Buying a swimming pool or anything as pricey can be a hard decision. You want to be sure you get the best one for your money and that makes it easy to spend tens of hours researching, only to go back and research all over again when you finally buy.
Above ground pools can be the perfect option for anyone looking to get all the benefits of a swimming pool, without having to spend 10 thousand + dollars and have massive maintenance fee.
As someone who owns a pool I can honestly say above ground pools are the future, they are easy to repair, cost-effective, simple to move, cheaper to warm up, non-permanent and quick to clean.
That’s why I recommend them to all first-time pool owners, as they are a great look into the world of swimming pools, but before you jump on the above pool bandwagon, you need to know the best pool’s money can buy and that’s where this simple buyer guidecomes in.
The Highest Rated Above Ground Pool
I’ll start with a pool that is by far the best above ground pool money can buy.
Intex Ultra Frame Pool With Salt Water System
The Intex Ultra Frame Pool is by far the best above ground pool money can buy.
It’s super-tough, easy to assemble, a massive 18ft x 54In in size comes with filter pump, salt water system, ladders, pool cover and a volleyball set.
I mean how much more can you want?
On a serious note, Intex is one of the best swimming pool brands and they didn’t let me down with this fantastic above ground swimming pool if you are looking to spend some money ($950) then without a doubt this is your best option, but let me tell you why…
Benefits Of This Intex Pool
- It’s one of the strongest above ground pools I’ve seen, with sidewall reinforced with an all-around band to keep everything in place.
- Quick set-up of around 60 minutes once you’ve watched the installation video.
- Drain plug that allows you to drain the pool using a hose away from your house and the pool area.
- A saltwater system which is ideal for people looking to use fewer chemicals and have healthier pool water.
- Comes with a sand filter pump.
- Is a fraction of the price of a real pool, without losing any features.
- Comes with ladders, pool cover, maintenance kit and a volleyball set for those who ae still a kid at heart.
This is just the half of it, this pool has over 160 reviews and is still a solid 4 out of 5 on Amazon, you can take a look at what some of the people are saying here:
There’s at least a hundred more just like that, you can check the reviews here.
But, Why Salt Are Water Systems Amazing?
It’s rare to see an above ground pool with a salt water system, due to rust, however, the Intex has you covered with a resent protecting the metal from the salt.
Now, if you didn’t know a salt system will do three things:
- Lower the running costs of your pool by cutting the chemicals you have to use (massive money saver)
- Make your pool water far safer on the skin and body (due to the lower amount of chlorine and shock).
- Makes your pool easier to maintain.
All you need to do is measure the salt correctly and clean the salt system and you’re good to go.
This Wins The Pool Awards From Us
This takes the prize for the best all-round pool on this list and if you have the budget then you shouldn’t have to look any further, if however, you’re looking for something cheaper, the next pool might be for you.
Intex Metal Frame Pool With Filter Pump
The Intex metal frame pool is the budget pool you’ve been looking for.
This well-priced pool will set you back a nice $150 for its 12ft x 30in model and up to $534 for its 18ft x 48in model, which is unbeatable pricing, what do you get for that amazing price?
Well, you’re still getting a super-tough laminated PVC sidewall, with a cartridge filter pump to keep water fresh and clean, as-well-as a 30 minute setup time, and even with the smallest model you can still fit 4 adults and up to around 8 if you have the larger model.
One of the only downsides is the pump doesn’t have a sand filter (can be a real pain), so if you’re getting one of these and want it to be permanently up, I highly recommend you get the best sand filter pump for above ground pools (has over 2500 reviews and still a 5 star).
Benefits Of This Budget Above Ground Pool:
- It takes around 30 minutes to completely set up
- It fits 4 – 8 adults.
- Is half the price of a normal above ground pool and a fraction of the cost of a ‘real’ pool.
- Comes in many different sizes.
- Has a plug that allows you to empty the pool using a hose, to avoid getting water near your house or the pool.
All in all, this is perfect for first-time pool owners, who want a semi-permanent pool, without the headache of getting a permanent pool.
Intex Rectangular Above Ground Pool
The rectangular above ground pool is one of the biggest pools on the list at 24ft – 12-feet. It’s made of great quality and is very well supported.
The Intex ultra frame also comes with a ladder, ground cloth, and pool cover if you get the complete set that costs another 100 dollars (recommended).
