Which Pool Should You Get: Type, Material, and Features?

Kenneth Wilson

Who doesn’t want their own private pool in their backyard? You can swim anytime you want and upgrade your simple get-togethers or cookouts into pool parties. 

Unfortunately, it’s not going to be fun and games - considering the regular maintenance and water treatment. But before you think about taking care of your pool (I have guides, don’t worry!), you should first think about which type of pool you should get.

Before deciding on the size, shape, and design, it’s also important to choose between an above-ground or inground pool as well as the material it’s made out of. If you don’t know which type to get, here are different kinds of pools you can choose from.

Above Ground Pool

As the name suggests, this type is an elevated pool with frames to hold the water and support the structure. The frames can be made out of metal, resin, a mix of both, or be radiant (to be discussed later) and have different types of lining. Most above ground pools have an oval or round shape with a 12-foot to 33-foot diameter and a depth of 48 to 54 inches. 

Source: Flickr

Above ground pools must also have a pump and filter system. These usually come with the pool when you get it from specialty pool stores. Before we discuss the different types of frames and liners, here are the pros and cons of getting an above-ground pool.


  • Portable: This type of pool can be relocated
  • Easy to install: Can be self or quickly installed, usually in just one day
  • Less expensive to install: Cheaper when you install it yourself
  • Safety: You can disconnect the ladders in some, for child safety
  • Warranty: Most components come with a warranty


  • Preparation: Easy installation but need to prepare the site location
  • Connection: It is portable but you will need an electrical connection for your pump and filter system
  • Prone to leaks: Mostly applicable to vinyl-lined above ground pools
  • High-maintenance: If not taken care of, the liner may leak or get a hole
  • Same depth: Doesn’t have a deeper end, which doesn’t allow diving
  • Fewer features: Not suitable for some features found in inground pools
  • Affects the grass: This pool can permanently kill the grass under it
  • Lifespan: It has a shorter lifespan than inground pools


After choosing to get an above ground pool, the next step is deciding on which frame to get. The frame will be used to hold up the walls as well as the water. There are different kinds of frames, which are made from a variety of materials. Here are four of them:


Since resin can be used in airplanes, it’s no wonder that this material can also be utilized for above ground pools. Resin is a type of hard plastic that is used as framing for above ground pools.

This is a popular material for framing because it is more rust-, corrosion-, and oxidation-resistant than other types. It can withstand environmental impacts such as the harsh sunlight and pool water. The resin frame cannot be warped nor get dents, making it durable.

Unlike metal, which heats up in the sun, this material will stay cool all day long. If you want this frame, you would need to spend more - but I think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.


Another common type of frame used for above ground pools is a steel frame. These ones have been used for a long time and can be made out of different materials such as galvanized steel, aluminum, and zinc. 

Most people prefer this type because it is durable and lightweight. They can be built on the lawn, floor, or raised deck. This material is also thin, so it can be bent into different shapes. This means you can manipulate your metal above-ground pools into your preferred design.


If you can’t choose between resin and steel, you can try the hybrid frame! This frame is made out of both resin and steel. The resin is used for the areas that are mostly exposed to the sun and water, while steel is used for support.

This way, the framing remains durable while staying cool to the touch and resistant to rusting, corrosion, chipping, and discoloration.


With this frame, your above ground pool becomes a semi-inground pool. Radiant pools are partly inground and ideal for lawns with slopes or hills, uneven ground, and other areas which make it hard to build an above-ground pool.

Even if it not fully inground, it offers the same sturdiness and quality. It is more affordable as well as easy to install and customize, which is why it can be placed in any yard.


After choosing the frame, you should also decide on the liner. The liner will be used to hold the water and protect the walls and floor of your pool. This will also help your pool last longer as well as make it look better. Here are four types of liners you can choose from:


Defined by its name, this liner overlaps the top edge of the pool. It is commonly attached to coping strips.


If you have an uncommon pool size, you can get an expandable liner. This liner can be expanded to different depths and lengths since it can be stretched to match the size of your pool.


Another liner option for above ground pools is beaded. This utilizes thick vinyl beads which can be placed along the track found on the top rails of the pool.


Also known as j-hook or universal liner, this liner is a thick and u-shaped vinyl at the top which hooks or attaches to the top of the wall.

Other Types

Semi- or Fully-Buried Pool

If you’re curious about semi inground pools, it’s similar to the traditional one but it will have insulated wall panels. This makes it more durable against the pressure from the ground.

As mentioned above, it comes in different sizes, and designs, allowing it to have a freer form. It is also quick to install but will take longer than the traditional one. The installation largely depends on the size and design of the pool as well as the location.

