Best Above Ground Pool and Inflatable Hot Tub
Which is the best above ground pool? There is no one product that will fit that description. It’s the one that best suits your needs and needs vary.
Here in this site, I’m not trying to sell you anything. All I’m trying to do is provide with relevant information and help you make a decision on whether a product suits your needs. Information is king – right information will save you time and money.
Choosing the Best Above Ground Pool of 2017
Good products speak for themselves – only if they had voice. It’s more like, you get to know about the quality of a product after you have used it or somebody you know have used it; that’s when the products say if they are good or bad. More often than not, you will come across products that you or your friends have never or rarely used. This is where you rely on product reviews from the industry experts or someone who have used the products themselves.
Most buyers have a preconceived idea of what they want to buy, even to the specific brand and model. User reviews, editor’s review or any other white paper only helps the buyer affirm their idea of what they want to buy.
Factors to consider:
- Choose a Product by Looking at its Worst and Best Quality
- Compare the reviews – both customer and industry specialists
- Choose the best above ground swimming pool that suits your need
- Budget, size and shapes
- Are you a first time owner
- Installation Time
What type do you need?
- Metal frame
- Hard sided pools
- Kids pools / inflatable above ground pools or
- Therapy pools
Choosing the right one for you can be an overwhelming task. We have researched and compiled a list of some of the best rated above ground pool and their reviews to help you decide which suits your needs.
Best Above Ground Pool Brands
There are so many brands of above ground pools out there in the market. How do you know which is the best? Each brand has their own line of product. But most best above ground pool brands carry similar type of products; we have already discussed about the types of pools earlier.
Determining Which Brand is The Best
How will you determine which brand is the best? Easy answer would be, ask someone who has used one. If the experience is good, well you know which one to buy. But if the experience is bad or you don’t know anybody who has used one, what do you do? Search the internet and read the customer review.
The industry experts may be biased towards a certain product. But most of the time the customer reviews and their feedback on the customer service are the best indicator of a good product and brand. Read the review or the white paper and figure out which is the best product. But it’s not always as simple as that. There is always a chance that review can be biased or made up.
What do you do? You look for the number of reviews and compare how many reviews the other competing product got. Most of the time the numbers don’t lie, the higher the better. If more people are saying a product is good it is usually is. But if there are just 2-3 reviews mostly saying it’s a bad product may not reflect on the actual status of the product. May be just the one or two customers venting their anger at the product and the rest of the other customers (satisfied or unsatisfied) never left any review.
In the reviews, pay close attention to what people say about the customer service support of the brand. A good brand or company will always provide good service support.
The best brands will have a lots of quality above ground pools to choose from both in term of size and the materials used.
Some of the Best Above Ground Pool Brands
Here are some of the best above ground swimming pool brands:
Types of the Best Above Ground Swimming Pools
Mobility and storage
Vinyl with inflatable top ring
Very easy to disassemble and moved around or stored after usage
15 - 30 minutes. By one person
Coated steel frame with vinyl liner
Can be disassembled and moved around or stored after usage but will affect longevity.
1 - 5 hours. By one person, some will require 2 persons
Galvanized steel or aluminum walls with vinyl liner
Semi-permanent structure. Should not be disassembled.
1-2 days. 2-3 persons (preferably strong)
Very easy to disassemble and moved around or stored after usage.
15 - 30 minutes. By one person
Coated steel frame with vinyl liner
Can be disassembled and moved around or stored after usage but will affect longevity.
1 - 3 hours. By one person
Inflatable above ground pools are not structurally very strong, so you will not find many large ones that are inflatable. Mostly kids pools are inflatable and the best portable swimming pool.
There are also hybrids, a combination of the ring and the metal frame – called the Oval Frame Pool. They are also very good portable swimming pools for bigger kids.
