A semi above-ground pool is a hybrid between an above-ground pool and an in-ground pool. While it can start out as an above-ground pool, this doesn’t make it one, and since it’s only partially in-ground it’s not quite there either. There are probably more options for this type of pool than the other types, more than just gauge of the metal or if you want a liner or hard coating on the inside of the pool. It can be a partially buried above-ground pool (sometimes, and only under certain circumstances) or can be a prefab wall system that is one step away from a full-blown in-ground pool. But whether or not a semi above-ground pool will be right for you or not depends on your specific location, desires and, of course, budget. From there it gets a little simpler to decide.
Characteristics of a Semi Above-Ground Pool
A broad definition of a semi above-ground pool would be a contained body of water where the water extends above and below ground level. This can consist of a repurposed above-ground pool that is partially submerged only a few feet deep or a specially constructed pool designed to be partially submerged. With a semi above-ground pool you would not see most of the supporting structure as it would be buried making this type of pool more attractive than its above ground counterpart.
Semi Above-Ground Pool vs. Above-Ground Pool
When dealing with semi above-ground pools think of it as coming to a fork in the road. One way you can use an above-ground pool and put it partially in the ground, but with this comes risk and a limit on how deep you can go and what shapes and pool lining options are available to you. Another way and you can use a semi-above ground prefab kit.
With above-ground pools, besides limiting you to a circular or oval pool, they also generally are not insulated and will not retain the warmth of the water as efficiently. This will increase heating costs if an extended pool season is part of your plan or the location does not get a lot of sunlight. Also, since above-ground pools are not truly intended to be partially submerged in damp dirt for their entire life, the lifespan of the pool metal, responsible for holding back the weight of the surrounding dirt, will be shorter. For this reason it is generally recommended (though it depends on soil type) that an above-ground pool never be submerged more than halfway or 2 feet into the ground to minimize the risk of cave in.
A semi above-ground prefab kit gives you many more options for style and location, at an increased cost. These can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, especially appealing if the standard offerings don’t fit in your backyard, or allow for a hillside install where one end will be more than halfway submerged. They also have stronger, thicker, insulated walls and can therefore be submerged deeper. They resist corrosion better and allow for use of a hard coating instead of an interior lining. But this type of system also costs more money to purchase and install is more time consuming and labor intensive than an above-ground pool.
Besides their differences in wall construction, the two types are very similar from a care and maintenance point of view. Test chemicals once a week, backwash the filter and maintain the same minimum run time to keep the pool blue. Both types of pools can use the same pumps, filter types, skimmers, lines and most other mechanicals.
However, the biggest difference besides the wall type will be the lifespan of the pool itself. If you buy two identical above-ground pools and partially submerge one, the submerged one will not last as long (also potentially voiding the manufacturer’s warranty as well). If you buy a prefab kit that is built for a semi in-ground installation, you can help close the gap but at an added expense and increased install cost. It is for this reason that it’s paramount when shopping around to understand the manufacturer’s warranty and all associated costs to better understand the complete long-term picture. This is something that should last at least 10 years under the worst of circumstances, so you might as well get it right on the first try.
Why Get a Semi Above-Ground Pool
So which one is right for you? If your location has a hill or is irregularly shaped, or you want to add a large deck to lounge or BBQ on, or even if you just don’t want to see a big piece of metal in your backyard then a semi above-ground pool might be right for you.
But if your land is flat and you’re looking for something as bare bones as possible to get your feet wet (pun intended), an above-ground pool will work fine. From there you can take into consideration other factors like budget, shape, above-ground partially submerged or prefab panels, required depth, expected lifecycle, and if you want to add on a surrounding deck. The idea is to do it once and do it right. If not just for the upfront cost then for the amount of real estate it will be taking up in your yard. No one wants to do double work or pay for the same thing twice. Either way there are not many better things in life than jumping into a relaxing pool on a hot summer day, especially when you know it was the best choice you could make.