5 Common Types of Above Ground Pools
Cool off with these top backyard picks
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Owning a pool, especially in an area with a warm climate, can make hot summer months much more enjoyable. Unfortunately, the average cost of an inground pool is simply too expensive for the typical homeowner and maintenance can be a never-ending task. That is why a good number of people turn to the next best thing: the above ground pool. Even though they aren’t as popular as they were decades ago, above ground pools still offer a great way to experience some wet fun in your backyard without digging a giant hole or requiring hefty insurance.
Above-ground pools come in many different sizes, with circular and rectangular shapes being the most common layouts. Made of reinforced fabrics and meshes supported by steel frames, these pools can often be set up and ready to use in just an hour or two.
As with any open water you’ll need to be sure to always supervise children. And if you plan to leave this set up overnight you might want to consider a fence or secure cover so young children or pets can’t get in.
We did the research to find the best above ground pools available, so you can pick the perfect one for your home.
Due to increased demand for online shopping, items in this article may be out of stock. Updates to this article will be made frequently with products we recommend.
The Top 4 Features to Consider When Buying Above Ground Pools
Above ground swimming pools are a cheaper alternative to in-ground swimming pools. Prices for above ground swimming pools can range from as low as $15 to around $4,500, depending on the brand and type.
Installation & Maintenance
Keep ease of installation and maintenance in mind on your search as well. Will you need any additional materials to install your pool? Or does your kit come included with all of the materials? In some cases, installation may be complicated, and you may need to have a professional’s help. You should also consider the amount of up-keep needed for the above-ground pool you choose. An inflatable pool will be easier to maintain as you can inflate, drain, and deflate it easily unlike pools with steel frames that cannot be taken down as easily and will require more year-round maintenance.
There are several different types of above-ground pools that you could consider to include inflatable pools, steel pools, resin pools, and aluminum pools. Inflatable pools are the easiest to set up, from your kiddie pools to adult pools. They are also the most affordable, but will need a close eye for tears and leaks over time. Steel pools are the strongest type, but they are more susceptible to corrosion and rust. If you’d prefer a steel pool, choose one that has a galvanized coating to prevent this from happening over time. Aluminum pools, unlike steel pools, do not corrode or rust. One downside to aluminum pools is that they can oxidize over time. And lastly, there are resin pools, which typically feature steel walls. These have become popular, and they won’t oxidize or rust, but they are susceptible to cracking and fading.
Swimming can be a fun and relaxing activity, but safety is essential, especially concerning children. While above-ground pools provide a better barrier to entry for small children than in-ground pools, they still pose a risk. You can help ensure that children aren’t as easily able to get into the pool by removing the ladder while no one is swimming or even adding a fence around the pool. As always, supervision is essential while others are enjoying the pool.
You’ll be making a splash in no time with this top-rated pool. The Ultra XTR Rectangular Pool Set comes with everything you need to set up and maintain a large pool, and it can be assembled in one hour or less. It measures 24 feet x 12 feet x 52 inches, which is the perfect size for families and friends to enjoy.
Intex is a leader in above-ground pools with models in various shapes and sizes. This rectangular metal frame pool set features laminated sidewalls and a metal frame that’s able to hold 8,403 gallons of water. The set includes a 1,600 GPH Krystal Clear sand filter pump & saltwater system to keep your water free of algae and bacteria. A ladder, ground cloth, and pool cover complete the set.
Customers across the board love this attractive looking pool, saying it will save you a bundle compared to an in-ground pool or another premium above-ground option. People who have upgraded to this model have also commented on the straightforward installation process.
“The puncture-resistant three-ply pool liner feels rugged. We had zero leaks throughout the summer. The kids regularly bumped into and kicked the sides when they were playing with no effect. We even accidentally hit the side of the pool with a shovel, and there wasn’t even a scuff.”—Kelly Hodgkins, Product Tester
Best Steel Frame: Blue Wave Martinique 24 ft. Round x 52 in. Deep Metal Wall Above Ground Pool Package
For an above-ground pool that leaves nothing to be desired, opt for the sturdy Blue Wave Martinique Above-Ground Pool. Unlike inflatable pools, this above-ground pool features the stability of a more robust steel frame and a 7-inch metal top rail. There’s nothing to puncture and this pool is made to last, as evidenced by the 25-year limited warranty.
The Blue Wave Martinique holds 13,600 gallons and can fit eight to 12 people comfortably. To keep maintenance to a minimum, this above-ground pool package ships with a sand filter system with 1 HP pump that users say works well to keep the water clear.
While you can install this above-ground pool yourself, user experience indicates that you’ll likely need three to four people to get the job done. Others opted for professional installation. Either way, once this pool is set up and filled with fresh water, you’ll be eager to jump right in and enjoy all this above-ground pool has to offer for years to come.
Give pint-sized swimmers a safe splash zone with a kiddie pool. For an easy-to-inflate and easy-to-empty mini pool, we recommend the frills-free Intex Crystal Blue Inflatable Pool. It’s the perfect way to cool kids down on a hot summer day.
At just 10 inches deep and almost 3 feet wide, this pool is designed with kids in mind—and it’s also a popular pick for a doggy pool, too! Inflate and fill with water for fun in the sun, then deflate for easy storage in a garage or outdoor shed. You can use a small air pump to get this pool set up in a hurry, or use lung power if you’re feeling ambitious.
