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Picking Your Best Pool

Updated on March 31, 2017

From the most ornate luxury pools to standard lap pools, a swimming pool is not only a fun way to spend time outdoors in the summer but also a great way to increase home value. There are lots of things to consider when looking into building a backyard pool, especially how it will be used, the type, location, cleaning system, safety factors and additions like hot tubs or diving boards. Most of this will be dependent on the owner's preferences and budget, the make up of the family, the available space and those selected to install the pool. Remember to think on all of these factors while preparing to invest in a personal pool.

Inground or Above Ground

Budgets are usually the biggest factor on whether an inground or above ground pool is best. Above ground pools are generally a less expensive option, averaging around $1500 while inground pools make a jump to $41,000 according to HomeAdvisor.com. If just installing the pool itself, above ground pools also take less time to install, usually within a day, while inground pools can take anywhere from two to eight weeks after obtaining a permit.

However, an above ground pool does not last as long as the inground option. The liner of an above ground pool is estimated to last around eight years. Properly maintained structural parts may last for twenty years or more. Pets, particularly dogs, should be taken into consideration as well, especially if allowed access to the pool. They can scratch the liner or chew on the exterior portions and reduce its life expectancy.

An above ground pool is also limited in design, most only coming in circle or oval shapes and standing shy of five feet in depth. Inground pools, on the other hand, can almost literally come in any shape and size. Above ground pools are also considered temporary and easily removed, though, because of this, they do not add to the value of a house as an inground pool would.

Backyard or Lap Pool

While standard backyard pools can be designed as the owner sees fit, lap pools have a fairly standard specs and a specific purpose. These pools, which are usually long and narrow inground pools with a length of at least fifty feet. These features can sometimes fit better in limited space. They are used more for fitness than leisure and, because of this, they generally lean towards individuals or couples without children.

The health benefits of swimming are well known and especially effective in proper form. Having and using a lap pool has been shown to help decrease anxiety and depression and improve mood. They can also improve posture, lung function and increase flexibility. Swimming is a low impact sport which is beneficial to individuals with things like joint pain who are still wanting to stay fit.

Chlorine or Salt Water

While chlorine systems have been the standard for some time, salt water pools have gained some traction in recent years. Salt water pools actually do use chlorine created from chemical electrolysis that occurs within a salt water generator, but the levels are noticeably lower than that of a chlorine pool. With lower chlorine levels, the water does not fry out the skin or irritate the eyes as much.

The major differences between these two options are cost and maintenance. Salt water pools require the previously mentioned salt water generator, which can push a grand in price, but require almost no upkeep. The salt can be corrosive and damage an improper liner or pool lights and create salt ring stains on darker surfaces. Chlorine pools, on the other hand, must have their pH balance vigilantly maintained. They should be tested twice a week and have to be shocked every three to four weeks.

Recently, UV pool sanitizers have been added to the options. Using the same technology utilized in sanitizing drinking water, it uses minimal chemicals. However, since they have caught on more in public parks in Europe than North America, pool specialist tend to lean towards the more familiar systems. Seeking someone specializing in UV disinfectant systems may prove to be costly.

Boards, Slides and More

Especially with inground pools, there are several additional items that can be included with the pool. Hot tubs can be built into the design and generally cost an additional $5000 to $8000. They can be exceptional for relaxing after a long day at work or a work out, either in the pool or out. Diving boards are also common attachments, running upwards of $600 for fiberglass or $1000 for aluminum. Slides vary widely in their cost, starting at a few hundred but increasing with additional features like water jets to keep the surface slick.

Each of these should be carefully considered, especially depending on the age of any children who will be using the pool. To keep the pool area exceptionally safe, lights may also be added. These run around $75 for each 50-watt light. These can also be cosmetic, designed to cycle through a variety of colors. Fencing is also strongly suggested for families with small children to avoid potential accidents if for those who wander.

Both above and inground pools can have decks built around them as well. Inground pools are easier to include other cosmetic features, such as plants, rocks and waterfalls. The additional cost of each of these is dependent on the size and design but an additional thousand can be assumed for each.

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    • robhampton profile image

      Rob Hampton 4 months ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

      Good article! One thing though, you have more pH fluctuation in a salt pool than one that's on tabs. The pH almost always run high on a salt system, even with balanced water (stabilizer, Alkalinity, etc..) I've heard the pools that use the c02 generators helps with the high pH on salt pools. I service one that has it but don't see much difference. I usually add muriatic every week.