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Best Above Ground Pools
Above ground pool reviews often have details about the pool’s dimensions, materials, colors, and accessories and when searching for the perfect pool, these details are important, but there are other things to consider before you make a decision.
Many reviews are meant to ‘market’ the pool and make money. We provide these above ground pool reviews to help you find the pool that meets all your needs and includes important safety options and durability.
In this article, we include the pros and cons of each pool and information about the manufacturers. While many companies sell an ‘above ground pool package,’ it may not provide the essential details like what kind of filter, how long the liner is guaranteed to last, and the pool kit’s overall performance.
An above ground pool is a large investment for you and your family. Make sure it’s affordable, safe, and will bring enjoyment for years to come!
- Best Above Ground Pools
- Above-Ground vs In-Ground Pool
- What to Look for
- TOP picks
- Which Shape is Best?
- All About Pool Liners
- Determining the Size and Shape of Your Pool
- The Main Types of Above Ground Swimming Pools
- Salt Water or Chlorine?
- Best Brand
Why Choose an Above-Ground Pool Instead of an In-Gound Pool?
When looking at in ground vs above ground pools, an above-ground pool is at first, a much less expensive addition to your home and costs a fraction of the price to have an in-ground pool put in. Although an above-ground pool is not made from concrete similar to most in-ground pools, many people report having their above-ground pool last up to 40 years with proper above ground pool maintenance.
What to Look for When Shopping for an Above Ground Pool
While there are many options to choose from when looking for an above ground swimming pool, the most important factor is the strength of the pool wall.
Your swimming pool needs to have a strong and long-lasting wall and liner so it won’t rot or collapse. A more well-known pool wall is a ‘rolled wall pool.
This is the most common type of pool wall. A rolled wall pool is actually a single sheet of coiled steel or at times, aluminum. Most swimming pool walls are made from steel. If the steel is too thin or is not properly treated during manufacturing, it is more likely to rust and develop weak areas that split or cause holes to form.
Quality American-made steel pool walls can last 20 years or more if it is properly designed. Aluminum pool walls are more enduring but typically cost a bit more. If the difference in price is a few hundred dollars, aluminum is worth the investment.
Another type of pool wall is the inflatable pool with a flexible, PVC material wall. These pools are a warm season pool that must be taken down in the freezing temperatures of winter.
The simplicity of these pools is great for a backyard without a large area for a more permanent pool that requires ground preparation.
They setup easily and can be filled all within one day. A inflatable above ground pool typically has a rim around the top that is inflated to give the pool its shape and stability. There is no frame or steel to setup and they do have an option for a filter.
|#1 BEST! Intex 15ft X 48in Metal Frame Pool Set||Intex||15-Feet by 48-Inch|
|#2 Intex 15ft X 42in Easy Set Pool Set Pool||Intex||15-Feet by 42-Inch|
|#3 Splash Pools Above-Ground Round Pool Package||Splash||24-Feet by 52-Inch|
|#4 Intex 12ft X 30in Metal Frame Pool Set||Intex||12-Feet by 30-Inch|
|#5 Intex 15ft X 48in Easy Set Pool Set||Intex||15-Feet by 48-Inch|
Here are two of our favorite picks for your family’s fun in the sun!
1. Intex 15ft X 48in Metal Frame Pool Set
- Holds 4,400 gallons of water
- 180 x 180 x 48 inches
- 145 pounds shipping weight
- Krystal clear cartridge filter pump 1, 000 GPH
- Includes Ladder. Ground Cloth. And Debris Cover.
This Intex Metal Frame Pool is a treat for the entire family. It comes in this convenient package that includes a powerful pool pump, a sturdy ground cloth, a cover to protect from blowing dust and debris entering the pool, and a slip-resistant ladder. Setup is easy and can be completed in one day so your pool is ready to fill!
- The strong, laminated wall is reinforced with a thick band that wraps around the pool for stability.
- Setup can be done in less than an hour
- Comes with an instructional DVD
- Drain plug connects to a garden hose to drain water away from pool
- Metal supports could rust over time
2. Intex 15ft X 42in Easy Set Pool Set
This Intex above-ground pool creates an oasis for your family! Summer fun is just out your back door with the large-sized Intex pool. Made with high-quality PVC material, you can enjoy years of use and enjoyment. Swimming is more fun when you can enjoy your own backyard above ground pool!
