above ground pools

Above Ground Pools – A Buying Guide

Above ground pools offer a fantastic solution, turning your backyard into a splash zone without breaking the bank. They’re not just budget-friendly, many above ground pools can be installed in a weekend, and come in a surprising variety of shapes and sizes to fit any space.

With so many options, choosing the right above ground pool can feel overwhelming.

This comprehensive guide will be your personal pool guru, taking you through everything you need to consider before taking the plunge. From size and material to installation and maintenance, we’ll cover it all, so you can confidently choose the perfect above ground pool for an unforgettable summer of backyard fun!

As an affiliate, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links on this website from Amazon and other third parties.

Pros and Cons of Above-ground Pools


Here’s a table that outlines the pros and cons of above-ground pools, which can help you weigh your options and decide if an above-ground pool is the right choice for your backyard and lifestyle.

WordPress Tables Plugin

What are Above Ground Pools?

Above-ground pools are a popular choice for families and individuals looking to enjoy the benefits of a swimming pool without the high cost and permanent commitment of an in-ground pool.

As their name suggests, these pools sit on top of the ground and can come in various shapes, sizes, and materials, including steel frames, inflatable options, and resin panels. They offer a versatile and cost-effective solution for those looking to beat the heat, providing a refreshing oasis right in your backyard.

Why Buy Above Ground Pools?

Above-ground pools are a fantastic choice for several reasons, making them a go-to option for families and individuals alike. First off, they’re much more affordable than their in-ground counterparts.

Without the need for extensive excavation and construction, above-ground pools significantly reduce upfront costs, making the dream of owning a pool far more attainable for a broader range of budgets.

Here are some reasons why you might choose an above ground pool over an in-ground pool:

  • Affordability: Above ground pools are significantly cheaper than in-ground pools. There’s no excavation required, fewer materials are needed, and installation is generally faster.
  • Faster Installation: In a few days, you could be splashing around in an above ground pool, whereas in-ground pools can take weeks or even months to complete.
  • Easier Maintenance: Generally, above ground pools are simpler to maintain. Their smaller size means less water to treat and clean.
  • Safer for Young Children: With their railing and fencing options, above ground pools can be a safer option for families with young children who might accidentally wander into a pool.
  • More Flexibility: Above ground pools can be disassembled and moved if needed, whereas in-ground pools are permanent fixtures.
  • Variety of Sizes and Shapes: Above ground pools come in a wider variety of shapes and sizes than in-ground pools, so you can find one that perfectly fits your needs and backyard space.

What are the Limitations of Above Ground Pools?

While above-ground pools offer numerous benefits, they do come with some limitations that are worth considering. There are several limiting factors like durability, depth, aesthetics, resale value, and winterization. Let’s get into a little more details:

  • Durability: Above ground pools typically aren’t built to last as long as in-ground pools. They can be susceptible to punctures, tears, and breakdowns from weather and wear-and-tear. You can expect an above ground pool to last 3-5 years on average, whereas in-ground pools can last for 20 years or more.
  • Depth: Due to their structure, above ground pools generally have a limited depth. This makes them less suitable for diving or deep-water activities. They may also feel less spacious for lap swimming or playing certain water games.
  • Aesthetics: Above ground pools may not complement your landscaping as seamlessly as in-ground pools. Their metal frames and liners can be visually distracting in some yards.
  • Resale Value: While above ground pools can add some enjoyment to your home, they generally don’t increase your property value as much as in-ground pools.
  • Winterization: Depending on your climate, you may need to winterize your above ground pool to prevent damage during the cold months. This adds another layer of maintenance to the equation.

What are the Above Ground Pool Types?

Above ground pools come in a variety of types, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Here are the most common types:

1 – Inflatable Pools:

These are the most accessible and budget-friendly options. Made from heavy-duty PVC, inflatable pools can be set up quickly by inflating the top ring, and then filling the pool with water, which raises the walls. They’re perfect for small spaces and temporary setups but are less durable than other types.

2 – Metal Frame Pools:

These pools feature a sturdy metal frame that supports a durable, puncture-resistant liner. Metal frame pools are more stable than inflatable options and can accommodate larger sizes, making them suitable for families looking for a semi-permanent pool without the high cost of in-ground pools.

