size, it may require some considerable effort to get it done.

However, this is a possibility that you do not get when you have an in-ground pool. There are various reasons why one may want to move their pool from one place to another. These include making room for other construction or landscaping projects, among other things.

Easy to install

Another key differentiation between an above ground pool and an in-ground one is that you would usually be able to get it up and running without the aid of a professional.

This, of course, would save you a lot of money when it comes to the costs that would often be involved in hiring someone to do the work for you.

Takes less time to get going

The installation process of the above ground pool can take under an hour. You can have your brand new pool delivered and set up in that little time. This is not even remotely possible with an in-ground pool.

The average in-ground pool requires between 6 and 10 weeks to build. In contrast, you can have your above ground pool ready on the same day that you purchase it.

Lower pricing point

Besides the availability of space, the pricing point is another factor that usually determines the kind of pool that you go with. The above ground pool comes at a much lower pricing point than the in-ground one.

For the structurally sound ones, you may spend an average of between $1,850 to $4,977 including installation. In contrast, an in-ground one would set you back an average of between $28,000 to $55,000. [HomeGuide].

Easier to clean

Based on their size and ease of reach, above ground pools are much easier to clean up than in-ground ones. The material used on the inside is also easier to scrub. If the water is beyond redemption, it is much easier to empty and refill.

Once the pool is emptied, the scrubbing process can be done in very little time. You can step right in and clean it up. With the ease of cleaning also comes cheaper associated costs. 

Maintenance costs are lower

The maintenance costs of any pool are linked to the space that needs to be maintained. With that in mind, the smaller a pool is the cheaper it is to maintain.

As such, the average above ground pool will require less chlorine treatment, less time cleaning, and less water to refill it. Therefore the costs of maintaining it are considerably lower than those of an in-ground one. 

Running costs

When considering running costs, we are looking at how much it would take for the pool to get up and running. This can be from brand new or after a period in which it has not been used.

We would also consider how much it would cost to keep the pool going over a set time. This will also be linked to the size of the pool. The running costs of an average-sized above ground pool are considerably lower than that of an in-ground one. 

Has a resell value

If you ever got to a point at which your pool is surplus to your needs, there is potential to resell it and recoup some of your money. This, of course, is unique to the above ground pool.

In-ground pools are fixed to their location. They are immobile, thus cannot be resold. This also means that your above ground pool does not depreciate in value at the same rate that your in-ground pool would do.

While the value of an in-ground pool is tied to that of your home, the above ground pool has independent value. 

Above ground pool sunken below ground and surrounded by decking - Above-Ground vs In-Ground Pools

Repairs are cheaper

No matter how much effort you put into taking care of your pool, general wear and tear will occur. The costs of repairs will add up.

Due to its smaller size, an above ground pool will cost much less to repair. The material that it is made out of is generally easier to patch up when it is worn out.

The usual issues that will develop include leaks. These can be sealed using glue and rubber patches. The saving grace is that you can do most of these repairs yourself.

Most repairs on an in-ground pool would require a more experienced person to carry them out. 

DIY methods can be used if the terrain isn’t ideal

One of the challenges that you will encounter when building a swimming pool above or in the ground is the terrain. If the ground is sloppy or uneven you would need to flatten it out.

An above-ground pool requires the ground to be even. The difference between trying to even out the surface for an in-ground pool and an above-ground is the effort that it takes. You can get away with some quick shovel work in the latter.

This is not something that you can do with an in-ground pool. You would require some excavation work. This, of course, is the pricier option. 

More energy efficient

This is something else that is tied to the size of the pool. Between filtering, draining, refilling and perhaps heating the pool there are not many other energy requirements.

All of these tasks can be carried out at the expense of much less energy consumption in the average above ground pool in comparison to an in-ground pool.

In Ground Cons

Immobility

Once an in-ground pool is constructed, that is it. You cannot reconsider its location. This would not only be inefficient where cost is concerned.

It also means that there is a hole in the ground where your pool was when you build your new one. This is not the case with an above ground pool. When you move it, it comes with everything that it had. 

Does not have a resell value

The value of an in-ground pool is directly linked to the value of your house. You cannot sell the pool on its own. This also means that it can impact the value of your home by out-pricing potential buyers.

There are cases where the house would become too expensive for the area that it is in. These are some of the things that one would need to consider.

Repairs are more costly

In comparison with above ground pool, in-ground pools are more costly to repair. One key indicator for this disparity is the fact that there is a range of DIY repair kits available for above ground pools.

These are repairs that most adults would be able to carry out on their one. In contrast, most repairs on an in-ground pool will require a professional to carry them out.

The nature of the material that needs to be repaired is what makes this so complex. You are talking about steel and concrete in some cases. These are not things that can just be patched up.

Higher risk of fatal accidents

As a general rule, in ground swimming pools will be deeper than above ground ones. You will also find that there is a correlation between depth and fatal accidents.

The risk is much higher when you have a deep end in your in-ground pool. Beyond the depth, it takes more effort to get into an above ground swimming pool than an in ground one. That makes it easier for toddlers to fall into one pool than the other.

Costs more to install if the terrain is sloppy

When dealing with a sloppy terrain where excavation would be required, the costs of building your swimming pool will be much higher. It would also mean that completion time might not fall within the norm. 

Usually requires professionals to build

Part of the money that you would save from the installation of an above ground pool is down to being able to do some of the work yourself.

If you are a DIY enthusiast, you could do all of the work. On the other, an in-ground pool requires professionals to build it. 

Above Ground Cons

The sizes and depth are restricted.

Depending on your motivation for having a pool, you may find that there are some limitations posed by the size and the depth of an above ground pool. The size will restrict you from playing various ball games as well as being able to practice for swimming competitions.

On the contrary, an in-ground pool would provide you with more room to play with depth as well as with the length and width of the pool. This affords you more uses for your pool.

Customisation options are limited

The restriction in size and depth will also extend to the customization options that you would have with your above ground pool.

In most cases, you would need to add new structures to support any customization options that you wanted to add to your pool.

For instance, if you wanted to add a new set of stairs to you above ground pool, you would need to add new fixtures and fittings to hold it in place.

On the contrary, you can use the concrete base surrounding an in-ground pool as the supporting structure for your stairs.

In most cases, you have the option to design your in-ground pool in the shape that you want. This is not usually possible with above ground pools. They come in a finite number of shapes. 

Prone to damage

An above ground pool does not get the same shielding that an in-ground pool does. As harsh winds blow, the hit it directly. The same can be said of other adverse weather conditions such as snow and extreme heat.

These weather changes will take a toll on your pool over time. That is what make it prone to damage.

Less risk of fatal accidents.

The average above ground pool will usually be shallower than the average in-ground pool. Pair this with the fact that it takes some effort to get into an above ground pool than it would to fall into an in-ground one. As a result there is less of a risk of fatal accidents occurring.

There is also the fact that the sides of an above ground pool as well as its base are softer than those of an in-ground one. Most fatal accidents are linked to injuries sustained by direct impact on these surfaces. 

Final Thoughts on Above Ground vs In-Ground Pools

You would have noted that there are various pros and cons for both types of pools.

Based on your personal circumstances, your preferences and perhaps the space that you have available, you should be able to settle on the ideal one.

So, what will it be for you? An above ground or an in-ground one?

Image of the Pool Owner Josh
Hi, its nice to meet you. My name is Josh and I have wanted a pool my entire life.

When we moved to Texas I finally got my wish but wasn't ready for the massive amount of things you have to know!

This site is built from my labor of love to learn pool management and understand changes and repairs!

Hope it can help more people like learning this has helped my family and myself!
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