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Dive Into The Details on Inground Pools vs Other Backyard Pool Options

Dive Into The Details on Inground Pools vs Other Backyard Swimming Pool Options.

Inground pools and above ground pools – we’ve all seen examples of both, but what exactly are the differences between them (beyond the obvious), and which one should we choose when we make the decision to install a pool on our own property?

Many Canadian homeowners have or want a backyard swimming pool these days. In August 2021, more than 19,000 pool permits were tallied by StatsCan across the country, as people invested in at-home oases to beat the boredom and anxiety of the pandemic. 

As swimming pools are generally considered to be fun, convenient, beautiful, and valuable (in terms of property value), the interest in backyard swimming pools isn’t likely to decrease any time soon. 

But how do homeowners choose between inground pools and above ground pools? Are there other options that might be better suited to your property? How do you make the ultimate decision on which backyard swimming pool to invest in? Let this blog be your guide on all this and more.

The Different Types of Backyard Pools?

Most people know that you can have an inground pool or an above ground pool. But what are the differences between them – and are there other options available? In fact, there are! 

Here’s your quick and easy guide to the different types of pools that you might consider installing in your backyard.

Inground pools

An inground pool is dug into the ground, lined with materials like fibreglass or vinyl, and then filled with water – usually saltwater or chlorine-treated water to keep them clean. 

Inground pools can be customized to fit each uniquely shaped backyard. They can be designed smaller or larger, rectangular or oblong, and can vary in terms of depth.

Inground pools are usually installed to become a permanent fixture in a family’s backyard as it takes some planning and effort to install them, and likewise takes planning and effort to close them in. 

Inground pools may be more expensive than other types of pools, but they are generally agreed to be the most preferable in terms of durability, cleanliness,  usability, and aesthetically.

Above ground pools

An above ground pool is – you guessed it! – built above ground. 

These pools are made of materials like resin, steel, or aluminum, and have an interior liner installed within, like a vinyl liner or a rigid wall so that the pool doesn’t lose its shape or cave in and flood your yard. 

Above ground pools are somewhat cheaper than inground pools because they’re easier to install, as there’s no construction or excavation required during the installation. 

If you’re looking for a pool that you can set up yourself, or a pool that is seasonal or temporary, then an above ground pool may be what you’re looking for. 

However, some above ground pools are designed to be semi-permanent or even entirely permanent fixtures in a backyard.

Semi-inground pools

A semi-inground pool is a combination of both of the above. These pools are partially submerged below ground. 

Semi-inground pools are a compromise between the cost and permanence of inground or above ground pools. They’re usually somewhat easier to install than completely inground pools. 

Homeowners might like the look of a semi-inground pool because only part of the pool wall is visible above ground, and the other half is embedded in the ground. This means there’s less digging required, but you’re not losing depth in terms of the size of your pool.

Plunge pools

Plunge pools are usually smaller and shallower than your standard backyard swimming pool. 

These pools are typically installed for relaxation, cooling off, or hydrotherapy, rather than actually swimming around. Plunge pools are usually compact, and can be either inground, aboveground, or semi-inground. 

Plunge pools are popular in backyards that are too small to support the installation of a full-sized swimming pool, or for those who want a more intimate water feature accentuating their yard.

The Pros & Cons of Different Pools

Specialty swimming pools

In addition to your standard swimming pool options, there are other types of pools that you might be curious about. Such as: 

  • Indoor swimming pools. These pools are usually installed within a home or structure, such as in a basement room or on a main-floor room, like a sunroom. These pools are great for year-round use, but they require proper ventilation, humidity control, and heating systems to maintain indoor air quality and comfort.

  • Swim spa pools. These swimming pools typically combine the benefits of both swimming pools and hot tubs, and are installed as a luxury unit, complete with jets and seating areas for relaxation and massage.

  • Natural or Eco Pools. These pools are installed using aquatic plants and microorganisms to filter and purify the water naturally (as opposed to using chlorine or saltwater). These pools – also known as bio pools – are environmentally friendly and offer a sustainable alternative to traditional pools.


Naturally, any specialty pools like these are going to come with a higher price tag, and more to consider in terms of installation and maintenance.