Setup is quick and easy and shouldn’t take more than an hour.
The pool comes with a 120v filter pump with gfci and has the ability to drain with a garden hose.
The size makes it perfect for big families and perfect as the center of entertainment at house parties.
Benefits Of This Pool:
- The size makes it feel like an in-ground pool.
- It’s very solid and is extremely high quality.
- Comes with a good pump and filter system.
- Takes a little longer to set up
- More expensive than our all-time favorite (Intex Ultra Frame Pool)
Inflatable Pool With Filter
This inflatable pool with filter is the cheapest pool on the list.
Furthermore, it only takes 10 minutes to get it fully set up, includes a filter pump and is very good quality for the price.
Now the BIG difference between this and the other pools is that it’s inflatable, this means that it’ll:
- A. Have a shorter life.
- B. Be far less stable.
These two factors only matter if you plan to have your above ground swimming pool as an investment, if your sole reason is to have a pool for the next few months and see how it feels, then this Intex inflatable pool will be perfect at the AMAZING price of just $92, you can’t go wrong.
On top of that it’s got over 1100 review and still a 4 out of 5-star rating.
Benefits Of An Inflatable Pool
- The price is around 90 dollars, which is 9x cheaper than a good above ground pool.
- It takes just 10 minutes to set up.
- The size is incredible, it’s 12ft – 30in all the way up to 18ft – 48in.
- Perfect for people who want to test if an above ground pool is for them.
- Comes with a filter pump.
- It’s not going to last as long as the other pools on this list.
All in all, this is a real lifesaver for people who want to try out above ground swimming pools without having to commit to 800 dollars in costs.
Embassy Above Ground Swimming Pool
The Embassy above ground pool is the luxury option when it comes to above ground pools.
Very rugged, made with good quality material and capable of being a permanent feature in any pool lovers garden.
It’s at the high end of sizes with it being 18-ft by 52-in and the high end of the price at the same time with the Embassy pool setting you back $2177.
It comes with a sand filter, pump, ladders, and even a pool vac, the only additional thing you need to purchase is a pool cover.
This pool really shines when it comes to stability, the wall closure provides strength and wall stability unlike any other pool on this list.
Benefits of this embassy pool:
- The rugged design allows it to out-live a lot of the normal above ground pools.
- The size and depth is 18ft by 52ins and goes all the way up to a whopping 24 feet in size.
- It comes with ladder, pump, sand filter and pool vac.
- It’s visually pleasing
- It’s double the price of the Intex Ultra Frame Pool and you don’t get a pool cover.
iPool With Heater and Pool Filter Pump
Don’t let looks fall you with the Ipool with a heater as it’s one of the best above ground pools on the list.
This pool is 10ft by 6.5ft and the depth is 3.10ft, it comes with an incredible pool heater, that’ll heat the pool up in no-time allowing it to be an all-around year pool.
This product really shines because it comes with a well-made device that holds you in place while you swim. This allows you to swim like you’re in a full sized pool, it’s also deeper than most pools on the list which makes it easier to do movement exercises.
On top of that, it comes with ladders, a great filter pump, repair kit and floor sheet, basically everything you need to get started.
If you were going to have an indoor above ground pool, this would be the best option, it’s also the best option for anyone looking to get a pool for fitness reasons.
Benefits of this fitness pool:
- The size makes it ideal for doing exercise.
- It comes with a device that allows you to constantly swim without moving from one end to the other.
- It comes with its very own pool heater (usually worth 400 – 800 dollars)
- You get a 1000 GPH filter pump.
- It comes with stainless steel lockable ladders.
- The price is around 1200 dollars, which is steep, but once you factor in the pool heater and a deluxe pool pump it goes up to 1900 dollars.
Heritage Complete Above Ground Pool
The Heritage complete above ground pool is the perfect luxury pool to end this buyer guide with.
The heritage is one of the most luxuries above ground pools I’ve seen, it’s strong, comes with a 25-year manufacturer warranty on pool structure, has an amazing salt filter and 1hp motor with safety twist lock plug.
It comes with a heavy duty ladder that’s easy to use for both getting in and out of the pool.
You can easily turn this into a salt water pool (if you wish too) and the filter/pump doesn’t need replacing as it’s very heavy duty and will work wonders when keeping the pool clean.
