Saltwater vs. Fresh Water Swimming Pools – A Comparison

Many pool owners have heard of saltwater pools. They may have even tried out one on a cruise ship or resort. But should you run out and join the trend? Is a saltwater pool right for your own backyard?

Here are three important areas to compare saltwater and fresh water pools so that you can find the right balance for you.


Both pool styles have pluses and minuses when it comes to cost. Saltwater pools require salt water chlorine generators, which convert the inexpensive salt to chlorine to keep the water clean; they generators aren’t normal parts of a pool installation.

These generators are the biggest up-front cost difference, but a generator can add thousands of dollars to the initial setup. Contrasted with the cheaper setup steps for a traditional pool installation, this factor may have a real impact if you’re building or updating a pool on a budget.

Over time, saltwater pools are generally less expensive to maintain, though. The biggest cost savings is in the form of testing supplies, pool chemicals, and chlorine tablets purchased for weekly use in a fresh water pool. These supplies are replaced by a process the generator does to convert the salt into chlorine, which is much less expensive than buying chlorine tablets week after week.


Maintenance needs are different for fresh water and saltwater pools, but they do both require regular services.

Traditional pools need to be checked regularly and have chemicals added weekly. In contrast, saltwater pool maintenance is more focused on the generator and equipment instead of the water itself. The cells will need cleaned on a seasonal basis, and the equipment may not work properly in colder temperatures.

You will also need to regularly shock the water in both pools, but usually less often with saltwater. Be sure to test regularly for chlorine, salt levels, stabilizer, and alkalinity. High pH levels in saltwater can also make the water harder in addition to other problems.


That lack of chemicals – most notably strong chlorine – is the main reason that homeowners like saltwater pools. If you worry about the effect that swimming constantly in chemicals may have on you and your kids, natural and safe salt is a good alternative. The water tends to be softer too, providing a more comfortable environment.

While chlorine is produced by the generators in a saltwater environment, it’s far less than in regular pools – something you’ll notice in the less pungent smells or toxicity of a saltwater pool. If you have respiratory problems, don’t like the bleaching effect of chorine pools, or suffer sensitive skin, this factor is a big positive.

The nature of salt, though, can cause one of the few really convincing downsides to a saltwater pool. Salt is corrosive – much more so than most other pool chemicals and materials. This corrosive factor could be a real problem for pool owners who aren’t used to it.

Salt can cause damage to everything, from the pumps and heaters to the surrounding pool deck. The best way to manage this risk is to start out with salt-resistant materials in the pool liner, decking, and water-based equipment. If you’re converting an existing pool, this change could be an expensive fix.

You deserve to have the right swimming pool for your own home. By understanding the pros and cons of both fresh water and saltwater pools – both in installation costs and ongoing maintenance issues – you can be confident that you’ve made the right call.

At Athens Pool & Spa, we have experience helping Georgia homeowners design and build the pool that best suits their family and their lifestyle. Call us today to learn more.