- Comes with a Ground Fault Interrupter in case water comes in contact with electricity
- Holds 3,284 gallons of water
- Filter is a Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter pump, 1,000 gph (110-120V).
- Includes Ladder. Ground Cloth, and Debris Cover.
- 180 x 180 x 42 inches
- 92 pounds shipping weight
- Easy setup take sunder a half-hour
- Tough and durable PVC sidewalls
- Drain plug connects to a garden hose to drain water away from pool
- Dual suction outlet fittings provide better water circulation for superior water hygiene and clarity
- Inflatable top ring can dry out from the sun causing splits and air leaks
3. Splash Pools Above-Ground Round Pool Package
Buy Now at Amazon
This splash pool package gives you all you need to start the summer fun! Its rolled steel wall is sturdy and the pool holds up through winter weather as long as it is properly treated with winter chemicals and covered with a winter cover. Enjoy the large 24 foot size so everyone has room to play and swim! This pool will bring hours of fun for your family.
- 52-Inch deep Round Pool
- 1 Horsepower Sand Filter
- 24 ft wide by 52 inches high
- 7-inch enamel painted hot dipped galvanized steel top ledges
- 35-year limited warranty
- 683 pounds shipping weight
- A-Frame Resin Ladder with Safety Barrier
- “All-Weather 20 gauge Vinyl Liner
- Standard Thru-the-wall Skimmer
- Plenty of room for a slide!
- Does not have to be taken down in winter
- I feel the ledge is too thin and doesn’t say quality made
4. Intex 12ft x 30i Metal Frame Pool Set
Buy Now at Amazon
If you just want an easy to install above-ground pool for the kids to enjoy the summer days, this Intex Metal Frame Pool is the answer. 3 to 4 children can swim freely in this 12 foot wide circular pool and if they add a few more friends there’s still plenty of room to play and have fun. At 1,718 gallons of water you can fill this pool up in less than a day and not cause your water bill to soar!
- Super-Tough laminated PVC sidewalls
- Krystal clear cartridge filter pump to enjoy clean, refreshing water
- Equipped with a ground fault circuit that shuts off the pump if electricity makes contact with water
- Drain plug that connects to a garden hose so water drains away from pool
- 24 feet wide 52-Inch deep Round Pool
- 58 pounds shipping weight
- A-Frame Resin Ladder with Safety Barrier
- All-Weather 20 gauge Vinyl
- LinerSets up quick
- Enough room for kids to enjoy swimming
- Doesn’t require perfect ground leveling
- Customers complain of leaks on first time use
5. Intex 15ft X 48in Easy Set Pool Set
There’s a perfect way to keep your children busy during the summer months off school; buy them a backyard above-ground pool! This Intex 15 foot round, inflatable pool can be setup by almost anyone with ease and be ready to go in 15 minutes. It comes with a sturdy ladder and filter to keep the water clean and sanitized. This pool is not mean to stay up during the freezing winter months, but is easy to drain and fold up for next year.
- 15 feet wide by 48 inches tall
- Water capacity: 736 gallons
- Krystal clear cartridge filter pump, 1, 000 GPH (110-120V
- Drain plug that connects to a garden hose so water drains drained away from pool
- Long lasting pump
- Ready for water in 15 minutes
- Super-tough laminated PVC sidewalls
- Comes with Ground cloth and Debris cover
- Includes a Ladder
- Inflatable top ring can dry out from the sun causing splits and air leaks
What Options to Choose For Your Above Ground Pool
When you want the best value, an above ground pool ‘package’ is usually a good buy. But you want to be sure the package includes all the components you’ll need to set up and use your pool. Below are the main items besides the pool, liner, and filter when considering an above ground pool package:
- Winter Cover (for a permanent pool)
- Chlorine Floater
- Initial Chemicals for Setup
- No Diving or Jumping Signs
Try to negotiate all of these products when you purchase your new pool. The No Diving and No Jumping signage and decals should always come with your pool package.
