I Want an Inground Pool. But I Don’t Want to Pay A Lot.

What’s the difference in inground pool costs?

If spending more time with loved ones (or by yourself) outdoors is climbing on your “should-have” list, and you have the space for an inground pool, you may have started an online search. Being a conscientious consumer, you could have landed here searching for the cheapest inground pools. No inground pool is “cheap,” but in this post, we’ll give you an honest comparison of costs for vinyl liner, gunite, and fiberglass pools so that you may make an informed decision about what inground pool costs might be.

Vinyl Liner Pool

Vinyl liner inground pool costs. Vinyl liner pools are generally the cheapest inground pools with regard to upfront costs; however, their costs can increase significantly based on a number of factors. A ballpark figure on the lower end for an inground 12’ x 24’ vinyl liner pool with installation is around $42,000. Some constraints with vinyl you’ll want to be aware of: 

  • Unique freeform shapes can add to your upfront price, and vinyl replacement costs as manufacturing a custom liner add time and materials.
  • High-end features such as bench seating or wraparound steps can add to your cost and may not be a good idea with the tendency of vinyl to attract algae and become slippery.
  • Cost of ownership or annual maintenance will offset some of those initial cost savings.
  • As previously mentioned, vinyl liner pools attract algae, so you must clean more often. Expect to spend (or pay someone to spend) around four to eight hours per week on vinyl liner pool maintenance. 
  • You could estimate around $13,000 in maintenance expenses over a ten year span, excluding liner replacement costs.
  • Vinyl liners usually need to be replaced about every seven years (or fewer if the pool hasn’t been properly maintained), costing about $5,000 or $6,000. 

Concrete Pool

Gunite inground pool costs. Gunite pools typically cost the most to install, and their prices are the most varied across the country, depending on your location. In some regions, they are the high-volume choice of dealers, and installation costs can be competitive. You tend to see more gunite installations in sunbelt states that are not subject to the freeze/thaw cycle. An average-size gunite pool installed is around $75,000. Here are some of the cost factors for gunite: 

  • Freeforms generally cost more than basic shapes and depending on how complicated the design is, the complexity may add more cost to the bottom line.
  • Each build is custom. Gunite costs more as you add features and options.
  • The porosity of gunite attracts algae and mineral deposits. It requires significant time and money to keep it clean. Expect to spend (or pay someone to spend) around four to eight hours per week on gunite pool maintenance. 
  • Gunite pools usually require an acid wash to remove algae and mold every three to five years, and due to multiple acid washes, they often require re-plastering about every ten years, costing around $8,000.
  • According to Forbes, as of March 2022, concrete pool owners can expect to pay an average of $27,500 over ten years for maintenance.

Fiberglass inground pool costs. Fiberglass pools will usually fall in the middle between vinyl and gunite on the initial installation cost. However, lifetime ownership and annual maintenance costs are lower than vinyl and gunite. A basic install for an average-size fiberglass pool comes in around $60,000. Some considerations of fiberglass pools relative to cost include: 

  • Regardless of shape, the pricing is relatively consistent at around $1,800 per linear foot, except for beach entry fiberglass pool designs which tend to cost about 15 percent more.  
  • Built-in features such as wraparound steps and benches, tanning ledges, and swim-outs do not cost extra, but they must already be part of the design you choose.
  • Easy access is essential to keeping costs down because they are delivered in one piece and not built on site.
  • They are resistant to algae and require the lowest maintenance, needing only about an hour or two per week, and their ten-year cost for maintenance is around $5,000.

Factors affecting any inground pool cost. Some factors drive up costs, no matter what pool type you choose. 

  • Pool size affects the price. Generally speaking, smaller pools cost less than larger ones for installation and maintenance.
  • Site conditions factor into pricing. Clay, sand, rock, and water can all pose problems when installing any pool adding around $5,000 or more to your installation cost. 
  • Fencing costs around $25 to $50 per linear foot installed, and gates run at least $250 to $400 each.
  • Pool covers run from $500 to more than $12,000.
  • Additional features such as bubblers, deck jets, LED lighting, slides, and diving boards will add to the cost.

A Word on DIY. One way to save money on home improvement projects is to do it yourself. Who hasn’t watched a YouTube video to learn a new trick around the house? There are YouTube tutorials for DIY pool builders and inground pool kits for sale, and they can save you some money. Buyer beware, though. A DIY inground pool is hard work. And doing it yourself usually voids any warranty the manufacturer or installer may offer.

Small Fiberglass Pool Ideas

If you decide to look at lifetime costs and want to check out some small fiberglass pool designs, one of the following may be the pool for your lifestyle:

Aspen. The smallest available size is 12’ x 25’ with a depth of 5’1”. The Aspen features a wide tanning ledge, full-length steps, and an extended bench. And it has a wide-open swim area and courtesy ledge throughout the deep end.

Sea Turtle. This pool comes in one size: 9.5’ x 19.5’. Sea Turtle is a flat-bottom pool with a depth of 4’6”, which is ideal for socializing and water activities. Walk-in steps and long benches make it family and pet-friendly, and it’s perfect for entertaining guests.

Pearl. Measuring 15’ x 25’ with a 3’9” depth, the Pearl is a shell-shaped pool that is unique. It’s great for socializing and sunning, with room for two ledge loungers and wrap-around benches.

For more help finding the right fiberglass pool for you, try out the Pool Cost Calculator and Pool Selector Tool