How Much Does It Cost to Install or Convert a Salt Water Pool?

Typical Range:

$12,000 - $67,000

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on research by HomeAdvisor.

Updated June 23, 2022

Written by HomeAdvisor.

Homeowners pay an average of $25,000 to install a new saltwater swimming pool. The cost to build a standard, 20,000-gallon saltwater pool can be as low as $12,000 or as high as $67,000. The cost to convert an existing pool into a saltwater pool is between $800 and $2,000 on average.

Saltwater Pool Cost per Square Foot

Saltwater pools cost anywhere from $75 to $125 per square foot to install. Most swimming pool dimensions measure from 10 x 20 to 16 x 32, but homeowners can opt for smaller pools, called spools, or larger pools, depending on personal preference or yard limitations.

Pool Size (feet) Average Price (including labor)
10 x 20 $15,000 – $25,000
12 x 20 $18,000 – $30,000
12 x 24 $21,600 – $36,000
14 x 28 $29,000 – $49,000
16 x 32 $38,000 – $64,000

Cost Factors 

Many factors can affect the price of your saltwater pool, with location, preparation, material, and upgrades accounting for the majority of price differences.

Location 

When you remodel to include a pool, the size and location of your saltwater facility will depend on the specifics of your property. You must take your yard’s size and shape into account; some yards don’t have enough space for a traditional-sized pool or require the removal of multiple trees or boulders to have a larger pool, which can ramp up costs into the $50,000s or more. Some homeowners opt for a smaller pool to accommodate limited space, which could mean spending as little as $15,000 on a pool.

Preparation 

The amount of preparation for your saltwater facility can add up to $20,000 extra to your project, depending on the specifics of your property. Some features may require additional site prep or hinder accessibility, increasing installation costs: a sloped property, underground rock faces, large trees, floodplains, utility lines, and local codes all contribute to the total price of your project.

Material 

The type of material you choose can mean the difference between spending under$10,000 and spending over $50,000. Fiberglass saltwater pools that come in a shell form are far more budget-friendly than gunite pools, which need to be installed by hand.

Additional Costs 

Additional features to your project can also ramp up the total price. A few factors to keep in mind include:

  • Size and shape: The size and shape of your yard will determine the size and shape of your pool, with larger, custom spaces costing substantially more than small, traditional shapes.

  • Upgrades: If you want to install a deck, be sure to factor in deck installation costs. The same goes for paying for pool heater installation, hot tub installation costs, or lighting expenses, which can increase costs anywhere from $300 to $11,000

  • Above-ground vs. in-ground: An in-ground saltwater lap pool runs between $50,000 and $80,000. Above-ground or pre-constructed versions cost from $5,000 to $30,000. Usually 25 meters in length, these are uncommon backyard additions due to their size and cost.

Cost to Convert a Chlorine Pool to Saltwater

Expect to pay between $500 and $3,200 to convert a traditional chlorinated pool to a saltwater system, depending on the size and type of pool you have. Above-ground pools are much cheaper to maintain (because they’re smaller) and cost between $500 to $1,200 for a standard 10,000-gallon pool. A 50,000-gallon in-ground pool will cost between $1,000 and $3,200 to convert into a saltwater pool.

Cost factors for the conversion include:

  • Saltwater chlorinator costs: The saltwater chlorine generator costs $100 to $2,500.

  • Pump: Pumps cost between $300 and $1,200.

  • Salt: A 40-pound bag of salt costs between $10 and $25 each.

  • Filter: Filters for the pump cost between $30 to $1,600.

Average Costs to Convert a Pool from Fresh Water to Salt Water
Item10,000 Gallon Above-Ground50,000 Gallon In-Ground Pool
Salt water system
(generator and cells)
$100-$500$400-$1,800
Installation labor$300-$500$300-$500
Salt$25-$36 for 5-6 40-lb. bags$125-$180 for 25-30 40-lb. bags
Total$425-$1,036$825-$2,480

Salt systems can feature self-cleaning and diagnostics, digital salt readouts, and the ability to control pool equipment. Lower-cost models will have fewer of these features than higher-priced ones. No matter which one you choose, you'll want to hire a pool pro with plumbing expertise.

How Much Salt Do I Need When Changing Over My Pool?

For a standard, 20,000-gallon pool, you'll need 10 to 12 40-lb. bags of salt. As a rule of thumb, most 40-pound bags of salt cost between $10 and $25 apiece, so expect to pay around $100 to $300 for the salt. Differing pool sizes mean differing prices:

Pool Size (Gallons) Pounds of Salt Required Total Price
8,000 213 $60 – $150
10,000 267 $70 – $175
12,000 320 $80 – $200
14,000 373 $100 – $250
16,000 427 $110 – $275
18,000 480 $120 – $300
20,000 533 $140 – $350

Cost by Material 

Saltwater pools can be vinyl, fiberglass, or concrete/gunite. All three types can work for saltwater or freshwater pools. Salt itself will not cause wear or tear to any of them, but it's still important to take good care of your pool’s structural material and/or lining.

Fiberglass 

Fiberglass pools cost between $15,000 and $35,000 and are the most cost-friendly. They also are more likely to include a lifetime warranty. However, fiberglass pools come in limited sizes and styles because homeowners buy them as already-molded shells. At the same time, maintenance costs tend to be lower for fiberglass pools, making them a great material for saltwater pools.

Vinyl 

Vinyl saltwater pools fall in the middle of the price range at $25,000 to $65,000, but this material can rip easily and amount to more in repairs in the long run. You can find many different sizes for a vinyl pool, but you’ll need to change the liner regularly to keep reparation costs low.

Concrete 

Concrete or gunite saltwater pools cost from $50,000 to $100,000 and are the most expensive option to install and maintain. The higher costs come down to the amount of labor and customization you can get with a concrete pool. This option might look more attractive, but the higher costs, maintenance commitment, operation expenses, and time it takes to install the pool are potential drawbacks.

Saltwater Pool Maintenance Cost

Expect to pay between $100 and $400 per year for the salt and chemicals to maintain your saltwater swimming pool. Compare this to $400 to $900 yearly for the chemicals to maintain a chlorine pool. Homeowners should budget an additional $200 to $700 every three to five years to replace the salt cell. The electricity to run a salt water system will add $35 to $50 to your yearly power bill.

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DIY vs. Hiring a Pro

The cost to install an above-ground pool will be less than the cost to install an in-ground pool, but either option will work for a saltwater system. You may also save some money on DIY maintenance with an above-ground version since plumbing and pumps are easier to access. Likewise, if you already have a chlorine pool, it’s possible to DIY the conversion to a saltwater pool.

For a new, in-ground saltwater pool, however, you’ll want to hire a pool pro for the installation. From the permits to the excavation to removing trees and rocks, pool installation is complex and requires a trained professional’s expertise.

FAQ

Is a saltwater pool more expensive?

A saltwater pool is generally less expensive than a chlorine pool. The average cost to build any type of pool is $32,000, on average, compared to the cost of installing a saltwater pool, which costs around $25,000 on average.

Are saltwater pools worth it?

Whether a saltwater pool is worth it depends on your personal preferences. A few pros and cons to a saltwater pool include:

AdvantagesDisadvantages
No need to buy chemicalsPotential pH & calcium build up
No need to manually add chemicalsSalt cell replacement
No chlorine smellMore parts that can break
Less irritation (red eyes, itchy skin)May corrode pool parts (like seals & switches) & equipment

What are saltwater pool costs per month? 

The cost to maintain and run a saltwater pool is around $6 to $8 per month or $70 to $100 annually.