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Choosing a Pool: Above Ground or In Ground?

The decision to purchase and install an above ground or inground swimming pool is a happy one—promising years of enjoyment for you and your family. But as with any major purchase, the better your understanding of the options available to you, the better your decision-making process. Ultimately (again, as with any major purchase), you’d like your new backyard vacation to provide the most enjoyment for the greatest value, with the least amount of upkeep and maintenance.

Value is something that’s individually determined—so the general options explained here are done so to review the most popular types of swimming pool available to you.

  • Inground Swimming Pools: Inground pools are exactly what you think they are—pools that are inset into an excavated hole in the ground on your property. Where they differ is in their material, cost, and installation time, all of which can be significant
  • Fiberglass Swimming Pools: Similar in theory to concrete pools, the fiberglass pool is a one-piece pre-molded fiberglass shell that is placed into an excavated hole in the ground using a crane. The bottom is filled with water to anchor the pool, and then sand is backfilled behind the shell as water is added to balance the weight of the water against the ground. Concrete is poured into a pre-formed flange to anchor the pool in place—oftentimes forming the pool deck. While less expensive than concrete, fiberglass pools can still run well into five figures, and require enough property access to allow for crane operation.
  • Vinyl Swimming Pools: As in other inground options, vinyl pools begin with an excavation. The hole is created for your pool, and then the walls are reinforced with steel, aluminum, fiberglass or concrete. The bottom of the hole is lined with sand or a hard bottom is poured, and then a vinyl liner is dropped into the opening and fixed to the walls with coping. Both installation times and costs are lowered and this is the most popular for residential use.

Above Ground Swimming Pools: These options are exactly what they promise; the different styles of above ground pools are constructed either completely above ground, or combine above ground features with deeper regions that require minimal excavations. These are by far the most cost effective type of pool, and involve an engineered pre-fabricated shell made of aluminum or steel that forms the outer walls of the pool, above the ground. A liner is fixed to the engineered walls and filled, and oftentimes pool decking comes standard with an above ground swimming, offering greater savings, and safety, to your pool package.

Above ground pools fit virtually any budget, and unlike any of the inground permanent options, can be taken down and moved as the homeowner moves. Installation is quick, usually within a day or two from a licensed contractor, and is significantly less intrusive than any other type of pool installation.

When compared side by side, above ground swimming pools generally seem to offer the greatest number of features for the least amount of price when compared to inground pools. They install quickly, offer variations in size, style and depth, are very cost effective, and generally add value to a home.

But like with all things we add to our life for long-term enjoyment, the value must be ultimately measured by you. Research all pool options, and pick the value that meets your needs and your budget.