In Ground Pools Vs. Above Ground Pools


When it comes to in ground and above ground pools, there are a number of differences. In looking at the advantages and disadvantages of each type, you may be surprised to find out how much geography plays in the answer. Temperature fluctuations and overall climate can dictate which may be the more sensible pool for the region.


  • There are basically two types of pools--in ground and above ground pools. An above ground pool is built with panels of fiberglass joined together with steel bracing and sits on top of the ground, while an in ground pool is built into a large excavated site that has been dug out, using large equipment.

Advantages of Above Ground Pools

  • An above ground pool offers the homeowner several nice advantages. Above ground pools are usually one-tenth to one-fifth the cost of a traditional in ground pool. They are safer because all you have to do to prevent unsupervised access is remove the pool ladder. Because above ground pools are not usually considered permanent structures, they will not cause your property taxes to go up and with all the new advances in above ground pools, the options are quite varied. They are also a good option if you have a smaller yard and do not want to lose it all to a pool.

Advantages of In Ground Pools

  • Despite all the benefits of an above ground pool, it also has its drawbacks. Because above ground pools are usually only 4 feet deep, diving is not an option, whereas with in ground pools, they can be up to 10 feet deep or more. Swimmers who like to swim laps are not going to like the feeling of the smaller confined space. If you have a large yard, you may enjoy a larger patio and deck area that is more conducive to in ground pools.The design of an in ground pool can be almost anything you can dream up, and can be customized to fit the character of your house, while the above ground pool designs are usually much simpler shapes. If there are handicapped people who would be swimming, the in ground pool has steps down into the water, making it a much easier transition to lower the swimmer into the pool. Above ground pools would need a special kind of ramp or accommodation in this circumstance.

Upkeep of Above Ground Pools

  • When it comes to upkeep, above ground pools in the South are at a disadvantage. The heat from the Texas sun can raise the temperature of the water to 100 degrees or more, causing the breakdown of chlorine and the growth of algae very quickly. To correct this, more chemicals must be purchased to keep the chlorine at required levels and to keep the pH and acid in check. The additional costs also include higher electric bills because you have to run the pool pump longer. On the other hand, the Northern states have to take into consideration the freezing temperatures that come with winter. An in ground pool would be more prone to damage from the forces of heaving the ground goes through during the freeze and thaw cycles. Of course, with the in-use time being much shorter in the North, it may balance out the short period of time that the electric bills would be higher and offset the cost of the chemicals.

Upkeep of In Ground Pools

  • The heat may be one reason that above ground pools are not as common in the South. While in ground pools do heat up in August, they stay comparatively cool up against the temperatures of an above ground pool. With the advent of the different pool systems the chlorine expense is not as bad as it once was. There are salt systems, where the salt is ionized using an electric current, and separates into its two parts, chlorine and sodium. Before going back through the pump and being rejoined, the chlorine keeps the pool clean and fights algae formation. Because the salt water system only generates the amount of chlorine needed, based on computer output, there is not the problem with irritated eyes as you have with a regular chlorine system. A system like this would not need additional chlorine added unless it was allowed to get low on salt and the chemical balance got out of line.


  • In parts of the country having warm summer climates, particularly in the southern United States, privately owned outdoor pools in backyards or gardens started becoming popular in the 1950s. The Racquet Club of Philadelphia clubhouse boasts one of the world's first modern above ground swimming pools from 1907.The first swimming pool on an ocean liner was installed on the White Star Line's Adriatic in 1907.

    The custom safety cover was invented in 1957 by Fred Meyer Jr. of Meyco Pool.

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  • Splash Across Texas! The Definitive Guide to Swimming in Central Texas; Beal, Chandra; 1999.
  • Photo Credit Kate Starr
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