One of the most popular and the best above ground swimming pools are the Ring Pools. They are the ones with the inflatable ring that rises with the water level as it is being filled. There are no other frames or structures holding the it together. These are best for families who have small children. The depth is just enough for kids to swim in and the adult to sit around and watch over them.
There are several round pools from Intex and Bestway; Intex Easy Set faring well with better customer service. Otherwise both their products are equally good and very easy to assemble. If fact these are some of the best portable swimming pools which are the easiest to assemble and maintain. They only last 2-3 seasons.
The inflatable ring takes up about 6 inches of the total height – something to consider when buying one. It takes about 10 to 30 minutes to assemble. You only need to drain the water and deflate the ring to take it down. Drain and dry for easy storage for next season.
They could be your starter pool. Using it will give you ideas on your size requirement – is the size too small or too big. You will also get some hands on experience on how to maintain one – helping you to decide if you are ready for bigger ones. Also, they are the best portable swimming pools.
Intex Easy Set Pool
Intex Easy Set products are low cost and best means of beating the summer heat. Very easy to setup – takes only about 25-30 minutes. They have whole range of pools that will fit your budget and yard size.
The smallest one is only 8 feet in diameter and has a height of 30 inches. The other sizes are 10ft x 30in, 12ft x 30in, 15ft x 42in, 15ft x 48in and 18ft x 448in.
There are different packages of the product. Some package includes water filter pump and ladder some don’t. So, please read the product descriptions carefully when purchasing.
Bestway Fast Set Pool
Bestway Fast Set are very similar to the Intex Easy Set in structure, make, shape and quality. There are only 4 different sizes to choose from 10ft x 30in, 12ft x 36in, 15ft x 36 and 15ft x 42in.
All the pools come with a ladder and a water filter except for the smallest 10 feet one, which does not come with a ladder.
Oval Frame Pool
The Intex Oval Frame pools are hybrid between the metal frame and the inflatable ring.
The structure is reinforced by the metal frame which provides support and extra strength on the two sides of the oval shaped pool.
The walls are made of triple layered laminated PVC material. They are assembled with snap-on joint – no tools are needed.
It can be assembled within 30 minutes and is very easy to assemble. Their shapes are ideal for playing different games like volleyball and swimming laps. They are also very portable.
Metal Frame Pools
If you are looking for stronger and more durable than the ring pools, the metal frame pools are for you. These are very easy to assemble and disassemble and to be stored away when not in use or even moved to a new location. The frame with the snap-in joints eliminates the need for tools.
They can be considered portable. But the assembling and disassembling will weaken the frame or the structure. For most larger ones, it is recommended to leave them out in the open with proper winterization.
Intex Metal Frame Pools
Intex Metal Frame Pools are some of the most popular pools in market.
There are different sizes, starting from 12 feet to 24 feet and the height of the smallest one is 30 inches and the largest in the series has a height of 52 inches.
All the products in this series are round.
Intex Ultra Frame Pools
Intex has another set of metal frame pools whose frames are different from the regular metal frames. This is called Intex Ultra Frame Pool. The difference between the two is explained below.
However, in summary, the Ultra Frames are longer lasting, stable, sturdier and more expansive than the Metal Frames. There are 7 products in this series, some are round and some are rectangular in shape.
The smallest in the series is 14 feet in diameter – 42 inches high and the largest is a 32 feet by 16 feet rectangular one with a height of 52 inches.
Bestway Steel Pro Frame Pool
The Bestway Steel Pro Frame Pool set are very similar to Intex Metal Frame in that they are made with similar steel frame and pool liner. They come in 4 different size and round in shape.
The smallest one start from 12 feet in diameter and the largest is 24 feet and the water height is 30 inches and 52 inches respectively. The two other pools are 15 feet and a 18 feet in diameter and the height is 48 inches for both.
Hard Sided Pools
Hard sided above ground pools are very durable and will last 20-25 years. They are primarily made of galvanized steel or aluminum or resin. Most of these will have some of the parts made of resin. Here, we are going discuss about Splash Pools which are some of the longest lasting and the best above ground pools. Although there other more durable but more expensive brands available here in the market, like Blue Wave Martinique, Splash brand is more popular.