As for size, it’s 30 – feet by 15 feet and 52in in depth, which is at the top end of pool sizes.
The only downside is that when you have a masterpiece like this it will take far longer to assemble, I’d even recommend highering a professional for the day, to help you get this pool installed correctly.
Benefits Of This Pool:
- It looks amazing.
- Very stable, definitely an all-year-round pool.
- Comes with an amazing pump/sand filter.
- Can be converted to salt water.
- The size is MASSIVE and perfect for everyone’s needs.
- It comes with a 25-year warranty.
- The starting price is $2900 and it goes up to around $3466, which is on the more expensive side.
All in all this pool is for the people who are ready to commit to a long-term pool, it’s got all the features of an inground pool without the 15 – 20k price tag.
Buyers Guide To Getting A Pool
Once you’ve picked your perfect pool come back here as I’ve taken the time to answer the most common questions I get about owning an above ground pool.
Benefits Of An Above Ground Pool
- Quick Assembling Time
The average above ground pool takes around an hour to set up and another 3 – 15 hours to fill with water.
- Easy to repair
If you get a high-quality pool you’ll be able to manage repairs within minutes, you just need to get your hands on a cheap repair kit and whenever you see a light hole or tear you can fix it within minutes.
- Costs are low
It usually costs around $1000 to buy a top of the range ground pool, then another $300 – $500 to get the foundation set up (much cheaper if you do it yourself). Once you have that complete you’re ready to go.
- Long Lasting
If looked after correctly, your pool should last between 8 and 15 years. This makes it a great investment.
- The perfect taster for people looking to buy an underground pool
Before you commit to the job of getting an underground pool it’s a fantastic idea to get one of these, test it out, clean it, see what maintenance and the costs of owning a pool are like and then if you really enjoy it commit to the real deal.
There are plenty of benefits to an above ground pool, I’d be here all day listing them, at the end of the day they allow anyone to have a pool in their backyard and get the enjoyment it brings kids, friends and themselves.
The costs are cheap, the setup is usually simple and the longevity is decent. All in all, they are a total bargain.
However, if you’re curious on whether you should upgrade to an underground pool, here are a few things you should know.
Why Above Ground Can Be Better Than In Ground
The Intex Above Ground Pool has more than a few benefits over your standard in-ground pool, like:
- Easy to repair, if you get a puncture in an above ground pool there are easy repair kits that cost less than 20 dollars that you can use to repair in minutes.
If you get a serious crack in a normal pool you’ll have to drain all the water, dig up part of the pool, re-tile the pool once the crack is fixed and then re-fill the pool, this costs thousands of dollars.
- A quick, almost instant alternative to a pool.
We don’t all want to turn our yards into construction sites for months, it’s far easier to fulfil the impulse of having a swimming pool with an above ground pool that is assembled within 40 minutes and 3hr – 15hrs filling time with a garden hose depending on size, you get it now, tomorrow you have a pool, vs 10 weeks it takes to build a pool.
- No planning permission required.
You would need a pretty massive above ground pool to need planning permission, whereas any in-ground pool would need planning permission from the start.
If you’re not lucky enough to have planning permission on your land or don’t want to go through a headache to find out if you can access planning permission, these pools are a godsend.
- Cost savings of over 21 thousand dollars.
The best above ground pool costs around a thousand dollars, a normal pool on average will set you back 22 thousand dollars.
Before any pool owner takes the plunge I’d highly recommend you get an above ground pool, see the upkeep a pool has, learn how to clean it and then if you still want an inground pool you can buy it with confidence. That’s exactly what I did.
- Much More Convenient.
If for example in a few years from now you decide to take a long vacation, you can empty the pool, fold it up, pack it away and not think twice.
If you have an underground pool no matter how much your life changes you need to look after it. The second you turn your back on it it’ll turn into a swamp and of course you can drain it, however, then you’ll expose the tiles to air, climate and pesky creatures, all of which age your pool.
It’s a simpler way of owning a pool.
An above ground pool will last 7 – 15 years before you need to replace it.
This is enough time to get all the use out of it and in terms of money, that’s over 5000 days of owning it, before it needs replacing.
A normal pool that isn’t fiberglass on average last 8 – 13 years before it has to be resurfaced, this costs around $5,000 (sometimes three times that in northern states).
