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How Much Does a Saltwater Pool Cost? – Bob Vila

By Katie Flannery | Published Jun 6, 2023 4:09 PM
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Saltwater pools are becoming more and more popular since saltwater is more gentle on the skin, hair, and eyes than pool water that’s been treated with chemicals such as chlorine. Traditional pools are treated with chlorine to disinfect the water, while saltwater pools have a saltwater electrolytic chlorine generator to treat the water. The saltwater generator converts sodium chloride into chlorine to sanitize the pool. Some of the biggest benefits of a saltwater pool are that it doesn’t cause skin or eye irritation, and it doesn’t have a strong chemical smell. How much does saltwater pool installation cost? According to Angi and HomeAdvisor, saltwater pool cost ranges from $500 to $67,000, with the national average at $25,000, although the typical range is usually between $12,000 to $38,500. Saltwater pools generally cost from $75 to $125 per square foot to install. For homeowners who already have a pool and are interested in saltwater pool conversion, it can cost from $500 to $3,200 to convert to a saltwater pool system.
The overall price to install a saltwater pool depends on the size and material of the pool, the cost to fill the pool with water, installation costs, and the price of the saltwater chlorination system, among other factors. The installation costs can vary significantly depending on whether the pool is a new installation or if an existing pool is being converted to a saltwater system. This guide will examine the important factors that influence saltwater pool cost, additional costs and considerations that can affect the final price to install a saltwater pool or convert a traditional pool, the benefits of having a saltwater pool, and some helpful tips to save money on saltwater pool cost.
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While many homeowners spend between $12,000 and $38,500 to install a saltwater pool, the overall price can vary significantly from the national average of $25,000 based on several important factors. These can include new pool installation versus existing pool conversion, pool material, pool size, pool location, pool pump and filter, and local labor pricing. Whether a homeowner is installing a saltwater above-ground pool or an inground model, the considerations for each option are the same.
Installing a new saltwater pool is considerably more expensive than converting an existing pool to a saltwater system. The higher price tag results from site preparation, excavation, construction, and the cost of the pool. The cost of an inground saltwater pool is $25,000, on average, compared to a traditional chlorine pool, which can cost approximately $23,000.
Converting an existing pool to saltwater can cost from $500 to $3,200 for the saltwater pool conversion kit. Although the cost to build a pool is significant, homeowners who already have a pool can save money by converting an existing chlorine pool to a saltwater pool. Below are the average price ranges to convert a chlorinated pool to a saltwater pool.
Saltwater pools can be constructed of different materials and each has its own benefits and price point. The most commonly used saltwater pool materials are concrete, fiberglass, and vinyl. Fiberglass is the most budget-friendly material, followed by vinyl, while concrete is the most expensive option. Each of these materials is discussed in a section below.
The cost to install a saltwater pool is about the same as the cost to install a traditional chlorinated pool, but there are additional costs related to the saltwater chlorination system, the installation, and bags of salt. The size of the pool directly influences the saltwater pool cost—even if an existing pool is being converted to a saltwater pool. The larger the pool, the more expensive the saltwater system generator and the amount of salt that’s required to maintain the pool. Below are the common saltwater pool sizes and the average price range to install each size.
Site preparation and excavation may contribute to a higher cost if the saltwater pool will be located in a difficult-to-access area. Removing large rocks, tree roots, and dense soil can add time to the process, which will result in higher labor costs. Geographic location is another important factor that influences local labor rates. Professional saltwater pool installation companies may charge higher rates depending on geographic location, and some warm-weather states may have contractors who are more readily available than those in other locations where the pool season is much shorter.

