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Whether you're a pool owner, operator, or simply an enthusiast, understanding pool filters is critical in maintaining your pool's pristine condition and longevity. Pool filters help remove impurities, ensuring your swimming pool remains clean and healthy for everyone to enjoy.

Various types of pool and spa filters are available in the market, including cartridge, sand, and DE filters. Brands such as Hayward, Waterway, and Pentair offer a range of high-quality pool filters that cater to different needs and preferences.

In this guide, we'll delve into the specifics of pool filters, their significance, and how to choose the best ones to suit your pool's specific needs. Remember, using the right pool filter can make a world of difference in your pool's cleanliness and overall maintenance.

Understanding Pool Filters

Understanding Pool Filters

Understanding Pool Filters 

Pool filters are essential equipment in any swimming pool setup. They tirelessly clean your pool water by filtering out dirt, debris, and other microscopic impurities that might enter the water. The cleaner your pool water, the safer and more enjoyable your swimming experience will be.

There are mainly three types of pool filters: sand filters, cartridge filters, and DE (diatomaceous earth) filters. Each filter type operates differently and offers unique advantages. Understanding these different types can help you make a more informed choice when choosing a pool filter.

Different Types of Pool Filters

Different Types of Pool Filters

Different Types of Pool Filters

Understanding the different types of pool filters will help you choose the one that is best for your specific situation. Let's dive into the three main types: Sand Filters, Cartridge Pool Filters, and Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Pool Filters.

Sand Filters

Sand filters are popular due to their ease of use and relatively low maintenance. They do not require frequent cleaning, and when they do, the backwashing process is relatively straightforward. However, they may not catch smaller particles as effectively as other types of filters, which can lead to less clear water.

High-Rate Sand Filters

High-rate sand filters are the most common type used in both in-ground and above-ground pools. They use a specific type of sand known as #20 silica sand, which has uniformly sized and shaped particles. Water is pushed through the sand, and any particles larger than the sand grains are trapped.

How Sand Filters Work

Water enters the filter through the top and is then evenly distributed across the sand bed. As the water travels down through the sand, dirt, and debris are trapped by the sand particles. Clean water then exits the bottom of the filter and is returned to the pool.

Cartridge Pool Filters

Cartridge filters are another common type of pool filter. One of the main benefits of cartridge filters is that they are more energy-efficient and easy to maintain. They operate at lower speeds, saving energy costs, and the cartridges can be easily removed and cleaned. However, they may require more frequent cleaning than sand filters, especially during heavy use.

Single-Element Cartridge Filters

Single-element cartridge filters are common for smaller pools or spas. These filters have a single cartridge that captures debris as water passes through. They are easy to clean and replace, making them convenient for pool owners.

How Cartridge Filters Work

Cartridge filters allow water to flow through a filter material, typically made of polyester or corrugated paper. This material catches and holds the debris, allowing clean water to pass back into the pool.

DE Pool Filters

Diatomaceous earth filters provide the finest level of filtration among the three types. They use a natural substance, diatomaceous earth, which is essentially fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. 

Vertical Grid DE Filters

The most common type of DE filter is the vertical grid DE filter. It consists of a series of grids coated in diatomaceous earth, which traps the smallest of particles.

How DE Filters Work

Water is pushed through the DE-coated grids, and the DE traps any particles in the water. Like sand filters, DE filters also require backwashing to clean out the accumulated debris.

While DE filters provide excellent filtration, they can be more labor-intensive to maintain. The DE powder must be replaced after each backwash, which can be a bit more complicated than cleaning a cartridge or backwashing a swimming pool sand filter. However, a DE filter may be worthwhile for pool owners who want the clearest water possible.

Comparing Pool Filter Types

We have prepared a comparison table to provide a comprehensive understanding of the pool filters discussed. This table contrasts the three types of pool filters - sand filters, cartridge filters, and DE pool filters - based on their key features. By comparing these features side-by-side, you can decide the best type of filter for your pool.



Sand Filters

Cartridge Filters

DE Pool Filters

 Filtration Accuracy

20-40 Microns

10-15 Microns

1-3 Microns


Backwash every few weeks

Clean every few weeks; replace annually

Clean every few weeks; replace DE annually


Low upfront cost, low maintenance cost

Moderate upfront cost, low maintenance cost

High upfront cost, high maintenance cost

 Water Consumption

High (during backwashing)


Moderate (during backwashing)



Very Good



5-7 years

2-3 years

1-2 years

 Suitable For

Large pools, less frequent use

Any size pool, regular use

Any size pool, frequent use

 Notable Brands

Intex, Hayward, Waterway

Hayward, Doheny's

Hayward, Waterway, Doheny's


In-depth Look at Pool Filter Brands

Pool Filter Brands

Pool Filter Brands

Choosing a pool filter is more about selecting the right type than choosing a reliable brand. The market is filled with various brands offering unique features and benefits. Here, we'll take a closer look at some of the most respected brands in the pool filter industry.


