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Welcome to our definitive guide to everything you need to know about swimming pools!
Swimming pools are a fantastic way to relax in the summertime, and are popular with private home owners, particularly those without a beach nearby. A swimming pool is an expensive investment, but one that few people can say they regret.
They require maintenance, and if it isn’t properly taken care of, a swimming pool may depreciate in value–of course, when taken care of, they will increase the value and desirability of your home.
In-ground pools are the most desirable backyard swimming pools, and are commonly constructed from a number of materials. Depending on the material you choose, you can have a custom shape, or have it built to a standardized size.
We’re going to highlight and discuss some of the best and most stylish examples of the many different shapes, styles, and types of swimming pools available.
It’s our goal to help you decide which pool suits your budget and needs the best; whether that’s a simple inflatable pool, an in-ground pool, or even an incredible, luxurious indoor pool.
Some of the pools shown here are incredibly luxurious, while others offer a more modest example–something you’re more likely to see at an affordable price level. Some have ornate, classical designs, while others lean towards a tropical theme.
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Swimming pools vary so much in style, size, and material that it’s difficult to pin down a precise cost. The nationwide average is about $50 per square foot, but this can vary dramatically depending on where the pool will be located, the type of pool desired, and any customization options added, which can include heaters, chillers, pool slides, water features, waterfalls, and much more.
You can expect to pay between $1,500 and $5,000 for a vinyl-lined pool, $15,000 to $25,000 for a fiberglass pool, and between $20,000 and $55,000 for a concrete/gunite pool or for a custom pool. (Source: Landscaping Network)
For a more in depth look at cost, check out our cost guide!
Fiberglass – fiberglass pools come in one-piece shells that can easily be dropped into a proper-sized hole in your yard. They’re quick and easy to install, have a variety of shapes and sizes available, and are at a medium price point. However, they have little structural support for decking, and can shift around in wet or cold conditions.
Gunite/Concrete – gunite and concrete pools have the highest flexibility in design and have a high end look. However, their textured surfaces can be rough and abrasive, take a long time to construct, are expensive to repair, and can attract algae and bacteria. Gunite and concrete pools are certainly the most expensive pools to buy.
Vinyl Liner – these are an economical way to create an in-ground pool. They have a smooth, soft liner and require less sanitizer than the more porous concrete pools. However, the liner tends to be very thin, so a small hole can be disastrous. These liners will need to be replaced every 8 to 10 years.
To find out more about the shapes and designs available to you, check out our shapes and designs guide!
In-ground pools are the typical pool we all think of when it comes to backyard or residential pools. These pools are easy to dive or climb into, and generally have a smooth, finished look to them.
Love the in-ground look? Check out more in-ground swimming pools!
This beautiful in-ground pool is the perfect example to show that concrete pools can really be customized completely. This beautiful pool is shaped like a spiral shell, with a row of palms spiraling the opposite way. Source: Zillow Digs™
A beautiful Mediterranean style pool with gorgeous tile work depicting dolphins at the center of the bottom of the pool. A set of steps leads into the pool on one side, and a pool ladder leading out of the deep end.
A tropical in ground pool with a small dip on one side to accommodate a shaded covered patio. The area is made private by the wealth of tropical flowering bushes and trees.
A lovely free form style pool with a small spa area on the far end and a shaded patio umbrella. The pool is concrete with natural stone tile bordering.
A typical swimming pool much like you’ll see throughout the suburban United States. This pool features a diving board, pool ladder, and a large patio area to the rear of the lot.
A lengthy rectangular lap pool along the rear of this heavily landscaped Southwest style backyard. A separate hot tub rests beside the lap pool. Source: Zillow Digs™
Indoor pools are perfect for those who love to swim, but need to be indoors. These pools tend to be enclosed with much glass, but some are entirely enclosed, with no windows at all.
Love indoor pools? You can check out a bunch more ideas!
An indoor pool with large glass windows to let in plenty of sunlight. The pool is on a slightly lower level than the living room also pictured.
Another beautiful indoor pool just off the living room. It functions dually as a hallway, with stone stepping stones leading along the side of the pool. A large tree adds an element of organic beauty. Source: Zillow Digs™
A spacious and rustic-contemporary indoor pool with a mirrored wall along the right side and twin sofas along the back wall. A simple rope swing hangs above the water from the vaulted wooden ceiling. Source: Zillow Digs™
This incredible indoor pool complex has multiple alcoves with hot tubs. The pool is heated along with each hot tub area.
Another indoor pool area with unique, metallic wallpaper throughout. The ceiling is lighted with an aqua rope lighting that compliments the tile work and wallpaper.
A luxurious example with gilded statuettes all along the right wall and several circular tray ceilings culminating in a chandelier above the hot tub. Source: Zillow Digs™
Check out even more indoor pool designs!