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A saltwater pool pump that’s rated up to 18,000 gallons for a larger above-ground pool can cost about $500 or more. For inground pools, a saltwater pump can cost from $690 to $920 for pools that can hold from 15,000 to 40,000 gallons of water. It’s recommended for homeowners to purchase a saltwater system rated for a pool that is larger than the one they own to put less strain on the system to keep the water properly treated. Some saltwater pool pumps can help take a bit of work off the homeowner with LED indicators, water flow detectors, digital display screens, temperature protection, overload or low salt detectors, and more. Homeowners can also set the desired chlorine output and read the salt level, water flow, and temperature with indicators on an advanced control panel.
A filter for an above-ground saltwater pool can cost from $100 to $400. An above-ground saltwater pool pump and filter system can cost $220 for a 2,600- to 8,500-gallon pool. A larger pump that can filter 4,800 to 15,000 gallons costs about $280. Sand is used to filter inground saltwater pools, and a combination pump with a filter ranges from $500 to $1,600.
Labor prices typically make up about half the cost of building a pool. Densely populated urban areas that have a higher cost of living as well as higher material prices will be more expensive than rural locations. Living in an area that has hilly terrain or is prone to having a lot of large rocks will also increase the cost to install a saltwater pool due to the extra time it will take to prepare the site for installation.
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When planning to install a saltwater pool, homeowners may find that there are additional price factors and considerations that can increase saltwater pool costs. These can include inground versus above-ground pricing, site preparation, water fill, pool salt, pool heater, customizations and upgrades, and cleaning and maintenance fees.
The cost to install an inground pool is always more expensive than the cost to install an above-ground pool. Inground saltwater pools can range in price from $9,000 to $200,000, depending on the construction material, while an above-ground pool with a saltwater pump can cost from $5,000 to $30,000.
The ground preparation to install a saltwater pool can cost about $20,000, depending on how difficult and time-consuming the site preparation project is. Ground preparation can include grading and leveling the ground; removing large rocks, trees, and roots; and navigating around utility lines and taking extra measures if the property is located in a floodplain. If the saltwater pool is to be installed in a difficult-to-access area, it will be more expensive for the excavation machinery to get to the location.
It can cost from $60 to $1,250 to fill a pool with water, depending on the size of the pool. It’s possible to use a garden hose to fill a pool, but it will take a lot longer than to hire a water tanker to supply the water.
Having a saltwater pool requires adding salt to the pool on a regular schedule. A 40-pound bag of salt can cost between $10 and $40, or about $0.25 to $0.63 per pound. One 40-pound bag is needed for every 2,000 gallons of water, so larger pools will cost more to maintain the proper salt level that’s needed.

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In addition to the cost of a pool pump and the cost of a pool filter, homeowners may want to consider the price of a pool heater. The cost of a pool heater ranges from $1,600 to $5,200 for an inground pool, plus another $70 for a corrosion-resistant check valve for the saltwater generator system. The price of a pool heater depends on how much water needs to be heated and the difference in temperature from the coldest water temperature to the desired heated temperature. Below are the different types of pool heaters and the average price ranges.
Homeowners may decide to customize their saltwater pool and add extra features that work with their needs. Below are some common customizations and upgrades to a saltwater pool.
Saltwater pool maintenance can cost a homeowner about $45 per month if they do it themselves, or from $80 to $150 per month if they hire one of the best pool cleaning services. Knowing how to maintain a pool can save homeowners money and keep the pool clean without the need to schedule a cleaning service—though homeowners will want to make sure they schedule time to keep up with maintenance. A saltwater pool requires regular maintenance and cleaning to keep the pool clean and clear of debris such as leaves, insects, dirt, and salt solids that can collect on the bottom of the pool. A net skimmer with a telescoping pole costs between $25 and $65 from a home improvement or hardware store.
A saltwater pool cell in the salt chlorine generator will need to be replaced every 3 to 6 years, but it will need to be inspected every few months to check for issues. Replacement can cost about $800. Professional saltwater pool maintenance can cost $175 to drain the pool; $120 to $270, or $85 per hour to vacuum the pool; $85 per hour for pool brushing; and $650 to drain and then clean the entire pool.
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Saltwater pools can be constructed from a few different materials including concrete, fiberglass, and vinyl. Each material has its pros and cons and varies in overall price. Below are saltwater pool materials, their benefits, and average price ranges.
A concrete saltwater pool can be customized according to size, shape, and depth. This porous material has a rough texture that can be hard on the feet, and it also requires additional chemicals to reduce the pH level of the water due to the high alkalinity of the concrete. A concrete saltwater pool has a durable, classic appearance, and homeowners can expect to spend between $50,000 and $200,000 to install a concrete saltwater pool.
Fiberglass pool costs can range from $9,000 to $40,000. This material is sturdy and doesn’t corrode from the salt. Since fiberglass pool shells are available in limited shapes and sizes, they cannot be customized. However, this material requires less maintenance than concrete and vinyl, and it also resists algae growth. Homeowners will also want to consider the potentially expensive delivery costs of $600 to $2,500 due to the size of the pool shell.
A vinyl saltwater pool can cost between $20,000 and $63,000. A vinyl pool liner has the potential to rip and tear, and if this happens, it will require repair and care to ensure the steel frame does not erode from the saltwater. The liner needs to be replaced regularly, and it requires ongoing maintenance to keep the surface free from algae growth.
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A saltwater generator converts the salt in the water into chlorine to sanitize the pool. Using this type of sanitization system results in the following benefits: less eye irritation; water that’s gentler on skin, hair, and swimwear; no chlorine smell; saltwater that’s safer than water treated with chemical chlorine; and less expensive maintenance costs.
Chemical chlorine is known for irritating the eyes, resulting in red and inflamed eyes. Saltwater pool chlorine does not generate the same amount of chloramines that chemical chlorine produces. These chloramines are responsible for eye irritation and the strong chlorine smell that is associated with traditional chlorine pools.