3 – Resin Frame Pools:

Similar to metal frame pools in structure, these pools use a heavy-duty plastic or resin for the frame. Resin is resistant to rust, corrosion, and sun damage, making these pools more durable and longer-lasting than their metal counterparts, especially in areas with harsh weather conditions.

4 – Hybrid Pools:

Hybrid pools combine elements of metal and resin pools, using metal for structural components where strength is essential and resin for parts that are exposed to the elements. This combination aims to maximize the durability and lifespan of the pool.

5 – Hard Sided Pools:

These pools have rigid walls made of metal, aluminum, or resin, supported by a metal frame. They are more permanent than other above-ground options and offer greater depth and durability. Hard-sided pools require more setup effort but provide a more pool-like experience.

6 – Soft-Sided Pools:

Constructed from durable, flexible materials, soft-sided pools are an upgrade from inflatable pools, offering more stability and longevity without the need for a hard frame. They can be set up on a variety of surfaces and are easier to disassemble and store than hard-sided pools.

7 – Semi-Inground Pools:

These pools are a hybrid between in-ground and above-ground pools. They can be partially buried to blend more seamlessly with the landscape and can be constructed from various materials. Semi-inground pools offer greater aesthetic appeal and can accommodate sloped yards or other unique landscaping challenges.

8 – Kiddie Pools:

Kiddie pools, a subset of above-ground pools, are specially designed for young children and families looking for a small, shallow pool primarily for play. These pools are incredibly popular due to their convenience, affordability, and the instant fun they provide during the warmer months. Let’s explore some key features and varieties of kiddie pools:

  1. Inflatable Kiddie Pools: These are the most common and widely available type. Made from soft, inflatable materials, these pools can be easily set up by inflating them with air and filling them with water. They often come in bright colors and fun shapes, some even featuring built-in slides, sprinklers, or themes that spark children’s imaginations.
  2. Plastic Molded Pools: Constructed from hard plastic, these kiddie pools are more durable than inflatable options and don’t require air to set up. They’re typically round or rectangular and can be found in various sizes. While they offer a bit more stability for rough play, their rigid shape means they take up more storage space when not in use.
  3. Frame Pools for Kids: A smaller version of adult frame pools, these are designed with a metal or resin frame supporting a durable liner. They’re a step up in durability and can be left up for the entire summer season. Frame kiddie pools are suitable for families looking for a semi-permanent option that offers more space for play than inflatable or plastic molded pools.
  4. Splash Mats: While not a pool in the traditional sense, splash mats (or splash pads) are a fantastic option for very young children. These mats lay flat on the ground and spray water upwards, creating a safe and fun water play area. They’re easy to set up, store, and are perfect for toddlers who are just starting to explore water play.

Kiddie pools, regardless of the type, are designed for ease of use and quick setup. They’re perfect for cooling off, splashing around, and introducing young children to the water in a controlled, safe environment. When choosing a kiddie pool, consider the age of the children who will be using it, the available space in your yard, and how often you plan to use it. Safety is paramount, so always supervise children during pool time, even with shallow water.

Each type of above-ground pool has its own set of advantages, from easy installation and low cost to durability and aesthetic appeal. When choosing the right pool for your backyard, consider your budget, how long you plan to use the pool, maintenance requirements, and how well it will fit into your landscape design.

Read more:

Types of Pools

Above Ground Pool Shapes and Sizes

Things to Consider Before Buying a New Above Ground Pool 

Above ground pools can be a great way to enjoy the summer months in your backyard without breaking the bank. They’re also a great option for families with young children, as they can be a safer alternative to in-ground pools. However, before you take the plunge and purchase an above ground pool, there are a few things you should consider.

