Saltwater Pool Cost

The average cost of installing a saltwater pool is $50,000.

In this guide

Pros and cons
Salt levels
Type of pool
Material
Installation
Labor
Water filling
Maintenance
Chlorine vs saltwater pools
Enhancement and improvement costs
Additional considerations and costs
FAQ

How much does it cost to install a saltwater pool?

For people who love to swim regularly and want to lower the amount of chlorine 1 they use as well as the amount of maintenance their pool needs, a saltwater pool is a great alternative. When it comes to building the pool itself, there are few differences between a chlorine 1 and saltwater pool. The difference is really in the addition of a salt chlorine generator and the fact that a few materials used around these pools may not hold up as well.

Therefore, most people find that the cost to install a saltwater pool is in the range of what it would cost to install a chlorinated one, around $50,000 on average for a 12x24-foot inground pool.

Pros and cons

Most people find that the advantages of a saltwater pool outweigh any potential negatives that come with it. Saltwater pools have a soft, silky feel to the water, which is less drying to the skin and does not burn the eyes.

Saltwater pools use fewer chemicals, and are, therefore, lower maintenance and less corrosive in general. They also cost less to run because the salt keeps the pool cleaner and there are fewer associated chemical costs.

Salt can, however, corrode things like stainless steel ladders, some types of stone decks, and the O-rings and other fittings on your pool equipment. Use different materials or rinse them regularly to help prevent this issue.

Likewise, if you are not maintaining the correct amount of salt in your pool, you could end up with high levels of chlorine, which in turn can also cause issues with the pool walls and equipment. But when properly maintained, a saltwater pool has few drawbacks.

Salt levels

While the name of the pool is called “saltwater” and requires a lot of salt to run, this does not mean that the pool is devoid of chlorine 1. Instead, a salt chlorine generator turns the salt into chlorine, so the eventual levels of salt in the pool are around 3,000 parts per million 2 (ppm) of dissolved salt. At 3,500 ppm is where most people begin to taste salt, which makes a saltwater pool around 1/10 of the salt found in the ocean, closer to the amount found in human tears. So, the amount of salt cannot be tasted or felt.

Initially, about 200 pounds of pool salt is added to the water. A salt chlorine generator, which costs between $500 and $2,500 for an inground pool, converts the salt to chlorine, filtering the pool. You still need other pool chemicals and to test the water, but the amount of chemicals and maintenance is far less because the generator controls the bulk of the job.

Type of pool

Any pool can become a saltwater pool. This includes above ground ($6,200), inground ($50,000), indoor ($20,000), lap ($50,000), and infinity ($95,000) pools. The basics of the pool build and installation are the same. The main difference is the addition of the salt chlorine generator and a few materials that may need to change, such as not using a stone deck. Otherwise, costs for a saltwater pool largely mirror the costs of installing a standard pool, meaning the pool type, size, and material drive the costs

Material

Next to size and type, the largest contributing factor to a saltwater pool is the material that it is made from. Like chlorinated pools, saltwater pools can be made of a variety of materials, each having positive and negative attributes:

MaterialProsCons

Vinyl

($37,000)

Inexpensive

Easy installation

Fast installation

Can be formed in any shape

Not as durable

Some types of walls cannot be used with saltwater

Liner 3 needs regular replacement

Fiberglass

($50,000)

Fast installation

Maintains color well

Lower electricity costs

Resists algae growth

Shape and size are limited

Can be slippery

May bulge

Concrete (Gunite 4)

($60,000)

Lots of design versatility

Highly durable

Long-lasting

Highly aesthetic

Expensive

Takes a long time to install

Rough underfoot

Costs more to run

Shotcrete

($70,000)

Lots of design versatility

Highly aesthetic

Faster installation than gunite 4

Very expensive

May crack

Not as durable


Installation

The installation of a saltwater pool is identical to a chlorinated pool, with the exception of the salt chlorine generator being added at the end of the install. For the installation of a fiberglass 5 pool, which is one of the more common materials used with saltwater, the process involves excavating and hauling away the dirt from the yard. Next, the single-piece shell is installed, the area around the pool leveled, and retaining walls 6 are installed if necessary. The stairs, filters, pumps 7, salt chlorine generator, and decking are installed last before the pool is filled and the salt and other chemicals added. The entire process takes about 2 weeks.

Labor

Most of the labor involved in installing a pool is in the excavation and hauling away of the dirt, as well as the leveling and sloping of the surrounding area. Fiberglass 5 pool shells are made off-site, while gunite 4 and shotcrete are applied on site in the shape of the pool. Vinyl 8 is a combination of the two methods, with part of the pool made off-site and then applied on location. Other labor costs include the installation of the equipment and finishing of the deck.

The cost of this ranges from $10,000 to $20,000 and is the bulk of the cost of the pool in many cases.

Water filling

After the pool is built, it needs to be filled. Depending on your water supply, you may do it yourself with a hose for around $65, or you may need to hire a company to deliver the water. This can cost as much as $1,250 depending on how much water you need and how far it needs to travel to reach your property.

Maintenance

The maintenance of a saltwater pool is generally considered to be lower than that of a chlorine 1 pool. Saltwater pools maintain themselves better, resulting in fewer chemicals, less algae, and less scale. It is common to spend around $100 in chemicals and salt per season as opposed to the $300 in supplies needed for a chlorine pool. Professional pool maintenance costs are also usually lower, closer to $500 for the entire season.

Chlorine vs saltwater pools

Regarding the construction of the pool itself, there is little difference between a chlorine and saltwater pool. The biggest differences come from the maintenance of the pool, how much it costs to run, how many chemicals you use, and how the water feels.

Chlorine 1 is more expensive long term and has higher maintenance rates. It is also more irritating to the skin and eyes. Saltwater pools have a slightly higher startup cost in terms of the generator and chemical costs but have lower maintenance costs long term.

