You have your house the way you like it–almost. All that's left for you to have your dream home is a swimming pool for you, your children and your children's friends. It's a big step for a family. It's a new bill that you will acquire and a whole new set of responsibilities to add to your ever-growing list of chores. You find your local pool store (your first step to completing your dream home!), and find you need to make a decision: Above-ground or inground? There are many factors that will help you decide. Before it’s time for morning dips and evening swims, it’s time to take a look at the various factors that are applicable when choosing your pool. After thinking it out, anyone will know the right type of pool for them.
1. Initial Cost
Generally, above-ground pools are much less expensive than inground pools. Sometimes you can even pay full-cash upfront for an above ground, but you'd be getting the very basic and smallest model, or a model that is being discontinued (and replacement parts may be difficult to find after that, but usually not for several years). If you decide to get an inground pool, chances are good that you'll be financing it for approximately the same length of time as a new car.
This may seem like an argument for an above-ground pool. Maybe this is where you stop reading and make your decision. There are several factors after this that may make an inground worth it to you.
2. Construction Time
Many buyers don't realize that assembling an above ground pool does, in fact, make your backyard a construction site. (This applies to pools purchased from a major pool retailer–not one purchased from a superstore.) A crew will come out and level the area the pool will be built on, lay down sand, and build the pool. The entire project takes half a day. You could be swimming in your pool in less than a week. Inground pools take much longer and rely on the weather. No good pool salesperson will promise you an inground in a set amount of time. A wet summer could mean you don't get your pool finished until either the end of the season or even the beginning of the next season. If you have a good builder and landscaper, the end project will be well worth it. Until then, your backyard will look awful.
3. General Upkeep
Once you have your pool, you'll have to keep it clean and functioning. The test strips for your water aren't bad, but professional water testing is best. Some stores will test for free, while others charge a small fee unless you make a purchase. These tests will give you a more accurate reading of your water's pH level and sanitizer level (chlorine, biguanide, etc.). You'll have to treat your pool accordingly and do so on a regular schedule to keep it clean and clear. You'll also have to decide what sort of vacuum to purchase to clean your pool. Brushes and nets will also help with the larger debris that may fall into the water. When you're treating and cleaning inground pools, you'll generally need to purchase higher-end vacuums and higher grade poles, brushes, and nets.
4. Sanitizers and Algaecides
You'll have to decide what to use to keep your pool sanitary and clear. The most popular product is chlorine. It's the cheapest and easiest to use. Biguanides are also popular and are usually based on a 3 or 4 step a week program. The process is very easy and is a formula that just about anybody can follow. It sounds perfect–until you see the price tag. It's more expensive than chlorine, close to double the cost. If you are allergic to chlorine, biguanide is the best alternative for you. On the whole, either product doesn't matter whether you have an above ground or inground pool. There are pool users that swear by saltwater. You won't need to purchase very much chlorine, as the salt will generate its own, but you will need to keep the pH and calcium levels under control. If you would like a saltwater pool, you'll likely have an inground. If there is a leak in your pool liner for any reason, an above ground will rust very easily and break down. It isn't worth it to take that risk. There is also a copper-based chemical system, however, there is no real sanitizer in it and it will turn blonde hair green over time.
If you live in an area that gets a real winter every year (unlike Florida and Southern California), you'll need to close your pool in the fall and open it in the spring. With both above ground and inground pools, you do have the option of running your pump all year long. As long as the water is running, the water won't freeze. If you do decide to close your pool up and shut down the pump, you'll have certain steps to follow. Inground pools are more involved than above ground, and in grounds generally require at least two people to get it closed properly. Either way, if your pool has a liner, you'll be careful not to take out all of the water, or you'll be looking at replacing the liner sooner than you normally would.
Inground pools are definitely more complicated than above ground, and sometimes repairs will take more work than the same problem would for an above ground pool, and there may be parts tucked away either underground or hidden by a separate structure. If there is something wrong with a line, you're looking at some construction.
It largely depends on cost, usage, and general upkeep that will make your decision. Maybe you always wanted an inground and find you can afford it. Make your own list to decide. For some, it all comes down to cost. For others, it comes down to aesthetic. Use this as your start!