Pool Filter Balls vs Sand – Which is Better?

Robert Wimberly

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pool filter balls vs sand

Whether you’re constructing a new pool or have been managing one for a while, effective filtration is crucial for maintaining a healthy pool. You may have come across various filtration products. In this article, we’ll compare pool filter balls vs sand, highlighting the features that set them apart.

For a quick comparison, refer to the table below.

Features Pool Filter Balls Sand
Filtration 5-15 Microns 20-40 Microns
Weight Lighter Heavier
Life Span 5 -10 years 3-5 years
Backwashing Seldom Backwashing Frequent Backwashing
Installation Same easy steps
Recyclability Recyclable Less Recyclable
Reusability Reusable Nonreusable
Initial Cost More expensive Less expensive

Are Filter Balls Better Than Sand?


Generally, pool filter balls are made of synthetic materials with high surface area fibers, and sand filters, which use graded sand as a filtration medium, are two methods for maintaining clean pool water.

Filter balls offer efficient fine particle removal, are lightweight, and are eco-friendly, while sand filters are reliable and suitable for larger pools.

The choice depends on filtration needs, maintenance preferences, and environmental considerations. Below are the detailed differences between the two:

1. Filtration


In terms of filtration efficiency, pool filter balls are in the spotlight- being able to filter finer particles of only 5 microns, whereas sand filters can only handle larger microns.

A single cubic foot of these filter balls is enough to match, or even outperform, a hundred pounds of sand in terms of clearing cloudy waters.

2. Weight


Regardless of filter type, weight is a crucial variable that must be considered. While sand filters are relatively lightweight, filter balls are even lighter, making transportation, installation, and disposal easier.

The pool filter balls usually come in a 700g carton equivalent to 25kg of sandbag.

3. Life span


Although lifespan is often different for every user- depending on usage and other factors, many say that pool filter balls can last almost twice as sand as they can be used up to 10 years compared to traditional sand pool filters that typically have a lifespan of 5 years before replacement.

However, it’s recommended to replace the filter balls after 5 – 6 years to ensure filtration efficiency.

4. Backwashing


Backwashing is essential to maintain a clean and healthy filter.

Sand filters usually need constant backwashing, at least once per month for a longer lifespan, but frequently doing so may alter the pool’s chemical balance.

On the other hand, backwashing filter balls is seldom needed- up to 90% fewer than sand- while also easing the workload because of their light weight and ability to avoid clogging. In some rare cases, filter balls get jammed in the multiports.

5. Installation


While there are many differences between pool filter balls and sand, they are installed just the same. You can just put them in the tank, close the tank, then activate filtering.

6. Recyclability


Considering the environmental impact of filter disposal, the recyclability of filter materials is vital.

One of the main features of swimming pool filter balls is 100% recyclability because it is made of 100% polyethylene. These poly balls also don’t constitute health and environmental hazards upon disposal.

Sand filters, on the contrary, are harmful when disposed of. That is why some are recommending wearing full gear when scrapping sand because it is easy to inhale.

Improper disposal of sand filters may damage the environment and severe aquatic life. But if you want to repurpose your used sand, you can use it for cement making and gardening.

7. Reusability


Pool filters’ reusability is a great feature that can lessen the long-term cost.

Pool filter balls boast of their ability to be washed and used again. You just either hand wash these or put them in the washing machine, and they’re free to eliminate cloudy waters again. Proper maintenance of filter balls can ensure a longer lifespan.

Unfortunately, sand filters are not reusable because they wear down over time, and their effectiveness lessens. Reusing these filters will only pose a threat to your pool because of their degraded performance over time.

8. Cost


How much an item costs initially should certainly be considered by every buyer, but long-term cost must also be taken into account.

Initially, traditional pool sand filters are less expensive,  still, considering certain factors such as frequent backwashing, lower lifespan, higher water consumption, and being nonreusable, sand filters are more expensive in the long run.

Pool filter balls, on the other hand, may seem more expensive upfront, as you can get a pack weighing 150 – 200 lbs at $25 to over $50. However, considering their long lifespan and less maintenance, they are more cost-effective in the long run.

Pros and Cons

If you’re still uncertain about the contrast between pool filter balls and sand filters, provided below are the advantages and disadvantages of both:

1. Sand filter

  • Initially affordability
  • Easy installation
  • Long lifespan
  • Good filtration
  • More frequent backwashing
  • Non-recyclable and nonreusable

2. Filter balls

  • Enhanced filtration
  • Minimal maintenance
  • Lightweight
  • Extended life span
  • Reduced backwashing
  • Recyclable and Reusable
  • Higher initial cost
  • Rare jamming in the multiport

Which Option is the Best for You?


Both filter balls and sand filters offer benefits, but the choice depends on your preferences and pool requirements.

If initial cost matters and you’re comfortable with frequent maintenance, sand filters might suit you.

On the other hand, if long-term costs and environmental impact are critical, pool filter balls are the better choice. Besides, they can filter smaller contaminants and essentially last longer.


Pool filters are extremely crucial when maintaining a swimming pool’s health, but with but with numerous options available, choosing the right filter can be overwhelming.

Having learned the distinctions between pool filter balls vs sand, you’re now equipped to make an informed decision that aligns with your needs.

Whatever pool filter you use, always put in mind that the health and safety of swimmers come first.

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