Steel Splash Pools
The walls are made of rust resistant galvanized steel and the liner is heavy duties 20 gauge all weather vinyl liner. The set also includes ladder, sand filter and a skimmer.
The Splash pools come in 6 different sizes and 2 different shapes. They all are 52 inches high – great height for swimming. The round ones come in 18 feet, 24 feet and 27 feet in diameter. The oval ones come in 30 feet – 15 feet, 33 feet – 18 feet and 45 feet – 18 feet.
The 27 feet round pools hold way more water than the 33 feet oval one. So choose your size and shape wisely.
Kids Pools / Inflatable Above Ground Pools
Summer or winter kids love to play in the water. Pools are great way of spending time in the hot summer days. These are specifically designed for kids, although adults can use most of them. In fact most of the pools here are made for the family: the parents and the kids.
Intex Rainbow Ring Pool
The Intex Rainbow Ring Pool is one of the best that you can buy for your kids. They are going to have some of the best time of their lives.
It has two round pools attached together. The larger part is shallower than the smaller one. With many game options that come with it, your kids will spend countless hours in it.
It has water sprinkler that spays water as your kids slide down the slider. It is a great way of staying cool in the hot summer days.
The kids get on the slider from one pool and slides to another. They can play ring toss with the inflatable rings or use the ramps, to roll down balls or even toy cars. It is made for kids between 2 and 5 years of age.
Intex Swim Center
Intex Swim Center series includes the Intex Swim Center Clearview Aquarium Inflatable and the Intex Swim Center Family Inflatable Pool. This is one of the best inflatable pool.
You can choose from the different sizes and colors . The Clearview Aquarium is a clear and colorful designed for kids 3 years and older.
The Family Inflatable pools are large enough to be used by kids as well as adult. It’s height is 22 inches – suitable for kids 6 years or older.
These are big inflatables. No air pumps are included. You may pass out if you try to blow it with your mouth.
In summer they can be a place to go to cool off and in winter they can be turned into ball pits for kids – you just have to buy lots of balls. Many customers who bought the Swim Center also bought packs of plastic balls to be used in the ball pit.
Intex Swim Center Family Lounge
As the name suggests, the Intex Swim Center Family Lounge is a family lounge pool. This is where you will relax and watch over the kids play and splash in the water.
The lounge has four seats for your family to sit on and 2 drink holders for your beer. Although this lounge is categorized under kids pools, it is mostly used by adults to relax in the sun and get tan.
At 90 inches by 90 inches it is large enough for 3-4 adults. The lounge height is 26 inches and can hold 20 inches of water – water capacity of 400 gallon.
Note – The Intex Swim Center Family Lounge does not float on water. There are swimming pool lounges which floats on water and where you can sit back and relax. If you are looking for rafts to relax and party with your friends, please read our 10 Best Floating Island Rafts Review.
Above Ground Therapy Pools
Therapy pools are designed for Aquatic therapy. Aquatic therapy consists of treatments and exercises that are performed in water for relaxation, fitness, physical rehabilitation, and other therapeutic benefit. Fitmax iPool brings you some of the best therapy accessories with the pool at a very affordable price. Best of all, you can have your aqua therapy staying right at home.
If you are looking for the best above ground pool for aquatic physical therapy, Fitmax iPools are some of the best above ground therapy pools.
The “i” in the iPool stands for the infinite or endless number of exercises that can be done in these Fitmax product.
It is especially designed for water therapy and exercise equipment for your therapeutic exercises.
Some the equipment are:
- Aquatic Bike
- Adjustable swim harness
- Spa Bells
- Aquatic Therapy Walker
- Gym Parallel Bars
- Gym Chin Up Bar
The swim harness can be used for endless resistance swimming. The aquatic therapy walker is for the athletes who have under gone leg, knee or hip surgery. The aquatic bike provides workout for your lower body muscles; an ideal exercise equipment for overweight person or injured person, pregnant woman, athlete or just about anybody.
