There are a large range of choices for having a pool today. I have had three temporary types and this project is my first permanent installation I'm going to build now. So lets review the choices. Here I list them in order of price of ownership:
This type of pool is a one day pool. You inflate it, play, empty the water and deflate it again. The inflated sides do not stay up for much more than a day. If treated properly the water might be ok for a few days without filtration but you'll need to run out and inflate the pool often. I know, I did it.
The advantage? Cheap: just a few tens of euros and you are good to play. Generally you don't use chemicals in such a pool and no filtration is needed. They come in all sizes and also you can include slides and fountains in some by attaching a small pump. The pool can also be put anywhere as it has no power dependencies - so it can be packed into the car and taken on holiday.
But its not really a swimming pool more of a paddling pool.
These pools are bag shaped, strong and have a patented ring of air at the top. As you fill the pool, the ring rises on the water. Its quite amazing. The bag shape is well constructed and the ring is under no pressure, meaning it deflates slowly over many days. The pools come with filtration units in many cases (see picture) so you need to run a power cable to the pool.
The pools are good for one season but are not designed for more use than this. That nice lawn will be ruined when the pool is removed (mine was) and wont recover naturally.
The water in the pool heats up more than an in-ground pool in sunlight as the bag, not just the surface has direct sunlight.
Cleaning is easy but you do need to add chemicals if you intend to keep the water for more than a few days. Unlike other types of pools the pool flexes so a few bounces and all sorts of waves appear. Its a lot of fun. They come from small (0.7 deep, 2 metres wide) to medium (5.5 metres across and 1.3 deep). However be wary on size. This is measured around the base and a good 20% of the size can be lost at the top due to the bag shape. A 5.5 metre pool may have much less than 5m width on the surface of the water.
These pools are strong but they do burst releasing all the water in a catastrophic event :-). Be careful where you put the pool, not too close to your house for example. The pools also require a completely flat surface or the pressure on the walls is uneven and introduces considerable strain.
I'll be using one of these this year whilst saving for the real pool after good experiences with one last year.
Now thats a mouth full but basically this category of pools have a metal or hard plastic frame and can be quite large (up to 12m in length even!). The price is realistic from about 200 Euros (800 zloty) up to about 2000 Euros for a monster (8000 zloty).
The pools have a hard outer frame and an inner liner. The liner should be replaced each season so factor that into the cost. Also have a liner repair kit handy as some of these pools have no bottom and the liner can be attacked by insects. In general the liners that come with the pools are quite thin: not the thickness used in permanent in-ground pools.
I had one of these pools for two seasons put in-ground with tiling and fencing. It was a learning experience, I wouldn't do it again but it was fun to try. Don't get me wrong, these pools can be installed in-ground I just did it all wrong. I'll add an article about it later.
The pools require power and have one or many filters added. The filters are standard off the shelf filters, hence the reason for needing more than one, rather than just installing one with higher capacity.
The big disadvantage of these pools is that they simply dont look good. You cant sit by the pool and enjoy it unless you have a two level property. The pool is there but the swimming pool experience is lacking. These pools are hard to clean from outside, you need to get in them to clean them and do not forget they cost a lot in chemicals and heating despite being cheap to purchase. Still as a cheap way to a decent size pool, these are hard to beat.
How many seasons? Who knows? Intex aren't keen to tell us. I quote from their FAQ:
It depends on usage, maintenance and care. Consistent maintenance and proper storage of your pool in the off-season will prolong its useful life.
Using the same basic pool as above, but sometimes with permanent liners, I present the monstrous above ground permanent installation. Well it does offer a pool experience of sorts, a windy one. Its just plain ugly and it really doesn't get much better than this. It is possible to build them into the side of a hill and get a better effect, even enabling people to sit outside the house next to the pool. They are cheaper than full in-ground pools. I have no direct experience with this type of installation so I'll leave this one for owners to comment on. Do you have an above ground pool? What are the pros and cons?