So on top of having to pay around 22 thousand dollars for a pool, you’ll have to then pay 5000 dollars out every 10 years.
I’m not against underground swimming pools, I just understand the work that’s needed to keep them functional.
How To Look After An Above Ground Swimming Pool
The first thing I do is get a correct pump/filter system, the ones that come with the pool are rarely good enough to actually keep the pool clean, the filter I’d always recommend is the Intex krystal clear cartridge filter pump.
You will usually run the pump for around 1 – 2 hours every day and when the pool is being used full time, I’d recommend 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours at night.
Next, I’d get a floating chlorine dispenser and just add these chlorine tablets to it.
You’ll then need to get some shock, this is for when your pool gets a little hazy and isn’t as clear as it should be, when that happens use around 1 pound per 10,000 gallons of water, if your pool goes green, you’ll usually want to add around 2 – 3 pounds, then let your filter run and it’ll revive your water back to life.
Finally, I’d recommend some green algae control, use it once a month, to stop the build-up of algae.
As for cleaning, you can get a basic pool vacuum and use it to get rid of the dirt that builds on the bottom of your pool, then a net for getting out bugs and debris and finally when you’re not using your pool apply a cover, this keeps dirt out and makes maintenance much easier.
You can watch this simple video to gain more information:
How To Install An Above Ground Pool
All of the pools on this list will come with instruction guides that are easy to follow, but it’s always good to do some research so you know what you’re getting yourself in for.
Most above ground pools will come with a simple button on pole design, where you connect the poles together using little buttons, this makes assembling quick and easy.
The time it takes to connect the pool and start adding water all depends on the size, for small pools you can expect around 30 – 45 minutes and on pools that are big, I usually set aside 1 – 2 hours.
Here’s a video that will walk you through the whole setup process of an above ground pool.
Turning An Above Ground Pool Into An InGround Pool?
Is it possible? Yes, however, it can be hard.
The price of getting a good quality above ground pool into the ground should be more than 80% cheaper than having a real pool installed and once complete you’ll basically have a fully functioning pool, with cheaper maintenance and far easier repairs (anyone with an old pool, that’s had to be drained in order to re-tile the pool knows that costs can rack up).
It isn’t all good, you MUST get a certain type of above ground pool in-order to stop the surrounding area collapsing if you ever drain your pool in the future, and there are certain factors like the dirt you’ll be lowering into, the size and shape of the pool and the budget you have.
This video explains it perfectly:
A far cheaper and more reliable option is to sink your above ground pool a few feet into the ground (half way) and then build some good quality decking around, in my experience this costs around 500 bucks (when done by yourself) and looks even nicer than plain in-ground pools.
This video is a great example of the work you’ll need to do while decking your pool:
Will It Survive In The Winter?
Above ground pools can survive a harsh winter no problem, however, you must do one of two things:
- Empty the water, disassemble, store and then re-assemble next summer.
This option’s best if you went for a budget above ground pool, as if you get heavy winds you would not want the structure collapsing and the ground being subject to thousands of litres of water.
- Leave the water in and winter-proof your pool, with correct chemicals, a winter pool cover, above ground wall bags.
This is the best option for people who’ve got a pool on the larger scale. Now depending on how windy your location is during winter, you might need to invest in above ground wall bags to secure the pool cover.
You may also want to buy some air pillows if you live in a climate that reaches low temperatures in the winter, by absorbing freezing waters pressure.
It’s not too hard to keep pool water from going green in the winter, but I know plenty of people who allow this to happen and they just shock the water back to life next swimming season.
The ONLY thing you should never do is leave a pool with no water, stationary.
If you do this and have an extra windy day your whole pool can turn into a flying death trap that will destroy your’s and your neighbor’s property.
If you want to learn about balancing chemicals for your above ground pool this winter check this article out.
Can You Heat Up An Above Ground Pool?
Yes, you can, it’s actually far easier and cheaper to heat an above ground pool, you just have to install an above ground pool heating system and not a normal heating system.
If you want maximum effectiveness then you’ll want to go for a Hayward 100,000 BTU system, this will heat your pool quickly and allow you to reach very nice pool water temperatures.
If you want something more cost-effective you can get a ground solar system, these cost around $229,99 and are far cheaper on the utility bill.
