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

Difference between Above-Ground and In-Ground Pools

The battle between above-ground and in-ground pools has always been tough, and it is not going to cool down any time soon. While some people will die to have an in-ground pool installed at their place, for others, the ultimate dream is an above-ground pool. The most apparent difference between these two is that the former is installed into the ground while the latter lies above the ground. This is the only difference that most people know, yet there are still a myriad of them. In this article, we scrutinize these two types of pools and get to understand every feature that makes them different from each other. This is your chance to know exactly which design will fully serve your needs.

Design and Installation

As mentioned above, design is the most apparent difference that these two pools bear. Just as its name suggests, the above-ground pool is designed to be installed above the ground, while the in-ground pool is designed for underground installation. Installation of pools above the ground is simpler and quicker, in the tune of just one day or a few additional days if landscaping is included. Installation only involves purchasing the pool, setting up the frames if any, aligning the liner, inflating it, connecting the water inlet and filtration system and then filling it up. On the other hand, in-ground pool installation involves more effort and takes a longer time. After identifying where it will lie, there will be clearing of the ground, digging, leveling, gunite layering, tiling, installation of pipes and filters, and finally filling it up with water. This takes between 6 and 8 weeks, which is very tasking and longer as compared to above-ground pool installation.


Relative to all the installation procedures and the type of materials used, it is obvious that the in-ground pool will cost more than the above-pool. For the latter, all you need to do is visit an online or offline store, choose your desired design, purchase it and bring it home for a DIY assembly, which is very easy. Most of the high quality pools of this kind go for $800 to $3000, but if you need it installed by your local dealer, you will definitely have to add installation costs. In-ground pools cost between $30000 and $50000 in purchase and installation costs. However, if you want a DIY installation kit of vinyl pools, then you will part with between $5000 and $8000. The above-ground pool is the ideal choice for all budgets.

Strength and Durability

Above-ground pools have their liners made of vinyl or PVC and the frames made of steel, resin or a hybrid of these two materials. Most pool owners have found that the liners will need to be replaced after an average of 5 to 9 years, and the pool may last up to 7 to 15 years. In-ground pools are usually made of stronger materials like concrete and fiberglass and these can last up to 20 years and beyond. However, maintenance must be performed in between to ensure an almost endless existence. If you are ready to cater for maintenance costs, which may be quite expensive, then the in-ground pool is the better option as it will outlive your expectations.

Customization Options

Above-ground pools are available in large numbers, but most of them take up an oval, circular or rectangular shape. This may be for safety purposes as well as functionality. As much as they are available in many sizes and styles, you will be limited in terms of custom designs. Contrarily, in-ground pools offer unlimited customization options. Depending on your budget, the pool can be as large or deep as you desire, and it can take up any shape or design of your fantasy. If you need any add-on features such as diving boards, custom ladders and attached spas, the list of options for an in-ground pool can never be filled up. In fact, the in-ground pool is perfect for you if you love to be creative with pool designs.


When it comes to cleaning, treating, maintaining chemical balance and filtering the water, the maintenance of both of these pools is pretty much similar. However, when it comes to repairs and dismantling, the above-ground pool offers easier and faster options like simply patching up the puncture or tearing it down when you want to replace it. As much as in-ground pools are more durable, when it comes to maintenance such as resurfacing, replacements and repairs, be ready to pay more and incur more effort. Depending on your budget, preferences, willingness to sacrifice and your patience, any of these pools may work for you.

Safety Features

According to a report by Consumer Product Safety Commission, over half of drownings occur in in-ground pools, followed by portable above ground pools and finally stationary above-ground pools. This goes to say that above-ground pools offer more safety as compared to in-ground designs. First, the above-ground pool is perfectly visible, thus reduced probability of accidentally falling into the water as with unsecured in-grounds. Most above ground pools come with a floor pad to cushion your feet and the liner against destruction from rough concrete or undergrowth. Some of them also come with fencing options. In-ground pools on the other hand, don’t have any of these safety features. However, putting up a fence around it will keep it secured, thus preventing unwarranted access and in turn making it safer. In terms of safety especially with kids at home, the above-ground is the more viable option.

Real Estate Value

The ultimate value of any property is determined by how much it has served you and how much it has appreciated over time. Since above-ground pools, especially the portable ones, don’t last long and are not as strong, their value depreciates over time even if they are properly maintained. On the contrary, in-ground pools may even outlive the owner if well maintained. Apparently, homes with in-ground pools have been known to cost more than those without as they add some impeccable aesthetic value to the home. Stationary in-ground pools may also have the same effect in terms of real estate value. In terms of ultimate value, the in-ground pool beats them all, followed by the stationary above-ground pool.


Owning an above or in-ground pool is the ultimate dream for most homeowners around the globe. Depending on your budget and personal preferences, the above comparison will surely be handy in making the final choice. Even with this in mind, you have to factor in the costs of incorporating a patio, pool deck and other beautiful landscaping options that will accentuate the pool. You also need to know if the seller will provide installation or if you need to hire a contractor and pool installation experts on your own. Warranty and availability of experts is also something you need to know. This knowledge will not only make the whole process seamless, but it will also save you money, time and effort.