What Is The Lifespan For An In-Ground Pool?

lady in hat by the pool edge

Written by Reaves Newsom


November 18, 2021

The average lifespan of an in-ground pool is 20 to 30 years depending on the material used. This compares very favorably with above-ground pools. These generally last 8-15 years. Please note, however, that the lifespan of an in-ground pool depends both on the quality of the installation and on how well it is maintained. Here is a quick guide to what you need to know.

How Long Does An In-Ground Pool Last?

The answer to the question “how long does an in-ground pool last” depends on three main factors. The first is the material used. The second is the quality of the installation and the third is the maintenance.

If you’re unfamiliar with in-ground pools, then your best option is usually to start by contacting a reputable, specialist installer like RCS Pool and Spa. They will be able to guide you on what material would be best for your situation and budget. They’ll also be able to explain what you need to do to maintain your new in-ground pool.

The Basics Of Vinyl-Lined In-Ground Pools

Vinyl-lined in-ground pools have the most affordable purchase and installation costs. Essentially, your installer will excavate a space for your pool. They’ll line the bottom with a hard-wearing base like grout and the walls with wall panels. Wall panels are usually made of plastic, aluminum, or steel. They’ll then put in a vinyl liner and finally add the coping and steps.

The shell of a vinyl-lined pool can last for anything from 8-15 years. The actual vinyl liner itself, however, will generally need to be replaced at least every six years. For completeness, this is a best-case timeline. It assumes that you have used a thick vinyl liner and that you’ve been very gentle with it.

Realistically, if a high-quality vinyl-lined pool only gets light use (e.g. for a few months each year), then six years is probably a reasonable estimate. If, however, it’s used as the main family pool then it’s doubtful that even a high-quality vinyl liner is going to last for six years.

The Basics Of Fiberglass In-Ground Pools

Going from one extreme to the other, fiberglass in-ground pools have the most expensive purchase and installation costs. That’s partly because they’re made out of fiberglass, which is a fairly expensive material. It’s also partly because they are the most challenging type of in-ground pool to install.

A fiberglass in-ground pool will arrive at your home in one piece. This in itself can lead to challenges. You need to make absolutely sure you really can get your fiberglass in-ground pool all the way from the curb to your door. That includes through the narrowest gaps and around corners. Getting it actually into the ground can raise even more challenges.

With that said, once everything is all done, you can expect your fiberglass in-ground pool to last for 30+ years with minimal maintenance. The smooth surface of fiberglass makes it hard for algae to take hold. What’s more, it makes for easy cleaning. Basically, you just need to wipe the surface clean instead of scrubbing it.

The Basics Of Concrete In-Ground Pools

Regular poured concrete used to be the standard choice for in-ground pools in regular use. It was more durable than vinyl but more affordable than fiberglass. A regular poured-concrete in-ground pool could go 10-15 years between resurfaces. Assuming you kept up with your resurfacing, a poured-concrete in-ground pool could easily last 50+ years.

Higher-end concrete pools were often made out of shotcrete. As its name suggests, this is basically the same as concrete. The only difference is that it is sprayed on rather than poured on. This allows for more flexibility and often gives a better finish. Both poured concrete and shotcrete are still used for in-ground pools. The preferred option, however, is now gunite.

The Basics Of Gunite In-Ground Pools

Gunite is made from small-particle aggregate, cement, and water. The dry materials are fed into a gun. They are mixed with water just before being sprayed. This approach has two main advantages over regular poured concrete and shotcrete.

Firstly, it allows the ratio of dry materials to water to be adjusted to suit the situation. Secondly, it allows for more flexibility in the application process. In particular, the gunite spray process can be started and stopped with minimal hassle. This helps to create a really smooth finish.

Gunite in-ground pools are typically more expensive than either poured concrete or shotcrete in-ground pools. This is mainly because applying gunite requires a lot more skill than applying either poured concrete or shotcrete. That said, gunite in-ground pools offer several advantages over regular poured concrete and shotcrete pools, including longevity and low maintenance.

Gunite In-Ground Pools Resist Earth Movement

Gunite in-ground pools are basically sprayed on in layers. As a result, the pool is effectively a single, complete shell without any joints. Joints are a common point of weakness on any structure. This means that removing them makes an in-ground pool much stronger and hence more capable of withstanding earth movement.

Gunite In-Ground Pools Are Very Customizable

Gunite pools are at least as customizable as fiberglass. The key difference is that your in-ground pool is, literally, created on-site. That eliminates the challenges of getting a premade in-ground pool from the curb to your door.

If you’re into diving, then a gunite pool is almost definitely the right way to go. Diving requires extra-deep in-ground pools. That means you need to use a material that can withstand the pressure not just of several tons of water but also of the surrounding earth. This basically means reinforced concrete or gunite and gunite is actually the more economical option.

Similarly, if you want a particularly large pool, gunite is also likely to be the right way to go for essentially the same reasons. Furthermore, the overall build time will probably be shorter with gunite and that can lower costs even further.

Gunite In-Ground Pools Can Be Installed In Challenging Areas

A gunite in-ground-pool installation generally only requires a small team of operators and minimal on-site equipment. This means that you may be able to have a gunite in-ground pool in a place where no other pool would fit.

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