A swimming pool helps transform a boring backyard into a place to relax and have fun with friends and family. If you're considering joining the 10.4 million Americans who own a pool, it's essential to know your options and research what kind of pool is right for you. Our partners at ConsumerAffairs researched the best pool builders in Baltimore to help create the perfect backyard retreat.
Installing a swimming pool is a significant undertaking, and it’s crucial to be familiar with the types of pools and available options before making decisions.
The first decision is whether you prefer an inground or above ground pool. In areas like Glen Burnie, Keswick, Anton Woods and Guilford, where homes generally have large backyards, inground pools are the most popular option. Inground pools aren’t always practical, however — if your backyard is small or difficult to access, an above ground pool may be a better option.
Inground pools are more expensive than above ground pools, but they also come with more options and last longer. Above ground pools are better for families on a budget and can be removed from your property before selling your home.
Inground vs. above ground pools in Baltimore
Many available features
Takes longer to install
Not allowed by some homeowners associations
Large, flat and easily accessible areas
Small or inaccessible yards
Waterfalls and built-in spas
Many colors and shapes available
Safer for small children and animals
Average time for installation
Up to eight weeks
Up to a week
Average cost of installation
$30,000 - $90,000
$900 - $3,000 for DIY
$2,000 - $8,000 for professional installation
Choosing a pool material in Baltimore
If you’re installing an above ground pool, your choice for material is fairly limited — these pools typically have a steel, aluminum or resin outer shell with a vinyl liner. Pool builders in Baltimore specialize in several different materials for inground pools, however. The three most common options are concrete, fiberglass and vinyl, and each has pros and cons.
Concrete pools are the most expensive to build and maintain, but they have nearly unlimited customization options. These pools can be built with multiple levels, built-in hot tubs, waterfalls, tanning ledges and nearly any other feature homeowners can imagine.
Because concrete pools are custom-built, they also can be also be built in nearly any shape or size. These swimming pools take longer to build than other options, however.
Fiberglass swimming pools are becoming more popular because of their durability. These swimming pools are created with a fiberglass shell that is pre-built by the manufacturer, shipped to a home and installed in the backyard. While this means fiberglass pools can be installed more quickly than concrete pools, choices for size and shape are limited.
The manufacturing process also means homeowners have limited features from which to choose. Fiberglass pools are easier to clean because the surface is a nonporous material, however, and are energy-efficient with a lower lifetime cost than concrete pools.
Vinyl liner pools
Vinyl pools are the cheapest option for inground pools. These swimming pools are fairly customizable, but they’re not as durable as other options. In addition, owners must replace the lining every six to 12 years, which usually costs $3,000 to $4,000. For those who want an inground pool and have a limited budget, however, vinyl pools are an ideal option.
How to maintain a pool in Baltimore
Pool maintenance requires keeping the water and pool surfaces clean and testing the water to ensure it is pH balanced and safe for swimming. A vacuum, pool brush and skimmer net are necessary to remove debris from the water, and swimming pool owners should use an algae brush to prevent growth along the surface.
Pool owners in Baltimore also need water test kits, chemicals to balance the water when needed and a filtration system. There are many types of filtration systems on the market, each of which has its own maintenance needs. Ask about the cost of maintaining a filter system before buying one.
Finding the right pool contractor in Baltimore
Once you have a better idea of what type of pool you might want, it’s time to start researching swimming pool builders and narrowing the competition. Unless you’re set on having your pool finished by a certain date, it pays to take the time to find a contractor you trust rather than rushing the process and running the risk of being disappointed in the end.
If you have friends, relatives or neighbors with swimming pools, ask if they were satisfied with the service they received from their pool builder. Customer reviews are also an excellent source of information, and many pool builders show previous designs on their websites so you can see if their work matches your vision for a swimming pool.
Once you’ve made a list of a few companies, contact each one to find out more about the company’s process and ask questions to see if they’re a match for your needs. Some topics to bring up include:
Do you provide free on-site inspections and estimates?
How much experience do you have building pools in Baltimore?
Do you specialize in a type of pool or material?
Do you have a portfolio of previous pool installations I can view?
Do you belong to any professional organizations, such as the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals or Master Pools Guild?
Do you have references from former clients?
Do you provide warranties for labor and products?
How long will it take to install the pool?
Do you provide blueprints or 3D models of the design before construction?
The City of Baltimore requires you to submit an application for a swimming pool license, and you must file a building permit with Baltimore County before construction. A reputable pool builder should understand what permits are required and handle most of the paperwork for you. If you’re concerned, check if the builder includes who handles permitting and the inspection process in your contract.
Anthony & Sylvan Pools has more than 70 years of experience designing and installing more than 370,000 inground pools across the country. The company has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is committed to excellence. Baltimore customers say all employees, from the salesforce to the project managers and crew, are knowledgeable and professional.
Jandy Pro Series manufactures high-quality swimming pool equipment, including pumps, lights and pool automation solutions. The company’s products come with a limited warranty, and a dedicated support staff is on hand to answer all questions and walk you through the maintenance process. Customers say Jandy Pro Series products are durable and efficient.
Namco Pools has been providing customers with quality above ground pools and spas for more than 60 years. The company offers a pool protection plan that covers 100 percent of parts and labor for up to three years. Baltimore customers praise the variety of options the company provides and say the company has competitive pricing for its products.
Elite Pools has been serving Baltimore’s pool needs from their Inner Harbor storefront since 1959. The company installs inground pools and can create luxury designs, including infinity pools. Elite Pools offers in-house licensed contractors and repair, maintenance and renovation services. Baltimore customers say the company exceeded their expectations.
Buddy's Pool & Spas
Buddy’s Pool & Spas opened shop in the Hunt Valley area more than 35 years ago, and the employees approach each project with care, dedication and a flair for fun. Buddy’s Pool & Spas offers pool installation and design, pool supplies and hot tubs. Baltimore customers say the crew is knowledgeable and the company’s prices are fair.
Leisure Contracting promises a stress-free process and excellent service from start to finish. The company installs fiberglass pools in two to five weeks and also performs liner repair, maintenance and opening services. Baltimore customers praise the company for its excellent crew and quality of work.