Here are some things to consider before buying a new above ground pool:

  1. Budget: Above-ground pools vary widely in price, influenced by their size, material, and features. Determine your budget early in the process to guide your choices, and don’t forget to account for additional costs like installation, maintenance, and necessary accessories.
  2. Size and Shape: Consider the size of your backyard and decide how much of it you’re willing to dedicate to the pool. Remember, you’ll need space not just for the pool itself but also for any decking or surrounding area you plan to add. The shape of the pool (round, oval, rectangular) can also impact how it fits into your space and how it can be used.
  3. Material and Durability: Above-ground pools come in various materials, including steel, resin, and aluminum. Each material has its own set of advantages and maintenance needs. Consider the longevity and durability of the material, especially if you live in an area with extreme weather conditions.
  4. Installation: Some above-ground pools are designed for easy DIY installation, while others might require professional help. Assess your own DIY skills, the complexity of the pool’s setup, and whether you’re willing to hire professionals if needed.
  5. Maintenance: Keeping your pool clean and well-maintained is crucial for its longevity and the safety of its users. Consider the type of filtration system, the ease of replacing parts, and the overall maintenance requirements of the pool you choose.
  6. Type of Use: Think about how you plan to use the pool. Is it mainly for kids to splash around in, or are you looking for something suitable for lap swimming or exercise? The intended use can significantly influence the size and type of pool that will best suit your needs.
  7. Local Regulations and Permits: Before making a purchase, check with your local municipality regarding any regulations or permits required for above-ground pool installation. Some areas have specific rules regarding pool size, fencing, and safety features.
  8. Safety Features: Especially if you have children or pets, consider pools with safety features like lockable ladders, covers, and fencing options. Safety should always be a top priority.
  9. Longevity and Warranty: Look into the lifespan of the pool and the warranty provided by the manufacturer. A longer warranty can offer peace of mind, indicating the manufacturer’s confidence in the pool’s durability.
  10. Aesthetic: How the pool looks in your backyard can also be an important consideration. Some above-ground pools offer customization options, such as different liner designs or color choices, to better match your outdoor decor.

By carefully considering these factors, you’ll be better equipped to choose an above-ground pool that fits your space, meets your needs, and provides years of enjoyment for you and your family.

Where to Buy?

When looking to purchase an above-ground pool, there are several options available to find the perfect match for your needs and budget. Here are the most common places to buy above-ground pools:

1. Specialty Pool Stores

These stores focus exclusively on pools, spas, and related accessories. Shopping here provides access to a wide range of high-quality pools and expert advice from knowledgeable staff. They often offer installation services and can guide you on the best pool type for your space and needs.

2. Home Improvement Stores

Big-box home improvement retailers like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Menards carry a variety of above-ground pools, especially during the spring and summer months. These stores offer convenience and competitive pricing, though the selection may not be as specialized as at a pool store.

3. Online Retailers

Websites like Amazon, Wayfair, and Overstock have a vast selection of above-ground pools available in all shapes, sizes, and types. Shopping online allows you to easily compare prices and read customer reviews. Additionally, many online stores offer free shipping, making this a convenient option, though you’ll need to handle the installation yourself or hire someone independently.

4. Direct From Manufacturers

Buying directly from the manufacturer’s website can sometimes offer the best deal. This option allows you to access the latest models, warranty information, and direct customer support. Manufacturers may also provide a list of authorized retailers and installers.

5. Warehouse Clubs

Membership-based warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club occasionally offer above-ground pools at discounted rates. Their selection may be limited and seasonal, but you can find good deals if you time your purchase right.

6. Classified Ads and Marketplace Sites

For those looking for a more budget-friendly option, sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or eBay might offer used pools. While this can save money, it’s important to carefully inspect the pool for any damage or wear and understand that most used pools come without a warranty.

Tips for Buying an Above-Ground Pool

  • Research: Spend time researching the type of pool that best suits your needs and preferences.
  • Compare Prices: Look at different retailers to find the best deal. Remember to factor in any additional costs like shipping, installation, or necessary accessories.
  • Read Reviews: Customer reviews can provide insight into the quality of the pool and the buying experience from different retailers.
  • Check the Warranty: Ensure the pool comes with a warranty to protect your investment.
  • Consider After-Sale Service: Consider whether the retailer or manufacturer offers after-sale service and support in case you encounter any issues with your pool.

By exploring these various options and keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect above-ground pool to enjoy for many summers to come.

