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“I’m Building a New Pool…Should I Choose a Sand Filter or Cartridge Filter?”

Once you have made the exciting decision to enhance your lifestyle with the addition of a pool, spa or swim spa, you need to decide what type of filtration is best for you.

The filter and pump are the central system of your pool’s circulation. The main purpose of the filter is to remove debris from your pool water so you can have a clean, sparkling pool to swim in all year round. Without it your pool water can end up full of debris and bacteria, cloudy and even make you unwell. The pool pump circulates the water and pushes it into the filter where small debris particles are removed through depth or surface filtration, before the clean water travels onto either the heater, or back to the pool.

When it comes to choosing a filter we recommend one of two types- a cartridge filter or sand filter. The good news is that it doesn’t matter whether your dream is a fiberglass pool or a concrete pool, both sand and cartridge filters will do the trick. So how do you choose which one is best for you? The main considerations when selecting a filter are efficiency and performance, maintenance, cost and size.

Efficiency and Performance:

If you are looking for a highly efficient solution with the least amount of bacteria and debris left swimming around in your pool, the cartridge filter is your best solution.

The cartridge filter can catch finer debris than a sand filter, being 10-20 microns versus 20-40 microns. A micron is short for “micrometre”, meaning a millionth of a metre, so we are talking about some very fine debris! So you can understand, for example, both sand and cartridge filters will catch debris such as beach sand and fine grit, but only the cartridge filter will catch finer debris like talcum powder and mould spores.

Unlike sand filters, cartridge filters do not require backwashing, allowing for water savings of up to 92% or thousands of litres. To put this into perspective, this equates to around 60 loads of laundry! Another bonus of a cartridge filter not requiring a backwash or multiport valve is energy savings. Because there is less water flow restriction than that of a sand filter, there is less demand on the pump, creating a lower rate of energy consumption, and less wear and tear on your pump.

Using glass media in a sand filter instead of sand media may assist in catching finer debris, and generally uses less water in the backwashing process, saving you time and money. For this reason we always recommend the option of glass media when you have selected a sand filter. This can be discussed with your pool builder prior to commencement of your swimming pool construction.


One of the biggest reasons people are choosing cartridge filters over sand filters is the upkeep.

To maintain your cartridge filter, you simply need to remove the cartridge from the filter, normally via easy grip handles, and use a normal garden hose to wash away the debris. The gauge on the filter will tell you when it is time to clean them (most have a red marker). At the least a minimum 2-4 times a year would be required depending on the pool size. It is also important to give the cartridges a hose after a big storm.

The sand filter on the other hand takes a little more effort to maintain. It is ideal to backwash your sand filter after vacuuming approximately once a week, to remove any remaining debris that has been left behind. Backwashing involves releasing the dirty water from the waste line and resetting the sand bed. Sometimes extra water and chemicals may need to be added to the pool to replace what has been lost.

To see instructions on how to clean your filter please click here


The most inexpensive and most largely recognized type of filter is the sand filter. Generally these are cheaper than the newer technology cartridge filters to purchase, but you do need to keep in mind that there are other costs associated with implementing a filter such as:

  • Installation:

    When your pool or spa installer is setting up your equipment, they will need to involve a plumber for sand filters, which can add additional costs to the bill, whereas a cartridge filter is a little more expensive to purchase but a plumber may not be required.

  • Efficiency:

    As mentioned earlier you can save money on energy and water with a cartridge filter. You can reach up to 92% water savings compared to that of a sand filter, due to no backwashing.

  • Replacement Media:

    The cost of replacement sand or glass is cheaper than the cost of replacement cartridges. It is recommended to replace your cartridges every 1-3 years depending on the pool, but sand or glass only requires replacement after 4-6 years. Once you have chosen your filter type, it is best to read the manufacturer’s manual and warranty information with regards to replacement lengths. Most of these can easily be found online before purchasing the product.


No matter which type of filter you choose, it is critical that you size the right pump with the right filter. Every filter has a designed flow rate that needs to be professionally sized and paired with the correct pump. Too much flow can cause higher pressure on the filter and can create excessive back-pressure on the system. This can damage pumps and possibly even the plumbing. One of our knowledgeable pool builders can advise on the correct size filter for your individual requirements. Generally we recommend a cartridge filter for most pools, unless it is a large-scale build, in which case we would suggest the use of a sand filter.

At Master Pools, our preferred manufacturer for filters is local supplier, Hayward Pool Products, based nearby in the South East Suburbs of Melbourne. Our selected range of Hayward filters are all manufactured in the USA and engineered to deliver elite, reliable performance with minimal maintenance. We currently range the Hayward ProSeries Sand Filters and SwimClear Quad Cartridge Filters. You can learn more about Hayward Filters here or you can contact us contact us to make an appointment to come into our Master Pools Display Centre in Cranbourne West so our friendly team can show you the range today.

In summary, it is best that you understand your requirements when making a decision about sand versus cartridge filters. Is energy efficiency important to you? How much time are you willing to dedicate to maintenance? What is your budget? What size is your pool? Once you have decided on the answers to these questions, you will be empowered to make the best decision when discussing your options with your pool builder, so you can spend more time swimming in your clear, sparkling pool, and less time worrying about this!