How Much Does a Concrete Pool Cost?
Interested in a concrete pool, but concerned about staying within budget?
At River Pools, we sell fiberglass pools, but we know that in some situations, concrete pools are a better fit.
Vinyl liner, concrete, and fiberglass pools all vary in cost, but each type has a certain range. In order to make a fully informed decision about your concrete pool purchase, you need to know the cost of ownership both upfront (building) and in the future (maintenance).
How much does it cost to build a concrete swimming pool?
In general, a concrete/gunite pool can cost $50,000–$100,000 upfront depending on the region, but it’s not uncommon for them to cost much more. Keep in mind that this is only the initial cost of the pool. There will be many more expenses over the lifetime of a swimming pool such as resurfacing costs and cleaning costs.
What is initial vs. lifetime cost?
The initial cost of a pool is what you pay upfront when you buy it. This includes the pool itself plus all the bells and whistles.
The lifetime cost includes everything you spend after the purchase. Any replacements, repairs, and maintenance fall into this category.
What influences the initial price of a concrete pool?
Several factors will affect the upfront price of a concrete swimming pool, including:
- Square footage
- Interior surface
- Patio size and material
- Pool accessories
- Water features
Square footage typically has the biggest effect on initial cost. Because concrete pools are customized, you have almost unlimited options for size and shape, but that does affect the price. You spend more money for every square foot of concrete, steel, plaster, tile, coping, and so on.
The interior surface that you use will affect the cost. Plaster is typically the standard interior finish, but there are other options.
As an alternative, exposed aggregate finishes such as Pebble Tec show the pebbles that are already in the mix. They're more durable than cement and last longer but are also more expensive. Let's be real: they also look really cool.
You can also line the entire surface of your pool with various types of tile (glass, stone, etc.), but this tends to be more expensive than plaster or aggregate.
To learn more about these options, see our guide on interior finishes for concrete pools.
Patio Size and Material
You’ll also need to take into account the size and material you choose for the patio around the pool, which are huge factors in the overall budget. As with other facets of pool design, a standard smooth or brushed finish is the most economical option for concrete.
You can also choose to upgrade to stamped concrete and natural stone pavers if that is a better fit for your desired aesthetic.
Wondering how much patio space you actually need? Check out this in-depth guide to find out.
Accessories and Landscaping
After you determine the size, look into other options and upgrades. Pool accessories and landscaping will factor heavily into your budget. Some—or even most—of the fancy options may not feature in your plans, but it's good to know what's out there.
Pro tip: find a very generous relative, show them the ones you want, and remind them of an upcoming gift-giving holiday.
Depending on your situation, you may also want a pool heater ($5,000–$7,000) or an automatic pool cover. If your pool will be on a slope, you will likely need a retaining wall ($5,000-$35,000) so that the edge of the pool doesn't jut out of the ground.
Basically, retaining wall costs are dependent on height and linear feet. Walls pushing the 4’ height may require additional costs for engineering and railing to meet national and local building codes. This explains the massive range in pricing as not all retaining walls are the same.
Water features are any visual or audible way that you deliver water back to the pool. These options include a waterfall (sheer descent off an elevated feature), rock waterfall, deck jet, and rainfall.
They add to the sound, aesthetic, and fun of your pool. However, they can also add $1,000–$100,000 to the cost of the pool. Yes, I know that range sounds ridiculous. There's some super cool options to customize concrete pools, but they can also be super expensive.
What influences the lifetime cost of a concrete pool?
The above options all make up the initial price that you’ll pay upfront when you purchase your pool. Unfortunately, they are not the only costs: you’ll have to take the lifetime cost into account too, and that’s where concrete pools become difficult. The long-term cost of ownership for concrete includes significant repairs and maintenance.
Quick overview of the lifetime cost:
- Acid washes
- Resurfacing the plaster
- Replacing the waterline tile
Chemicals and Energy
You use chemicals more regularly with concrete because it’s porous. The alkaline surface constantly raises the water pH, so you have to add acid to the water to counteract that. Algae also grows easily and consumes chlorine faster. You need to run your pool pump more frequently to keep the algae at bay. The frequent use of chemicals and electricity to maintain the water quality adds to your lifetime cost.
Over time, the plaster gets stained, and algae penetrates into the plaster. Once the algae takes hold, you never really get it all the way out, and it comes back very easily. An acid wash removes a thin layer of the plaster and penetrates the pores, killing algae and cleaning the stains.
The cost of a professional acid wash depends on the pool size, location, accessibility, and time of year but can be $500-$1,000. While you can acid wash the pool yourself for less money, you risk damaging your pool and even injuring yourself. Your pool's no use to you if you're in the hospital. Hiring a professional is quicker, safer, and more effective.
Resurfacing the Plaster and Replacing the Waterline Tile
A concrete pool lasts 10–15 years before it needs to be resurfaced altogether. In addition to redoing the plaster, you'll usually need to replace the waterline tile at the same time. The average cost for this is $10,000–$20,000.
Here’s the main takeaway: the initial cost of a pool is not the same as the lifetime cost, especially for concrete. This pool type definitely has its advantages, but in terms of money, concrete costs a lot in the long run. In contrast, fiberglass pools have the lowest cost of ownership over the life of the pool.
Concrete pools vs. fiberglass pools
Most fiberglass pools cost $45,000–$85,000, including patio and basic accessories. As with any other pool type, this can increase dramatically when you add water features, natural stone hardscaping, multiple accessories, and so on.
They are prefabricated on existing molds, but manufacturers offer so many shapes and sizes that most pool buyers can find one that meets their needs.
A fiberglass pool only costs about $3,760 in maintenance over 10 years. If well-manufactured and well-maintained, it should never need to be resurfaced.
River Pools manufactures, installs, and services fiberglass pools across North America, and we value bringing you the most bang for your buck. We want to help you make your project affordable without sacrificing quality.
Want to know how much a fiberglass pool might cost? Click here to request pricing or try out our pool pricing calculator tool:
Want to see about how much that cost will be with all your favorite pool accessories?
Use our Design and Price Tool to walk through your options and approximate price!
If you’re interested in the durability and lower cost of a fiberglass pool, read this pricing guide for inground swimming pools and download our free ebook below.
Editor's note: This blog article was updated on June 21, 2019.