10 Types of Swimming Pools That’ll Keep You Cool

Updated: Feb. 09, 2024

Ready to cool off in a backyard swimming pool? Take a look at the types of pools available, from simple kiddie pools to elaborate in-ground models.

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Kids enjoying a pool
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Choosing a Backyard Swimming Pool

If you’re ready to cool off, there’s nothing better than a backyard swimming pool. But what kind of pool should it be? The options for backyard pools range from cheap, simple and temporary kiddie pools to expensive, elaborate and show-stopping in-ground pools with hot tubs, infinity edges or other special features. To decide which one is right for you and your family, take a look at these 10 types of backyard swimming pools, listed from simple to spectacular.

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Easy Fun With a Kiddie Pool

For minimal commitment and investment, a kiddie pool is as entry level as it gets. Granted, most models don’t allow adults to do much more than wet their feet. But for little kids, a simple inflatable pool will provide hours and hours of hot-weather fun. This jazzed-up model comes with a slide, a wading pool and a sprayer. Check out our other picks for best kiddie pools.

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Portable Above-Ground Pool for a Bigger Splash

If you’re not ready to commit to a permanent above-ground or in-ground pool, a temporary above-ground model is your best bet. These rigid-sided pools are larger and deeper than kiddie pools. While they might not be deep enough to swim laps, they at least ensure the grown-ups can cool off and splash around. Plus, the best above-ground pools can be taken down and stored for the winter.

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Above ground pool
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Permanent Above-Ground Pool for a Deeper Dive

Love the idea of a permanent pool but loathe the idea of a long, involved and expensive construction process that comes with an in-ground pool? A permanent above-ground pool with decking or a platform is a good compromise. Even the fanciest above-ground pools cost a lot less than the cheapest in-ground options.

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Backyard pool with fence
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Backyard Investment: An In-Ground Pool

If you’ve got the space and the budget, an in-ground pool is an investment in your home and your family’s lifestyle. It’s the most costly option for a backyard swimming pool, but there are a huge range of options and price points.

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Infinity Pool
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Infinity-Edge Pool for a Stunning Effect

If you want to take a standard in-ground pool up a notch, head to infinity and beyond! An infinity-edge pool essentially has water flowing over one edge, to create the effect of the pool blending into the surrounding landscape or setting. The water cascading over the edge makes a super-relaxing sound, too. But buyer beware: Adding an infinity edge to an in-ground pool can increase the cost by as much as 20 percent.

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Swimming laps in a pool
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For Serious Swimmers: A Lap Pool

If your motivation for building an in-ground pool is primarily to exercise at home, then a lap pool might be a smart option. Lap pools are long and narrow and typically the same depth throughout — deep enough to allow average-sized adults to swim and do laps without kicking the pool bottom. A lap pool is also a good choice to consider if you’re building a pool in a narrow or shallow backyard.

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Pool salt
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Saltwater for a Softer Swim

Most above-ground and in-ground pools use chlorine to keep the water and pool parts clean and sanitized. A saltwater pool system uses salt to produce a less intense form of chlorine, which means the water lacks that distinctive chlorine smell. Saltwater systems are easier on hair, skin, eyes and swimwear compared to their chlorine counterparts. Psst! Speaking of keeping pools clean, check out the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus to remove debris from your pool without a hitch.

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Natural pool
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Eco-Friendly Natural Pool

If you’re concerned about the effects of chlorine and saltwater pools on your health and the health of the environment, consider an innovative natural swimming pool. Chemical-free natural pools typically consist of separate pools — one for swimming, and one for filtering and cleaning the water with a combination of plants, gravel and friendly microbes.

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Plunge pool
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Plunge Pool for a Quick Dip

If you’ve got limited backyard space, or really just want to use a pool as a place to cool off and relax rather than swim and play, a plunge pool might do the trick. These small pools are typically around four feet deep and may have a bench along one or more sides. Naturally they’re much cheaper to install than a regular-sized pool, and with the money you save you could splurge on a heating system.

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Spool pool
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Versatility With a Spool Pool

If you’ve got a small backyard space, or yearn for a hot tub but also want a pool for exercise, look to a spool pool. A combination of “spa” and “pool,” spools are small pools with powerful jets that create a resistance current for swimming. They’re also heated so they function as a hot tub in colder weather. Prices for spools are generally higher than installing an in-ground hot tub, but cheaper than an in-ground pool.