A few people had an issue with at least one of the rings not holding air after some rough use—but for the price, if it lasts a season most users are satisfied. If you do develop a leak, you can patch the pool with the included patch kit. This pool is perfect for backyard fun or use it to cool off your pooch during the dog days of summer.
While this pick isn’t as deep as some of the other pools on the list, it’s a good option if you and your family just want somewhere to cool off in the hot weather. Better for lounging than swimming, this durable, 30-inch deep pool is big enough for multiple people to sit in at once, so everyone can cool down together.
The pool comes with a pump to make filling it up easy, and a chlorinator and filter combo to keep the pool safe to use for two weeks at a time before it needs replacing.
Once this pool is set up, users are overall happy with it. However, check to make sure your pool doesn’t have any holes before you start filling it, and prep the area around your pool carefully to make sure the space is level and doesn’t have any sharp rocks or sticks that might puncture to PVC.
If you’re looking to go round and round all summer long, hop on a float and take it easy in the Bestway Power Steel Round Swimming Pool. Bestway is the parent company to well-known outdoor brand Coleman, and this well-rated round swimming pool has plenty of fans. Bestway’s round swimming pool set is equipped with a sturdy steel frame, pool cover, ladder, and 2,500 GPM Flowclear filter pool pump.
People found this round pool to be straightforward to setup and easy to enjoy. A few people mentioned how the design of the included liner and lack of an inflatable top ring made this feel more like a “real” pool, rather than a temporary addition to the backyard. Still, this metal frame swimming pool requires minimal tools for assembly and disassembly, so it’s a snap to put up and take down with the change of seasons.
When your kids have graduated passed a basic kiddie pool this play center is the next best thing. Blow it up and watch them slide from one pool to the next, play ring toss, or just splash around and have fun. This pool also has a sprayer so you can attach a hose and keep the kids cool as water splashes them.
Buyers love how much fun this gave their family at such an affordable price, but many mention an air pump is necessary to fill this up.
The Intex 18ft X 52in Ultra XTR Pool Set (view at Amazon) is our top pick for above ground pools as it’s durable, quick to set up, and has a powerful filtration system. The size is also perfect for backyard pool parties! If you’re on the fence about spending that much money, though, go with the Intex 12ft x 30in Easy Set Pool Set with Filter Pump (view at Amazon).
What to Look for in an Above-Ground Pool
ShapeFirst, decide whether you prefer a round pool that saves space or a rectangular pool that gives you more room for aquatic activities. The footprint of a round pool is smaller and it requires minimal square footage in your yard. However, if you want to swim laps, you’re better off with a rectangular pool that gives you a longer edge-to-edge distance.
FilterSome above-ground pools include a filter, while other more portable options omit this feature. If you plan to leave your pool up for an extended period of time, make sure you look for a model equipped with a filter to keep the pool safe and sanitary. For smaller above-ground pools that you’ll empty after each use, skip a filter system since the water won’t be sitting stagnant for a prolonged period.
FrameFor the sturdiest above-ground pool, look for one that has a metal frame. This will help ensure that the pool holds its shape, even when filled with water and subjected to swimming and splashing. Inflatable pools, on the other hand, tend not to include this feature but make it work due to their smaller size and reduced water volume.
Benefits of an Above-Ground Pool
One of the biggest perks of choosing an above-ground pool is cost. While the cost of in-ground pools can range anywhere between $10,000 to upwards of $70,000, you can purchase an above-ground pool for families for less than $200.
Above-ground pools are also transportable. If you decide to move to a new place, you can dissemble or deflate your pool and take it with you, unlike an in-ground pool. This means that you won’t have to leave behind a big investment.
Don’t want to deal with an extensive cleaning process for your pool on a year-round basis? Choose an above-ground pool instead that can be drained and deflated. You’ll be able to store the pool away during cooler months and spend less time with up-keep as you would with an in-ground pool.
If you have small children, an above-ground pool will pose less of a safety risk than an in-ground pool because the barrier to entry is not as easy. With an in-ground pool, a child can easily slip and fall in, while with an above-ground pool, it would take more effort as there is a ladder for entry.
How long does an above ground pool typically last?
An above-ground pool generally lasts anywhere from 5 to 15 years.
What type of above ground pool is best for me?
This will depend on several factors. Who will be using the pool? Will mostly adults or kids be using the pool? If you have small children that will want to enjoy the water, buy an inflatable kiddie pool which is smaller and more shallow than your typical family pool. If you have older children, teens and adults who will use the pool, a typical above-ground pool that ranges between 48 and 52 inches in height is a good option. If you’ll want to play team games, consider a rectangular shaped pool so players can choose ends.
How do I maintain my above ground pool?
It’s important to maintain the water’s hygiene as well as the function of your pump and filter. Here are some good tips for maintaining your above-ground pool:
- Turn on your pool filter and let it run for about 8 hours each day.
- Check your chlorine levels to ensure that the water is hygienic and safe for swimming (typically, chlorine levels should be between 1 ppm – 3 ppm).
- Check your pH levels for optimal hygiene as well (typically, pH levels should be between 7.2 – 7.6), Skim for debris, vacuum, and brush the pool on a weekly basis.
- Check your water filter’s pressure and ensure your pump is functioning optimally, and make sure the surrounding areas of your pool are as clean as possible to prevent the depositing of debris in the pool.