The Backyard Pool Debate: Above Ground or In-Ground Pool?

With the summer months rapidly approaching, you might be asking yourself: is it time to get a pool? There are a lot of things to consider when installing a pool on your property, chief among them is the debate between getting an above ground or in-ground pool.  According to the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, there are a little more than 5 million in-ground pools in America and about 3.5 million above-ground pools. Clearly, Americans love getting their breast strokes in!

The Backyard Pool Debate: Above Ground or In-Ground Pool?
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As you’re imagining stretching out, relaxing by the pool, don’t go calling the contractor just yet, at least not until you know for sure what type of pool you want.

Let’s take a deeper look at the major factors that will determine whether you opt for an above ground pool or the more traditional in-ground style.


Most people will consider the in-ground pool to be more aesthetically pleasing than one that sits above ground, commonly known as a dough boy. There are certainly ways you can landscape the area around an above ground pool to heighten its appeal,  such as by getting creative and building or attaching a deck to its side. Although, all that is going to do is make it look more like an in-ground pool, which says a lot about what kind of style is more visually pleasing.

Installation Cost 

This is the main deciding factor between the two. Your average in-ground pool will typically run between $20,000-$80,000 with a median cost priced at around $44,000, according to HomeAdvisor. Alternatively, above ground pools are much less expensive. For example, you should be able to purchase a dough boy and have it professionally installed for less than $6,000. Hmm. $20k versus $6k, it’s not hard to see why people go the dough boy route!

To put it one way, if you were to purchase and install the cheapest in-ground pool, you could buy a top-of-the-line model in-ground pool—and still have plenty of money to throw a pool party. Who doesn’t love pool parties!


This is one area where the above ground pool is the sure winner. With its walls extending above the ground, there is almost no way for anyone to fall in (unless you have a deck or platform built around the pool). According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, drowning is the leading cause of injury or death among children ages 1 to 4. With 58 percent of fatalities occurring in in-ground pools and a mere 10 percent of fatalities occurring “portable” above ground pools, it’s clear that the safer option is the dough boy.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t get an in-ground pool, but they come with much more stringent policies and will impact your homeowners insurance costs. Before making your decision, compare homeowners insurance quotes with sites like CoverHound to learn how an in-ground versus above-ground pool will affect your premium costs.


When it comes to upkeep, both varieties require about the same amount of effort with their tasks. This includes, filtering the water, maintaining chemical balances and clearing the debris out of the pool. Concrete and fiberglass pools are typically much more durable than their above ground counterparts. This is because the above ground pool is completely exposed and at the mercy of weather all year long. However, when an in-ground pool gets a crack or needs some kind of repair, you’re looking at a lengthy and expensive project.

If you still aren’t sure which flavor you like best, most pool experts will suggest getting an above ground pool first to wet your toes. You can always super-size it for the real deal if it’s something your family absolutely has to have before next summer!

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