Choosing and Installing a Swimming Pool

Backyard swimming pool construction.
  • 32-40 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 9,000-16,000

Wouldn't it be great to have your very own outdoor oasis, complete with a swimming pool, cabana, and barbecue grill? Before you take a headlong plunge into owning your own pool, it might be a good idea to consider what is involved with owning and maintaining a pool. What type of pool should you have for your property? What exactly is involved when installing a backyard pool, and how do you determine a budget for your project?

These considerations will be based on the four main types of pools, which are outlined below.

Gunite (Concrete)

By far, the most permanent (and expensive) pool is the Gunite or concrete pool. Installation is best performed by a contractor. It is advisable to get at least three estimates on this type of pool before beginning. A search of pool manufacturers shows that one can run anywhere from $15,000 to $40,000, depending on how elaborate you wish your pool to be.

The installation begins with the contractor excavating the pool site. Following this, a grid of rebar is placed into the hole for reinforcement, and the Gunite is sprayed behind and over the rebar to form the walls of the pool. When the Gunite has cured, plaster or a combination aggregate is then placed over the surface to give the walls of the pool the finished look desired. The pool is then finished off with the desired decking — either brick or ceramic tile. Many owners place ceramic tiles around the perimeter of the pool and down below the water line to give a clean, finished look.

Plumbing and electrical concerns should be handled by licensed contractors. Expect this process to take 8 to 12 weeks to finish, and expect your back yard to be a mess until the process is finished.


Less expensive than a Gunite, the fiberglass pool is simply a one-piece insert that is placed into the ground. For this type of installation, you must have room for a flatbed truck and a crane to access your property. Expect to pay $9,000 to $15,000 for a fiberglass pool, depending on the size and shape.

Fiberglass installation is quicker than concrete. A hole is excavated, and the fiberglass insert is placed into the ground by a crane, with special attention paid to the shell being placed level. A foot of water is then put into the insert to anchor it in place, and then water is added to the pool.

As water is added, sand is packed along the sides in proportion to the amount of water put into the pool to ensure there is no bulging of the liner. Concrete decking is then poured around the flange of the fiberglass insert to lock it into place. The fiberglass pool is often preferred to Gunite pools as there is no need for resurfacing or liner replacement.


This is nothing more than a vinyl liner that is installed within support walls, typically made of steel, fiberglass, aluminum, or pressure-treated wood. A bracing system is utilized to keep things stable. Installation is accomplished by excavating the hole for the pool, placing the support walls with bracing, and then installing the vinyl liner. The hole is always lined with a layer of sand to produce a good foundation for the liner, and to ensure that there is nothing in the ground that may puncture the liner.

After the installation, coping is installed to secure the liner, and holes are cut for the pool attachments, such as the skimmer and filtration system. Many people like a vinyl pool for its ease of installation and the fact that vinyl pool manufacturers offer a wide variety of patterns and colors to suit any taste.


These are often seen on properties that do not have room for an in-ground pool. Adding an above-ground pool is an ideal project for the average do-it-yourselfer. Prices range anywhere from $125 to as much as $20,000, depending on the accessories and accouterments you desire, of course, this is in addition to the size.

Above-ground pools come in a variety of styles, from the wader pool for small children to a fully equipped lap pool with 21' x 41' x 52" dimensions. Many of these larger pools are fitted with decking for sunbathing and pool lounging, and many accessories are available. One of the nicest features of an above-ground pool is that removing the ladder helps to ensure that unattended small children or pets will not fall into the pool.

Finding the right pool for you is simply a matter of deciding what your needs and budget are, and what your property can accommodate. There are a plethora of styles that are available, which means that there is surely something out there for everyone. Always remember to shop around, and get the best estimate you can for the installation of an in-ground pool. You also want to make sure you get the best contractor for the job, not just price, so be sure to ask for references.

If you are more adventurous and like to do things yourself, consider an above-ground pool. Before you know it, you and your family will be enjoying themselves with a nice cool dip in your own backyard pool on hot summer days.