Enhancement and improvement costs

Self-cleaning systems

If you want to lower the amount of maintenance you do on your pool, consider investing in a self-cleaning system. These systems vacuum and filter the pool to keep it cleaner. They cost between $500 and $2,000 on average.

Pool deck

It is common to have a pool deck installed around your pool for drainage and provide a non-slip surface. Typical decks cost around $7,000, although some may be included in the total cost of the pool.

Pool enclosure or fence

Most pools also require some type of enclosure or fence to keep pets and children safe. These come in many configurations and cost anywhere from $1,200 to $22,000.

Pool lighting

Lights can be built into the sides of your pool for between $150 to $300 per light. You may also want to consider deck lights for around the same cost.

Cover

Your pool will likely require a cover if you plan on closing it at the end of the season. Covers come in several styles and cost between $75 for a traditional cover up to $15,000 for an automatic one.

Ladders and diving boards

Some pools have ladders included in the price, while others need it added on. Diving boards are usually an extra cost, although not recommended for fiberglass 5 pools because they are not deep enough to use safely. Ladders cost around $70 to $200 each, while diving boards run around $400.

Water features

Water features such as waterfalls ($450-$15,000) are aesthetically pleasing to add to the design. You can also add features such as fire ($100-$1,000), fountain bubblers ($50-$300), hot tubs ($10,000-$25,000), and grottos ($5,000-$10,000).

Additional considerations and costs

  • Saltwater can damage the landscaping around your pool as well as certain types of stone decking. Due to these issues and the toll it takes on soil nutrients, some communities ban saltwater pool systems. Always check your local ordinances before installing.
  • Converting an existing pool to a saltwater pool is possible. This usually costs around $2,500 to complete and involves adding a salt chlorine generator and the right amount of chemicals.
  • Swimming in salt water does not burn more calories than swimming in a chlorinated pool. Regardless, swimming is a great way to exercise.
  • While a saltwater pool does not require chlorine or shock, you will need to purchase test kits, salt, and chemicals that balance the pH and to prevent algae and other water issues.
  • The warmer your climate, the more chlorine your generator will need to produce to keep the water clear. This may mean that it will use more electricity or wear out and require repair or replacement more frequently, offsetting the lower maintenance costs of this pool type.
  • Your generator should run 4 to 6 hours a day in the winter and 10 to 12 hours a day in the summer according to most pool professionals. These numbers vary depending on climate, water temperature, and how often the pool is used.

FAQ

  • Is a saltwater pool better?

Saltwater pools are less irritating to the skin and eyes and are usually lower in maintenance and related costs.

  • Is a saltwater pool more expensive?

Saltwater pools cost marginally more in some instances, depending on the type of pool and salt chlorine generator involved. They typically cost less to run, however. ​

  • How much does it cost to convert to a saltwater pool?

To convert an existing pool to a saltwater pool costs around $2,500 on average.

  • Is a saltwater pool easier to maintain?

In most cases, yes, a saltwater pool is easier to maintain, requires fewer chemicals, and less cleaning.​​

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Chlorine: A chemical added to the water in a swimming pool to kill bacteria and microorganisms that can make people sick
2 Parts per million: An acronym for Parts Per Million, a measurement used to describe dilute concentrations of substances in water or soil
3 Liner: A covering, usually made of vinyl, for the walls and floor of a swimming pool, used to keep the water in and protect the pool's surface.
4 Gunite: A type of concrete used for building concrete pools, lining tunnels, and structural repair. It is applied by being sprayed through a pressure hose, and produces a dense, hard layer of concrete
5 Fiberglass: Plastic that is reinforced with glass fibers. The fibers may be mixed randomly throughout the plastic, or come in the form of a flat sheet, or be woven into a fabric
6 Retaining walls: A structure used to support vertical slopes of earth or to hold back water
7 Pumps: A device used to move air, liquid, or gas by mechanical means
8 Vinyl: A synthetic plastic made from ethylene and chlorine. Vinyl has many applications in the construction industry and it is widely used in sidings, window frames, roofing and gutters, among others

Cost to install a salt water pool varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Albuquerque, NM
-14%
Arlington, TX
+6%
Athens, GA
-9%
Atlanta, GA
+24%
Austin, TX
+13%
Bakersfield, CA
-6%
Birmingham, AL
+6%
Boca Raton, FL
0%
Buckeye, AZ
-2%
Cape Coral, FL
-9%
Chesapeake, VA
-6%
El Paso, TX
-28%
Elk Grove, CA
+6%
Fort Lauderdale, FL
+2%
Fort Myers, FL
-7%
Fort Worth, TX
+6%
Grand Rapids, MI
+7%
Hanover, PA
-13%
Henderson, NV
+10%
Hialeah, FL
-2%
Hobart, IN
+11%
Houston, TX
+24%
Indio, CA
-6%
Jacksonville, FL
-1%
Kissimmee, FL
-20%
Lake Worth, FL
-2%
Lakeland, FL
-13%
Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Loganville, GA
-17%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Louisville, KY
-7%
Miami, FL
+1%
Montgomery, AL
-10%
Moreno Valley, CA
-6%
Nashville, TN
+21%
North Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Ocala, FL
-25%
Orlando, FL
+2%
Palm Bay, FL
-16%
Pearland, TX
+16%
Phoenix, AZ
0%
Pompano Beach, FL
+2%
Port Saint Lucie, FL
-18%
Prosper, TX
+23%
Raeford, NC
-27%
San Antonio, TX
-4%
San Diego, CA
+11%
Smyrna, GA
+10%
Tampa, FL
-2%
Temecula, CA
+1%

Labor cost in your zip code

Last modified:   
Methodology and sources