Plastic and fibreglass may be used to produce large "tubs" that are put into a hole in the ground. Plastic technology has come a long way and these pools will last for ten years or more. They vary in price from about 1500 Euros (6000 zloty) for a small one to 6,000 Euros (24,000 zloty) or more depending on size and shape. Cheaper ones are generally square in shape.
These pools are easy to install compared with other in-ground pools, last longer than liner pools, do not suffer from earthquake or minor ground movements the way concrete pools do and react less with chemicals making them cheaper to maintain. The biggest disadvantage of such pools is that they have prefabricated shapes which are often unexceiting but that problem is likely to go away in the next few years as the technology improves. For now though, the majority of such pools are square in form and do not have a sloping bottom. Various colours are now available including fake granite and tile textures. They represent the cheapest in-ground option and a real DIY possibility. This is the pool type I've chosen for my project.
The picture above is from an installation of a Viking Pool.
On the right is an image of a partially completed pool made from preformed, kit walls and a sand floor. The sand floor has been floated (smoothed and compacted).
This sort of in-ground pool is good for very large pools - prefabricated won't work as they cannot be delivered in such huge sizes.
The walls come in sections allowing a variety of shapes and can be made from concrete, polymer or steel. The pool bottom can be finished with sand or cement and can assume almost any shape. This pool then presents a good compromise in shape and cost, whilst not providing ultimate flexibility it is more cost effective than a true concrete pool. The Pool can be finished with a liner or, if the floor is made of cement, with plaster and tiles. You will need a contractor, this is not a DIY approach and costs therefore are much larger than the prefabiricated pools. Tree roots can be a problem in the sandy floor over time.
This pool is designed for large installations but smaller ones can be done.
These pools offer the ultimate in flexibility in terms of design and shape. Essentially a hole is filled with wire mesh and gunite (a concrete that can be sprayed) is sprayed onto the wire frame. Obviously contracters are required as well as specialist equipment. These pools can be any shape and size and so offer the chance to really architect the pool shape and experience. Tropical designs need to be done with gunite pools and this type of pool is the most popular in ground pool in the United States.
That said, as a rough guide they cost about twice as much as similar sized prefabricated pools to install. Then the owner must chose between different finished (plaster, exposed aggregate, painted, tiled). Tiling a pool can be very expensive and is still a sign of ultimate luxury.
The pools are not without their disadvantages. Earthquake or ground shifting can cause a catastrophic failure. Deep frosting can break the pool apart. Chemical reaction with the walls of the pool means more careful and expensive chemical treatment may be needed (eg in a tiled finish) and thus maintenance costs can be higher.
Shotcrete is similar to gunite, simply a different mix.
Given the added architecting costs, the need for contractors, the extra material costs, the extra running costs this is an expensive option.
Forget DIY. This is a true experts job. Buliding the extension, damn proofing it, correct ventilation (no chlorine fumes thank you) is a very costly job requiring extensive experience. The benefits are obvious: 365 days a year swimming. Its a dream come true. However the down sides are not so obvious.
Costs are enormous. Plan on 40,000 to 60,000 Euros (150,000 to 300,000 zloty). Costs can be lower by using an existing space but still, compared to an outdoor pool this is a vast jump in costs.
The pool is always cold unless you heat it. The water is never warm enough to swim in - think about leaving a bath full of water overnight and thats the temperature. This means indoor pool cost more than twice that of outdoor pools to run daily.
Secondly the pool experience is very different. The atmosphere can be heavy, even condusive to head aches unless proper ventilation is provided. Secondly the room itself may be dull on relatively sunny days when you would like to be outside.
Overall its a huge decision. Still you can have a TV and stereo going, its great to swim when its snowing outside and frankly if I could afford it - I'd do it in an instant.
There you go, a brief summary of pools. There is much more - salt water pools, natural pools, aluminium pools, poured concrete pools but these are either niche or going out of fashion. In the end the decision is largely decided by cost anyway.