While having a beautiful in-ground swimming pool in your backyard is a dream for many people and families, not everybody has the money to afford one or has their own outdoor space to build a swimming pool.
This is why above-ground pools are so popular among the people in the USA and around the world.
These easy to set pools are affordable, easy to install, and can still be a perfect way to enjoy some playtime, to relax, and exercise when the weather is warm.
Above-ground pools are a suitable option for those who live in rentals and want a way to take their pool with them when they move.
Also, above ground pools, in general, require much less maintenance, and cost less to use and maintain as well.
But how do you choose the perfect above ground pool for your needs?
The choice is vast, so shopping for a pool like this can become a frustrating and painstaking process.
This is why we have compiled this complete guide for choosing your new above ground pool, installing it, and using it safely.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about these pools, as well as the finest ones being offered on the market in 2021.
Features to look for when shopping for an above ground pool
If you have been looking at options for a pool like this, you already know that above ground pools exist in all types of shapes, forms, materials, and sizes. Plus, the different pools have different features and use differing technologies for installation, use, filtering, draining, and so on.
The important thing to remember is that there are some considerations to keep in mind when choosing the pool for you, so that you end up being happy with your choice, and can enjoy your purchase instead of suffering from buyer’s remorse.
Here are the basic steps to take before buying an above ground pool:
Stick to your budget
One of the most significant advantages of these types of pools is that they cost a fraction of what you will have to spend on getting an in-ground pool constructed.
While an in-ground pool will cost you tens of thousands of dollars, you can buy a good quality above ground pool for as little as under $300.
But then again, you should take note that there are significant differences in the prices of the different pools which fall into this category too.
Some above ground pools can reach prices of up to $5,000. Of course, the difference in the price is a reflection of the difference in the quality, features, size, and technologies used for making them.
Thankfully, there are pools for every budget, including economy, mid-range and high-end.
So, set your budget for the pool, and try to find the best one within these limits.
Choose a suitable location for the pool
Even though the majority of the above-ground pools sold are easy to de-install and move if you are not happy with their location, you can save a lot of time and effort if you find the most suitable place for the pool before proceeding to buy it.
You should opt for a free space with a relatively leveled ground, without any major obstacles or utility lines underneath. It should also be dry, rather than wet and muddy.
You should allow some side space around the planned pool area of about 3 to 5 feet away from fences, walls, and other obstacles too.
Measure the area
Carefully measure the area you have picked along with the side space, which will be left around the above ground pool.
When you measure the area, it will be much easier to determine the exact size and the shape of the pool, which will fit best in it.
Rectangular and oval pools are more suitable for narrower spaces, while round or square ones require a free square area.
Proceed to choose the shape and the height of your pool
After determining the shape of your future pool, use the measurements you have already taken to determine the perfect size and height to opt for.
The height of the pool depends on your preferences, as well as on the safety precautions you would like to take, or on the contrary, the easy access to the pool for your dogs, for example.
Usually, the height of the commercially available above ground pools is somewhere in the range of 36 to 54 inches.
Choose above the ground pool type
There are many different types of pools that are placed above the ground, the most common ones being steel, resin, and aluminum.
The steel pools have sturdy steel frames and construction, which are the sturdiest of all. Make sure that the steel is powder-coated or galvanized to protect it from corrosion though.
The aluminum-based pools are an excellent option for extreme weather conditions. They are protected by the natural aluminum oxide layer which forms around them. The oxidation though can lead to pitting over time.
The resin-based pools are the most common type. Usually, their walls are made of steel elements, but the rest is made of thick resin plastic. These are the most affordable ones and are very durable as well. Then again, the resin can be prone to cracking and fading after extended exposure to UV lights or harsh weather.
Now that you have determined which type, size, and shape pool you want, you are ready to choose the most suitable one for you.
To help you make this decision, we have selected the top above ground swimming pools for 2021.