Thinking about installing a saltwater pool?
Talk to a top-rated pro. Get free, no-commitment project estimates from pool builders near you.

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The salt added to the pool softens the water, making it gentler on skin, hair, and swimwear. A saltwater pool does not have chemical chlorine, which can be harsh on the skin, turn hair an interesting shade of green, and damage swimwear materials.
Since the saltwater chlorination system avoids the need for store-bought chemical chlorine, there’s no strong chlorine smell. Using salt to produce chlorine to keep the water clean and sanitized eliminates the chemical chlorine smell that many people associate with swimming pools. Those with breathing issues can also be negatively impacted from the chemical chlorine smell when swimming in a traditional pool.
A traditional pool requires the use of chemical chlorine and additional chemicals to help balance the pH level, total alkalinity, calcium hardness, and reduce heavy metals in the water. A saltwater pool only requires salt to balance the water and keep the pool sanitized. There’s no need to handle chemicals or wear personal protective gear, such as gloves and goggles, to protect yourself from potential injuries from handling chemicals. There are very few risks of allergic reactions associated with saltwater pools since the salt is odorless and does not produce high levels of chloramine.
Since there’s no need to buy chlorine or other chemicals to maintain a saltwater pool, the maintenance costs are reduced significantly. Homeowners will need to test the salt levels and add salt as needed.
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While some homeowners may think that a DIY pool installation would be a good project to undertake, there’s a lot to consider before committing. Site preparation involves excavation, and the machinery to dig out and level the area can cost about $2,000 per week. Excavation also involves hauling away dirt, the amount of which can be considerable. Homeowners will want to consider that a 15-foot-by-30-foot inground pool that ranges in depth from 3 feet to 6 feet can generate 60 tons of dirt that will need to be removed from the area. Hiring a truck to haul away the dirt is another cost that many DIYers overlook, as well as the time and effort that is needed to prepare the site correctly. It’s very important that the installation site is level to avoid cracks in the pool once it’s installed. It’s recommended to hire one of the best pool installation companies to ensure the job is done right. A professional will have the correct tools and equipment, and they will know how to build a pool and how to level the ground for a pool installation. Installing a pool is a complex and time-consuming process that requires the expertise of a team of professionals.

Thinking about installing a saltwater pool?
Talk to a top-rated pro. Get free, no-commitment project estimates from pool builders near you.

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Installing a saltwater pool has many benefits, but the cost of the best pool salt system can quickly add up. Below are some money-saving tips to help you save as much money as possible on saltwater pool cost.

Asking a saltwater pool installation professional the right questions can help save money and avoid miscommunication. Before deciding on a saltwater pool, homeowners will want to find out some key information about the installation process. Below are some important questions homeowners can ask about saltwater pools.
Since saltwater pools have both pros and cons, many homeowners will want to have all the necessary information about saltwater pools before making a decision on whether to install one. Below are some frequently asked questions and answers about saltwater pools and the installation process.
A saltwater pool needs to be resurfaced as soon as every 3 to 7 years. This is more frequent than a traditional chlorine-treated pool, which needs to be resurfaced about every 10 years.
A saltwater pool requires more electricity to run than a traditional pool and can cost an additional $50 per year. Buying the salt for the pool is cheaper than buying the chemicals that are needed to treat a traditional pool, so the overall lower maintenance costs will balance out with the energy costs.
A saltwater chlorine generator typically lasts between 3 and 7 years. Regular maintenance can keep it running for a longer period of time.
Some disadvantages of having a saltwater pool are that they cost more to install than a traditional pool, it can be difficult to find a professional that has experience with saltwater pool maintenance, and the saltwater can damage some parts of a pool. For this reason, saltwater-specific lighting, fixtures, masonry, heaters, and liners are needed.
An inground saltwater pool can increase a home’s value by 7 percent. Some potential home buyers may steer clear of any type of pool, though, if that’s not a feature they’re looking for in a new home.
While saltwater pools are more expensive to install, having a pool that’s free of chemical chlorine has benefits, such as less eye, skin, and hair irritation; no chlorine smell; and less wear and tear on swimsuit material and pool accessories.
Sources: Angi, HomeAdvisor, HomeGuide, River Pools and Spas (1 and 2), LawnStarter
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