Pool Renovation: The Cost of Giving Your Pool a Facelift

Sparkling new backyard swimming pool

Pool builders like to point out that a quality inground pool can last for decades. However, as with a lot of sales pitches, there’s a big “but” involved here. Sure, the structure of well-built swimming pool might hold up for decades, but it’s unlikely that you’ll go that long without significant (read: expensive) updates.

Yep, we’re talking pool renovation. Sooner or later, every pool needs some major work done, whether for practical reasons or purely cosmetic ones. Here are a few of the most common reasons to consider renovating:

  • Pool materials (liner, decking, etc.) are worn down and need to be replaced
  • Older systems (pump, filter, plumbing) need an overhaul to be brought up to current standards
  • The design no longer meets the needs of the current owners, either because they bought the home with the pool already installed or their circumstances have changed
  • The old pool has simply gotten boring and needs new features to liven things up

In most cases, it’s a combination of factors. One or two elements of the pool might legitimately need to be replaced, but other, less urgent upgrades get tacked on to cover more bases and make the pool more appealing. Hey, if you’re going to undertake a major renovation project, why not go all out?

Typical Renovation Jobs

Pool renovations come in a lot of different forms. Here’s a list of some of the most common things people have done:

  • Deck resurfacing
  • Coping replacement
  • Liner replacement/interior resurfacing
  • Addition of an automatic safety pool cover
  • Addition of water features such as a waterfall, bubblers, scuppers, etc.
  • Addition or removal of a diving board or water slide
  • Installation of an attached spa
  • Change of pool depth (for example, making it more shallow and better for lap swimming)
  • Conversion to salt water system
  • Addition of miscellaneous features such as tanning ledges or swim-up bars

Basically, there’s not much you can do in a new pool installation that you can’t do in a remodel. You can change materials, add features, and even alter the shape and size of the pool. Of course, the more extreme the makeover, the more extreme the cost.

How Much Does Pool Renovation Cost?

With that smorgasbord of options, it’s pretty obvious that the cost of renovation can vary tremendously. For minor changes, it can be affordable enough to put on a credit card. At the other end of the spectrum, it can cost as much as a brand new pool – or even more.

That’s not surprising when you think about it. A dramatic transformation is very much like installing a new pool, but with the added expense of removing the old one.

A lot of the advice about installing a new pool also applies when planning a renovation. For example, it’s a good idea to get bids from at least three companies before choosing someone to do the work. That said, if you’re happy with the builder who did the original work and have a good relationship with them, it makes sense to give them bonus points over the competition.

Tips on Saving Money

The first step toward keeping your costs under control is limiting the scope of the project. This can be tough, especially if your builder is making the case for more upgrades. If you’re already going to be tearing up your pool, the argument goes, you should take advantage of the opportunity to make all the updates your pool needs. If your pool really needs other updates, this can actually be a pretty convincing argument – but it can also ratchet up your costs.

Timing could also play a role in the cost of renovation. Pool companies are generally busier during the spring and summer months, so you might be able to get a better deal by planning on a fall or winter renovation when they’re more hungry for new business. On the other hand, it probably doesn’t pay to wait too long – the cost of materials is always rising, after all.

Of course, the ultimate way to save money is to do it yourself. According to Bankrate, 37% of all home remodeling projects in 2010 and 2011 were of the do-it-yourself variety. While installing a new pool is beyond the abilities of most people, smaller pool remodeling projects are often do-able as long as you have the time and a willingness to learn. As always, it’s important to know your limitations. If you have to hire someone to fix a botched job, you’ll end up paying a lot more.

The Costs of NOT Renovating Your Pool

Sticker shock is a common issue for pool owners facing a major renovation. If your pool is over ten years old, you may be surprised to learn that it costs more to spruce it up than it did to install it in the first place. That’s because, even with the pool industry struggling in recent years, the cost of everything has gone up.

But if the price tag seems high, consider the cost of leaving your pool as-is. For one thing, your pool might not be operating as efficiently as it could be, leading to higher monthly maintenance costs. Is that enough to justify an upgrade? Perhaps not on its own, but it could be a big part of the equation.

While it’s harder to put a price on it, safety is another potential issue. If your pool was built to less stringent standards, or the safeguards have simply deteriorated over time, foregoing an upgrade could be risky.

Fortunately, swimming pools generally don’t go to pot over night. You’ll probably start thinking about a change long before you really need it. This gives you time to save money and make smart plans, knowing that renovation – whether you’re looking forward to it or not – is inevitable.

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5 thoughts on “Pool Renovation: The Cost of Giving Your Pool a Facelift”

  1. Our condo needs to resurface our 30 year old fiberglass pool. What is the preferred resurfacing product for a fiberglass pool? Plaster, epoxy? Will plaster adhere to fiberglass? We are in SE Fla on the intracoastal.

  2. CharlotteEhle

    To be very honest a pool needs a makeover every 5 years. Either the surface wears out or the paint fades away or it just looks out of style. for that recommend a good pool renovation agency that can not only help you with the renovation but on maintenance too where in you can prolong the life of your pool.

    1. I guess that depends on what you mean by “makeover”. Of course you need to maintain your pool. But, if “makeover” means complete renovation, every 5 years seems excessive. I’ve had mine for 23 years and it still looks great. Sure, it has some signs of age. But, to me, that just gives it character. The pool where I went to college was 50 years old when I was there. It was so beautiful … and very cool! It was a classic style, was a quality job originally, and it had been well maintained. I had my pool re-plastered 5 years ago and, to be honest, it could’ve gone another few years before the re-plaster job. In fact, the re-plaster job was not as good as the original plaster job, so it could probably stand to be re-plastered again. I’m about ready for a complete renovation type makeover. But, I could go several more years without if need be.

  3. Every pool renovator wants to re-plaster. Twenty years ago, nobody talked about replastering pools. Its become a device for pool companies to charge big money for what is largely a cosmetic facelift. In addition the pool must be drained. Depending on where you are, hydrostatic pressure from the ground underneath and around the pool can cause it to crack, lift out of the ground, break concrete and break lines because of the weight removal caused by draining. If you’re out in the country, re-filling a re-plastered pool on a personal well can cause your well pump to overheat trying to re-fill it and that’s another $4500 for replacement of a well pump. There are plenty of ways to upgrade a pool without re-plastering but a lot of companies don’t want to talk about it.

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