There are safety measures included in your product manual and there should also be precautions on using the ladder and getting in and out of the swimming pool.
You will also need to research your state and county’s codes for pools and safety. Be sure to do this before you purchase an above ground swimming pool. Above ground pool codes are there for a good reason! More than 350 children in the United States drown in a family swimming pool each year and 77% of these drownings are children under five-years-old.
What Shaped Swimming Pool is the Best?
Round pools are easier to keep clean because of better water circulation. An oval pool is more prone to ‘dead spots’ where algae can form and the skimmer can’t always catch the floating debris.
Round pools are easier to install and safer because of the consistency of the frames or material. Oval pools require additional supports for the straight walls and to accommodate the curbed ends. They often cost more to have installed.
While you may see an oval pool as providing more swimming area, the most popular sized pool is a 24-foot round pool.
All About Pool Liners
Above ground swimming pools offer several different liner types and multiple color and pattern choices. While the type of liner makes a significant difference in how long the liner will remain trouble-free, colors and design are totally personal choice.
You can check out our article on the best pool liners here to get an idea on what’s available.
Overlap liners are the original type of liner above ground swimming pool manufacturers offered. This type of liner is set in the pool after the wall is up and any extra material hung over the wall.
The liner may hang over enough to be seen under the top rail and many people don’t like the look of it. Overlap liners are a bit less expensive than other liners, and come in handy if your pool is a bit irregular. The vinyl is very flexible for uneven areas of the pool wall.
Unibead or J-Hook Liners
The newest type of pool line is the Unibead or J-Hook liner. The name J-Hook implies the actual top of the liner, which has a thicker piece of vinyl at the top of the liner that’s shaped as a ‘U.’ It attaches to a hook at the top of the wall, spaced equally, so the liner actually ‘hangs’ inside the pool wall. Unibead is a shortened version of universal bead.
It’s made the same way as the J-Hook liner but has a square or rectangular ‘bead’ where the ‘U’ is located. The Unibead requires you make a cut in the liner so you can attach it to the pool wall. But don’t worry; it’s made to be cut and has guides to keep you on track. Unibead of J-Hook liners only hang about an inch over the pool wall and are easier to install versus overlap liners where you have no guide.
Beaded liners have a thicker vinyl edge at the top with a beaded pattern. This edge fits into a track at the top of the wall of the pool allowing the liner to hang down.
The track has to be added to the wall if not already installed in the factory. The drawback of a beaded liner is it not having an overhang or U shaped top. Without an overhang area, a small gap is created between the liner and the pool wall allowing water to seep in and cause corrosion.
This system is also prone to the liner coming loose due to the beaded edge being a bit flexible. Correcting a loose liner is difficult after the pool is filled with water.
Determining the Size and Shape of Your Pool
The size of your yard and type of landscaping features will determine the size and shape of your new above ground pool. You’ll need to allow for at least three-feet between your pool and any objects, bushes, or fencing.
Avoid being close to dry wells, trees with traveling roots, septic tanks, power lines, or gas lines. Be sure to measure the area you have designated for your backyard pool.
This will help you determine if a round of oval pool will work best and what size is the largest you can purchase. Take into consideration any trees near the pool that may shed a lot of pollen, leaves, or flowers that can cause a blockage in your filter.
The height of your pool will matter if you have very small children. Although they will soon outgrow the pool, you may have relatives with toddlers who would be reluctant to use the pool if it is too deep.
The typical pool height is 48, 52, or 54 inches. Whether or not you choose a round pool or oval above ground pool depends on the outline of the area for your installation.
A wide open space is more yielding to a round pool where a narrow area would be better for an oval pool. The size around or length and width of an oval pool is determined by the actual space you have.
You should plan on buying a swimming pool that won’t be overbearing wherever you place it in your yard. If you go with a very large pool, there may not be room left for a pool deck, ground level deck, or sitting area.
Keep in mind you also need to have the proper waterproof electrical outlet nearby and the ground should be easily smoothed out for a level platform without any grades.
The Main Types of Above Ground Swimming Pools
Steel vs Aluminum Above Ground Pools
We’ve talked mainly about these more typical pool options and their configurations. Made with either steel or aluminum, they can be a rolled wall type or a slat wall type pool.