Above Ground Pools
Installed size and shape
16 feet x 48 inches, round
A 110-120V Krystal Clear sand filter pump with a 1,200 gallon/hour rate
High-impact, anti-slip removable ladder, debris cover, ground cloth, leg endcaps
The Intex Ultra XTR Pool set is the top above ground pool for 2021 because it is very sturdily built, easy and fast to install, comes with all the accessories you will need to start using it from day 1 and is sold with a 2-year warranty by Intex.
The pool is designed with a premium quality galvanized steel frame, featuring a stable and secure locking system, which ensures that it keeps its shape and provides added safety and stability.
The frame is treated with a rust-resistant powder coating.
Thanks to the T-joint connectors and the easy lock system used for the assembly, installing the pool will take up no more than 45 minutes, with no tools required.
The liner of the pool is made of a tri-ply material that is puncture resistant.
The above ground pool also has special dual suction outlet fittings for better circulation and filtering of the water in it.
The excellent quality pool also comes with all of the accessories you need to get it started right away, including a slip-resistant removable ladder with a 300lbs. weight capacity, a Krystal Clear Sand filter with a 12-hour timer and a 1,200 gallon per hour capacity, as well as a debris cover with a rope tie, and a 16.5ft. ground cloth to protect the bottom of the pool.
Overall, this pool is the best investment you can make if you are looking for a safe, easy to install and maintain, and durable above ground pool.
The model is also available in a rectangular shape, as well as with a saltwater system. You can choose from the variety of different sizes available, with this one (16ft x 48in) being the smallest, up to 32ft x 16ft x 52in being the largest.
- Very durable, rust-resistant construction
- Easy to install in less than 45 minutes by 2 people, no tools required
- 3 ply durable and puncture-resistant liner
- 2 suction fittings for cleaner water and better circulation
- Includes all accessories needed to start using the pool immediately
- A powerful filter pump is included
- Also in the package, you will find a ladder, a pool cover, a pool ground cloth
- It is not as affordable as some of the other pools on this list, but given its quality, durability, accessories, and 2-year warranty, it is a worthwhile investment
Installed size and shape
18ft x 9ft x 4ft, oval
About 1,000 gallons
1,500 gallon/hour filter pump
A ground cloth, pool cover, and ladder, a ChemConnect chemical dispenser
This small-sized above ground pool is very sturdily built and will last you for many summers to come.
It is a perfect option if you have a small rectangular yard or outdoor space available for a pool.
It is made of a corrosion-resistant metal frame, and walls made of 3-ply polyester and PVC reinforced by Tritech, to keep the pool in shape and stable and safe at all times.
The liner is beautifully printed on the inside imitating mosaics, and the outer part is in a stylish grey-blue color.
The Bestway Power Steel pool has a special ChemConnect dispenser, which replaces the regular float dispensers to save space, and ensures that the water in it is sanitary and safe to use by you and your kids.
The pool has an integrated flow control drain valve which can be connected to a garden hose for easy and mess-free draining of the water away from the garden or yard.
It is sold with a 1,500-gallon filter pump, a ladder, a durable ground cloth, and a pool cover with a rope and drains holes.
It is easy to set, comes with everything you need to start using it immediately, and looks great.
This pool’s size and shape make it a perfect shape for a small or narrow yard.
- Easy to assemble even by a single person
- Appropriate shape and size for narrow, limited outdoor spaces
- A ChemConnect dispenser to keep the water safe and clean
- A 1,500 gallon per hour filter pump
- A ladder is also included, as well as a ground cloth and a pool cover
- The pool is made of very sturdy materials that will withstand years of use
- It is not large enough for swimming
The top budget-friendly option
Installed size and shape
12ft x 30in, round
1,718 gallons at 90%
Krystal Clear cartridge pump
530 gallon/hour filter pump
If you want to enjoy the fun of having an above ground pool this summer, but are not ready to break the bank, then this Metal Frame Pool by Intex is a superb choice for you.