For hot water therapy, some of the pool models come with water heater as part of the package. Warm water reduces swelling and inflation and increases blood circulation. The warm water works wonders for arthritis and lower back pain. If you are planning to exercise throughout the year, some models come with water heater for other you will need to buy water heater
There is an iPool Umbrella that covers the whole pool to protect your skin from the sun during the long duration of the exercise.
These are like your own private therapy swimming pool in your back yard for less than an annual gym subscription. All the exercise accessories’ usage is explained in the Fitmax iPool review.
Best Inflatable Hot Tub and Above-ground Hot Tub
Water is still fun and relaxing in winter if it is hot and bubbling.
The inflatable hot tub and the above ground hot tub provide warmth, relaxation and a massage-effect on your muscles and joints.
Why Buy Hot Tub?
Hot tubs have hot water, air bubbling in the water and water jets. When you combine the three, you have an amazing combination relaxing hot water messaging system. It has many benefits:
- Relieves muscle pain
- Reduces muscle stiffness
- Relieves back pain
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Improves cardiovascular health
- Helps sleep better
There are 3 different types of hot tubs:
- Concrete in ground hot tub
- Hard walled above ground hot tub
- Soft walled Inflatable hot tub
They all have their merits and demerits, but it all boils down to the cost, features and convenience. Please read our detailed comparison of the three types of hot tubs here.
As the concrete in ground hot tub requires civil works and we don’t offer any, we are going to offer our expert’s review on the best inflatable hot tubs and the above ground hot tubs. Here is a list of the best portable hot tubs and best above ground hot tubs.
Why Will You Buy Inflatable Hot Tub?
The main reason to buy inflatable hot tub as against above ground hot tub is the cost and it’s mobility. The cost and maintenance is much less. When empty, you can carry the inflatable hot tub anywhere you want to.
This is especially useful in winter times. If it’s too cold, bring the hot tub indoors and enjoy the hot water and the bubbling water. The installation is also very simple and easy.
The inflatable hot tubs come with mostly air bubble, which is very good for relaxing and limited message therapy. There are some models of inflatable hot tubs that have the hydro-jets with messaging abilities. But there are a variety of hydro-jets and inflatable hot tubs only come with a few of these. Read for more about the Best Inflatable Hot Tubs
Coleman Hot Tub
The 4 person capacity Coleman Hot Tub is our first choice mainly because of its price and the product quality.
If you are looking for entry level hot tub with very basic features at an affordable price this is it.
Intex Inflatable Hot Tub
This 6 person capacity Intex Inflatable Hot Tub is more spacious and holds more water. It has more air bubble out-lets and heats up a bit faster.
It is a medium priced hot tub which slightly bigger than the Coleman Hot Tub, still with basic features.
Although the manufacturer specifies that the Bestway Lay-Z-Spa is a 6 person hot tub in reality it is difficult to fit more than 4 persons in it.
While smaller than the lesser priced Intex Inflatable Hot Tub, the Bestway Lay-Z-Spa comes with standard air bubble jets as well as hydro-jets that can provide hydro message.
Why Will You Buy Above Ground Hot Tub (Hard Walled Hot Tub)?
Above ground hot tub are for you if you want to get the experience of a profession in ground hot tubs at a fraction of the price of one.
Although considerable much heavier that the inflatable hot tubs, once delivered to the spot of installation, the setup is very easy and simple. They are better insulated than the inflatable hot tubs, so can be used outdoors even during winter.
The above ground hot tub comes with a wide variety of hydro-jets; more than 15 different types, rotary jets, relaxation jets, pressure point jets, message jets, swirl jets, twin rotational jets, single rotational jets etc.