They work by filtering your water through these large solar panels, that site by your pool, once complete the cycle they head back to your pool, nice and warm from the heat generated from the sun.
You can maximise both the methods above by adding a solar pool cover, these add an extra 10 degree’s to most pools and cost under $100.
You can check out the best solar pool covers there, however, currently, this solar pool cover is the best for above ground pools.
Can I Place One Of These Indoors?
Plenty of people install above ground pools inside, usually because:
- They don’t have sufficient outside ground.
- They want to use the pool all year round, for exercise and pleasure.
- They just want an inside pool.
However, even though people do it doesn’t mean it’s going to be a nice experience, because the worry of having this amount of water inside a house, can definitely cause people to get paranoid, especially in the night time right before bed (did I just hear water leaking?!?!).
You also have to deal with the factor of how to drain the pool if there’s an issue, most pools have the ability to connect to a hose, which allows you to drain the pool outside without any issues, but, you can still be left with stubborn water that doesn’t drain.
Basically, I’d only ever do this if you:
- Have a garage or basement, with hard floors.
If not it can be more hassle than it’s worth.
How Long Will It Last For?
The average above ground pool should last 8 + years when kept well, however, usually, people neglect and reduce the life to around 3 years.
If you take the Intex above ground pool, you should look to get 8 + years out of it as long as you keep the chemicals balanced, have a good pool cover, drain in the winter and store correctly, repair small issues quickly to stop them escalating.
Do this and you’ll be fine, you may have to get a new pump every 3 – 4 years, but other than that you shouldn’t have any other expenses.
What Foundation Do These Pools Need?
You can use a variety of different foundations for above ground pools, the most popular being pool sand or stone dust, it’s easily compacted, relatively cheap and once the pool is filled it’ll be as hard as an in-ground pool bottom.
You can also create a protective layer between the pool and the ground using amour guard or roller foam to protect against sharp rocks and pointy twigs, they also feel good on your feet.
Here’s a great video that’ll teach you everything you need to know about pool base materials:
Amazing Add-Ons We Recommend
There are a few things I recommend all pool owners get.
- Pool Cover
Even if you spend hours in your pool every day, there’s likely going to be long periods of time when you’re not in it. In these times it’s a great idea to have a pool cover, it not only keeps debris and animals out, you can also get a safety cover to make sure your kids don’t use it without your consent.
You can pick up a nice above ground pool cover for less than 50 dollars, I recommend the Blue Wave winter cover, comes in every size you could want.
- Solar Pool Cover
If you would like a heated pool, but don’t want to spend thousands of dollars, you can get a solar pool cover (here’s the 8 best solar covers), you place on your pool and they work as a sun magnet, while also holding in heat that the pool has collected in the day.
You can get an Intex solar cover that will fit most of the pools on this list for less than $25, a true bargain.
- Solar Pool Heater
Another amazing way to heat your pool and make your swimming season a little longer is with a Smartpool solar heater, these cost around $200 and are far cheaper to run than normal heaters.
How does it work?
You connect it to your filter, then all the water that gets filtered goes through solar panels that are heated by the sun, by the time the water leaves the pipe it’s nice and warm.
The running costs are cheap and when you mix with a solar cover you’ll add another 20 – 30 degrees to your pool, making your swimming season far longer and more enjoyable.
You can buy magnetic LED pool-wall lights that light the pool up nicely for around $20 a pair.
These are ideal for people who enjoy a late night swim or host parties and want to have the pool looking nice.
Why You Need A Warranty
I always recommend getting a pool with a 1-year warranty and getting insurance, I’ve found that if somethings going to go wrong with an above ground pool it’s within the first few months, so it’s nice to have cover just in case.
A lot of the pools above have a 1+ year warranty for that added piece of mind.
Can I Do Pool Exercises In An Above Ground Pool
If you plan to do water parties and the various water exercise movements then an above ground pool is perfect, it’s just not great for actually swimming, as you can’t push off the walls.
If you do want an above ground pool that’s built for exercising and swimming then get the IPool, it has a built-in system that holds you in place so you can swim without any problem, this makes for amazing exercise and is actually more intense than a normal pool, as you never get the rest at the wall push.
You can see the full benefits to swimming in this health line article.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article if you need any advice about your pool please do not hesitate, leave us a comment below and we will be sure to answer it.