Types of Pools: Construction, Pros, and Cons

If you’re considering incorporating a swimming pool into your yard, it’s likely you’ll have some questions about all the different types of pools. We’ve put together a little informative list discussing the most common kinds of swimming pool options and included the pros and cons of each. Every style has its own advantages and vary in construction practices.

Types of Pools:


Construction: Above-ground pools are made from fabricated kits and are usually installed by a professional, although some kits may be simple enough that an amateur could figure out how to put it together. First, the installer levels the ground where the pool will be placed. A perimeter track that will support the outer wall (made of either metal, plastic, or wood) will be assembled. Next, sand is spread in the pool area and the plumbing is laid. Finally, the vinyl liner is placed over the pool walls, filled with water, and the liner is secured in place. Once the pump and filtering systems have been hooked up, the pool is ready to use.

Pros: This is by far the cheapest option if you’re dying to have a pool at home but are wary about the potential price tags. It’s relatively easy to build and can go up in a very short amount of time. It can also be taken with you in a potential move.

Cons: Above-ground pools are less durable than other types of pools, and many people find them to be less attractive. They are less permanent—which could be a trait that goes in either the “pro” or “con” column.


Construction: These pools are made from a fiberglass-reinforced plaster that has been molded into a basin. In order to install, construction crews dig a hole that will fit the mold, lay the plumbing, add sand filler, and lower the structure into the ground. They level the pool, hook up the plumbing, and backfill the area surrounding the shell. These pools are usually surrounded custom decking, concrete or otherwise.

Pros: Fiberglass pools are generally less work to maintain because the gel coat surface is nonporous and does not encourage the growth of algae. You will need less sanitizing chemicals to maintain the pool because of the smooth and non-abrasive surface. The installation is more rapid than some of the other pour or spray options. You also don’t have to deal with cost of resurfacing the pool every few years.

Cons: You are limited when it comes to design and shape because fiberglass pools are made from a mold. Because their shells are shipped on the road, there is a width restriction at 16 feet. Repairing a fiberglass pool can be costly and aesthetically unappealing because repair work sometimes doesn’t match the existing surface. The cost of construction is higher initially but it does cost less to maintain.


Construction: Vinyl-lined in-ground pools are structurally very similar to above-ground pools although installation is obviously different. The crew digs a hole and assembles a metal, plastic, or wood frame wall around the hole’s perimeter. Similarly to above-ground pools, a crew lays sand along the bottom of the hole and secures the vinyl lining to the wall they built. The rest of the gaps are then backfilled.

Pros: Vinyl-lined pools are significantly cheaper than other in-ground designs, cheaper than any of the other types of in-ground pools. The size and shape are completely customizable and there are no limitations placed on design. The surface is smooth to the touch, nonabrasive, and does not foster algae growth.

Cons: Vinyl-lined pools have a higher cost over their lifetime because liners only last between 7-15 years. It takes a few thousand dollars to replace each time, plus the cost of water when it’s time to refill. You have to be extra careful not to rough house too much because the liners are only approximately 20-30 mil thick, as much as several sheets of paper. Repairs can cost quite a bit and they do not maintain their value as well as other pools.


Construction: Poured-concrete pools are built by a construction crew digging a hole, placing plumbing, and building wooden forms to create shape. Concrete material is then sprayed onto the structure and is troweled into place a crew. It sits for a week or so before the final smooth finish is applied.

Pros: These pools can be made into any shape, size, and depth with more design flexibility than some of the other in-ground pool options. Poured-concrete pools are likely to be more artistic and luxurious.

Cons: These pools have a relatively high lifetime cost and need renovation every 10-20 years to resurface or retile. More chemical use is likely because of the porous surfaces that attract algae growth. The alkaline pH of the shell raises the pH of the water and needs acid added frequently to counteract the pH. The surface needs more brushing to maintain cleanliness. Poured concrete also takes a long time to install, typically anywhere from 2-4 months.


Construction: Gunite pools are currently the most popular choice in the US. The construction is very similar to a poured-concrete pool, although the framework is made using rebar placed 10 inches apart and secured with wire. With the grid in place, crews spray coats of gunite—a mixture of cement and sand—around the rebar. The sprayer unite combines dry gunite mix with water to create a wet concrete material that is troweled into place. It sets up for one week before getting a finish, the most popular of which his referred to as plaster (a mixture of cement and marble sand). Some people finish the pool with concrete paint, tile, exposed aggregate, or fiberglass.

Pros: Gunite is highly durable and aesthetically pleasing. It can be made into any shape or size and can accommodate even the wildest design features.

Cons: Gunite is more expensive than most all of the alternative in-ground pool options. It also takes a significant amount of construction time, similar to the estimates for poured-concrete pools.

Note: All pools rely on the same basic plumbing and filtering systems.

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