Installing and Maintaining Above ground Pools

Installing and maintaining an above-ground pool might seem daunting at first, but with the right approach, it can be straightforward and ensure your pool remains a source of joy and refreshment for years to come. Let’s dive into the essentials of installation and maintenance.

Installing Above-Ground Pools

  1. Choose the Right Location: Find a level, stable area in your yard that has good drainage and is away from trees and overhead power lines. Consider sun exposure and wind patterns, as these will affect the water temperature and cleanliness.
  2. Prepare the Site: Clear the area of any rocks, roots, or debris. You may need to level the ground, which could involve removing sod and using sand to create a smooth, level base. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding ground preparation.
  3. Assemble the Pool: Installation steps vary significantly between pool types. Inflatable pools simply require inflation and filling, while frame pools involve assembling a support structure before adding the liner and filling it with water. Detailed instructions are provided by manufacturers; follow them closely to ensure the pool’s integrity and safety.
  4. Install the Filtration System: Above-ground pools come with either cartridge, sand, or saltwater filtration systems. Set up the system according to the manual, ensuring all hoses are connected securely and the pump is properly primed before use.
  5. Add Water and Chemicals: Once the pool is filled, you’ll need to treat the water with the appropriate chemicals to ensure it’s safe for swimming. This typically includes adjusting the pH, adding chlorine or sanitizer, and sometimes shock-treating the water.

Maintaining Above-Ground Pools

  1. Regular Cleaning: Use a skimmer net to remove leaves and debris from the water’s surface. Vacuum the pool floor weekly to keep it clean from dirt and algae. Clean the pool walls with a brush to prevent algae buildup.
  2. Manage Water Chemistry: Regularly test your pool water with test strips or a testing kit to ensure proper chemical balance. Adjust the levels of chlorine, pH, alkalinity, and other chemicals as needed. Imbalanced water can cause skin irritation and damage the pool.
  3. Maintain the Filtration System: Clean or replace filter cartridges as recommended by the manufacturer. For sand filters, perform backwashing and rinsing procedures to keep the system functioning efficiently.
  4. Winterize the Pool: If you live in a region with cold winters, you’ll need to winterize your pool to protect it from damage. This involves draining the water to an appropriate level, removing and storing the pump and filter, adding winterizing chemicals, and covering the pool securely.
  5. Inspect and Repair: Regularly inspect your pool for any signs of wear or damage, such as leaks in the liner or issues with the frame. Address these problems promptly to prevent further damage.

By following these guidelines for installation and maintenance, you can ensure your above-ground pool remains a clean, safe, and enjoyable place for family and friends to gather and cool off during the warmer months.

How are Above Ground Different from In-ground Pools?

Above ground pools and in-ground pools differ in several key ways, from installation to cost, which can significantly influence a homeowner’s decision on which to choose.

Installation process

It is quite different. Above-ground pools are generally easier and quicker to set up, often taking just a few days and minimal disruption to your yard. They come in kits that can be assembled by the homeowner or a small team. In contrast, in-ground pools require a more involved construction process, including excavation, which can take several weeks or even months and often requires professional installation.


Cost is another major difference. Above-ground pools are far less expensive, both in terms of initial purchase and installation. The lack of need for excavation, concrete, and custom design significantly reduces the upfront costs. In-ground pools, on the other hand, are a more substantial investment. They require more materials, labor, and ongoing maintenance, which can add up over time.

Durability and Lifespan

Durability and lifespan also vary. In-ground pools are typically more durable, built with materials like concrete, fiberglass, or vinyl and can last for decades with proper maintenance. Above-ground pools, usually made from vinyl, steel, or resin, can be susceptible to damage from weather and use, and tend to have a shorter lifespan.

Aesthetics and Customization

When it comes to aesthetics and customization, in-ground pools offer more flexibility. They can be designed in various shapes, depths, and sizes, and integrated seamlessly into your landscaping. Above-ground pools are limited in size and shape by the manufacturer’s offerings, though creative decking and landscaping can help enhance their appearance.


Finally, mobility is a consideration. Above-ground pools can be disassembled and moved, making them a viable option for renters or those who might relocate. In-ground pools are permanent structures that add value to your home but cannot be moved.