These pools are built for play and entertaining. You’ll find them off of a large patio area, and they may have pool houses nearby.
See even more backyard pools and get a great feel for the design and size you want!
This is a luxurious example with an enormous rectangular pool, a pergola with a built-in waterfall, and plenty of trees to ensure absolutely privacy. See more of this home here. Designed by Miller + Miller Real Estate.
Another example of a backyard pool, but this one is elevated on a large deck, effectively sealing it off from small children or nosy neighbors. Source: Zillow Digs™
A lovely and spacious backyard with a pool surrounded by slate tiles and a small pool house nearby. The lot is surrounded by thick landscaping, which acts as a privacy fence. Source: Zillow Digs™
Find more backyard pool designs!
This simple backyard pool is Roman style, and is surrounded by wooden decking and a vinyl picket fence. Various inflatable toys and lounge chairs are visible.
Another simple backyard pool on a private lot. This free form pool does not have a fence. Most homeowners with small children, or those who have small children visiting frequently have fences around the pool, but many places do not have a law requiring it.
Love backyard pools? See more!
Infinity, or zero-edge pools, are high-end pools that are costly to implement due to the nearly invisible edge, but are popular with homeowners with a fantastic view that they don’t want broken up.
This gorgeous infinity pool seems to extend over the hill and pour over the side of the rolling hills. The edge is so smooth, it appears to simply continue on. The decking is flush with the edge of the water as well. See more of this home here. Designed by Denise Macedo Architects.
This tropical example has concrete footed beams covering the pool, reducing rainfall or vegetation that make it into the emerald waters.
This beautiful pool is on the edge of the ocean, and only a small band of tile work separates the pool water from the aquamarine sea. The pool seems to extend forever.
This is a unique pool complex featuring an infinity pool with a moat surrounding it to catch any water sloshing over the edge. On the other side of the moat is a sizable hot tub.
Want to see more awesome and refreshing infinity pools?
Above ground pools are available at a lower price point, particularly if you don’t wish to add decking around them. Steel and vinyl construction pools are available, which can be dismantled during the winter season.
Are above ground pools more your style? Find out more about them!
Above ground swimming pools are a much less expensive option than in-ground pools, but require decking to be erected around them or leading up to them. Some may even need to be taken down during the winter months. Source: Zillow Digs™
A simple above ground swimming pool in white with a pool ladder and an inflatable water polo goal set up on one side.
This above ground pool is encased in glass and tile for an utterly modern silhouette. Stairs lead down on either side of it, and the tiered landscape of the backyard enhances the texture. Source: Zillow Digs™
Another incredible modern above ground pool encased in cement. However, a bit of wooden decking is placed at the end of the pool that borders the pathway leading down from the hill. See more of this home here. Designed by McLeod Bovell.
Smaller pools are popular with homeowners with limited building space. These pools are great in fiberglass and vinyl, and tend to be less expensive. However, homeowners with a sprawling lot will need a much larger pool to look appropriate in the space.
Don’t have a lot of space? A small swimming pool may be just right for you!
A small L-shaped infinity pool looking off the deck of a coastal beach home. The pool may be small, but it’s perfect for enjoying a cooling dip while taking in that view.
A small natural-stone encased above-ground pool that may be small in size, but big in style. The lovely turquoise tiles at the bottom give it a classic, crystal clear look. See more of this home here. Designed by LS Architects.
A beautiful, if small pool with shallow “sandbar” areas where patio furniture can be placed. The pool is inside a warm, greenhouse like structure that allows swimmers to still view the rich vegetation and the river outside.
A small lap pool with a trio of stepping stones along one end. The small pool looks to be the same shade of rich blue as the ocean visible from the glass-encased patio area. See more of this home here. Designed by SAOTA.
This modern L-shaped pool is narrow, but just perfect for a quick dip. Smaller pools are private, and perfect for small families who don’t have gatherings often. This pool is bordered by a pool house with a bar and also has a modern fountain. Source: Zillow Digs™
A small pool with a divider down the center creating a shallow and deep end. The pool is surrounded by rich dark wood decking and nearby, there is a large wet bar. See more of this home here. Designed by Metropole Architects.
Inflatable pools are the most budget friendly pool for homeowners who don’t like pool maintenance, or who don’t care about the value a pool may or may not add to their home. These come in a range of sizes and are perfect for smaller families.
Find the best inflatable pool design for your family; there are so many options!
This simple inflatable pool has a thick plastic wall to hold the pool ridged, and a sturdy ladder to climb up over the wall and into the pool.
This large oval pool is large enough for a party, but will need to be deflated and stored during the winter time. The perfect pool for a family on a budget. Learn more here.
This pool is somewhat smaller, but has clear sections and looks a bit more stylish. This pool is a great option for younger children, but all children should still be supervised. Learn more here.