It costs just over $100 but is a premium-quality and durable pool with a metal frame and laminated PVC sidewalls for durability. The liner is made of a puncture-resistant 3-ply material.
The pool can be set up easily in under 30 minutes, so it will be ready to be filled with water just half an hour after you unbox it.
It has a nifty drain plug that you can connect to the garden hose for easy and mess-free draining. It also has a dual suction outlet fitting system which helps improve the circulation and thus filtration of the water.
The inexpensive above ground pool by Intex is sold with a 530 gallon/hour cartilage filter pump.
It also has a safety ground fault circuit interrupter which will shut the pump off in case of electrical current near the water.
This great budget above ground pool can also be purchased in other size options, including 10ft x 30in, 15ft x 48in, or 18ft x 48in.
- It costs just over $100
- The set up takes up to 30 minutes
- Made of durable steel tubes, laminated PVC and puncture-resistant liner
- A convenient drain plug which can be connected to the garden hose
- A dual suction fitting system
- A 530 gallon/hour cartilage filter pump
- Safety shut off technology against exposure to electrical current
- At 530 gallons per hour, the filter may not be sufficient to keep the pool clean, especially if you are going to be using it a lot
- It doesn’t come with accessories like a cover, a ground cloth or a ladder
The rest of the best above ground pools for 2021
Installed size and shape
15ft x 30ft, oval
25 gauge bedrock overlap liner, coping strips, wide mouth skimmer
25 years for the Bedrock pattern 25 gauge liner
The Lake Effect Fallston 15 x 30 Oval pool is an exceptional above ground pool. It may cost you more than many of the others on this list, but this one is built to withstand the test of time and weather for all-year-round use.
It has strong galvanized steel walls, coated with durable resin on both sides for added longevity of the pool. It has a beautiful Fallston exterior but is also offered in other patterns including Galleria, Meadows reprieve, and Forever.
The bedrock pattern 25 gauge vinyl liner is hand folded, so it doesn’t crease, and has gorgeous pebble and shell prints on it for a more authentic feel.
This premium quality above ground pool is designed and made to stay in place throughout the year, no matter the weather conditions.
The one-time installation is pretty straightforward, too, thanks to the custom-made parts, the interlocking stabilizer rails, and the coping strips which fit easily and lock tight.
The oval-shaped pool is 15 x 30 feet in size, so it will provide you with enough space to swim, play or relax. The wall height is 52 inches.
It has a wide-mouth skimmer, but you will need to add a filter pump to keep the water clean.
You can also purchase it in other sizes and shapes, including oval and round, and sizes from 12 feet up to 30 feet diameter for the round ones and up to 18 x 22 ft. for the oval ones.
The 25 gauge liner comes with a 25-year warranty.
- Very sturdily built from a metal wall construction coated with resin
- Beautiful design inside and outside of the pool
- A large size, suitable for swimming and pool parties
- All-year-round design, so it requires only one installation
- It is made of construction elements which will withstand the test of time, use and weather
- Comes with a wide-mouth skimmer
- Available in other shapes and sizes
- It is more expensive than other above ground pools on the list
- You will need to add a filter, ladder, and cover, as well as other accessories not included in the package
Installed size and shape
8ft x 30in, round
SFX330 filter pump
Only the pump
No info available
If you are shopping for a compact above ground pool for you and your kids to sit in and play, this affordable and small-sized round pool by Summer Waves is a superb option.
It is based on a durable rust-resistant, galvanized steel tube frame, and has a 3-ply sturdy and puncture-resistant liner.
The pool is incredibly easy to set up in less than 30 minutes.
It comes with an RX330 filter pump with GFC and a D type filter cartilage, which acts both as a filter as well as a water skimmer.
The size of the pool is only 8ft x 30in, and its water capacity is 801 gallons, so it suitable for even the smallest outdoor spaces.