Choosing between an above-ground and an in-ground pool ultimately depends on your budget, backyard space, lifestyle, and how you envision using your pool.

Frequently Asked Questions


1. How Long Do Above-Ground Pools Last?

The lifespan of an above-ground pool depends on its material, quality, and maintenance. On average, inflatable pools last 1-3 years, metal frame pools can last 5-10 years, and high-quality resin or hard-sided pools may last up to 15 years or more with proper care.

2. Is a Permit Required to Install an Above-Ground Pool?

It depends on your location. Some cities and towns require permits for pools that hold a certain amount of water or are of a specific size. Always check with your local building department or municipality before installing your pool.

3. Can Above-Ground Pools Be Heated?

Yes, there are several options for heating an above-ground pool, including solar covers, electric heaters, and gas heaters. The best option for you will depend on your pool size, budget, and heating needs.

4. Are Above-Ground Pools Safe?

When used responsibly and with proper safety measures in place, above-ground pools can be safe. It’s important to establish rules such as no diving, always supervising children, and using pool ladders for entry and exit. Additionally, some areas require fencing around the pool for added safety.

5. Can Above-Ground Pools Be Used in Winter?

In colder climates, above-ground pools usually need to be winterized and not used during the winter months. This process involves draining the water level, disconnecting and storing the pump and filter, and covering the pool. Some pool owners in mild climates can use their pools year-round with the help of a pool heater.

6. Do Above-Ground Pools Increase Home Value?

While above-ground pools don’t typically increase home value as in-ground pools might, they can enhance the appeal of your home to potential buyers who are interested in having a pool. The impact on home value can vary greatly depending on the market and the buyer’s preferences.

Installation and Maintenance:

1. Can I Install an Above-Ground Pool Myself?

Yes, many above-ground pools are designed for DIY installation. Inflatable and metal frame pools are particularly user-friendly. However, larger pools or those with more complex features may require some additional hands or even professional assistance to ensure a safe and proper setup.

2. How Much Maintenance Does an Above-Ground Pool Require?

Maintenance levels can vary, but all pools require regular cleaning, chemical balancing, and filtration system upkeep. Weekly tasks typically include checking pH and chlorine levels, vacuuming the pool floor, and skimming debris from the water’s surface.

3. Can You Put an Above-Ground Pool on Grass?

It’s not recommended to install an above-ground pool directly on grass, as the grass can die and create an uneven surface beneath the pool. Most manufacturers recommend installing the pool on a leveled and prepared surface, such as compacted sand or a commercial pad, to protect the liner and ensure stability.

4. How Do You Drain an Above-Ground Pool?

To drain an above-ground pool, you can use the drain plug if your pool is equipped with one, or you can use a submersible pump. Always follow local regulations regarding the disposal of pool water, as draining chlorinated water into storm drains or natural bodies of water can be harmful to the environment.

Choosing a Pool:

1. What size above ground pool should I get?

Consider the number of users, desired activities (swimming, playing), and available space in your yard. Measure your designated area to ensure the chosen pool fits comfortably.

2. What are the different types of above ground pools?

The most common types include metal frame pools, soft-side pools, resin pools, hybrid pools, and fiberglass pools. Each has pros and cons in terms of affordability, durability, and aesthetics.

3. What features should I consider?

Think about desired features like shape (round, oval, rectangle), depth (important for diving or deep-water activities), built-in steps, and filtration system capacity.

Final Thoughts

Above ground pools can be a fantastic way to enjoy the summer months and create a cool retreat in your backyard. These pools offer a versatile and cost-effective way for families and individuals to enjoy the benefits of swimming and outdoor leisure right in their own backyards.

The key to a successful above-ground pool experience lies in careful planning and consideration. From choosing the right type and size of pool to fit your space and budget to understanding the maintenance requirements to keep your pool clean and safe, every aspect plays a crucial role in maximizing your enjoyment and ensuring the longevity of your pool.

Safety should always be a top priority. Implementing proper safety measures, such as supervision, appropriate fencing, and following local regulations, will help prevent accidents and ensure that your pool is a source of fun and relaxation for all.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments