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Underground vs Aboveground Pools: Costs and Comparisons

By: Marcus Sheridan on April 4th, 2012

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Underground vs Aboveground Pools: Costs and Comparisons

Fiberglass Pool Information  |  Cost and Pricing  |  Fiberglass vs Concrete vs Vinyl Liner

With the summer upon approaching rapidly, many folks out there are debating whether or not they should go with an underground pool (aka “inground”) or one that sets on top the ground.

So for the sake of all you out there that are having this debate, here are some points to consider.


Underground vs. Aboveground Cost

In most cases, inground pools—be it vinyl, concrete, or fiberglass—are going to cost, on average, between $30–70k.

Although this is a very big range, it’s an honest and realistic one.

You may have seen an underground pool advertised for “$14,999!” in your local paper. I can assure you that anyone doing this is being very, very dishonest in giving you a true picture as to what to expect.

In other words, although the pool body itself may just cost $14,999 to be installed, I can assure you the following is not included:

  • Patio/decking around the pool
  • Electrical hookup
  • Grading/landscaping/etc.
  • Accessories (salt chlorine generators, heaters, covers, etc.)

Obviously, the size, options, and type of pool are going to greatly impact where you fall in this “average” range, but $30–70k is a good start.

When purchasing an above ground pool, there are 3 main cost areas:

  1. The price of the kit itself (normally $37k)
  2. The price of the installation (typically $15k)
  3. The price of the pool surround/decking (if any)

In other words, most above ground pools, installed, cost $412k, not including any decking at all.

And as you might imagine, decking often times will cost more than the pool itself, especially if you’re looking to surround much of the structure itself.


Inground vs. Above Ground Pool Size

Believe it or not, an above ground pool can be every bit as large, if not larger, than an inground pool.

For example, a 30’ round above ground pool actually has more area than a 18x36 inground pool.

Notwithstanding, with an above ground, you’re generally limited to one uniform depth throughout.



When comparing the two types of pools and their required maintenance, there really isn’t much difference.

If you don’t have a deck around your above ground pool, that makes it much harder to get around and vacuum.



The average above ground pool will last 715 years before the structure gives out. Their liners will last 59 years before they have to be replaced.

For an inground structure, the longevity really is contingent on the type of pool.

For example, fiberglass should last well over 20 years.

Vinyl pools should have a structure that lasts, but their liner needs to be replaced on average every 5–9 years.

As for concrete, their structure should also last a long time, but keep in mind they need to be resurfaced every 1015 years. That can get very, very expensive.

Well, I hope this article helps a bit when comparing the two types of pools.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave them below in the comments section.

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Editor's note: This blog article was updated on September 13, 2018.