In Ground Pool vs. Above Ground Pool: Which is better?

How above ground pools look

When deciding between an in ground pool and an above ground pool, it’s helpful to look at the pros and cons of each. After doing hours of research, I’ve put together what I think are the advantages and disadvantages of each type of pool. Here is what I found.

The main differences between in ground and above ground pools are installation costs and pool design. In ground pools cost more to install and maintain and offer better design.

In ground pools are better because 

  • More variety 
  • Better design and look 
  • Permanent and durable 
  • More features and customization 

Above ground pools are better because 

  • Less money and time invested 
  • Less maintenance 
  • Less safety concerns 
  • Easier to get rid of 

As you can see each pool has its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s go into detail to learn more about where one pool might be better than the other pool. 

Differences between in ground pools and above ground pools

There are several differences between in ground pool and above ground. Here is a table comparing these two types of pools.

CategoryIn ground poolAbove ground pool
Average cost$40,000$5000
CustomizationMany options to customizeLimited
Installation time8 to 12 weeks1 to 3 days
Durability20+ years 10 years
Yearly fees$1200 to $1500$800 to $1200
DesignVarious shapes and sizesMostly circular shapes
Differences between in ground and above ground pools

The advantages of in ground pools

Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of in ground pools.

In ground pools have more variety

When it comes to the kinds of ground pools you can get, there is a lot to pick from. Unlike above ground pools that only come in a round or oval shape, ground pools come in a lot of different shapes and sizes. You can get a rectangular pool with a jacuzzi attached. You can get a round with odd curves and ends. You can even get a guitar shaped pool! 

If you are looking for variety and customization when it comes to your design an inground pool will give you more. You can personalize to your liking and not worry about a boring design. 

Looks better/more stylish and professional looking 

Ok this is similar to the last point but having an inground pool also means you get a more stylish pool. Let’s be honest above ground pools look very bland and cheap. They don’t offer much when it comes to aesthetics and only come in a few designs. 

Meanwhile, ground pools can be designed and decorated to look professional and high class. It gives your backyard a cleaner look and a professional design, whereas an above ground pool looks like something cheap you can find at wal-mart. 

Lasts longer 

An in-ground pool will last longer because, well, it’s literally drilled into the ground. Above ground pools are durable but they are more prone to damages then an in ground pool. You can imagine a bad storm damaging your above ground pool. You can also image a viscous dog biting into the pool and tearing a hole. These problems don’t exist with an inground pool. 

More features and customization 

Say you want to add steps or railings to your pool. Maybe you want different styles of dive boards. Maybe you want a hot tub attached to the pool. These are all options with an inground pool. You can customize the features to your liking. You can make it hoever you want it to look. Above ground pools are pretty limited when it comes to these features and only come in a few designs. 


In-ground pools often have a filtration system that does a good job of removing unwanted stuff in your pool. The filter and pump used are larger and the overall system does a better job at catching things than an above ground pool. 

Advantages of above ground pools

Let’s first take a look at some advantages of above ground pools.

Above ground pools are easier installation 

Installing an above ground people is generally considered easier and takes less time than an in ground pool. You will probably need a professional doing the work for both types of pools but since one takes less time than the other, it will also cost you less. With an above ground pool, you don’t have to worry about digging a giant hole in your backyard and cleaning up after it. You just install above the ground! Installation time is faster also, which means you get to enjoy your pool sooner than you would with an inground pool. 

Above ground pools cost less

When it comes to saving money, an above ground pool will be the way to go. On average, above ground pools can cost anywhere from $2000 to $8000. Meanwhile an inground pool can cost around $30000 to $60000 on average but they can go much higher than that as well depending on who builds it and what kind of pool you’re getting. 

These costs don’t include other costs that may occur in the life of the pool. For example, maintenance costs can be high as well as the cost for water. You may even need repairs done to the pool. You can see how the price of an inground pool ads up quickly while an above ground pool will cost much less in the short and long term. 

Above ground pools are easier to get rid of

An above ground pool is easier to get rid of than an inground pool. If you decide to install an above ground pool and a few years later decide you don’t want it any more, the process of getting rid of the pool will be easier even though you may have invested a lot of money into it. 

This is also great news for people who are going to sell their homes. Prospective buyers might not want a pool taking up space in their backyards. Since it’s easier to get rid of an above ground people, you can easily take apart the pool if a buyer says they don’t want it. Compare this to an inground pool which is more permanent and harder to get rid of. 

Above ground pools require less maintenance

Both pools require maintenance but an above ground pool probably requires less maintenance for a few reasons. One reason is because above ground pools will often have smaller parts and there’s less likely for things to go wrong. Above ground pools can also be smaller and with less water usage. And when things are smaller they are generally easier to manage than if they were bigger. 