Lifesmart Hot Tub
The Lifesmart Hot Tub is a 4 person capacity hot tub with only a few hydro-jets.
This is one of the cheapest hot tub in the market and very durable at the same time.
This can be your entry level solid walled above ground hot tub.
American Spas Hot Tub
This 5 person hot tub has lots of hydro-jets that can provide good hydro message. The American Spas Hot Tub has a powerful pump that dedicated for the hydro message system.
The 5.5kW heater heats up the water very fast and keeps the water at you desired temperature when running.
Home and Garden Spas
The Home and Garden Spas also has a capacity of 5 person but a bit bigger than the American Spas Hot Tub. It has 106 hydro-jet of many different sizes and pressure capacity strategically placed at different locations of the hot tub.
It has different type of jets for your neck, back, leg and foot. More expensive that the rest, the Home and Garden Spas is your money’s worth.
Coleman Pools vs Intex Pools
Coleman above ground pool has a considerable market share in the above ground pool business. Most customers are taken aback by looking at the customer reviews in the online marketplace. The reason most of the reviews are not positive are mainly because those Coleman pools are not delivered directly from Coleman but from other different suppliers. And also, Coleman pools are manufactured by Bestway (USA) Inc not Coleman themselves. (Source: https://www.coleman.com/coleman-licensee-contacts.html look in the pool section.)
As far as the comparison of Coleman pools vs Intex pools, they both carry a wide variety sizes of pools and different frame structures. As for the quality of the Coleman pools, most customers had complains about the metal frame of the pool: it rusts faster than the others. There are also some issues with the service support, it takes time. I would recommend you to buy Intex or Bestway pools instead.
Easy Set vs Metal Frame Pool
Easy Set pools are, as the name suggests, easy to set up. Just level the ground, unpack from the box, inflate the ring and fill it up with water, voila, you have a working pool. While the metal frame pools are also easy to set up but not as simple as easy set. It requires few more steps, like you have to connect all the individual parts of the frame exactly as mentioned in the manual that comes with the pool. Just for comparison, an 18ft x 48in Easy Set Pool takes about 30 minutes to setup while a Metal Frame pool of the same size will take about 60 minutes to setup. Please note that this does not include time required to fill it up with water.
Another point is that, you will not get many Easy Set pools larger than 18 feet in diameter or height above 48 inches. Without any frame to support, the structure will not be able to hold so much water pressure. On the other hand, Metal Frame pools can be as large as 32 feet in diameter and height of 52 inches.
Easy Set and Metal Frame are terms used by Intex for the 2 types of pool. Bestway has exact equivalent, but the term they use are Fast Set and Steel Pro respectively. The difference is the same as Intex, i.e. the setup time.
Intex Ultra Frame Pool Or Intex Metal Frame Pool – The Difference
Color and Material – The first difference is the color, Intex Metal Frame is blue in color and the Intex Ultra Frame is gray. Blue being brighter color than gray, fades faster. As far as the materials are concerned, both are made of the same materials, i.e. the frames are made of rust resistant galvanized steel and the pool liners are Super-tough laminated PVC.
The PVC liners are attached to round frame in Metal Frame and for the Ultra Frame, the PVC liners are attached to the angular shaped frame.
The Frame and Assembly – The main difference is that the Intex Ultra Frame is relatively easier to assemble and disassemble than the Intex Metal Frame.
The vertical metal supports are round for the metal frames versus rectangular vertical metal support. The surface areas, where these vertical supports touch the ground, are more for the Ultra Frames. So the distribution of the pressure is better. This is done to prevent the pool from sinking into the ground. Nonetheless, both are equally strong and sturdy.
The above differences are also applicable for the two types of Bestway pool models: Bestway Steel Pro Frame and Bestway Power Steel Frame. The Bestway Steel Pro Frame is similar to Intex Metal Frame and the Bestway Power Steel Frame is similar to Intex Ultra Frame.
