What Kind of Pool Should You Install? | Shelter Insurance®

What Kind of Pool Should You Install?

Image: Little girl swimming in a pool with two float toys.

If you are thinking about getting a pool, you have several options to consider—in-ground, above ground, natural pool, lazy river (yes—it’s a thing now!)? 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 considerations than those, but those are the big ones, so let’s talk about them here.

Type of Pool
In-ground pools are the most appealing type for most people who want pools. They can come in a variety of shapes, they are aesthetically pleasing, and if you live in a warm climate, they can add value to your home. If you’ve decided to go with 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, and they cost less than fiberglass. However, they cost more than vinyl and take longer to install. Fiberglass and vinyl pools each take about a week to install. According to this chart, a fiberglass pool seems to be the clear winner.

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. That’s why you need…
  • More Chemicals – Because of the higher potential for algae to form, you need chemicals that can keep it away. 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 – The high price of concrete and amount needed make the cost of building the pool somewhat high ($50,000-$100,000 depending on the size and how elaborate your pool will be). In addition, the cost of adding more chemicals increases the cost of ownership.
  • 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 – On average, it costs $35,000-$65,000 to install a vinyl pool.
  • Customizable Shapes – You can customize the shape of a vinyl liner pool, but it adds to the cost.

Cons of Vinyl:

  • Replacing the Liner – The vinyl liner of a vinyl liner pool needs to be replaced every 5-10 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 –The vinyl itself is not porous, so it won’t harbor algae growth. However, there are still parts of the pool where algae can grow.

Pros of Fiberglass:

  • Low Maintenance – Fiberglass pools come pre-formed, much like a fiberglass bathtub. Because of the smooth surface, algae is less likely to form, which means fewer chemicals need to be used.
  • Fast Installation – Fiberglass pools can be installed in two days, but installing concrete and landscaping around them makes the average installation time about a week.
  • Durability – Unlike a vinyl liner that needs to be replaced every 5-10 years or can be easily torn, fiberglass pools are a tough, durable shell.
  • Compatible with Saltwater – Chemicals will still be needed in a saltwater pool, but not as many. Although saltwater has a higher cost initially, it 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 filtered organically by plants that clean the water instead of filtered by chemicals. Because of that, 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
  • 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 (depending on its size) and installation. This price does not include decking, which makes it easier to vacuum the pool but also adds to the cost. If you don’t want to incur the cost of decking, you could buy a robotic pool vac that will do it for you.  Those are somewhat expensive too, but still cost less 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

Lazy River
Once only found in water parks or amusement parks, lazy rivers are becoming a popular backyard alternative to a full swimming pool. You can walk against the current to get all your steps in for the day and a good workout, then hop on a raft and let the current move you through the water to relax. Similar to other pools, the bigger and fancier your lazy river is, the more expensive it will be. In general, you can expect to pay $100-$170 per square foot for a lazy river. Since labor and permits cost different amounts in different parts of the country, there’s not an average on that, but you will need to factor those costs in as well.

Pros of Lazy Rivers:

  • There are fitness benefits
  • They are relaxing

Cons of Lazy Rivers:

  • Prices are wildly different, but the average cost of installing a lazy river can be high, depending on the size.
  • A family might prefer a regular pool

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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