Should I Buy an Inground or an Above Ground Pool?

Choosing the best swimming pool for your family and your budget

Getting a new swimming pool is a really big deal. Often, it’s something that a family dreams of and talks about for years before they finally take the plunge and do it. Because it’s such a big decision, it’s important to do your research.

One of the first choices you’ll be faced with is whether you want an above ground or inground pool. If you choose an above ground pool, you’ll be getting a vinyl liner pool, as that’s the only type of pool offered in above ground styles. If you choose an inground pool, you’ll be choosing between three pool types. In addition to a vinyl liner pool, you’ll also have the options of gunite (concrete) and fiberglass pools.

Let’s take a look at some of the factors to consider between above ground and inground pools, as well as the feature options and pricing to help you narrow the field.

  1. Where you live. This should be your first consideration when you’re choosing what type of pool is right for you because the choice may not be yours. Some homeowners’ associations do not allow above ground pools and may even dictate what type of inground pool you can install in your backyard. So, if your home is located in a neighborhood that has an association, check the bylaws before you spend time doing any other research.
  2. Pool Cost. If your budget is limited, and you’re really only interested in having a place to cool off every once in a while, you might prefer an above ground vinyl liner pool. Do-it-yourselfers can find above ground pool kits such as the one pictured for as little as $1,500. Inground vinyl pools (installed) might run between $10,000 and $20,000. By contrast, a small fiberglass pool (installed) would cost a minimum of around $20,000, with average installations, but run closer to $40,000. Gunite pools (installed) will start at $30,000 in most areas, with an average cost running closer to $50,000.
  3. Installation time. Above ground pool kits are designed to snap together. You could put it together in a day and be swimming as soon as you can get it filled and balance your water chemistry. So, if swimming ASAP is your priority, again, a vinyl liner, above ground pool might do the trick for you. By contrast, inground vinyl liner pools will take an average of 30 days to install while gunite pools can take as long as 90 days (in good weather). Because the fiberglass shells are manufactured and shipped in one piece, inground fiberglass pools can be installed in as little as two weeks.
  4. Maintenance. While the low upfront cost of an above ground pool might be tempting, you should be prepared to spend both time and money on pool maintenance. The vinyl liner on these types of pools won’t withstand pets’ paws, sharp-edged toys or heavy use. You’ll likely spend at least $500-$1000 to replace the liner on any above ground pool. Also, the crevices in the liners make an ideal breeding ground for algae, so you’ll need to keep on top of your water chemistry. Gunite pools will need to be resurfaced every 7-10 years, at an average cost of $15,000. However, fiberglass pools never need to be resurfaced and require the least amount of chemicals to maintain proper water balance, because of their impervious gel coat finish.
  5. Resale value. If your home’s resale value is important to you, an above ground pool won’t help you there. In most areas, an inground pool will improve your home’s value, whereas above ground pools will not. In fact, some buyers may request that the pool be removed from the property as a condition of the sale when you’re ready to move. But, if you’re thinking of moving soon and want to be able to take your pool with you, an above ground pool will allow you to do so.
  6. Aesthetics. In terms of overall beauty, above ground pools simply cannot compare to an inground pool. The compromise you’ll make in terms of upfront cost and minimal installation time means that you’ll be looking out the window at a large object sitting in the middle of your yard, just as you would a jungle gym, swing set or trampoline. Also, if you decide to get rid of your above ground pool, you’ll need to reseed or re-sod your lawn.

inground pools

Any type of inground pool offers you the ability to landscape around it, create specialty decking and add in ambiance-enhancing lighting. With gunite pools, you can choose any kind of custom shape you can imagine (but your cost will reflect that). With a quality fiberglass pool, you can choose from a huge assortment of shapes, sizes and colors, so you can get a custom look at no extra charge. You’re sure to find one that perfectly complements your backyard and your home’s overall look and feel.

In a nutshell: 

Every style of pool has its pros and cons and you’ll have to do some research to figure out which type of pool fits your family’s style and personality. But here’s the takeaway:

An above ground pool might be right for you if: 

  • Your homeowners’ association allows it.
  • You just want a quick and inexpensive way to cool off and pool cost is a big part of your decision.
  • The overall look of your backyard isn’t that big of a deal to you.
  • You might be moving soon and want to be able to take your pool with you.
  • You understand that you might be trading some of your upfront savings for additional repair and maintenance costs down the line.

You should choose an inground pool if: 

  • Your homeowners’ association requires inground pool installation.
  • Your inground pool cost budget allows for the upfront investment, or you are able to finance your new pool purchase.
  • Your home’s resale value and the overall look of your backyard oasis are important to you.
  • You’re planning to stay in your home a while to make your upfront investment worthwhile.
  • You’re ready to create a place that will allow you to have quality family time together for many years to come.

About Thursday Pools

Thursday Pools designs and manufactures the world’s most durable and elegantly crafted fiberglass pools. We are ISO 9001 certified, which means that fiberglass pool shells are made with the highest standards and from the best quality material available. We are also ISO 14001 certified, which means we are committed to environmental stewardship. Our one-piece, inground fiberglass swimming pool manufacturing facility is located in Fortville, Indiana. At Thursday Pools, we aspire to be the world’s most respected fiberglass pool manufacturer and to help our customers create a lifetime of memories with their family and friends.

The world’s first truly zero entry fiberglass pools 

Thursday Pools is the creator of the world’s first beach entry (or zero entry) fiberglass pool. Grace Beach Entry and Sandal Beach Entry are currently available to order, so you can bring the shore to your door with your new fiberglass pool.

The world’s first sunken living area fiberglass pools 

Thursday Pools has also recently unveiled the world’s first sunken living area fiberglass pool. These exclusive designs will be available to order in 2020.

Are you ready to take the plunge and get a FREE estimate on your very own fiberglass pool? There’s only one way to find out the true cost of your dream pool… Contact a Thursday Pools dealer today!