Unfortunately, it will be hard to relocate this pool compared to traditional ones. It will also be more expensive and would be difficult to install on your own.

Inflatable Pool

Another kind of above ground pool is an inflatable pool. These ones can be easily found in stores - usually in big boxes. It comes in different sizes, but the most common ones would just be enough for small children. 

This type is best for those who don’t have the budget or can’t make changes to their property. It’s easy to install but this means it won’t be lasting or durable as other types of above ground pools. 

Inground Pools

For a more permanent pool feature in your home, an inground pool is a fully-buried pool that is best for homes that are located in a predominantly warm climate year-round.

Similar to above ground pools, you will also have a higher electricity bill because you will need a filter and/or heater system. The same goes for your water bill due to constant refilling from water evaporation. But an inground pool will require more maintenance and knowledge of using chemicals to clean the pool.

If you need or prefer this type of pool, you should first know its pros and cons as well as the different types of inground pools - given that this is a major investment. 


  • Customizable: Can come in different sizes, shapes, and designs
  • Features: Can be installed with a variety of features
  • Durable: Inground pools offer better quality and are less prone to damage
  • Lifespan: Has a longer lifespan than above ground pools
  • Property value: Having an in-ground pool increases your property resale value


  • Permanent: It’s not portable - so choose the location wisely
  • Space: It takes up plenty of the yard space
  • Expensive: It’s going to cost thousands of dollars to install an inground pool
  • Maintenance: It requires regular upkeep and water balancing
  • Safety: There’s a higher chance for children and pets to slip on a wet deck or fall into an inground pool

There are also different designs and ways you can shape your pool and you have countless features you can add such as slides, waterfalls, and diving boards. But before you decide on these, you should first consider the liner or wall of your pool.


One of the most common walling for inground pools is concrete. With this material, you can easily customize the shape and size of the pool. For those who prefer an extremely large or deep pool, then this is the best option.

Compared to other liners, this material makes the inground pool more durable than other types. If you have pets, you don’t have to worry about dogs ruining the lining or your pool getting damaged from sharp objects - unlike in viny liner ones. 

Unfortunately, the finish won’t be long-lasting as fiberglass pools. This leads to a rough interior surface, which can hurt our feet. If there are children who will be playing in concrete inground pools, it’s best to let them wear water shoes. 

Aside from hurting us, this finish also allows for algae growth since concrete is porous. Algae can easily embed into the surface, making it hard to remove. That’s why this pool requires more maintenance such as regularly brushing the entire surface with a steel brush. You would also need to use more chemicals to reach and destroy the algae on the surface. 

The nature of the material will also affect maintenance. Since concrete is alkaline-based, this will constantly increase the pH level of the water, which means you will need to regularly balance it. This also makes it incompatible will salt, which will damage the interior finish and require more refinishing.

Overall, it requires a lot of time and money to install and maintain a concrete pool. It takes longer to install a concrete pool compared to vinyl liner or fiberglass pools. Eventually, you will also need to get it acid-washed and spend on remodeling which can cost thousands of dollars over the years.

Vinyl Liner

Similar to concrete pools, you can also customize a vinyl liner inground pool. Most of this type is shaped like a rectangle, but you can choose any shape, size, and depth for this pool. But if you customize your vinyl liner pool, it would cost more - but still less than concrete or fiberglass pools.

It may cost less to install, but you will spend more on its upkeep. You need to constantly replace the liner, which costs thousands of dollars. Fortunately, it is easier to maintain as it is non-porous. This means it won’t harbor algae growth as much as concrete.


If you want a low-maintenance inground pool, fiberglass is one of the best options! Its surface or gelcoat is non-porous, which means it won’t have rough cavities for algae to hide or grow in. Maintaining fiberglass pools will also be less expensive and easier because water chemistry is not affected by the liner material, unlike concrete pools.

This means it is also compatible with salt systems. Salt won’t have any effect on the fiberglass shell, which makes it easier to maintain your pool.

You won’t have to wait long when getting this type installed, as it is manufactured off-site and can be installed in days. Unlike vinyl liners, which can be easily damaged, fiberglass is durable and not easily tearable.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to customize the size, shape, or depth of the pool. It would probably be less than 10 feet deep and have a standard shape. Don’t worry! Fiberglass pools usually have an attractive look with beautiful colored finishes and ceramic tiles. 

With such an aesthetic-looking shell, you shouldn’t be surprised that it would cost more to install than a vinyl liner pool. However, you would spend less on the upkeep, which makes it worth it!

Kenneth Wilson
January 20, 2020
Yard & Garden

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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