Traditional in-ground swimming pools typically cost anywhere between $7,000 and $50,000, which includes the pool, filtering equipment and pump. Once you add in accessories---safety fence, patio area and landscaping---the cost approximately doubles. A typical above-ground pool can cost as little as $2,000 with filter and pump.
Steel Pools and Aluminum Pools Last Longer
You can choose among several materials when selecting an above-ground pool, including fiberglass and other plastics. But steel pools and aluminum pools remain popular choices because they generally cost considerably less than an all-resin plastic pool and with normal care will last a long time---at least 20 to 30 years, according to Blue World Pools.
Advantages of a Steel Pool
Many above-ground pools have problems with post-installation deformation---in time the pool loses its shape and eventually begins to leak. Steel resists deformation more than aluminum and costs considerably less. While rust has been a problem in the past, newer steel pools have a hot-dipped galvanized coat that resists rust and come with vinyl coatings.
Advantages of an Aluminum Pool
Unlike steel pools, an aluminum pool will never rust. You can install an aluminum pool yourself because it weighs substantially less than a steel pool and if you later decide to put the pool in a different part of the yard, you can easily move it. Despite improvements in steel pools, aluminum pools still last a little longer.
Hybrid Steel and Plastic Pools
A third kind of above-ground pool has come to market in the past few years---a combination of steel and plastic. These pools have laminated walls, usually a layer of light-gauge steel and another layer of PVC plastic. The pools haven't been around long enough to assess their long-term durability, but unless delamination problems develop, they should hold up well.
Above-Ground Lap Pools
For structural reasons, above-ground pools have traditionally come in only two configurations: round and oval. These did not lend themselves to lap-swimming. Recently, rectangular steel pools have come to market, some with a jet pump capability: When you switch on the jet function, a powerful motor creates a 3-4 mph current, making it possible to "swim laps" indefinitely without reaching the end of the pool.