Sand Filters vs Cartridge Filters: What is best for YOUR swimming pool?

When it comes to finding the right pool filter for your pool, there’s a lot to take into account. They all keep your pool clean and free of leaves, dirt and debris, but what’s the difference between them? How do they actually work and what can they do? We know that when it comes to your in-ground you want affordable and efficient equipment. The most popular pool filter types are cartridge filters and sand filters. 

Sand Filter 

Sand Filters are generally the most compact and more affordable way to filter an in-ground or above ground pool. Basically, the way a sand filter works is that inside the sand filters use specially designed rough shaped pool filter sand that removes the dirt and debris that runs through your filtration system. The cleaned water then flows back into the pool out through the bottom end of the filter. In a sand filter, a back washing effect occurs once water flows out through the waste line cleaning the filter. Generally, the sand should be replaced about every five to eight years, based on usage.


  • Removes down to 20-40 micron sized dirt and debris
  • Easy-to-use and simple-to-operate
  • Reliability     
  • Geared for pools with high GPM (gallons per minute) capacity                         


  • Requires frequent maintenance
  • Not great for pools with lower GPM capacity
  • Backwashing will cause higher salt costs on salt water pools

Cartridge Filter

Cartridge filters can screen out twice as much dirt and debris as a sand filter. Its larger filtration area allows the water to progress through the cartridge removing smaller particles. Maintenance is much easier in that there is no need for a back-washing step. All you have to do is take the pool filter cartridge out of the system and either replace it or wash it off. These filters cut energy costs by utilizing low pump pressure, but can have a higher upfront price. Since the pressure needed is lower, it can prolong the life of your pool pump.


  • Simpler to maintain than other filter systems
  • Removes dirt particles as small as 10-15 microns
  • Cuts energy costs by utilizing lower pump pressure
  • Will not waste salt on a salt water pool


  • Costs can be higher than other types of filters

  • Require frequent cleaning and handled carefully

A high quality pool filter for your pool is key to creating and maintaining a healthy and sanitary swimming environment. When it comes to sand and cartridge pool filters, we typically will factor in two main things:

1. Is this a salt water pool or will it be in the future? If so then we would go with a cartridge as it will not demand as much salt and keep costs lower. 

2. Is there a place to backwash the sand filter? If there is and it is not a salt water pool then this is going to be a more reliable and cheaper filter to buy and maintain. 

If you are still not sure which will be better for you contact us today to discuss options tailored to your specific needs. Classic pools will make sure that your swimming pool in Cumming, Dawsonville, Gainesville and Alpharetta / Roswell is always looking its best!