Today:24 May, 2024

In-ground vs above-ground pool – pros and cons of each

There are many different types of swimming pools, each one offering specific features. But, we can say there are two main categories, namely, in-ground pools and above-ground pools. That’s why when homeowners start considering buying a pool, they first do research on in-ground vs. an above-ground pool. Well, we’re here to save your time and give you an easy way to learn the basics of each category of the pool. Today we’ll talk about the good and the bad of in-ground and above-ground pools. When you’re done reading this article, you’ll surely have a better understanding of what type will best suit your needs and, of course, your budget.

In-ground vs above-ground pool

Size and shape

An in-ground pool can enhance the look of your backyard, and offer you a pleasing view. In addition, it can increase the value of your home, in case you plan to sell it one day. This is even more true if you happen to live in a warm climate. An in-ground pool can be constructed from concrete (gunite), fiberglass or they can feature a vinyl liner.

Types of in-ground pool

Concrete (gunite)

Gunite is a type of concrete specifically designed to withstand years of abuse hence it’s used for concrete pools. The best part about the concrete pool is that it can be fully customized. So, you can literally have a pool of your dreams right at your backyard. You can choose size, shape, and pretty much every other feature (such as a waterfall, spa, fire feature, a slope, etc.) that you want your pool to have. As you can imagine, a concrete pool is the most expensive type to build. And of course, if you want a more complex pool, keep in mind that the installation will take much longer.


Fiberglass is plastic reinforced with glass fibers. This type of pool comes pre-built and as such is cheaper to build. It is much easier to install because the experts only need to dig the hole, install the plumbing, and set up the pool. On the downside, a fiberglass pool has a shorter lifespan than a gunite pool. Since it comes pre-built, a fiberglass pool doesn’t leave many options when it comes to shape and size.

Vinyl Liner

This is a type of pool that features a vinyl liner across the inner surface of the pool. This one is the cheapest of the three types but also has the shortest lifespan. On the bright side, you do have a lot of options when it comes to colors and designs.

Above-ground pool

Above-ground pools are affordable, so they can be seen in many backyards. They come in round and oval shape, although there are also a few rectangular models available.  But, since these pools come in a kit, you have limited choice as far as height and size are concerned. The good side is that you can buy a model based on your needs, whether it is a pool that can accommodate more than 10 people if you love inviting friends and family over, a pool for kids, or a rectangular pool for doing laps.  Also, you can buy a more affordable pool for the first time, and then see how you like it. After a season or two, you can invest in a bigger one.


Building an in-ground pool is certainly not a naïve task. The project (digging the hole, installation, and finishing touches) can take up to several weeks, depending on the type of pool. A concrete pool is the most complex to install, whereas a fiberglass and vinyl liner pool can be built in one week.

On the other hand, an above-ground pool can be installed in two days. The thing that requires most work is clearing space where the pool will be installed and leveling the ground. Although this type of pool can be installed on your own, it’s best to call a professional since the warranty is valid only in this case.


Installing an in-ground pool is a big investment. Apart from the pool itself, there are also other features to take into account, such as the decking, pool filter, treatment, accessories, and plumbing. The cost may vary from $25, 000 – $70, 000, depending on the type of pool and afore-mentioned features.

Installation of an above-ground pool is much cheaper, ranging from $2, 000 – $10, 000. Of course, build material, size, added features and labor play a significant role when determining the cost of the pool.

Maintenance and other costs

Whether you choose an in the ground or above-ground pool, you will need to take care of your pool and water in it. Of course, you will have to clean the water regularly and keep it safe for swimming. This includes running pumps, regulating the Ph value of the water, adding different chemicals to kill algae and bacteria. Also, the bottom and sides should be swept manually or by a robotic pool cleaner. But, an above-ground pool is much smaller than an in-ground pool, hence it requires less maintenance.

Another thing to take into account is damages. A concrete or fiberglass pool is less prone to damage. As mentioned, a vinyl cover has to be replaced from time to time. However, if an in-ground pool somehow gets damaged, fixing it will be expensive.