Inground Pools and Beyond:
Caring For Your Pool

Maintaining a pool long-term means getting to know what it takes to care for and clean it, preferably before it’s installed. The most common maintenance requirements include: 

  • Regular cleaning. This includes surface cleaning with a net to remove leaves, debris and other floating particles. Vacuum the bottom of the pool and sides to remove dirt, algae, and other contaminants (or, use an automatic pool cleaner). Make sure to scrub the walls and waterline with a pool brush to prevent algae buildup and maintain water clarity.

  • Maintain water chemistry. It’s important to test the water regularly using a pool testing kit to monitor pH, chlorine, or sanitizer levels, alkalinity, and calcium hardness. Adjust chemical levels as needed to keep the water balanced.

  • Filtration and circulation. Run the pool pump and filtration system for an adequate amount of time each day (timelines will vary based on the size of the pool, how often you use it, and weather conditions) to ensure proper water circulation and filtration.

  • Preventative maintenance. Invest in a pool cover to protect the water, and make sure to keep the pool cover clean and free of debris when not in use. Monitor water level regularly and ensure it remains at the proper level to maintain optimal pump and skimmer performance. Inspect and maintain pool equipment such as pumps, filters, and heaters to ensure they are functioning correctly and efficiently.

  • Winterization. If you live in a region with cold winters, properly winterize your pool to protect it from freezing temperatures and prevent damage to plumbing or equipment. Lower the water level, drain all the equipment, and add winterizing chemicals as recommended (will vary based on the size of your pool and pool type). Cover the pool securely to keep out debris and prevent algae growth over the winter months.

  • Professional servicing. Consider hiring a pool technician for periodic maintenance and inspections, especially for tasks like balancing the water chemistry, troubleshooting equipment issues, and performing seasonal maintenance.

Common pool maintenance challenges to be aware of

No matter which type of pool you have, you should be aware of the unique cleaning and maintenance requirements of each pool type. Here are some of the challenges faced by each type of pool owner:

Caring for inground pools

Standard-size inground pools are usually the most challenging to care for because they’re the largest. They require more water to maintain, more surface area to keep clean, and more infrastructure installation – such as pumps, filters, and underground plumbing for correct drainage.

Caring for above ground pools

While above ground pools are usually a little easier to care for, that doesn’t mean they’re infallible. Above ground pools are usually more vulnerable to weather and the elements. Aboveground pools require structural support to ensure the inner walls and exterior casing don’t become damaged.

Caring for semi-inground pools

Semi-inground pools also require infrastructure and care in terms of water quality, cleaning, and equipment maintenance. In addition, semi-inground pools come with structural concerns. Like above ground pools, the above-ground portion of the swimming pool is exposed to the elements, which means the walls need to be regularly examined for structural integrity.

Caring for plunge pools

Although plunge pools are typically the smallest backyard pool option, that doesn’t mean they don’t require as much care. 

Plunge pools, being smaller, are actually more prone to quick accumulation of contaminants. Plunge pools often lack the filtration and circulation systems found in larger inground pools, which can make it harder to keep the water clean and balanced.

Travertine Pool Install Project by Boulder Design Pool & Landscape Construction

Choosing The Right Pool For You

Average costs of inground pools are going to vary depending on the material you’re using, how much the excavation costs, and whether or not you’re choosing to do landscaping in addition to pool installation. 

Your typical fibreglass inground pool cost could be anywhere between $65,000 to $100,000, whereas a vinyl liner pool may cost between $55,000 and $75,000. 

The size, shape and design of your swimming pool can also have an impact on the final total, as well as the features that you choose to add (pool lighting, heaters, diving rocks, tanning platforms, etc). 

To determine what your pool project is going to cost, take a look at our cost guide, which will tell you everything you need to know about the average costs of: 

  • Pool installation
  • Landscaping
  • Specialty features 
  • Annual costs of pool ownership 


If you’ve got questions about your property and the pool that is best for you, you can reach out to us directly for a free quote before you make any final decisions. 

Looking for inspiration? Take a look at some of our completed projects to see what we’ve done for other homeowners.

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