Darlington Designs

Get an Inside Look at the Most Popular Types of Swimming Pools

Many Questions May Come to Mind at the Start of Your Dream Pool Project 

What types of swimming pools are there? What are the differences between them? What building material options are there? Which one is best for me and my family? 

Installing a pool for your home is a big decision. Darlington Designs is here to help you make the best choices for your family.

We have more than 15 years’ experience in custom pool and spa building, as well as in designing and building outdoor living spaces. As a “one-stop shop,” we take ownership of the entire project from the initial design to the final build. We work with our clients from start to finish, ensuring they are fully informed and happy every step of the way. 

We understand our clients have busy schedules to maintain, so that’s why we handle the entire project from start to finish. However, we are always excited at the opportunity to educate our clients on the pool-building process, that way they are able to make the best decisions possible regarding their new pool. 

What Types of Swimming Pools Are There?

Below, we’ll delve into the different types of swimming pools to consider, so you can determine which one is best for you and your family. 

In-Ground Pools

In-ground pools are just that: in the ground! A hole is dug in the ground and the pool’s interior is built from within.

Since this particular type of pool is considered a permanent addition to a home, the installation process can take anywhere from one week to several weeks, depending on the size and complexity of the pool.

In-ground pools are generally made of one of three materials: vinyl, fiberglass, or gunite. 

Aerial view of custom, in-ground pool featuring pool umbrellas and lounge chairs.Vinyl

This kind of pool is made of one piece of flexible liner that fits within the hole and is attached to an aluminum- or steel-framed wall. Vinyl has the lowest initial cost, and provides the most interior customization. (There are tons of colors and patterns to choose from!) It also smooths the surface of the pool (no scrapes or burns on your feet). 

Some downsides to vinyl in-ground pools include its durability and need for replacement. Sharp objects, pointy pool toys, dog paws, or even roughhousing can puncture or damage the liner, which will need to be repaired immediately. Whether you damage the liner or not though, general wear-and-tear will require the vinyl liner to be replaced every ten years or so. 


Fiberglass is a strong, water-resistant, lightweight material that is built by weaving small threads of glass into a fabric that is then hardened and smoothed. These types of swimming pools are factory-molded into large, bowl-shaped shells, and then set into the hole.

These pools are considered the lowest-cost option of the three, can be installed very quickly (sometimes in as little as a few days), and don’t usually require resurfacing or replacement. They’re also very easy to maintain due to their non-porous surface that prevents algae growth. They do, however, require an initial, ample amount of space to install, and they are not as customizable as gunite and vinyl in-ground pools. 


Gunite pools refer to a type of concrete pool that are built by spraying the steel-reinforced walls of the hole with a dry-mix concrete at a high velocity. The team at Darlington Designs specializes in this particular type of pool. It is the most customizable, most durable, and adds a massive experiential and aesthetic appeal to your home. This allows for the material to be placed, consolidated, and compacted at the same time. It also allows builders to start and stop projects at their discretion, versus traditional concrete would have to be poured and completed all in one day. 

The big advantage of gunite pools is that they are the most customizable of all the different types of swimming pools. They last long and have the ability to be updated, changed, and modified in the future as well. They are also easily repairable. They do, however, take the longest to install and build. Gunite is the most porous of all the in-ground pool building materials, so maintenance is quite high. It is, however, less permeable than traditional concrete. Also, since gunite is alkaline-based, it is constantly increasing the pH level, so gunite pools will require more chemicals to maintain a normal pH balance. The surface of gunite can roughen overtime, so resurfacing and smoothing may be needed every so often. Additionally, it is incompatible with salt water. 

Above-Ground Pools

Although Darlington Designs doesn’t build above-ground pools, it is a popular option that may best suit your needs. Above-ground pools are more economical and easier to install than in-ground pools, but to make an above-ground pool aesthetically appealing, it normally includes: 

      • Patio/decking around the pool
      • Electrical connection
      • Grading/landscaping
      • Accessories

Above-ground pools come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so they can be ideal for yards with limited space. There are also some portable varieties, so when you move, you can take it with you. 

However, above-ground pools don’t have the longevity of in-ground pools, with the liner needing to be replaced every five to nine years, and the pool itself lasting about nine to fifteen years on average.

Natural Swimming Pools

This is a type of self-cleaning, in-ground pool that combines swimming areas with water gardens. They are very customizable design-wise, and don’t require chlorine to maintain cleanliness. How? 

A separate regeneration zone built within the pool is equipped with aquatic landscaping, which acts as a sort of organic cleaning system. The pump pulls the water through the regeneration zone, which then falls over a wall of natural rocks, gravel or tiling, which has friendly bacteria on it. 

Plunge, Lap, and Infinity Pools

This stylish group of pools are Darlington Designs specialties that are all about aesthetics, and can be sleek additions to your property

Plunge pools are small, cold-water in-ground pools that are believed to have therapeutic benefits. If cold water doesn’t suit your needs though, they can also be heated. They can also have spa features, sheer-descent waterfalls, and specialty lighting schematics.

Lap pools are long, narrow, rectangular in-ground pools that are usually good for those looking to gain health and fitness benefits from pool use. However, in order to install this feature, you must have either a forty-foot minimum pool span, or install the correct pumps that will create swim current.

Infinity pools are custom-built, designer pools. They are meant to give the appearance of a still sheet of water falling off the edge of the pool. 

The Possibilities Are Endless…

This article just scratches the surface on the different types of swimming pools that you can build. 

At Darlington Designs, we’re committed to making your pool dream a reality. Contact us today at info@darlington-designs.com or call us at 856-442-0440. We proudly serve local neighborhoods in southern New Jersey and the greater Philadelphia region. 

Also, feel free to contact us via our project form on our site. The project form can be found at the bottom of our Pools & Spas page