Kid’s pools is an interesting category of pools. “Kiddie” pool traditionally refers to small splash pools that are more for cooling off and playing than for actual swimming, but we’ve extended this category to feature some really fantastic kid-friendly pool designs. Many of these are for older kids. Kid friendly pools are the perfect place for a pool party!
While this isn’t a traditional “kiddie” pool, this pool was obviously designed with kids in mind. It has a rope swing, a treehouse nearby, and a lagoon design.
This is a design that meshes the kiddie pool with the regular pool. A shallow end is marked off with large stones. This pool can easily be converted back to a normal pool when the children are older. Source: Zillow Digs™
This pool is called an “ocean” pool, because the only entrance to the pool is a slope, much like it would be at a natural beach. A smaller kiddie pool sits above the regular pool. Source: Zillow Digs™
This is more of a traditional kiddie pool, meant for toddlers and very young children. This is an inflatable model with slides and toys built in. Like all children’s pools, an adult should be present at all times to supervise. Learn more here.
Plunge pools are the ultimate in private, small pools. Some are no bigger than a spa or hot tub. These are typically for cooling down or relaxation, and may be heated.
Love the idea of a super-private pool? Check out more plunge pool designs!
This half-moon plunge pool is mostly stairs, but is perfect for a quick cool down dip after a jaunt in the spa above it.
This private plunge pool doubles as a hot tub, and is spacious enough for a large group.
A small plunge pool with a freeform design near a lush planting bed filled with tropical plants. This pool is located indoors in a greenhouse like structure.
This incredible glass pool stands nearly six feet above the lawn and is accessible only from the pool house. An incredible modern pool, and utterly unique. Source: Zillow Digs™
A stunning, if small plunge pool in a rectangular design. At the far end is a large waterfall wall with a cascading arc of water. Source: Zillow Digs™
This patio looks out over the countryside, which includes a mountain range and a large pond. Near the fire pit is a regular infinity pool along with a plunge pool. See more of this home here. Designed by Locati Architects. Photography by Roger Wade Studio.
Rooftop pools can be infinity, above ground, in-ground, or any other style, but they are unique in that they take advantage of space that often goes unused. These pools are ultra-private, and often have gorgeous views.
Want to design a rooftop pool? Find out more!
This simple southwestern rooftop pool and patio features a wealth of seating, a large rectangular pool, and a few sparse potted trees.
This beautiful rooftop pool is pressed up right against the glass balustrade border, making for an incredible view of the city skyline while relaxing or swimming.
This pool is perched upon the roof of a glass building, and is utterly private, surrounded by tall concrete balustrades and planting beds.
This modern take on the rooftop patio is well lit and has a lovely, private pool. Tinted glass balustrades surround the patio.
This beautiful glass pool is transparent, so that only the aquamarine tiles on one side can be seen. Pergolas covered in thick vines are placed above the pool and the surrounding patio. Source: Zillow Digs™
This covered pool is flanked by an enormous half-moon shaped pergola that frames the city skyline beyond the edge of the infinity pool. Source: Zillow Digs™
Slides are an expensive add-on, but they’re worth it for folks who have the room and budget. Especially if there are a number of children in the household.
Pool slides are super fun to add to a pool. Find more of them here!
This curvy slide uses water to propel kids (and adults) through the artificial stone landscape and into the waiting pool below. Source: Zillow Digs™
Another twisty slide that follows the path of stairs on either side past a waterfall and into a splash pool that is separated from the main pool by a small bridge. Source: Zillow Digs™
This short, white slide is perched on artificial stones and leads directly into the deep end of a light blue pool.
This slide is freestanding and sturdy, resting on the concrete side of the pool and leading into the center.
A shorter slide, built into the artificial stone waterfall that also leads into the pool.
This view shows the beautiful blue tile on the inside of the slide and the way it curves down into the pool. The pool is an infinity pool, with a lower pool to catch any water sloshing over the side. Source: Zillow Digs™
Pool covers are an absolute necessity for pool owners. They keep leaves and other debris out of your pool, and when the pool is drained in the winter months, ensure that you won’t end up draining and cleaning your pool a second time after the spring melt.
Pool covers might not be particularly exciting, but they are important. Use our pool cover guide to find some great options.
A simple pool cover with air pockets to ensure it stays afloat. The cover is secured at the sides. This cover simply floats on the water, and should not be walked on.
This is a more unique pool cover that is meant to fold down and create a sturdy barrier between the pool water and the environment.
Another simple leaf cover that is secured at the edges with weights. Learn more here.
Want to get started on your pool? We’ve arranged a brief list of highly-rated pool and landscape builders to get you started on your research.
Want to learn more about pool builders? Check out our guide to get started.
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