If you like the idea of having your own swimming pool but your site is not well suited to an in-ground solution, then the good news is that you still have plenty of options.
Sometimes it simply isn’t practical to install a pool completely in the ground. For example:
- Your site is sloping and some or all of your pool will need to be out of the ground
- You would like your pool to be level with an existing deck or other outdoor living area
- Your pool needs to be partially raised out of the ground to avoid engineering difficulties
- It isn’t practical to excavate and remove soil from your backyard (usually access issues for machinery).
- You would like your pool somewhere unusual (like an apartment rooftop!)
There are several choices when it comes to above-ground swimming pools. In this article we explore the pros and cons of some of the more permanent options available to you when planning your new pool. Like most construction projects there are options for different budgets so to help keep things simple we’ll start at the lowest price point.
Vinyl liner pools
Vinyl liner pools are a great starting point if you want a family pool but have a limited budget. These pools are typically constructed using kitset steel frames and walls which are then fitted with a made-to-size vinyl liner.
Pros of vinyl liner pools
- Budget friendly (you can DIY install for less than $10,000)
- Fast to install
Cons of vinyl liner pools
- They don’t look as good (may not be suitable for some houses)
- They can be easy to damage with sharp objects
- They fade easily if chemicals are not well managed
- The liner will require regular upkeep and replacement
Pre-made portable pools (shipping container pools, plunge pools, and The Little Pool Co for example)
In more recent years the demand for better looking, yet budget-friendly, swimming pools has certainly ramped up, and with that demand has come the rise of a new generation of portable pre-made pools. Some great examples that are currently available in Australia include shipping container pools, concrete plunge pools and freestanding fibreglass pools like the Little Pool Co.
Although a larger investment than a vinyl liner, these options are far more aesthetically pleasing and tend to be more permanent in terms of their expected lifespan.
Take The Little Pool Co Pools for example: these are freestanding fibreglass pools which can simply be placed onto a concrete base, filled with water and connected to power. You can literally be swimming the day your pool arrives on site. The nude (no exterior cladding) pool packages start from less than $17,000– perfect if you are planning on building a deck around your pool.
Pros of pre-made portable pool options
- Great for sites where access is limited, or it is hard to do earthworks
- They look like permanent pools (more upmarket)
- They can be installed very quickly
- There are plenty of budget friendly options (starting from around $17,000)
- They usually include everything you need (pumps, filters and lights)
Cons of pre-made portable pool options
- They are limited to smaller sizes
- There are currently no self-cleaning pool options
Similar to premade portable pool options, swim spas have risen in popularity over the last decade. Swim spas are best described as a hybrid between a spa pool and a swimming pool. In many cases modern swim-spa designs include both spa and swimming zones.
Like shipping container pools or portable above-ground fibreglass pools, swim spas can be a good option if you are restricted to a small space, or if you are hoping to avoid a major excavation.
Swim spas can range in price from around $22,000 up to $45,000 depending on your preferences, which often means they are similarly priced to a permanent pool of the same size.
Pros of swim spas
- There are plenty of choices on the market
- They are quick to install
- Some have built in swim jets for exercise
Cons of swim spas
- They often run at higher temperatures than swimming pools (higher running costs)
- They don’t offer the same aesthetic WOW factor as a traditional pool
- They are limited in size
Partially in-ground fibreglass pools
If you are looking for a larger, more permanent pool, you might consider opting for a traditional fibreglass solution with a specially designed structural support beam (known as a drop-edge beam). This means you can install your pool up to one metre out of the ground. Drop-edge beams are often a cost effective way to raise the height of your pool to match existing decks, retaining walls or other raised areas in your backyard.
Pros of using a drop-edge beam
- You get to have a full-sized pool of your choosing
- Usually a cost-effective way to raise your pool out of the ground
- Often adds aesthetically to the pool area (as shown in photo)
Cons of using a drop-edge beam
- Not always suitable for every backyard
- Can take up too much space
- Not always the most cost-effective solution
Above-ground, free standing fibreglass pools (Compass Maxi Rib pools)
Compass Pools have been pioneering above-ground pool installations for over 20 years. In fact, our Maxi Rib system was the first of its kind and won an Australian design award for innovation! The Maxi Rib System allows you to have a full-sized Compass Pool almost anywhere you want it: from hillsides to rooftops. Maxi Ribs open up a world of design possibilities including vanishing edges (infinity pools), acrylic windows, waterfalls and much more.
Pros of Compass Maxi Rib above-ground pools
- You can get a full-sized above-ground swimming pool
- Customisable with the Compass range of add-ons
- Can come equipped with the Vantage self-cleaning and circulation system
- Often more cost effective than extensive earthworks or highly engineered concrete alternatives
Cons of Compass Maxi Rib above-ground pools
- Costs more than a traditional inground pool
Specifically engineered concrete solutions
The final alternative is to opt for a specially designed concrete solution. Sometimes, if your site has multiple challenges then the best way to go is to opt for a specially designed concrete solution that matches your site perfectly.
Pros of Specifically engineered concrete solutions
- A design that matches your site perfectly
- A good way to overcome challenging site limitations
- Create the WOW factor with a unique pool shape/design
Cons of Specifically engineered concrete solutions
- Concrete is harder to look after than fibreglass pools
- Often the most expensive option
- Much longer construction process than the above alternatives
Want help finding the best above-ground pool solution for your backyard?
If you’re not sure what solution is right for your backyard, the best thing we can recommend is to get your local Compass Pools dealer to call out for a full site inspection. This service is FREE and comes with no expectation to buy. They’ll be able to help you find the best option for you, your family and your budget!
Click here to locate your nearest Compass Pools Dealer and request a site visit.