A living pool by Wolveridge Architects and Natural Swimming Pools | Image: Derek Swalwell

There are four options when it comes to what type of pool to build and all come with their positives and negatives.

The four are:

  • Above-ground pool
  • In-ground vinyl-liner pool
  • In-ground fiberglass pool
  • In-ground concrete pool

Above-Ground Pool


Above-ground pools are by far the cheapest option when it comes to installation. Another advantage that above-ground pools have is that no excavation is required, meaning that what lies beneath the surface (think pipes, cables, rock) isn’t an issue. Excavation is often what makes a pool installation costly, so building above ground negates the need to dig.


Many consider above-ground pools unsightly even when surrounded by decking. There is not really a way to fully ‘immerse’ the pool into the surrounding landscapes. Moreover, metal framing of an above-ground pool generally only lasts 7-12 years, meaning that it can be a costlier option in the long term. Finally, the combination of the appearance and the short life-span can mean an above-ground pool is a deterrent when trying to on sell the property.

In-Ground Vinyl-liner Pool


A vinyl-liner pool is the cheapest option when it comes to an in-ground pool and can be quite versatile in that any shape or size can be accommodated for. The make-up of the vinyl is soft to the touch and doesn’t foster the growth of algae, meaning costs on chemicals and filters are slightly less.


The long-term costs are far higher as the liner will need to be replaced every 7-15 years and can cost up to $4,000 to do so. For this reason, you can also expect a liner pool to affect the resale value of the home. Also, although liner doesn’t foster algae, it can be quite thin and can tear, which can mean replacing the whole liner.

In-Ground Fiberglass Pool


Fiberglass pools generally require the lowest maintenance and lifetime costs in comparison to its counterparts. The make-up of the surface inhibits the growth of algae meaning less money is spent on chemicals.

No money needs to be invested in resurfacing or replacing the liner.

Once you have the shell, it should withstand a lifetime of use. Moreover, a fiberglass pool requires minimal time for install. Once the hole is dug, the shell is dropped in and Bob’s your uncle.


There are limitations when it comes to fiberglass pools in terms of shape, size and design. They are built from moulds that are extremely expensive to make, so each manufacturer has a finite number of shapes, designs and sizes available. Moreover, because the shell is fabricated in a factory as opposed to constructed on site, there is a limit to their size as to what can fit on the back of a truck. This is usually no wider than about 4 or 5 metres.

In-Ground Concrete Pool


In-ground concrete pools provide the most design freedom. Given the space on site, they can be as wide and long as you want and any shape or depth. As well as this, there are more options when it comes to design features such as vanishing edges, beach entries, tanning ledges and so on. In fact, a concrete pool can become a major design feature and part of the house, adding significant value.


Concrete pools are expensive to maintain. The will require re-tiling/resurfacing every 10-20 years which can cost up between $8,000 and $15,000. In addition, their porous surface is the perfect home for algae, so more chemicals and filtration are required to keep the pool in good condition.

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