Pros and Cons of Semi-Inground Pools

semi-inground pool with decking and fence

Having your own swimming pool to refresh yourself in crystal clear water can be a wonderful thing. But maybe you don’t have the budget for an in-ground pool, and perhaps an above-ground pool will throw off your seamless landscape design. A great solution might be a semi-inground pool, which combines the best of both worlds. Reading through the pros and cons of semi-inground pools can help you make the right choice for your home.

Since semi-inground pools combine the aspects of above-ground and in-ground pools, they have advantages from both pool types. Some upsides include their attractiveness, longevity, and flexibility. On the other hand, their downsides include high maintenance, temperature regulation issues, and costing more than above-ground pools. Here are some of the pros and cons of semi-inground pools to help you make a decision.

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What Is a Semi-Inground Pool?

A semi-inground pool is a swimming pool that’s at least partially buried underground. How much is up to the homeowner, but typically, a few or more feet are above ground while the rest is below. They can be made from a few different materials, such as vinyl, fiberglass, or concrete. If you’d like, you can partially bury an above-ground pool, but it won’t be the same thing as a proper semi-inground pool.

Pros of Semi-Inground Pools

A semi-inground pool on a patio overlooking a body of water
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Some of the main advantages of semi-inground pools are their attractiveness, customization options, and the value they add to your home. These aspects make them good for a homeowner who’s looking to create their own oasis in a backyard.

✓ Flexibility

Semi-inground pools can be customized with different pool designs, shapes, sizes, materials, and depths depending on your preference. You can also add additional water features, like waterfalls or cascades.

✓ Attractiveness

A semi-inground pool is very aesthetically pleasing, much more so than an above-ground pool. Whether it’s more so than an in-ground pool, however, is up for debate. If you want, you can even customize the outside rim of your semi-inground pool with decorative tiles.

✓ Swift Installation

Since they aren’t buried as deeply, semi-inground pools have an easier installation process than a traditional in-ground pool. However, keep in mind that you will still have to dig into the ground, which entails the process of surveying the area and ensuring that you won’t be digging into any subterranean power lines or water pipes.

✓ Long Lasting

When given the proper maintenance, semi-inground pools have a lifespan of up to 20 years. Comparatively, an above-ground pool can last up to 7 to 15 years on average, while in-ground pools last for more than 20 years. Fiberglass in particular lasts 30 years or more.

✓ Property Value

Installing a semi-inground pool can add value to your home. Pools are selling points for houses, and a particularly attractive one can go a long way towards getting the best price possible when you’re looking to sell your home.

✓ More Affordable 

A semi-inground pool in particular is less expensive than an in-ground one, which gives you more bang for your buck. The cost of semi-inground pools typically ranges between $6,500 and $24,750, whereas in-ground pools cost between $32,408 to $60,873.

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Cons of Semi-Inground Pools

A semi-inground pool with hardscaping, plants, and furniture around it
Photo Credit: a.canvas.of.light / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Unfortunately, like all outdoor features, semi-inground pools have their downsides. Namely, they have high expenses, have temperature issues, and require a lot of maintenance. Therefore, they may not be right for homeowners that are looking for an easy addition to their outdoor space.

✗ Pool Maintenance

Semi-inground pools need more maintenance than a typical in-ground swimming pool. You need to scrub the supporting wall, which is the portion of the pool above ground, and repair any damage it sustains, so be prepared to spend more time and/or money on your pool maintenance routine if you choose to install a semi-inground pool.

✗ Safety

Like all pools, a semi-inground pool can be a safety hazard. In many states, you’re required to have a fence around any pool that’s greater than a certain depth, regardless of how much of it is above or below the ground. Property or backyard fences do not count for this purpose.

✗ No Diving Board

Since most semi-inground pools are not deep enough to qualify for one, you likely won’t be able to have a diving board on yours. The American Red Cross recommends pools to have a minimum of 9 feet of water depth for head first dives

✗ Expense

A semi-inground pool is much more expensive to install, maintain, and repair than an above-ground pool. On average, above-ground pool installation costs homeowners between $1,700 and $5,970

A semi-inground pool typically costs less than a regular in-ground pool, though exact costs for either type will vary depending on materials, size, and many other factors.

✗ Water Temperature

Since semi-inground pools are only embedded part of the way into the ground, the pool water tends to be warmer than an in-ground pool and colder than an above-ground pool. You may find yourself spending more to heat, or cool, your pool than if you had chosen an above or in-ground pool.

✗ Landscaping

Since you have to excavate part of your backyard, a semi-inground pool can disrupt your landscaping. You also may be limited in where in your backyard you can install a pool, due to terrain, underground water or power lines, or tree roots.

DIY Semi-Inground Pool Installation

Since you have to dig into your backyard to install a semi-inground pool, you likely won’t be able to do it yourself and will need to hire a pool builder. In addition, unless you choose to use a vinyl liner for your pool wall, it may be difficult for you to obtain and apply pool materials, so concrete and fiberglass pools may not be an option.

While hiring a professional costs more money, it also has some advantages. For example, when you hire a professional to do the job, you get the benefit of a warranty. It will also be much easier to get a custom design if you want one, or features like a deep end.

It may be theoretically possible to DIY a semi-inground pool, but it’s not recommended unless you yourself are a trained professional. If you aren’t, you’re more likely to make mistakes that will cost you even more time and money than you would save, and may put you or anyone helping you in danger.

Should I Install a Semi-Inground Pool?

Semi-inground pool surrounded by plants
Photo Credit: corelens / Canva Pro / License

At the end of the day, there’s nothing stopping you from installing a semi-inground pool, so long as you can afford it and understand the maintenance it will require and the possible downsides. If you want a new pool, it can be a great place to relax and have a nice soak. 

The biggest factor to consider is budget. Remember, a semi-inground pool costs less than an in-ground pool, but is more expensive than an above-ground pool. 

Consider how often you want to maintain your pool. A semi-inground pool often requires more maintenance than above-ground and in-ground pools. You’ll need to clean its above-ground walls and regulate the water temperature. 

Aesthetic appeal is important, too. You’ve invested time and energy into your landscape design, so consider whether a semi-inground pool is a good fit. 

And finally, how do you want to use your pool? If you want a pool for cannonballs and diving, then you might be better off with an in-ground pool than a semi-inground pool. In-ground pools are typically deeper than semi-inground pools. 

FAQ About Semi-Inground Pools

How much of a semi-inground pool is buried in the ground?

That’s up to you. Traditionally, most of a semi-inground pool is below ground, but you can have as much of it above or below as you’d like.

Is a semi-inground pool better than an in-ground or above-ground pool?

Different types of pools will be better for different people–– there’s no universal best. Each type has its own pros and cons, will suit different needs, and cater to different households. It’s less a matter of choosing the perfect pool and more about finding the pool option that’s right for you.

Do I need a permit for a semi-inground pool?

Most likely, yes. It will depend on the exact laws in your local area, but most places will require you to obtain a permit to install a semi-inground pool. If you’re unsure, assume that you will need one, and don’t start your pool installation until you obtain either a permit or confirmation that you don’t need one.

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Semi-inground pools are a good medium between in-ground and above-ground pools. Even if they aren’t perfect, they can still make a great addition to your home if you choose to install one.

If you want to install a pool, contact a contact a local pool builder. With just a few clicks you’ll get quotes in minutes.

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Austin Geiger

Austin Geiger is a writer who's passionate about home care. He enjoys writing about home maintenance practices, as well as projects to turn an outdoor space into a backyard paradise.