Nice in ground pool

Disadvantages of in ground pools

Let’s now take a look at some disadvantages of in ground pools.

In ground pools take longer to install

The installation will vary but generally in ground pools will take a longer to setup and install than an above ground pool. I mean, it’s common sense right? For an inground pool you’re going to need to basically excavate a hole in your backyard to get the pool going. Then you will need to install all of the necessary pipes and heating system. And finally the actual pool needs to be built. So this will take anywhere from 6 to 10 weeks, sometimes more depending on how customized your pool is and how big you want it. 

In ground pools cost more

Pools cost a lot. An average in ground pool was priced at ___ while an average above ground pool costs around. That’s a big difference you are paying. 

And that’s not to mention the other costs that might incur in the life of a pool. You will likely have to pay for maintenance fees as well as other issues that come up. What if you need someone to come out and fix something for you? 

In ground pools are permanent

Once you install a pool it’s there forever. And if you change your mind, well get ready to pay a lot of money. That’s why home owners must be ready to incur the cost of a pool. 

Many people who are searching for a house might see a pool as a bonus but it’s once they actually maintain the pool they realize it can be a pain to manage. If they want to get rid of it, it’s going to require a lot of work and costs. 

In ground pools take up a lot of space

Let’s be honest, a pool will take up a lot of space. And for most homes, that might mean most of your backyard. So while having a pool is great, it can also take away some of the features from your house. You might not have a place for gardening or other activities. And if you want to use that space outside of season, you are out of luck. 

The same is true about an above ground pool, but the benefit with them is you can get rid of them pretty easily if you want. That’s not the case with inground pools. 

In ground pools require more maintenance

A pool requires a lot of maintenance. From checking the water quality to clean up, maintenance is an added stress for pool owners. You can obviously have someone else take care of the maintenance but that’s an additional cost that you might not want to have. 

Then there are the wear and tear issues that might come from owning a pool. A pipe might burst or a leak might occur. Even if you are the best pool owner in the world, these added costs will pile up and leave a dent in your wallet. 

If you want to sell in future and buyer doesn’t want 

Whenever you sell a home, there are things that potential buyers might look for or avoid. A pool can be one of those things. While a pool can be a bonus for buyers they are also as likely to be an adverse feature. Not all potential buyers might want a pool to take up space in teh backyard. They might even have other plans for that space such as using it for gardening or other activities. 

There are safety concerns with in ground pools

Since ground pools don’t have a surround wall, it’s easier to fall in them which becomes a major safety concern if you have small kids. Above ground pools are equipped with a wall so it becomes harder to accidentally fall in while you are around the pool. 

Disadvantages of above ground pools

Finally, let’s take a look at the disadvantages of above ground pools.

Above ground pools look cheap

Above ground pools look cheap and don’t add much to the look of your home. It sits above ground and doesn’t come in the most stylish designs. There’s also not a lot of customization you can do with an above ground pool which makes them look stale. 

Above ground pools aren’t professional looking

Let’s be honest, you are not seeing an above ground pool in home design magazines or galleries. That’s because they are not the most stylish and professional looking features of a home. 

An above ground pool is usually large and takes up a lot of space. They are usually brown or gray in color so they are not the most aesthetically pleasing looking things. 

There are probably ways to make them more interesting and stylish but an in ground pool do a better job of adding decor to your backyard than an above ground pool. 

Above ground pools are easier to damage

Both types of pools are durable but above ground pools are probably more prone to damages. You can imagine how a bad storm or a hurricane can cause damage to an above ground pool. There have been countless stories about how above ground pools were damaged during a bad storm especially in tropical states in the south. 

Above ground pools don’t have that many features

With an above ground pool you are limited with the number of features you can add to it. Many pool owners will add things like a sun shelf or a waterfall. Some pool owners might want a hot tub attached somewhere with the pool. With an above ground pool, these features just can’t exist. You can probably get away with a separate hot tub but that’s about it. 

We can also talk about how the design of an above ground pool makes it limited in terms of what features can be added. You’re not going to be able to add a sun shelf or waterfall because there’s just no place to add it to the pool whereas with an inground people there’s plenty of places it can go. 

Is it worth getting an above ground pool? 

If you want a pool but are not interested in paying for an in ground pool, an above ground pool might be the way to go. They are still expensive when compared to other stuff around your home, but they are cheaper than an in-ground pool and are also easier to get rid of if you don’t want to in the future. 

But you should also be prepared to maintain the pool like an in ground pool since it still requires a constant eye. If you expect to be more hands off with it than an in ground pool than an above ground pool might not be worth it. 

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