Hayward, a highly reputable brand in the pool equipment industry, stands out for its innovative, efficient, and reliable swimming pool filters. Founded over 80 years ago, the company has a rich history and in-depth experience in providing top-tier pool equipment. Hayward pool filters make the top of the list as they have superb performance that continues for years.

One key aspect that sets Hayward apart is its commitment to innovation. They integrate advanced technologies into their Hayward de filters, optimizing filtration and ensuring your pool water remains crystal clear. For instance, their high-rate sand filter series employs a precision-engineered umbrella-fold self-cleaning system, making them highly efficient and low-maintenance.


Pentair, another leading brand in the pool equipment sector, has built a reputation for its high-quality, durable, and efficient swimming pool filters and Pentair sand filters. Whether you are looking for a filter for your small backyard pool or a large community pool, Pentair has options to cater to your needs.

Their product range includes the innovative Quad DE Cartridge Style Filter that combines the finest filtration available to provide the cleanest pool water. It's designed to be easy to clean, with four easily accessible and removable cartridges.

Pentair also prides itself on its energy-efficient designs. Their filters are engineered to operate with less resistance and higher flow rates, reducing the amount of energy needed to filter your pool water.


The Waterway is a well-regarded pool equipment brand known for its superior-quality swimming pool filters. The company has provided reliable, efficient, and durable products for pool owners for several years.

One of the standout features of Waterway pool and spa filters is their emphasis on energy efficiency. Their sand, cartridge, and DE filters are developed to offer superior filtration capabilities with minimal energy usage. This not only helps to reduce your pool's operational costs but also contributes to environmental sustainability.

Waterway filters are also known for their durability and ease of maintenance. Whether it's a sand filter with a corrosion-proof tank or a cartridge filter with an easy-access design for quick cartridge replacement, Waterway has your needs covered.


Intex is a brand that's synonymous with affordability and convenience. This brand is popular among owners of above-ground pools and inflatable pools who need reliable but affordable pool filtration solutions.

Their cartridge filters, for instance, are designed to be easy to install, use, and maintain. Most Intex filters come with replaceable cartridges, meaning you simply need to swap out the cartridge every couple of weeks to ensure optimal filtration. While they may not offer the advanced features of some higher-end brands, Intex filters are an excellent choice for pool owners on a budget or those with smaller, temporary pools.


Doheny is a brand that has been a go-to choice for pool owners due to its high-quality pool filters that deliver excellent performance. Doheny's filters are known for their superior filtration capabilities, ensuring your pool water stays clean and clear.

The brand offers a comprehensive range of filters, including sand, cartridge, and DE filters, each designed to cater to different pool sizes and types. Doheny's sand filters, for instance, feature a weather-proof and corrosion-resistant tank, ensuring longevity and reliability.

Regarding cartridge filters, Doheny's offers options with large filter areas for increased dirt capacity and extended time periods between cleanings. They are also organized to be easy to maintain with simple, tool-free access to the cartridge.

In-ground vs. Above-Ground Pool Filters

Whether you own an in-ground or above-ground pool, choosing the right filter is crucial to maintain the water's cleanliness and clarity. However, the requirements can vary based on your pool type.

In-Ground Pool Filters

In-ground pools usually have a more complex structure and larger water volume, necessitating a more robust and efficient filtering system. In-ground pool filters are designed to handle a larger volume of water and are typically made of more durable materials to withstand the elements.

These filters are available in sand, cartridge, and DE models, able to handle the larger circulation needs of in-ground pools. Brands like Hayward, Pentair, and Doheny's offer high-performing in-ground filters to ensure your pool water stays sparkling clean.

In-ground filters also often have additional features, such as backwashing capabilities, allowing easy cleaning and maintenance. They are usually installed with a dedicated plumbing system and are often more expensive than above-ground filters due to their enhanced features and capabilities.

Above-Ground Pool Filters

Conversely, above-ground pool filters are generally more compact and cost-effective. These filters are designed to handle smaller volumes of water, as above-ground pools typically hold less water than their in-ground counterparts.

