Saltwater pools come with a lot of benefits — not only are they much gentler on your eyes and skin, but the cost of maintaining them year-round is often significantly lower than a traditional chlorine pool. However, the initial cost of a saltwater pool is far from cheap. If you’re interested in converting or building a saltwater pool, it’s a good idea to know what you’ll be getting into. We’ll cover:
- Total cost
- Cost by size
- Cost by material
- Equipment and maintenance
- Conversion cost
- Other costs to consider
The Cost of a Saltwater Pool: The Quick Answer
Coming up with an all-inclusive answer to how much your saltwater pool costs isn’t easy. The price can dramatically change based on the size of the swimming pool, where you live, and whether you’re building it from scratch or converting a chlorine pool.
What I can say is that most homeowners can expect to spend anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000 — give or take a few grand — if they’re constructing the pool from scratch. Smaller pools that are only twenty gallons or less might only cost around $16,000 to $18,000.
The reason there’s so much variation with these numbers is that there’s so much variation with pool owners. A ten-by-fourteen-foot pool with little to no landscaping might not make much of a dent in your wallet.
However, many homeowners choose to do (or are required by city law) to build a deck, patio, or install a fence along with the pool. Landscaping and similar construction costs are often where the expenses start to pile on.
If you already have a chlorine pool but want to make it into a saltwater pool, buying a salt-chlorine generator can run between $600 to $2,500, depending on pool size.
|Minimum Cost of Building a Saltwater Pool||$16,000|
|Maximum Cost of Building a Saltwater Pool||$200,000|
|Average Cost of Building a Saltwater Pool||$37,500|
|Average Cost of Converting a Saltwater Pool||$1,550|
Factoring in the Size of Your Saltwater Pool
The size of your pool can play a significant role in the total cost, and it’s one of the first things you’ll need to consider when tallying up your saltwater pool cost. Not to mention, you’ll have to buy your salt chlorine generator based on how many gallons of water the pool holds. The bigger the pool, the more expensive the generator.
Once again, we’ve compiled a list of rough numbers that can give you a ballpark estimate of how much cost varies by size. Remember that these numbers are for building an inground saltwater pool from scratch, not converting a traditional chlorine pool to saltwater.
|Pool Size||Average Price Range|
|10 x 16||$15,000 – $26,000|
|10 x 30||$24,000 – $42,000|
|12 x 24||$27,000 – $50,000|
|14 x 28||$37,000 – $55,000|
|16 x 32||$48,000 – $70,000|
Most standard pools you’ll find in a backyard are twelve-by-fourteen feet, fourteen-by-twenty-eight feet, or sixteen-by-thirty-two feet.
Calculating Cost by the Type of Construction Material
Size is only one part of the equation, and the type of material you use in your saltwater pool can significantly affect the final price tag. Unlike chlorine pools, you’ll have to be careful about the kind of material you use with saltwater. Not all materials work well with these generators, and if you aren’t careful, you could have to do major renovation work within a couple of years.
Concrete: $35,000 – $200,000
Concrete isn’t always the first option for saltwater pool owners, and there’s a reason for that. Like metal, salt water can be a little rough on concrete or gunite surfaces. Concrete is a porous material, and saltwater absorption can cause it to deteriorate slowly over time.
This doesn’t mean you can’t own a concrete pool with salt water, but homeowners should just be aware that it might not last as long as fiberglass or vinyl liner. The maximum cost is so much higher because concrete is generally a lot more customizable in terms of water features (waterfalls, rock features, etc.).
- You don’t have to rely on pre-made liners or sizes
- Easy to customize
- Not as long-lasting as fiberglass or vinyl
- Takes longer to build
Fiberglass: $18,000 – $40,000
Fiberglass is probably the most inexpensive material to use with your saltwater pool, and it doesn’t come with the same hazards as a concrete or vinyl liner pool. Generally, fiberglass is pretty compatible with saltwater systems and generators.
You don’t have to be too careful about metal components rusting, and there’s no risk of the saltwater slowly damaging your fiberglass liner like it would with concrete.
Depending on where you live, some contractors might offer you a pre-made liner, which can significantly reduce your expenses (and possibly put you under $20,000).
- Doesn’t take as long to build
- Less expensive
- Compatible with salt chlorine generators
- Fewer customization options
Vinyl: $25,000 – $63,000
Regarding materials, vinyl is a common choice for many pool owners, but the price can vary. Usually, the vinyl liner comes with a steel frame, and you can customize it to fit specific dimensions or sizes. If you don’t have odd or customized measurements, you might even be able to purchase a pre-made liner from a contractor.
Some people might have concerns about how saltwater will react to the metal frame on a vinyl liner, especially since saltwater can easily corrode metal surfaces. While this is a concern, proper maintenance and a high-quality liner can also help prevent a metal frame from rusting too quickly.
- Might require less time to install than a concrete saltwater pool
- Easy to deliver to your home
- You can purchase these liners pre-made
- Saltwater might corrode the metal frame
- If there are rips in the liner, the saltwater can cause more damage
Saltwater Equipment and Maintenance Costs
When people argue that a saltwater pool will “save” you money, they’re usually not talking about installation and construction costs. Initially, a saltwater pool can cost you $30,000 or more just to build in your backyard.
