Which Is Better a Sand or Cartridge Pool Filter?

I’ve owned four swimming pools, two with sand filters and two with cartridge filters. Both have their pros and cons, but which one is better? To answer that, we need to take a closer look at how each type of filter works.

Sand filters use sand to trap debris and dirt. The water is then pumped through the sand, where it is filtered before being returned to the pool. Cartridge filters work similarly, but they use pleated paper cartridges instead of sand.

So, which type of filter is better? Well, it depends on your needs. Sand filters are generally more affordable than cartridge filters, and they are also easier to maintain. However, cartridge filters are more effective at trapping small particles to produce clearer water. Ultimately, the best type of filter for you will depend on your budget and your swimming pool’s filtration needs.

Picture of a swimming pool filter system.

What is a pool filter?

When you’re setting up a swimming pool, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing the right type of filter. There are three main types of filters – sand, cartridge, and diatomaceous earth (DE) – and each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Sand filters are the most popular type of filter, and they’re effective at trapping dirt and debris. However, they require regular maintenance and can’t trap tiny particles. Cartridge filters are easier to maintain than sand filters, and they can trap smaller particles.

However, they’re more expensive and need to be replaced more frequently. DE filters are the most expensive type of filter, but they’re also the most effective. They can trap even the smallest particles, and they only need to be cleaned every few months.

Either because of their price or scarcity, I haven’t owned or know anyone with a DE pool filter, so the information I provide is from what I’ve read and not first-hand experience concerning this particular filter.

When deciding which type of filter is right for you, it’s essential to consider your budget and your swimming pool’s needs.

How to decide which type of pool filter is right for you.

Filtration is essential for keeping the water clean and clear when it comes to swimming pools. Because there are several different filtration systems on the market, how do you know which one is right for your pool?

There are a few factors to consider when making your decision. First, you need to consider the size of your pool and its location. A small above-ground pool will require a different system than a large inground pool.

Second, you need to think about how often you use your pool. If you have a busy household and everyone is using the pool regularly, you may need a more extensive system than if the pool is only used occasionally.

Finally, you need to consider your budget. Filtration systems can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand, so it’s crucial to find one that fits within your budget. By considering these factors, you can be sure to choose the right filtration system for your swimming pool.

Swimming Pool Sand Filters

My first and second pools both had sand filters. I found them effective, simple to maintain, and easy to keep clean. The only major thing I did with one unit was change the sand, and even that wasn’t too difficult.

Sand Pool Filters: Pros

A swimming pool sand filter is a type of filter that uses sand to remove impurities from the water. The sand traps particles of dirt and debris, which are then removed from the water by back-washing.

-They are very effective at removing small particles of dirt and debris from the water. This is because the sand traps these particles, preventing them from recirculating back into the pool.

-Sand filters require very little maintenance. You will need to back-wash the filter periodically to remove the accumulated dirt and debris, but other than that, they are very low maintenance.

-They are also very good at preventing algae growth. Algae can be a big problem in swimming pools, but sand filters help keep it under control by trapping algae spores before they can take hold.

-Sand filters are relatively inexpensive compared to the other two types of pool filters.

Overall, I had a good experience with our pool sand filters. I found them easy to clean, and our sand filter never gave us a problem in the ten years we had our pool. If you are not currently using a sand filter, then you should consider doing so to enjoy all of these benefits.

Sand Pool Filters: Cons

There are a few potential cons to using sand pool filters. One is that they require maintenance. The sand will need to be replaced every two to three years, and the filter will need to be back-washed regularly.

You also need to design the filter back-wash system to flow away from your house or into a drainage system. We had to extend our initial back-wash pipe to reach our drainage ditch because the back-washed water initially kept our yard wet.

Additionally, sand pool filters are not as effective at trapping small particles as other pool filters. This means that the water may not be as clean as it could be if you used a different type of filter.

Finally, as with any pool filter, sand pool filters are expensive. For all of these reasons, it is essential to weigh the pros and cons of using a sand pool filter before deciding.

Picture of our cartridge pool filter.

Swimming Pool Cartridge Filters

Cartridge filters are becoming increasingly popular; they are designed to trap small particles of dirt and debris, as well as bacteria and other microorganisms. Cartridge pool filters consist of a large tank filled with pleated cartridges.

These cartridges trap dirt, debris, and other impurities as water flow through them, keeping your pool clean and clear.

In addition, cartridge filters are relatively easy to maintain and can be replaced relatively easily. Cartridge filters are an excellent choice for pool owners for all these reasons.