Difference Between the Intex Metal Frame pools and the Bestway Steel Pro Frame Pool
There is basically very little difference between the Intex Metal Frame and the Bestway Steel Pro Frame. They are both made with rust resistant galvanized steel. The liners are made of laminated PVC, even the color is the same. Intex has more variety in the dimension and are more popular with the customers.
Inground Pool or the Above Ground Pool
Inground pool is expensive and a long term process. You can have an above ground swimming pool at less than one tenth the price of an inground one. The price ranges from USD 25 for kids pools to USD 7,000 for more robust long lasting one. Furthermore, you can have yours ready in less than an hour with little or no cost involved.
The market moving towards above ground pools. In the United States, it is moving towards above ground pools. In 2009 there were about 3.53 million above ground pools in the United States and in 2013 the number has increased to 4.89 million – an increase of 38.57% in number of pools.
Read more on Benefits of Above Ground Pool (over inground ones)
Oval vs Round Above Ground Pool
To many an oval pool looks better than a round one, as it looks more like an in-ground pool. And if you install a pool deck, it really looks very much like one.
There can be only 2 good reasons to buy an oval above ground pool, if you plan to swim laps and your yard is long and narrow. Otherwise there it is always better to buy a round one in terms of cost, more water hence more swimming area and much more. Read more about it here: Round vs Oval Pool.
The round shape of a round pool gives it a structural advantage; the pressure of the water is equally distributed on every part of the wall. No additional structure or parts are need to hold it in place. On the other hand an oval pool has 2 long walls.
The water pressure on these long walls are greater than on the 2 semi-circular walls in the opposite ends. To counter this pressure buttress is used and this additional structure adds cost and more space on the outside of the pool.
Oval and rectangular pools have similar characteristics; comparison between oval and round pools are given below:
Comparison Between Oval and Round Above Ground Pools
Costs less per swimming area
Cost more per swimming area
Takes up less space
Takes up more space
More water to swim in
Less water to swim in
Shorter installation time
Installation time almost double
Lower replacement liner cost
Higher replacement liner cost
More social because you can easily interact with everyone
Good for water sport
Swim in circle
Swim in lap
Still looks like an above ground pool with pool deck
Looks like in-ground pool with pool deck
They are all very good pools. Before you decide to purchase one, the main questions you should be asking yourself are:
- Why do I need one?
- Who is going to use it?
- Who is going to maintain it?
- Why is it the best?
You need a pool for your kids to have fun in the summer or maybe you just want to have suntan by yourself; you need to understand why you need one. It may be for your family entertainment, exercise, games, fun, party or even aquatic physical therapy. Knowing the answers to the questions will help you avoid the mistake of buying one which is too big or too small.
Just because you have a large budget and a big yard, don’t go and buy the biggest and the best above ground pool there is in the market. If you want to have fun with the whole family and friends all the time, go ahead and buy the biggest one that you can afford.
If you want to do some aqua therapy buy a aquatic physical therapy pool or one that can be heated up easily. Buy what you need, not what you think you want.
What is the best above ground pool?
This is a much more difficult question to answer. As mentioned in this article, there are so many factors to consider. The most important ones are budget, size and shapes.
Are you a first time buying with a small yard?
If the answer is yes, go for the smaller Intex or Bestway pools, preferably the ring pools. It will last you 2-3 seasons. If you think you can take care of a pool go for the slightly larger Metal Framed ones.
Are you a first time buying with a large yard but on a tight budget?
If the answer is yes, please follow previous recommendation. You don’t want to spend money on a medium sized pool and in a month or two realize that, maintain it is difficult for you or you cannot find time to do it.
Are you a first time buying with a large yard and no budget constraint?
If the answer is yes, please follow previous recommendation. Just because you have money does not mean you should be throwing it around. Taking care of a large pool is a lot of work. If you think you are up to it, by all means go for a large Metal Frame Pool. Only go for the hard walled pool or metal pool if you want a pool that you want to last 15-20 years.