Instead, these people are typically referring to long-term maintenance and equipment costs. In comparison to a traditional chlorine pool, maintaining your saltwater pool from month to month tends to be cheaper.
With a traditional chlorine pool, you’ll have to continually purchase chlorine and other balancing agents to condition and clean your pool. Even just per month, this can run you from $50 to $100. This doesn’t account for storage costs or finding somewhere to keep the chlorine so that it stays dry.
A saltwater pool, however, doesn’t require you to purchase chemicals like chlorine. While there is some chlorine in the pool water, the only compound you’ll need to add regularly is salt. Even then, that’s not something you should have to do every day or every week – the amount of salt in most generators is low at 2,800 to 3,500 ppm.
In comparison to chlorine, salt is usually significantly less expensive. You can buy in bulk, but most 40-lb bags of salt currently run you less than ten dollars.
Read my saltwater pool maintenance guide for more information.
When it comes to equipment costs, the most important piece of equipment that you’ll need to purchase is a salt-chlorine generator. This generator turns your pool into a saltwater pool to begin with, so it’s not something you can avoid purchasing.
Most of the time, a salt-chlorine generator (also called a saltwater chlorination system) will cost anywhere from $600 to $2,500 with installation costs. You shouldn’t need to replace the generator itself very often, but most owners find that they have to replace the generator cells every four to seven years (the average cost of replacing salt generator cells runs around $500).
Besides the generator, you can’t forget about the pool heater. Heaters can vary significantly in cost, depending on how much water you need to heat. A small pool might only need an electric tankless water heater, costing less than $1,000.
Electric pump heaters, which you’ll find in large lap pools, can cost $2,500 to $10,000, not including installation expenses.
Unfortunately, repair costs are one area where having a saltwater pool can work to your disadvantage. With a chlorine pool, owners might be able to handle tiny repairs themselves. With a saltwater pool, this isn’t usually the case.
Your saltwater system is sensitive, and even patching up the concrete or repairing a rip in the liner can require the help of a saltwater technician or professional.
However, repairs shouldn’t be an ongoing problem. If you’re properly maintaining and taking care of your pool, dealing with a repair cost every three or four years usually isn’t a detriment to most pool owners.
Cost of Converting a Chlorine Pool to Saltwater
A lot of the previously stated numbers deal with building a saltwater pool from scratch. However, if you’ve already got a chlorine pool but you’re looking to convert it to saltwater, the cost is relatively low in comparison.
Your biggest expense will likely be the salt chlorine generator, which as we’ve already discussed, can end up costing up to $2,500 to purchase and install. This number usually includes the cost of hiring a technician and paying labor costs.
The good news is that you shouldn’t need to pay any more construction costs, but you will need to load up on salt. When you’re first converting your pool, you’ll probably need to purchase several bags, depending on the size of your pool. You shouldn’t expect to spend any less than $100 on salt bags initially.
For example, a 40-lb of salt might only be ten dollars, but during the initial conversion, a 15,000-gallon pool can require up to 11 bags of salt.
Overall, the total cost of converting a pool should be around $3,000, but possibly less if you’re dealing with a smaller pool or something that’s above-ground. If you plan to tack on costs for landscaping or adding other features that aren’t standard, this number could go even higher.
Other Saltwater Pool Costs to Consider
Although construction, installation, and maintenance costs are usually the main concerns, potential pool owners should also consider these hidden expenses as well:
Your Water Bill
Any pool, regardless of whether it’s saltwater or chlorine, is probably going to add a few bucks to your water bill. This probably won’t matter if you’re converting your pool, but if you plan to build it from scratch, you should expect an increase in that monthly water bill — somewhere in the ballpark of $5 to $20 a month.
For example, many pools in hotter climates can lose about one or two inches of water per week due to evaporation. If you’re using city water, you could be paying $0.0049/per gallon (in Virginia as an example, look up your own state info).
Saltwater pools might not require as much maintenance as a chlorine pool, but that doesn’t mean you can get out of cleaning them. Although you won’t need to purchase all the chemicals and balancing agents that a chlorine pool needs to clean itself, you’ll still need manual equipment.
In the Fall, you might want tools like a net skimmer and a telescoping pole to pick out debris or floating leaves. Regular maintenance like this can help prevent sanitation issues (and potential repair costs) later down the road.
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Estimating and Budgeting For Your Salt Water Pool Cost
As a homeowner trying to budget for a saltwater pool, all the numbers can be confusing. Not to mention, with a lot of variation between them, it can be difficult to know whether you’ll be spending $16,000 or $200,000.
The first step in getting an accurate estimate is understanding your specific needs—consider whether you want to build the pool or convert one, what type of material you’ll use, and how big it’ll be. Once you understand exactly what you’re looking for, you can start the process of saving for it or even contacting a contractor for the saltwater pool cost.
Questions? Let me know. For more pricing information, read my main inground pool pricing guide.