What material and configuration you choose will depend on your budget. These are the most popular above ground swimming pools on the market.
Resin Plastic Above Ground Pools
Above ground pools made with resin instead of steel or aluminum are by far more longer-lasting pools. Resin material holds up to brutal temperatures and long wear use. As long as a resin pool is properly coated with a UV protecting coating, they will hold up outdoors for years.
Solid Core Above Ground/Semi-in-ground Pools
An above ground swimming pool that’s growing in popularity with consumers is the solid core and semi-in-ground pool.
These pools have a ‘sandwich’ pool wall that is made of several two-inch thick wall panels instead of rolled steel or aluminum.
These pools are much more solid than any other semi-in-ground pools and although they are as long-lasting as a full in-ground pool, their typically three times less the price.
than a 1/8″ rolled steel wall like the ones above. These solid structurally insulated walls give these pools the strength and longevity of an in-ground pool without the hefty price tag. the walls are connected together via channel strips.
This gives the pool a perfect circular shape and more structural integrity. While that is much more expensive than a traditional rolled wall above ground pool, It is built like an in-ground 3X that price!
Inflatable Above Ground Pools
The last type of above ground pool is the inflatable swimming pool. These pools are not meant to remain up at the end of the summer in areas where the fall and winter drop below freezing temperatures. They require a flat surface but no ground preparation is needed.
The pool’s sidewalls are inflated and then the pool filled with water. They are typically made of a PVC material that’s very pliable and although make a quick, inexpensive summer pool, they can sag under the weight of even a small child and allow the child to fall in easily.
Salt Water or Chlorine Options for Above Ground Pools
While chlorine systems can require too much chemical additives for some people, saltwater pool systems still contain some chlorine. Saltwater pools allow lower levels of chlorine to be used because it’s added to the entire system and doesn’t get added directly to the water as with chlorine tabs or sticks.
A saltwater generator and filtration system produces hypochlorous acid that is used for sanitation. Electrolysis breaks down the salt by sending electricity through the salty water and sending the filtrated water back into the pool. A saltwater pool contains almost the same amount of a person’s tears; or one-tenth the saline of ocean water.
While chlorine pools cause eye irritation and skin dryness, saltwater pools allow swimmers to open their eyes under water without stinging and do not leave their skin dry and scaly. The price for a saltwater pool system is considerably higher than a chlorine pool, but it is worth the upgrade.
Buying the Best Brand Above-Ground Pool for Your Family
If you want the best pool for your family, and you can afford the cost of a well-made above-ground pool, one of the best options is to buy one with rolled steel walls.
When you setup one of these pools, or if you have a company setup the pool for you, there is more to do than with a less expensive pool. That’s because a better-made pool with a rolled steel wall is made to be permanent. It does not have to be taken down in the fall and stored and you won’t have to fill it with water in the spring and then empty it in the fall.
The Splash Pools Above-Ground Round Pool Package is a great pool that once setup, just requires maintenance. If you live in a four-season climate, winterizing will consist of a few steps and then covering the pool. The water will remain clean and clear over the winter months and be ready to open up in the spring.
These pools are sturdy, safer, and will last much longer than a metal frame pool or Intex pool. These rolled steel wall pools have warranties on the wall structure, liner, and you will find the filter and other peripherals have warranties.
A typical pool liner warranty can be as long as 20 years with others being guaranteed for up to 40 years! This ensures you are purchasing the best type of above-ground pool and that it will hold up to years of use!
How Long Will and Above-Ground Pool Last?
Depending on certain factors, like what type of above-ground pool you have, the range of how long your pool will last can be from 1 year to 20 years or more. Why the great time span?
If you purchase a soft-sided pool like an Intex, there are perils that come along with this simplistic design. They are easy to setup and the actual pool is the liner so it is unprotected from sharp objects thrown accidentally toward the pool, or a sharp rock being kicked up by the lawn mower, or a gust of wind that puts too much pressure on the side of the wall.
Soft-sided pools are also cheaply made and not designed to last more than 2 to 3 years. The hot sun can wear on the plastic rim and wall and cause tears and rips and even the soft-sided pools with metal frames are subject to the frames giving out after 2 to 4 years.
