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Price Your Pool
What Is the Cheapest Inground Swimming Pool?

What Is the Cheapest Inground Swimming Pool?

Fiberglass vs Concrete vs Vinyl Liner  |  Cost and Pricing

The first question pool shoppers usually ask us is, "How much do inground pools cost?" 

Nine times out of ten, this question is followed by, "What's the cheapest inground pool that I can buy, and how can I keep my costs down?" Okay, maybe not nine specifically, but it definitely feels like nine-ish, according to our memory. 

Being in the inground fiberglass pool industry as long as we have, we have heard these questions over and over and over again…and guess what? We’re happy to share our thoughts on the topic every single time!

The truth is that inground pools are not cheap, depending on how you define it, but cheaper or less expensive ones do exist. For the sake of this article, we'll stick to that lower end of the massive range of prices you're likely to find out there on the internet. 

Before we jump into the numbers, it's important to draw a comparison between the cost of building a pool and the cost of building, say, a house. There are starting prices or base packages, but in order to complete the project (the way you want it), you'll need to decide on the size of the home and the materials to build it with. Then you have a list of items required by building officials and, of course, the upgrades (think stone countertops, hardwood floors, extra closets, etc.). The starting figures are just the foundation for what the final total cost will be. 


Inground pools are the same way. 


We'll say it here and now: the prices you see in this article today may be higher than other places you may wade into during your pool search. Why's that? We believe, based on our own experiences within this industry as well as the conversations we've had with independent installers, that we should discuss pricing while keeping the entire breadth of a project in mind.


To help you find the right inground pool for your budget, in this article, we will:

  • Show you the cheapest inground pools available today
  • Break down the starting costs for the cheapest inground pool types
  • List the pros and cons of going with the cheapest option



What's the cheapest inground pool

Overall, we have seen vinyl liner pools be the typically less expensive inground swimming pool option. It's rare to find a pool builder who can build a concrete or fiberglass pool at a vinyl liner pool price.

This does not mean that vinyl liner pools are never expensive. No, depending on the project scope, pool size, features, and accessories, some vinyl liner pools can cost more than concrete or fiberglass pools.



How cheap can a vinyl liner pool be?

You'll likely be able to find an inground vinyl pool kit for under $40,000. But that kit won't be easy to assemble, and it won't include the additional raw materials necessary for the foundation and plumbing. If this is the budget you have in mind, you'll need to be a DIYer with ambition, access to necessary equipment, and hopefully some experience with said equipment. For the record, we don't suggest the DIY route for inground pools and will always recommend you hire a professional pool builder.

Going with a builder, you say? Good choice! Starting base package prices for vinyl inground pools seem to be around $45,000+ and likely include installation services. Vinyl liner pool costs can go all the way up to more than $90,000+, but the average price for a vinyl liner pool appears to sit in the $50,000 to $70,000 range. This would include some amount of decking, possibly some options, and items required to meet local safety codes. Remember, much like building a home, there are many things that you'll likely add to the base package to make the space yours. 


How cheap can a fiberglass pool be?

Based on our experience, starting prices for fiberglass pools can be around $40,000, but the actual cost will vary depending on the area and what an installer includes in the base package. This price will definitely be a pool of the smaller variety...think 10x20ish...and the cost will likely include delivery of the shell to your home and a simple filtration kit. But that's it.

Enter that DIY scenario from the last section of the article, and remember, we did not recommend this for vinyl liner pools, and we definitely do not recommend it for fiberglass pools.* 

So, add in the cost to hire a professional and consider something a bit larger than 10x20, and the average price range for a fiberglass pool plus installation will likely be closer to $55,000 to $100,000. This sort of "base package" would likely include the pool shell itself, the delivery of the pool shell to your home, the pump and filter system, installation, gravel for backfill, water to fill the pool, maintenance and cleaning equipment, building permit, and maybe some concrete around the pool. 

Complete, or turn-key fiberglass pool projects (think the completed home you built) would run even more, somewhere in the ballpark of $70,000 to $135,000 on average (based on what we're hearing from installers these days). This would include some decking, perhaps a few options, and other items required to meet local safety codes. This price range may also include some other desirable upgrades. Be sure to speak with your builder to understand the options you have to choose from and the associated costs. 


*Warning: We do not recommend taking on a DIY fiberglass pool project. River Pools® fiberglass pools are not available to purchase for DIY installation projects. 


How cheap can a concrete pool be?

Concrete pools (also known as gunite or shotcrete pools) are known for being the most expensive inground pools to build and maintain. Based on our knowledge, starting prices for concrete swimming pools seem to be around $65,000 but can be lower depending on the pool's size and how much of the work the homeowner chooses to do themselves. We have heard prices for concrete pools can easily go up to $120,000+ or more. 

Because of their complex building process, you'll have to hire a professional. These prices take that into consideration.


Average Starting Costs for Inground Pools

Pool prices can quickly increase as you add more accessories to the project. Prices will likely also vary depending on the region you live in. And, sometimes, building costs can increase unexpectedly if an installer discovers a boulder underground or makes other discoveries that present challenges. We've heard of some pretty wild stuff being unearthed, and unfortunately, this can be an expense that significantly impacts the budget.

But, at the bare minimum, here's what we believe you might see for starting costs for each inground pool type. Remember, this is not the whole "house"...just that base package.


Pool Type Average Starting Price
Vinyl Liner $45,000
Fiberglass $55,000
Concrete  $65,000


There's a lot to consider when choosing between the three types of pools, and installation costs are far from the only expenses you'll incur over the life of your pool. Our pool-type comparison article also includes ongoing maintenance costs in a handy visual format -- click here to read it.


Of course, cost isn't the only consideration when you're shopping around for a new pool. Maintenance, durability, aesthetics, and usability are all important concerns. Soooo, we've built a handy Pool Type Selector tool to help you figure out which type of pool might be perfect for your backyard. Just click below to take the quiz:




Can you save money with a small inground pool?

No matter which type of pool you select, there is almost always a correlation between the pool's price and size. Like with a house or any other structure, the more square feet you need to account for and the deeper you need to dig into the ground, the more you will likely pay.

If you want to save money on an inground pool, one option may be to choose a smaller pool size. With the right design, a small pool can still provide plenty of space for swimming, playing, and cooling off on hot summer days. The smallest inground pools are sometimes called cocktail pools or plunge pools -- click the link in this sentence to read about these smaller pools and discover if one of these pool types might be right for your backyard.


Read more: A Guide to Inground Swimming Pool Size, Costs, and Prices: Everything You Should Know


The Pros and Cons of Vinyl Liner Pools 

If budget is the main priority for an inground pool project (and sticking to the lower end of it), we believe you're probably going to end up with a vinyl liner swimming pool.

Vinyl liner pools are typically the least expensive option, and that makes them excellent for anyone who wants to stick to a smaller budget.

But before you start looking for pool builders in your area, we want to give you a quick overview of some potential vinyl liner pool pros and cons.


Vinyl Liner Pool Advantages 

  • Lower upfront costs - Vinyl liner pools are known as the cheapest inground pools to build.
  • Customizable shape - Choose from freeform, geometric, or even custom designs (keep in mind that customization will add cost).
  • DIY friendly-ish - You can DIY parts or all of the construction (but it's a good idea to get help if you're inexperienced in pool building. Remember, we do not recommend DIY installs...okay, that was the last time, promise).
  • Soft surface - Pool liners have a smooth surface that won't cause scrapes or cuts like some other inground pool types might.


Vinyl Liner Pool Disadvantages

  • Higher lifetime costs - You'll need to plan on replacing the liner at some point. Based on our observations, we'd say you should plan for that need to arise after about 7 years. You may not need to at that point, but it's a good point in time to plan around. Ask your builder about liner replacement costs, but know that it will likely be several thousand dollars each time the liner is replaced. (Side note: We've actually heard of liners lasting 15+ years, but from our observations, this is far from the norm.) 
  • Not as durable - The surface (the liner itself) of a vinyl liner pool is often not as durable as that of a concrete or fiberglass pool. Because the liner is pliable, it is susceptible to punctures and tears from foreign objects.
  • Not pet-friendly - Dog and cat claws can easily puncture a vinyl pool liner, making vinyl pools a less pet-friendly option. (Full disclosure: We have not seen or heard of a cat swimming in a pool, but we definitely would not recommend one swimming in a vinyl pool.)
  • Typically not compatible with in-pool furniture - Placing furniture on a soft, tearable liner isn't a good idea. If your vinyl pool has a tanning ledge, be extra careful with what you place there to avoid damaging the surface. Ask your builder about this, specifically if you intend on having in-pool furniture. 



Looking for more information on vinyl liner pools? Here are a few articles that you can check out next:

Vinyl Liner Pool Basics: Pros, Cons, and How They’re Made

How Long Do Vinyl Liner Pools Last?

How to Make Vinyl Liner Pools More Attractive

Ultimate Budget Guide for an Inground Vinyl Liner Pool


Still not sure which inground pool type is right for you? If you haven't tried our Pool Type Selector Tool but would prefer to read more, download our free comparison ebook by clicking below. It's got a treasure trove of info on all three types of pools, so you can confidently choose the best pool for your home.




If you think a fiberglass pool might be a better fit for your home, you can browse our pool models, try out our pool pricing calculator, or request custom pricing from an independent installer in your area using the button below. 




Happy swimming!



*Editor's note: River Pools is a brand of inground fiberglass pools. While our expertise is in fiberglass pools, the collective years of experience of our team spans manufacturing, project design, installation, and pool service. We are also a part of a network of inground pool experts from all over the country, with extensive knowledge in manufacturing, project design, installation, and pool service. We often tap into this collective knowledge base and share information freely with homeowners like you who are considering installing a swimming pool in your backyard. 

This article was originally written by Jason Hughes (President of River Pools Franchising, LLC) in June 2020 and was updated on October 16, 2023, with current information.