In-ground pools consist of a deep hole dug into the ground and lined with concrete, vinyl, or fibreglass before being filled with water. Above-ground pools undergo a similar process, except that there’s no dug up hole. Instead, the ground is flattened, then a vinyl liner is laid on top of the concrete or plaster base.
Vinyl liners, whether they are in-ground or above-ground, will last between 5 and 9 years. After that, they’ll have to be replaced, even though the rest of the pool structure might still be sound. As for the frame of the pool itself, an above-ground pool can stand for 7 to 11 years on average, although it can last a lot longer if it’s well taken care of.
For comparison, an in-ground pool can last 20 years or more if it has a fibreglass shell. A concrete pool can survive longer, but the concrete will have to be completely resurfaced every 9 to 13 years. Resurfacing can often cost as much as putting in a new above-ground pool.
Concerning cost, an above-ground pool is as little as half or even a quarter the price of an in-ground pool, and sometimes the price gap is even bigger. In-ground pools are far cheaper to put up than underground ones, and they’re also quicker to install. Also, replacing a vinyl liner is significantly more affordable than resurfacing a concrete pool.
An above-ground pool can be installed in less than a week, and that includes waiting for the slab to set. Underground pools can take weeks or even months to construct. And while you can install an above-ground pool on your own, you need a professional swimming pool crew to build your underground swimming pool.
There are other differences that can help you choose the type of pool you should buy. Above ground, pools can be as large and deep as in-ground pools, but they are not designed to accommodate graduating depths. There is not shallow or deep end of an above-ground pool. The level at the bottom of the pool is consistent throughout.
Pool maintenance is the same whether you’re using an above-ground or in-ground pool. They both need regular pH checks, floor vacuuming, filter cleaning, and skim basket emptying. The best way to clean a pool floor is to walk around the edge with a pool brush, pool skimmer, or pool vacuum to clean the walls and floor.
As you can imagine, above-ground pools are well-elevated, so it’s tricky to walk around the pool while brushing the surface. When installing above-ground pools, owners may have to request their pool installers to include a perimeter platform around the pool rim that can be used for pool maintenance.
The other choice you need to make as you’re installing your pool is the type of pool disinfectant you will need. There are two options – salt and chlorine. Each one has its advantages. Salt-water pools are organic, so they are more environmentally friendly, while chlorine pools are more common, so you have a lot of experience to draw on.
You might also think about your landscaping. An above-ground pool rises a few metres above the ground, and that offers a whole different landscaping scenario from your standard in-ground swimming pool. Both pool types are best closed for the winter though.
The best way to find a pool that works for you is to experience them first hand. If you don’t have friends with pools of their own, talk to an installation company. They have a wide pool of customers, and they probably know a few that will let you take a dip and test the waters.