Last Updated: June 16, 2021

What Is the Cheapest Inground Pool?

Written By: Pool Care Guide

In the short term, vinyl pools are the cheapest inground pools on the market. In the long term, they are likely to cost more. That said, if you are dead set on building the cheapest inground pool you can conceive, we would like to help you out with that. In the following guide, you will find generalized pricing tables for several aspects of the pool. If you want to build a cheap pool, this should certainly help. 

As you might expect, cheaper products bring unwanted problems and expenses that stack up quickly. If you want the cheapest pool over time, a fiberglass pool might be the right move for you.

Concrete pools are expensive to build and maintain, so frugal-minded people should avoid them.

An inexpensive pool starts with its material. However, if you want cheap, there are many other cost factors that we need to consider. You’ve also got to ask yourself what you are willing to give up to achieve those low prices. 

Pool Size

Let’s start with the size of the pool. Please take note that this is a rough estimation that will vary greatly based on the location, taxation, contractor, products used, etc., etc.

Estimated Initial Cost (Assumed depth of 6’5”)

Pool SizeVinyl (Cheap Now)Fiberglass (Cheap Overtime)Concrete
10x20 (Lap Pool)$18,200$23,400$26,000
10x30 (Lap Pool)$27,300$35,100$39,000
12x20$21,840$28,080$31,200
12x24$26,208$33,696$37,440
12x30$32,760$42,120$46,800
14x28$35,672$45,864$50,964
15x30$40,950$52,650$58,500
16x32$46,592$59,904$66,560
18x36$58,968$75,816$84,240
20x40$72,800$93,600$104,000
20 x 60 (Lap Pool)$109,200$140,400$156,000
25x45$102,375$131,625$146,250

What’s the Cheapest Inground Pool? Answer: A DIY Pool

If you're willing to do the work yourself, you might save somewhere between $6,000 and $10,000 on the pool installation. It’s an intimidating project for the inexperienced. Also, if you make any mistakes or something goes wrong, those savings can quickly go down the drain.

It’s lucky for any of our frugal readers that lack the skillset of a construction worker, the cheapest inground pool, the vinyl pool, also happens to be the easiest one to install. It’s the vinyl pool. These pool kits sell for about $5,000 to $10,000. If you don’t feel qualified to take on a task of this size, should know that a lot of equally inexperienced pool owners found all the instruction they needed online. There are online guides and several YouTube channels offering free step-by-step instructional videos, so don’t worry about being lost in the dark. 

No Warranty for DIY Pools

Typically, when pool-building companies install your pool, the work comes with a limited warranty. When you install it yourself, there is no such warranty. The quality of the parts, proper maintenance, and the skillfulness of your hands are the only things protecting your investment. If something goes wrong, you are likely going to fix it out of pocket.

Which Pool Type Has the Cheapest Maintenance Cost?

If you want a pool that will be cheap over time, the maintenance costs should be your primary concern. As you can see from the following chart, fiberglass is the clear winner. Fiberglass requires the least upkeep.

Concrete pools degrade with time. The smooth surfaces become rough and pitted which starts to cut people in the pool. To prevent this, concrete pools need to be resurfaced once every 10 - 15 years. It’s a spendy endeavor, and it will be very expensive. In the United States, it will cost you about $7,000 per 1,000 per square foot.

Vinyl pools have vinyl liners that cover what is typically a steel wall. Once every 5 to 15 years, the liners will need to be removed and replaced. Assuming this doesn’t reveal a galvanically corroded steel wall, replacing the vinyl liners will likely cost you between $1,400 and $4,800.

Here’s a 10-year projection of the maintenance fees for average-sized pools of each type. Keep in mind that environmental elements, varying qualities of upkeep, location, the acidity of rain and tap water, and countless other factors will alter this ball-park estimate.

Average Maintenance Costs (10-Year Estimation)

FiberglassVinylConcrete
10-Year Maintenance Costs$3,750$13,250$27,500

Pool Deck Material Cost

If you want the cheapest inground pool, you can’t forget to calculate the costs of the pool deck. Most decks have a surface area of about 750 square feet. If you look at the installation costs, you’ll notice that in some cases it can double the total cost. If you feel the urge to head to Home Depot to buy a hammer, you might be able to save quite a bit.

