Ultimate Above Ground Pool Buyer’s Guide

At first glance, buying an above ground pool may seem like a purchase that is obviously easier and less expensive than its in-ground counterpart. And you would be correct, but don’t make the mistake of assuming it’s a quick, Saturday morning trip to the store; or a simple browsing and ordering online.

best above ground pools

We've done the thorough research to help you with your decision in buying the best above ground pool.

This step should be preceded by a few others which we outline here for your convenience.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE BENEFITS AND DRAWBACKS OF ABOVE GROUND POOLS TO CONSIDER

They Won't Work in The Following Cases:

  • If property value is a factor needing consideration, then for obvious reasons, the in-ground pool will be your best option
  • Above ground pools come in limited sizes, so diving is not advised
  • Shapes are restricted to round and rectangular, sometimes square. When envisioning your pool experience keep this in mind

Advantages of Above Ground Pools

  • Perhaps the number one advantage of an above ground pool instead of an in-ground pool is the price. In-ground pools can cost upwards of $20,000 minimum to install
  • An above ground pool, in contrast, generally costs under $1000. Some can even be found for as low as $100! If you, like many, find yourself unable to justify the cost of an in-ground pool, an above ground pool is a simple solution
  • Above ground pools require much less maintenance than in-ground pools, and are also much easier to uninstall. Want to remove the pool for the winter, or just need more space in your backyard? No problem - an above ground pool can be easily disassembled
  • Another advantage to above ground pools is that they come in a variety of sizes and styles. Whether you want a small and simple pool to soak in with your spouse or a large pool with a deck to splash around with friends, you can find an above ground model that suits your budget and needs

Disadvantages of Above Ground Pools

  • There are only a few disadvantages to having an above ground pool. One disadvantage is that they do not last as long as in-ground pools - especially the cheaper models
  • When shopping for an above ground pool, it's fine to be budget conscious, but don't necessarily go for the cheapest option. You might find yourself with pipes that erode quickly or a ladder that falls apart!
  • Additionally, above ground pools are generally smaller than in-ground pools. If you're looking to swim laps every day, an above ground pool might not be the best option for you
  • However, as mentioned previously, above ground pools can be found in a variety of sizes. If space is important to you, be sure to find a pool with the measurements you desire!

After you have decided that the above ground option is indeed the way to go for your Family’s needs, follow these steps to carry a good decision through to the end

Planning and Legalities

Find out whether there are any laws where you live that have zoning specifications, or any other issues with less permanent structures being built. This is very important, and not to be overlooked.

Where possible, or necessary, also clear things with your local home owners’ association. With this, also keep in mind the specifications on how near the pool may be to the house, and whether you may build a deck.

Once you have cleared the legalities, plan your location by considering underground piping, electrical wiring, sewerage areas, so that you know where you might need access to if needed in the future.

Aesthetics and Preference

Once you know where the pool should be, make your decision on the area of placement. When doing this, also keep in mind the following:

  • The layout of your garden. Are there any suitable places that are reasonably level? Accounting for this will save you on costs and efforts when leveling out the area for your pool
  • A decent amount of sunlight is also needed to make swimming fun – too much shade and the water won’t heat up enough, and all your efforts of getting a pool may be wasted as a chilly pool stands unused
  • Trees and shrubs in the vicinity may shed leaves, which, if excessive will increase maintenance on the pool and possibly affect the drainage and pump systems

Size and Safety

Take into account that the size of your pool will determine the amount of water and chemicals needed. This translates into running costs and availability of natural resources.

Also, will it be for playing or wading? If you expect a lot of splashing and playing, then a bigger size will enable you to lessen the water so the excess does not spill. Think carefully about what you expect from your pool before you start making purchasing decisions.

The shape of your pool must fit in with the available space and size of your yard. A more elongated shape, such as rectangular or oval, will be able to fit into narrower spaces; while round or square pools may suit a more spacious area.

pool safety

Safety is a main concern and you must plan on taking precaution such as fencing, pool covers and removable ladders if you have​ children or pets that are in danger of drowning.

 Not only does the cost make an impact on your decision, but once again, planning where the safest location will be for the pool. Try to place it where it will be in your main line of sight if possible.​

For more pool safety tips, especially if you have children, I highly encourage you to take a look at this article here.

Materials

You will need to get technical, as the materials your pool is manufactured from determines how long your pool will endure the elements and time. Your investment here is important, and as with anything else, when cutting costs, you may end up spending more.

There are several options available, such as aluminum, steel and plastic, or a mixture of these. All of them come with their own sets of pros and cons, and you may want to do more research to decide which will work the best for you.

Think about the type of lining you prefer and whether it is protected against UV rays. Small things matter too, for instance: will it withstand the birds landing on it to have a drink of water?

This was an expensive lesson for me on a recent purchase of a pool with an inflatable rim. Birds that landed on it quickly popped this seemingly clever invention and ruined an entire summer for the children.

Installing the Pool

Many people don't seem to have any issues installing the pool themselves.  It is a DIY type project and generally only takes a few hours.

If you are not technically minded or have physical limitations, you may want to consider hiring professionals to take on this step. While not as time consuming and rigorous as building an in-ground pool, installation is still a technical step.

The area needs to be as perfectly level as possible, and layered with sand. There is quite a bit of stabilizing and bonding of elements involved, along with installation of the filtration and pump.

Many customers decide to do the preparation and installation themselves. The most important step is to make sure to get the ground very level.

Here is a great video demonstrating the best method to help you achieve a level ground:

A Final Word on Investment

The money you spend is important, and this article pointed out specifics to help you make the best possible investment. Also, remember, the investment is in time with family and friends. There will be little comparison to monetary value when you reap the real benefits of any pool.

Some Accessories We Recommend:

  • If you have a deck, and limited space, you may want to consider the Confer Above Ground Swimming Pool, A-Frame Deluxe Ladder. Reviews cited stylish design and treads on steps as great features, while the only drawback was the narrow step. Check out our review of the Confer A-Frame Ladder here.
  •  A pool cover is a safety feature which doubles as protection for the water during winter and other times when you won’t be utilizing the pool. The type of cover will depend on your type and size, or shape of pool. You can find a list of the best covers here.
  • Along with your pool cover, consider an inexpensive cover seal that will ensure the winter wind won’t get under and lift your pool cover. It stretches and holds for long periods of time, and is treated to withstand UV rays.
  • A set of inexpensive Pool lights can really help make your above ground pool standout.  There are a variety of lights available that will make your pool look great at night.  Some even feature built-in Bluetooth speakers to provide music while floating in the pool. We’ve researched and written an article on some of the best above ground pool lights that can help you make a purchasing decision. 

Conclusion

As this comprehensive guide demonstrates, there are both advantages and disadvantages to buying an above ground pool. Overall, they are a great value and an easy way to add fun and relaxation to any home.

Consider the potential disadvantages listed here when shopping for the best above ground pool to avoid pitfalls such as cheap construction or a pool that is too small.

As long as you shop carefully and look for an above ground pool that has everything your family needs, you’re sure to be thrilled with your purchase!

Check out our expert reviews on the Best Above Ground Pools here.


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