An above-ground pool is more prone to damage, as its sides are exposed. For example, a kid or pet can accidentally make a hole in the pool, and that a storm can cause damage too.

As far as other costs are concerned, an in-ground pool will significantly affect your electricity and water bills due to heating and all those gallons of water needed to fill and refill the pool. An above-ground pool will also affect your water and even electricity bills (if you plan to install heating), but it won’t be so significant.

Pool features

An in-ground pool can have a plethora of added features, giving you numerous ways to customize the pool up to your own liking. Diving board and slide, waterfalls, bars, connected spa, or a shallow pool for children are just some of the features you can enjoy in the in-ground pool.

An above-ground pool offers many fewer options. Since its depth is limited, you cannot add a diving board. But, you can add heating, so the water is comfortable for swimming. You can also play with lighting and create magic at night. This will make a pool a nice addition to the landscape. What you can also have is a wood deck. A wood deck will add a warm touch to the pool, making it friendly and inviting. Add a water feature and plants on a deck, and you’ve got yourself an oasis right at your fingertips.

But, not everyone wants all these features. The most useful element that a pool (either in the ground or above-ground pool) should have is a pool cover. There are different types of pool covers, so it’s important to find the best one for your pool.


While an in-ground pool is a huge investment, it can prove to be a very wise one. A concrete pool has the longest lifespan of all three types. If properly and regularly maintained, it can last 50 years and even. However, a fiberglass pool can last 20-25 years on a condition that the gel-coat finish is reapplied every 10 years. A vinyl liner pool has the shortest lifespan of all three because it can be damaged by weather or mistreatment.

An above-ground pool can last about 10 – 15 years with great care and maintenance though it is possible for some models to last up to 25 years. On the other hand, there are also cheap inflatable models that will only last for 2 – 3 seasons. If you want to have a durable pool, make sure to buy a permanent above-ground pool rather than the one that cannot be winterized.

Permanent or temporary

Whereas an above-ground pool is usually bought as a temporary addition to the backyard, it can also be permanently installed. Naturally, this will require more money and time. Also, in case you want to sell your home one day, it may spoil the overall look of your landscape. But, luckily, removing an above-ground pool is much easier than an in-ground pool.


Safety is definitely something you should be worried about if you plan to buy/build a swimming pool. An above-ground pool is safer of the two, at least according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. It’s important to do all you can in order to make the pool safer for your family and visitors. According to the CDC, four-sided fencing decreases the risk of drowning by 80 percent when compared to swimming pools that have three-sided fencing. So, you would want to install a four-sided fence with a self-closing lock. This goes for both types of pools. In case you need to winterize the pool, invest in hardcover so that a child or an adult cannot fall into the pool and drown. Furthermore, you can install a pool alarm and a locking gate.

If you have kids, they should receive swimming instruction, and it wouldn’t harm to learn pool safety tips yourself. Also, do not leave your kids unsupervised in the pool because it can only take a few minutes for them to drown.

In-ground pool


  • A variety of shapes, sizes, and designs available
  • A variety of features available
  • Enhances the look of the backyard
  • Less prone to damaging
  • Long lifespan


  • Expensive
  • A complex installation that takes time
  • More maintenance needed
  • Repairs are pricey
Above-ground pool


  • Costs less
  • Much easier and faster to install
  • Requires less maintenance
  • Less expensive repairs


  • Limited in size, shape, and depth
  • Damages more easily
  • Does not last as long
  • Fewer added features available
  • Can hurt resale value

Bottom line

Both in-ground and above-ground pools have advantages and disadvantages. It’s important to know your possibilities and choose accordingly. But, the most important thing is to keep your pool safe and this includes regular maintenance and repairs as well as buying safety features. Once you’ve got all that, you can relax and enjoy your pool.

Joseph is the founder and Chief Editor of "Indoor To Outdoor". He is an entrepreneur with experience in sales of household products. He also travels a lot, takes pictures and loves to ride a bike.

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