What Kind of Pool Should You Install?

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If you are thinking about getting a pool, you have several options to consider—probably more than you think. Do you want an in-ground, above ground or natural pool? If you go with in-ground, what kind should that be—fiberglass, vinyl or concrete? Will you go with saltwater or chlorine? There are actually far more decisions to consider than those, but those are the big ones, so let’s talk about them here.

Type of Pool
Most people would agree that in a perfect world, an in-ground pool would be ideal. They can come in a variety of shapes, depending on the type of pool you choose. They are also aesthetically pleasing and can add value to your home if you live in a warm climate year-round. If you definitely want an in-ground pool, your next decision will be what it’s made of—concrete, vinyl or fiberglass. A concrete pool will give you more options as far as the shape of the pool. Concrete pools are cheaper than fiberglass but cost more than vinyl, and they take longer to install. Fiberglass and vinyl pools each take about a week to install. According to this chart, a fiberglass pool is the clear winner with the exception of initial cost.

Pros of Concrete:

  • Customizable shape – The hole can be dug and concrete poured in any shape you want, so you can build in a tanning ledge, create a zero-entry and make it as deep as you want.
  • Durability – Concrete pools are very durable. You don’t have to worry about getting tears in the vinyl because there’s no vinyl to be torn.

Cons of Concrete:

  • More Maintenance – Since concrete is porous, algae loves to live there, and it’s incredibly hard to remove.
  • More Chemicals – Because of the algae, more chemicals are needed to keep it at bay. Concrete also increases the pH of the pool water, so you need to add acid more often to balance it out. In addition, you can’t use saltwater because it will damage the concrete.
  • More Money – Higher initial cost due to the amount of concrete and the high price of concrete make the initial price high ($50,000-$100,000 depending on the size and how elaborate your pool will be) and since you have to add more chemicals, that increases the cost of ownership as well.
  • More Installation Time - It takes 3-6 months to install a concrete pool.
  • Rough Surface - Concrete pools tend to be rough on the bottom and sides, which can be uncomfortable on feet and snag swimsuits.

Pros of Vinyl:

  • Low Initial Cost – Installation costs, on average, $35,000-$65,000
  • Customizable Shapes – You can customize the shape of a vinyl liner pool, but it will cost more.

Cons of Vinyl:

  • Replacing the Liner – The vinyl liner of a vinyl liner pool needs to be replaced every 5-9 years. At a cost of about $4,000 each time, the overall cost of ownership goes up. Although most liners come with a 20-year warranty, it is usually very limited.
  • Algae – While the vinyl itself is not porous (and therefore won’t harbor algae growth) there are still parts of the pool where algae can grow.

Pros of Fiberglass:

  • Low Maintenance – Fiberglass pools come pre-formed, so it’s like getting a bathtub installed in the hole in your backyard, and the surface is smooth, so algae is less likely to form, which means fewer chemicals need to be used.
  • Fast Installation – Fiberglass pools can be installed in two days. Of course, the concrete and landscaping around them still needs to be done so you don’t end up with mud in the pool, but even then the average installation time is about a week.
  • Durability – Unlike a vinyl liner that needs to be replaced every 5-10 years or can be easily torn and need to be replaced, fiberglass pools are a tough, durable shell.
  • Compatible with Saltwater – Chemicals will still be needed in a saltwater pool, but not as many, which reduces your pool’s operating cost.

Cons of Fiberglass:

  • Initial Cost – At an installation price of $45,000-$85,000, fiberglass pools are not as expensive to install as a concrete pool, but cost more to install than vinyl liner pools.
  • Non-Customizable Shape – Since fiberglass pools are pre-formed, you are limited to the shapes that are available.

Natural Pools
Natural pools are a fairly new type of pool. The main difference is that they are not filtered by chemicals. Instead, they are filtered organically by plants that clean the water, so a regeneration zone needs to be built nearby, which means you need a lot of land to build one. The regeneration zone is where water goes through a gravel filter or plants that clean ponds naturally. Despite the fact that they are built with walls to keep dirt out, they look more like ponds than traditional pools.

Pros of Natural Pools:

  • They don’t have to be covered, drained and refilled
  • They don’t require chemicals
  • They can double as ice rinks in the winter
  • Because the water is always in motion, they deter pests
  • You can customize them, and even add waterfalls

Cons of Natural Pools:

  • They cost more to build
  • You need a lot of land to build them
  • They look more like a pond than a pool, which can be unappealing to some swimmers
  • They don’t contribute to resale value

Above Ground Pools
Although in-ground pools are attractive and can add value to a home, many people choose above ground pools instead because the initial cost is lower. Above ground pools cost $4,000-$12,000 for the pool itself and installation. The price depends on the size of the pool. This price, however, does not include decking, which makes it easier to vacuum the pool but also adds to the cost. You could buy a robotic pool vac that will do it for you; however, those are also expensive (but still cheaper than decking).

Pros of Above Ground Pools:

  • They are more affordable than in-ground pools
  • They are easy to install
  • You can take them down whenever you want

Cons of Above Ground Pools

  • Above ground pools last 7-15 years before the structure gives out, and the liner needs to be replaced every 5-9 years.
  • They don’t look as nice and don’t add as much resale value to your home
  • You can’t add options and features, and the depth is uniform
  • If you take them down, you will have a big dead spot to deal with in your yard

Whatever pool you choose, we hope it suits your needs and it will keep your family cool and entertained for years to come.

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