Above-Ground and In-Ground Pools: What’s the Difference?


Choosing between above-ground and in-ground pools may not be a thing for the swimmers. However, the case is different for swimming pool owners. Swimming pools are installed considering several factors, and that include whether to install it above the ground or in the ground.

There are many things that play a role in the decision-making, including the budget, the weather, and the location. If you are planning to install a swimming pool and confused which is better, we are going to lay down all the important details to help you.

We are going to look into each pool first before we compare both of them.

Above-Ground Pool

Above-ground pools are basically those pools that are not under the ground. You can see their walls from the outside because they are elevated.

In the United States, above-ground pools are in the minority, but a lot of people are still choosing it because of its cost, which is more affordable compared to in-ground pools. You can have an above-ground pool even if you have less than ten thousand dollars.

Also, it doesn’t take long to install. In fact, it is possible that the installation is done within a day. However, that’s considering the area is cleared beforehand.

In terms of depth, with above-ground pools, you can expect that the level of water is the same whichever part of the pool you go.

On the other hand, in terms of longevity, above-ground pools can last a decade. You have to replace some parts if you want them to reach its tenth year. Nevertheless, they are still low maintenance compared to in-ground pools.

This type of pool is much safer, especially for kids. According to statistics, fewer people drown in above-ground pools.

Above-Ground and In-Ground Pools: What's the Difference?

In-Ground Pool

In-ground pools cost 2 to 3 times more than above-ground pools, but they last longer and can be in different shapes and sizes, which is why they are more common than above-ground pools.

You have to have at least $30,000 if you want a good-quality in-ground pool, and that is expensive. Repair fees are also not cheap.

Installing an in-ground pool takes a few weeks, and it is quite difficult to do so. There’s the decking, the landscaping, the generators, the electrical wiring, and so on and so forth, and the pool wouldn’t be in good condition if those are not done properly.

In addition, because in-ground pools are about digging the ground to give depth to the pool, they can be 5 feet here and then 8 feet there. All areas of the pool don’t have to have equal depth.

There’s permanence in in-ground pools too.

Above-Ground and In-Ground Pools: What's the Difference?

Above-Ground and In-Ground Pools: Which is Better?

All swimming pools have the same purpose, especially if they are seen from the normal people’s perspective (i.e., the swimmers). However, if you are thinking of having your own swimming pool, you now have to deal with a lot of things.

Choosing between above-ground or in-ground, for example.

The differences between above-ground and in-ground pools include:

  • Costs
  • Installation Time Frame
  • Structure
  • Lifespan
  • Maintenance
  • Safety

If you are in the process of choosing which type of pool is better for you, here are brief but helpful explanations for each difference that may clear up any confusion you have right now.

1. Costs

Between above-ground and in-ground pools, above-ground is the better choice if your budget is small and limited. You can already have a decent above-ground pool with just $10,000, which is not the case with in-ground pool.

If you want to have a good in-ground pool, $20,000 is still not enough. The cost of a good in-ground pool starts around $30,000.

In addition to that, you should keep in mind that apart from the installation fee, you have to pay for other things like equipment and supplies needed, decorations, plants, etc., which can cost up to thousands of dollars.

2. Installation Time Frame

Installing an in-ground pool can take a few weeks to months. The quality of the land should be checked, if it is good for swimming pools, before it is prepared for the digging. Digging takes time.

Above-ground pools, on the other hand, are easy to install. In fact, it can be installed within 24 hours to 48.

If you want your swimming pool to be ready as soon as possible, well, it still depends. How soon is your soon?

If you need it within the week, go for above-ground pool.

Need it next month? Both are fine.

3. Structure and Appearance

This is a basic one. Above-ground pools are located on the ground while in-ground pools in. Above-ground pools are much better for places that generally have cold weather. If you are in a tropical country, in-ground pools are often the best choice.

But that’s not to say that you can’t have an in-ground pool if you are in Canada, for example. You can. But did you know? If the weather is cold, it affects the soil composition. The soil freezes.

Also, if you want a permanent pool, you should have an in-ground pool because they are indeed in the ground. Although there are permanent above-ground pools, they are still easier to be removed than the permanent in-ground ones.

Another thing, in terms of pool shapes, the choices are limited for above-ground pools, usually just square, round, or oval. If you want a heart-shaped pool, you should go for in-ground.

Above-Ground and In-Ground Pools: What's the Difference?

4. Lifespan

Above-ground pools can last up to ten years, provided that you are taking care of them. In-ground pools, on the other hand, can surpass above-ground pool’s longevity, depending on the material used.

If you use fiberglass, for instance, the pool can stand for about two decades.

Regardless, in general, in-ground pools are more long-lasting than above-ground pools. Having said that, if you are thinking for the long term, in-ground pools are a good option, even though they are more expensive.

5. Maintenance

There’s not much of a difference between above-ground and in-ground pools in terms of maintenance because both use either chlorine or salt water to maintain the cleanliness of the water.

However, in terms of the materials, specifically their cost, if they get damaged, you would spend more of you have an in-ground pool.

6. Safety

It’s said that a lot more people drown in in-ground pools than in above-ground pools. That said, if the majority of the people who will use the pool are kids or people who are not capable of saving themselves from drowning, go for above-ground pools.

But you should not depend on that alone. Just because it is above-ground pool doesn’t mean it is automatically safe for everyone. You should still make sure to keep an eye on each and every one in the pool so as to avoid emergencies.

7. Size

Most, if not all, of the swimming pools used in Olympics and other competitions are in-ground, and that is because in-ground pools can be as long as you want it to be. Sizes for above-ground pools, just like their shapes, are limited. Therefore, if having an Olympic-sized pool is what you want, then you should go for in-ground pool.


It is not difficult to choose between above-ground and in-ground pools because the differences are clear and easy to understand. If you know what you want, it would be much easier for you.

If you prefer a pool that is permanent, go for in-ground pool.

Need the swimming pool tomorrow? Go for above-ground pool. Above-ground pool are easy to install.

Have $15,000 in bank? Above-ground pool it is. You can even get a change of $5,000 if you do your best to look for the best above-ground pool that is affordable.

Above-Ground and In-Ground Pools: What's the Difference?

Have millions of dollars? If you are not in a hurry, in-ground pool. It doesn’t cost a million, but if you have that amount of money, you should go for in-ground pool, especially if you will not go anywhere.

Want a pool that will not cause danger to anyone? Above-ground pools can fulfill that desire. Although it’s still possible for accidents to happen, it is less likely to happen in above-ground pools.

Don’t want to spend so much on repairs? Choose above-ground pools. In-ground pool are more expensive in all aspects!

Is a star-shaped pool your dream? Then go for in-ground pool. You can even add a moon-shaped one beside it to complement.

Also, above-ground pool is okay for the long term. However, if you are thinking of a much longer term, you should opt for in-ground pool.

It is actually only a matter of preferences. You choose depending on what you want, what you give importance to, and your current circumstance.

But the things that were said earlier shouldn’t matter much if your goal is only to provide a swimming pool for your family, so they can bond. You don’t have to spend so much to acquire an in-ground pool to make them happy!

Regardless of the size, the shape, the cost, and whatnot of your swimming pool, if everyone is happy, that should be enough! Swimming pools are made for people to make splashing memories that they can cherish until they grow older after all.

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