Deck MaterialMaterial Cost(Per Square Foot)Installation Cost(Per Square Foot)Total Cost (Per Square Foot)Total Cost on Average-sized Deck(750 sq ft)
Cedar$4 - $8.75$3.25 - $7.25$7.25 - $16$5,437 - $12,000
Pressure-treated Lumber$5.75 - $12.50$5.25 - $10.00$11 - $22.50$8,250 - $16,875
Composite$6.75 - $14.25$4.75 - $9.75$11.50 - $24.00$8,625 - $18,000
Ipe$7 - $12.75$4.75 - $8.75$11.75 - $21.50$8,812 - $16,125
Tigerwood$8 - $15$4 - $8$12 - $23$9,000 - $17,250
PVC$8.25 - $15.75$4.75 - $9.75$13 - $25.50$9,750 - $19,125
Redwood$9 - $14$4.35 - $8.50$13.35 - $22.50$10,012 - $16,875
Aluminum$13.50 - $25$4.50 - $9$18 - $34$13,500 - $25,500

Are Saltwater Pools Cheaper than Chlorine Pools?

What Is the Cheapest Sanitation System? 

Balancing pool chemicals comes with ownership. That’s an inflexible point. What is flexible is the price. The cost of the chemicals is largely determined by whether you have a chlorine pool or a saltwater pool.

ExpensesSaltwaterChlorine
Upfront Cost$1,000 - $2,500$0
Annual Chemicals$70 - $100$300 - $800
Saltwater Cell Replacement(Last 3 - 5 Years)$200 - $700$0
Annual Cost(Low Estimation)$140($70 Maintenance$200 Cell / 5 Years)$300
Averaged Annual(High Estimation)$333.33($100 Maintenance$700 Cell / 3 Years)$800

It’s time to return to the repeating question. Do you want to build the cheapest possible pool in the short term, or do you want to save money over time? Long term, installing a chlorine generator can be a great way to save money every single year.

Saltwater pools maintain very low levels of chlorine at all times, and reducing the chlorine will extend the life of your vinyl pool liner. Obviously, two thumbs up! That’s fantastic!

Saltwater Is Risky for Vinyl Pools

Unfortunately, what isn’t fantastic is the potential risk of galvanically oxidizing the steel walls that sit behind the vinyl liners. As the vinyl liners fall into disrepair, the steel walls become exposed to the water. 

Saltwater isn’t the cause of this corrosion. Saltwater just happens to be a conductive solution that makes an electrical bridge between the metals in your pool. When two metals of different nobilities (electrical potentials) are connected, galvanic corrosion targets the least noble metal. Bonding and grounding your pool typically prevents galvanic corrosion.

If the pool hasn’t been bonded and grounded and water leaks through the vinyl, the steel will keep rusting until the leak has been addressed. Within enough time and exposure, this has a chance of leading to big pool-destroying issues. It’s very unlikely to be that bad. It’ll probably just cost you money. However, which is exactly what we are trying not to do.

Risky Cheap Inground Pool Decisions

The Contractor

If your contractor is inexperienced or hasn’t built a reputation, you are taking a chance that you might spend a lot more money in the long run. If your contractor is inexperienced or is cost-cutting to keep the price low, they might use substandard parts. They might also make mistakes that a time-taught contractor won’t make. 

Some of the pools that have been galvanically corroded are examples of this. Bonding and grounding will usually be the responsibility of the contractor.

We can also use the example of pools popping up out of the ground. Yeah, it really happens. Some poor owner opens the drain, leaves, and comes back to find that their pool has risen a few feet up and shattered to pieces. 

Sometimes, this is caused by leaky pipes. Most of the time, they are caused by a pool built close to the water table beneath the ground. An experienced contractor would be aware of the tables and how they fluctuate throughout the year. They might install hydrostatic pressure valves or some other drainage system to prevent such a catastrophe.

We’re not saying that you shouldn’t hire inexpensive contractors. We all start at the bottom wrong, and reputations are built from the ground up. You should just know the risks, so you can weigh the outcomes. The last thing you want is for the cheap pool to become very expensive.

Dissatisfaction with the End Result

Okay, we’re to the end of the page. Before you go and build that cheap in-ground pool, look beyond the price and consider the lifetime enjoyment. Making the pool a little shallower can save you money, but it might make the pool days a little less enjoyable. Will you be content with your choice on the 1000th day? 

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