Above ground pools are typically fabricated with one of two materials, either metal or resin. Many modern above ground pool manufacturers are now offering hybrid-resin designs as well. There is a lot of confusion about what these terms really mean, and how that translates into the actual product you are considering purchasing.
The majority of pools on the market both past and present are metal pools. The initial designs of above grounds were comprised solely of metal, and not much had changed until just a few years ago. The “wall” of the pool is one continuous piece of sheet steel, which is manufactured and packaged in a giant coil. This coil will then be bolted together at the ends during the installation process. The bottom track, foot plates, uprights, top plates, stabilizer track, and top ledges will all also be metal. Without the industry jargon, this means that the entire “frame” of the pool is comprised solely of metal parts. All these metal elements form together to create an extremely strong structure, which is designed to equally disperse the pressure of the water equally along the pool’s perimeter. This makes a metal pool strong against internal and external pressures on the frame. Metal pools are also cheaper than resin pools generally. Metal pools are not without their faults, however. Due to the nature of metal, these pools are susceptible to rusting. This is greatly exacerbated in cases where drainage around the pool is poor, or a salt water generator has been mistakenly installed on a metal pool. In short, metal pools are strong, simple, and affordable. However, they are susceptible to rusting, not salt water compatible, and often limited in design and colour.
Resin pools are typically towards the luxury end of the above ground pool market. Resin pools come in a wide variety of designs, colours, and styles. The term resin (or polymer) refers to the high strength plastic material that the pool’s frame is made of. By substituting metal parts for resin ones, the pool’s design and looks can be more complex and aesthetically pleasing. The pool also becomes much more resilient against drainage issues (as sitting water cannot rust the resin bottom rails and footplates). The final advantage to the resin design is that they can be used with salt water generators, which are easy on maintenance and great for sensitive skin. In contrary to popular belief, the “wall” of a resin pool in still sheet steel, just like on a metal pool. Manufacturers will add additional coats of rust inhibiting paint (or use hot dipped galvanized steel), but the core material of the wall is still metal. Therefore, on a resin pool, the bottom track, foot plates, uprights, top plates, stabilizer track, and top ledges will be resin, but the wall will still be metal. As they are complex by design as well their price point is generally higher than that of a metal pool. In short, resin pools very aesthetically pleasing with a wide variety of designs, the frame of the pool will not rust, and they are salt water compatible. However, resin pools are generally more complex and therefore more expensive.
The most recent addition to the above ground pool market is the hybrid-resin pool. These are most evident with manufacturers such as Trevi and Cornelius. The hybrid-resin design combines the strength and integrity of a metal pool, with the sleek and salt water compatible design of a resin pool. This means you can have the strongest pool possible while getting all the benefits of corrosion resistant resin. Hybrid-resin pools typically represent the highest end of the above ground pool market, and a price point around or slightly above a top end resin pool. Build quality, fitment, and the costs of both steel and resin all contribute to the cost of a hybrid-resin pool. For the slight increase in price, hybrid-resin is well worth it. The pool wall and uprights (as well as buttress subframe for oval pools) will be steel, with all other components being resin. Since moving over to installing hybrid-resin pools in 2018, we have loved the added strength and the high end build quality of hybrid-resin pools, such as the Trevi Stellar (pictured below). With a full 3/25 year warranty for salt water, manufacturers stand behind the statement that you can get the best of both worlds with hybrid-resin!
With these facts in mind, the potential consumer should be able to weigh their options and determine which style of pool works best for their need and budget. Whether it be metal, resin, or hybrid-resin, an above ground pool can be a great choice for your family, whatever your needs and budget may be.