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The latest trends in aboveground pools

A semi-aboveground pool known as a "blue lagoon"

A semi-aboveground pool known as a "blue lagoon" installed by Long Island-based Brothers 3 Pools at a home in Dix Hills. Credit: Brothers 3 Pools

It’s pool season, and cost-conscious Long Islanders looking for a backyard cool-off spot are increasingly looking at aboveground and semi-inground pools as a way to beat the heat without breaking the bank.

“The higher the cost of putting in an inground pool makes the semi-inground pool look more attractive from a price-point perspective,” says Barry Vineberg, owner of Long Island Swim-Pool Service in Island Park.

Average costs start at $4,000 for a small aboveground to $7,800 for a semi-inground, according to local companies.

Aboveground versus semi-inground

Customers who want a more inground look can explore deck-building and landscaping options, which can make semi-inground pools look like expensive inground designs. “We sometimes modify semi-inground pools with in-ground steps, and when the job is done and the landscaping is done, they look fantastic,” says Vineberg.

Aboveground pools also are an increasingly popular option for people looking to save on landscaping costs because these pools generally don’t require additional buildouts such as decking or fences and don’t require excavation, says John Wysoczanski, co-owner with wife, Boanne, of Islandia Pools in Riverhead.

Wysoczanski says that New York State law requires any pool with a wall lower than 4 feet be fenced. He says that adding a swing-up ladder, which attaches to the pool wall and swings up and locks to the side when not in use, is a good way to add pool access without the additional expense of a deck. “It’s a new trend in childproofing,” he says.

Chlorine alternatives

Many aboveground pool owners are rethinking how they clean their pools. “The top trend is the way people chlorinate the pools,” says Vineberg. “Some people are allergic to chlorine, so salt is a good alternative.”

However, salt systems, which cost about $1,100 to install, can be corrosive and cause damage to backyards over time, says Rob Levine, assistant manager at Brothers 3 Pools,, which has locations in Bethpage and Sayville. He says that’s why alternative mineral sanitizers are also a popular choice now. Frog products, for instance, use silver and limestone to sanitize pool water, he says. “More of our customers like this because it contains two-thirds less chlorine than traditional chlorine products, and it still keeps everything sanitized,” he says. “Plus, it won’t hurt your eyes.” He says Frog systems usually cost a few hundred dollars to install, and need new cartridges each year to keep running.

Fancy shapes and add-ons

Not all aboveground and semi-inground pools need to be round. Levine says custom semi-inground pools, such as those by Radiant, are becoming increasingly popular. These pools can mimic the look of an inground pool with free-form or rectangular shapes. “The most popular shape is the ‘blue lagoon’ free-form pool,” says Levine. “Of course, free-form shapes are little more expensive.” Levine says many customers also choose to add insulated walls, which allow for heating semi-inground and aboveground pools.

Ovals are another popular choice, especially for people who like to exercise. “Ovals mean you can do laps, which you can’t do in a 21-foot or 24-foot round,” says Wysoczanski. He says aboveground and semi-inground pools also can be modified with variable depth liners, which mimic the gentle inner slope common to many inground pools. “They’re now doing variable depth liners, which slope from about 48 inches to down to 6 feet deep,” says Wysoczanski

Lights, robots, action!

Technology has also come a long way. Wysoczanski says that some pool owners are choosing to decorate their pools with waterfall features and colorful LED lights inside the pool.

Levine says another hot new accessory is an automatic pool-cleaning machine, which resembles a Roomba-style vacuum, but for the pool. “A lot of our customers are buying automatic cleaners,” he says. “It’s a robot, and it runs for an hour, and it gets most of the stuff off the bottom.”

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