Proper pool maintenance and care can allow you to get more seasons out of your pool, but not typically more than 4 years.
Steel Wall Pools
The stronger, typically permanent rolled steel wall pools can last as long as 20 years with the right care! The average length of us is 10 to 15 years, but with proper chemicals, water levels, vacuuming, solar covers, and winterizing in cold climates, these pools can last long beyond the kids growing up and moving out of the house. Even the grand kids can enjoy the pool if it’s taken care of properly.
Part of the care will be to watch for rust. Rust is the worst enemy of a steel wall pool so if you notice the water levels going down faster than normal use and evaporation, check for leaks from the liner. Water building up between the wall and the liner will cause rust and greatly reduce the lifespan of the pool.
The Range of Pricing for an Above-Ground Pool
Whether you choose to go with a soft-sided pool or a rolled steel wall pool may depend on your budget. The latter is the more expensive choice, also being the longest lasting.
A soft-sided above-ground pool may cost anywhere from $100.00 to $500.00 depending on the size and shape and the type of filter you get with it.
The same soft-sided pool with a frame for more support can range from $150.00 to upwards of $1,200.00.
A well-made rolled steel wall pool usually starts around $300.00 and costing as much as nearly $5,000.00! This price range includes many considerations such as size, shape, filtration system, and other extras that go along with these type pools.
A good, long-lasting, steel wall pool can remain in use for over 15 years and average a price of $1,500.00.
How Much Will it Cost to Have an Above-Ground Pool Setup?
You can certainly setup your above-ground pool yourself; considering the type and size you buy. A soft-sided pool may only require a plastic ground cloth underneath it with a little bit of ground leveling. Being these pools are taken down seasonally or periodically when not in use, there is much less to contend with when putting them up.
A steel-wall pool takes a lot more work and preparation to install. It would take more than 2 people at the least and the proper equipment to be sure the ground under it is level, free of sharp objects and rocks, and not prone to cave in with the weight of the water.
This kind of pool needs to have property electrical outlets that guard against electrocution and not be obstructed by trees, utility poles, or other hazards. It’s not recommended to install a steel wall pool by yourself.
To get an estimate of what it would cost to setup either a soft-sided pool or a steel-wall pool it may be advisable to use a website that provides free estimates based on your geographic location.
The national average in the United States for an installation of an above-ground pool can range from a starting cost of $300.00 to an average of $15,000.00 and as much as $50,000.00! This range is a complete range for all the possible options you may want or need: ground leveling, excavation, electrical wiring, plumbing, setup, decking, water features, lighting, and much more.
Can an Above Ground Pool Have a Deep End?
You can create a middle area of your pool or one end that is deeper than the rest. The standard wall heights of above-ground pools are 48”, 52”, and 54”. But the actual water level is typically 6 inches lower to account for the skimmer.
The amount of the deep end can be up to 12 inches only. Liners won’t be able to stretch much more to allow for more than 12 inches. If you purchase a liner that is thin, you may only be able to get 10 inches more depth.
Keep in mind that oval pools have metal straps that run under the bottom of the pool so they typically cannot have a deep end or middle. Round pools of any size can.
If you still want to have more depth, you can purchase an expandable liner. The name sounds like the liner stretches, but it doesn’t. It’s made of the same material a regular liner is but is 12 inches larger all around so it can allow for a deeper bottom grade.
These liners only come as overlap liners. With careful planning and soil preparation, you can accomplish a deep end in your above-ground pool.
Above ground pools also require less than half the water and are easier to keep clean. Leaves and debris come from above instead of being swept in by the wind like an in-ground pool. And with less water and less dirt, you’ll not need nearly as much chemicals to treat your above-ground pool. But you should still invest in the best above ground pool cover you can afford, or better yet even a solar pool cover.
The other savings comes in your property taxes. Because above-ground pools are never considered a ‘permanent’ structure on your property, your taxes will not likely go up.
Above ground pool owners can decide on many choices for liners, pool wall designs, ladder types, slides, and endless choices of pool toys, pool lighting, and overhead games like water volleyball. If you want the summer to be simple and stress-free, an above-ground pool provides a perfect backyard ‘stay-cation!’