Above-ground filters also come in sand, cartridge, and DE models but are typically smaller and less powerful. Brands like Intex and Bestway offer above-ground pool filters that are easy to install, operate, and maintain.

These filters are often attached directly to the pool and do not require a complex plumbing system, making them more affordable and easier to install. However, they may need to be cleaned or replaced more frequently due to their smaller size and capacity.

Choosing between an in-ground and above-ground pool filter largely depends on your pool type, size, and budget. It's always a good idea to consult with a pool professional or do thorough research before deciding.

Maintaining Pool Filters: Tips and Tricks

Maintaining Pool Filters: Tips and Tricks | iStock

Maintaining Pool Filters: Tips and Tricks | iStock

Proper maintenance of your pool filter is crucial to its longevity and performance. Regardless of the type and brand of pool filter you choose, there are general tips and tricks you can follow to ensure it operates efficiently and lasts longer.

Regular Cleaning

Cleaning frequency depends on the type of filter you have. Swimming Pool Sand filters typically need backwashing every 4-6 weeks, while DE filters may require backwashing every 1-3 months. Cartridge filters must be cleaned more frequently, usually every 2-4 weeks, depending on usage.

Checking Pressure Gauge

Keep an eye on your filter's pressure gauge, as it's an excellent indicator of when cleaning or backwashing is needed. A significant rise in pressure typically indicates a clogged or dirty filter.

Replacing Filter Media

The filter media need to be replaced periodically for sand and DE filters. The sand typically lasts 5-7 years, while the DE powder is usually replaced after each backwash. Cartridge filters, however, must be replaced every 2-3 years.

Seasonal Maintenance

At the end of the pool season, it's a good idea to thoroughly clean your filter before winterizing it. This includes disassembling the filter and manually cleaning all parts.

Professional Inspection

Consider having your pool filter professionally inspected at least once a year. A professional can detect any issues early on and perform necessary repairs, ensuring your filter operates at its best.

Remember, a well-maintained pool filter keeps your pool water clean and clear and extends the filter's lifespan. Proper pool filter maintenance is integral to keeping your pool in top shape.

How To Choose The Best Pool Filter For Your Pool

Choosing the right pool filter is crucial for maintaining a clean, healthy swimming environment. Here are a few factors to consider when selecting the best pool filter for your pool:

  • Pool Size: Larger pools require more powerful filters to clean the water. Make sure the filter you choose can handle your pool's volume.

  • Usage: If your pool is used frequently or by many people, you might need a more robust filter to handle the increased load.

  • Local Climate: If your pool is located in a region with a lot of dust or leaves, you may need a filter that can effectively handle this kind of debris.

  • Budget: While investing in a good pool filter is essential, you must also consider your budget. Higher-end models offer more features and longevity but come at a higher price.

  • Maintenance Requirements: Some filters require more maintenance than others. Consider how much time you are willing to spend on filter upkeep.

Remember, the best pool filter is one that suits your specific needs and circumstances. Contacting our pool professional to ensure you make the right choice is always a good idea.


Choosing the right pool filter is crucial for maintaining a healthy pool. Whether it's an in-ground or above-ground pool, understanding the different types of filters is key. Brands like Intex, Hayward, Waterway, and Doheny offer a variety of pool filters catering to different needs.

In-ground pool filters are ideal for larger pools, while above-ground pool filters are cost-effective and simpler to install. Regardless of the type, regular maintenance is paramount. By investing in a high-quality pool filter and keeping it well-maintained, you can enjoy a clean, refreshing swim for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best type of pool filter? 

The best type of pool filter depends on your specific needs. Sand filters are easy to maintain but less efficient; cartridge filters are more efficient and easy to clean; DE filters offer the highest filtration but require more maintenance.

Are in-ground pool filters better than above-ground pool filters? 

In-ground pool filters and above-ground pool filters serve the same purpose. The choice between the two depends on factors such as the size of the pool, budget, and personal preference.

How often should I change my pool filter? 

The frequency of changing your pool filter depends on the type of filter and its usage. On average, sand filters should be replaced every 5-7 years, cartridge filters every 2-3 years, and DE filters every 1-2 years.

Can I use an in-ground pool filter for an above-ground pool? 

While technically possible, it's not usually recommended. In-ground pool filters are designed for larger volumes of water and may be too powerful for smaller, above-ground pools.

Which pool filter brand is the most reliable? 

Brands like Intex, Hayward, Waterway, and Doheny's are all well-known for their reliability and quality. Choosing a brand that suits your needs and budget is best.

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