Cartridge Pool Filters: Pros

Cartridge pool filters are a popular choice for many pool owners, thanks to their low maintenance requirements and effective filtration. One of the most significant advantages of cartridge pool filters is that they don’t require back-washing.

Back-washing is the process of reversing the flow of water through the filter to remove trapped impurities. This can be a time-consuming and messy process, but with a cartridge pool filter, it’s simply a matter of replacing or cleaning the cartridges as needed.

The filters can be cleaned by removing the cartridge from the pool filter housing and spraying it down with a hose. Once the cartridge is clean, it can be reinserted into the housing, and the pool filtration system can be turned back on.

This makes cartridge pool filters a much low-maintenance option than other types of pool filters. In addition, cartridge pool filters are very effective at removing small particles from pool water.

This means that your pool will be less likely to experience cloudy water or algae growth. If you’re looking for an easy-to-maintain pool filter that will keep your pool water sparkling clean, then a cartridge pool filter is a great option.

Picture of me cleaning a cartridge pool filter.

Cartridge Pool Filters: Cons

There are a few cons associated with cartridge pool filters that are worth mentioning. First, they can be pretty expensive to purchase and replace. Second, they require regular cleaning and maintenance in order to work effectively.

Third, they can sometimes become clogged with debris, reducing their efficiency. Finally, cartridge pool filters may not suit all types of pool water. Be sure to consult with a pool expert before purchasing to ensure that a cartridge pool filter is the right choice for your needs.

I find that taking the filter system apart and cleaning the filters not to be difficult, but it is a pain. The first cartridge system we had was very difficult to reassemble and get the o-ring in place. It would take me hours to get it back together without leaking.

However, I haven’t run into this issue with our new system, although I do have to clean it monthly during the summer months.

Here is a YouTube video that compares the three types of pool filters.

Maintenance tips for keeping your pool filter running smoothly all season long

A pool filter is an essential piece of equipment for any pool owner. By circulating pool water through a filter, it helps remove dirt, debris, and bacteria, keeping the water clean and safe to swim in.

While pool filters are designed to be durable and require minimal maintenance, there are a few things you can do to keep your filter running smoothly all season long.

First, be sure to clean the skimmer basket and pump strainer regularly. These areas can quickly become clogged with leaves and other debris, which can reduce the efficiency of the filtration system. To reduce the number of leaves in your pool, consider using a leaf cover.

Second, back-wash the filter according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This process helps remove dirt and debris from the filter media, preventing it from becoming clogged.

Finally, be sure to keep an eye on your filters’ pressure gauge. If it’s not in the “good zone,” it either needs cleaning, or you have another issue with your system. If your filter is clean, skimmer basket clear, the next step is to ensure you have the proper water level in your pool.

If you still have a problem and can’t diagnose the issue, contact a pool professional for assistance. By following these simple tips, you can help ensure that your pool filter will run smoothly all season long.

Best Cartridge Pool Filters

When it comes to keeping your pool clean, one of the most critical components is the filter. There are a variety of pool filters on the market, but cartridge pool filters are widely considered to be the best option.

Cartridge pool filters are made of pleated paper or fabric that traps dirt and debris as water passes through. They are easy to clean and maintain and can last for years with proper care.

In addition, cartridge pool filters are highly effective at trapping small particles, making them an excellent choice for those who want to keep their pool water sparkling clean. If you’re looking for the best pool filter for your needs, be sure to consider a cartridge pool filter.

Hayward W3C3030 SwimClear Cartridge Pool Filter, 325 Sq. Ft.

What big of a filter does your pool need?

The size of pool filters you need is based on your pool size, and one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a pool filter is its flow rate. The flow rate is the measurement of how much water the filter can process in a minute, and it is typically expressed in gallons per minute or GPM.

Pool filters typically have a 50-100 GPM flow rate, so to determine your filter size, you need to calculate your flow rate. To assess your pool’s GPM, divide the pool’s volume by 8 and then divide by 60.

For example, if you have a pool that is 20,000 gallons, your pool’s GPM would be 20,000 / 8 / 60, or 41 GPM. So you would need a pool filter with a flow rate of at least 50 GPM to maintain your pool.

Keep in mind that your pool’s GPM will vary depending on the type of pool filter you have, so be sure to consult your pool filter’s manufacturer for more information.


Is a filter necessary for a swimming pool?

Yes, a pool filter is a necessary component of any pool system. Without a filter, pool water would quickly become dirty and stagnant, making it unsuitable for swimming.

How much is a filter for an inground pool?

The price of pool filters varies depending on the type you select. Sand filters typically cost between $400 and $600, and cartridge filters usually run between $800 and $1,200.

Picture of our swimming pool.

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