- Compact and suitable for small yards and outdoor areas
- It takes only 30 minutes to set up
- Made with a sturdy steel tube frame, and puncture-resistant liner
- The pool is sold with a cartilage pump which works both like a pump as well as a skimmer
- It is offered at an affordable price
- Excellent customer support by Summer Waves
- May be too small for some
- Doesn’t come with a ground cloth or pool cover, or a ladder
Installed size and shape
13.1 x 6.9 x 2.7 feet, rectangular
No information available
This Bestway Steel Pro above ground swimming pool is the easiest and fastest one to assemble from all products on our list.
In fact, thanks to its intelligent design, you can set it up in just about 10 minutes.
The Rectangular Splash Frame pool is affordable, but is made of sturdy materials which will prevent it from deforming, and will allow you to enjoy fun time safely and comfortably.
The pool has a corrosion-resistant steel frame made of poles, and easy to use T-connectors and C clips for hassle-free installation.
Its liner is made of 3-ply material, including two layers of PVC, which encase a layer of dense polyester mesh. This combination makes the liner strong and durable and yet lightweight and easy to store away after the summer is over.
No tools are required for the assembly of this splash pool.
When built, it is 157 x 83 x 32 inches in size and can fit 1,506 gallons of water at 90% capacity.
It has a convenient flow control drain, which you can use to attach a garden hose and drain the water away from the area.
The inexpensive above ground pool doesn’t come with a filter, but you can add one which will ensure that the water stays clean for as long as possible.
So, if you are looking for a pool which you can set up and take down as quickly as possible, and still be able to use it intensively for fun, games and relaxing, this is the greatest option you can currently find on the market.
- Straightforward and quick assembly for just 10 minutes
- No instruments are required for installation
- It has a sturdy steel frame which is corrosion and weather-resistant
- The 3-ply Tritech material ensure that the pool stays stable, in shape, and safe
- It has a flow control drain so you can direct the water to where you want to it to drain with a garden hose
- It is large enough to be enjoyed by the whole family
- It doesn’t come with a filter
Installed size and shape
16ft x 8ft x 42in, rectangular
1,000-gallon cartridge filter pump with a hydro aeration system
The pump, a pool cover, a ground cloth, and a removable ladder
No information available
This 16ft x 8ft x 42in Prism frame pool by Intex is another solid choice if you want to buy the finest ground pool in 2021.
Thanks to its rectangular shape, it can hold more water than a traditional round one and provides more space for swimming, lounging, and games.
When full at 90%, the water depth is 35 inches, which is enough for adults and kids over 6 years of age to enjoy some swimming and games.
Its base is a steel tubing prism frame which is strong and powder coated for added durability and stability.
The liner is made of 3 plies of durable and puncture-resistant material with printed cool mosaic on the inner side, to imitate a real swimming pool. The outside is blue-grey and will look stylish and chic in any backyard.
The pool has a convenient draining plug, and two suction outlet fittings for better water circulation and filtering.
It is sold with a removable, slip-resistant ladder, a durable ground cloth, a 1000 gallon per hour easy to clean cartilage filter pump, and a debris cover for the pool.
The filter which comes with this pool implements the Hydro Aeration Technology, which helps keep the water as clear as possible, helps improve its filtration and circulation, and also increases the freshness above the water by creating negative ions.
The excellent above ground pool by Intex has been designed to be installed easily in a matter of up to 60 minutes.
It is also available in round and oval shapes, and in sizes starting from 10ft x 30in, and reaching up to 20ft x 10ft x 48in.
- Larger swimming space for swimming and play thanks to the rectangular shape
- Sturdy prism powder-coated steel frame
- Comes with a filter, ground cloth, ladder and debris cover
- Features the Hydro Aeration Technology for cleaner and fresher water
- Durable 3-ply liner with a unique design
- Sets up in up to 60 minutes
- Depending on the use, you may find that the filter is not powerful enough to keep the water in pristine condition, so you may want to opt for a more powerful one
Accessories to buy for your above ground pool
This floating chemical dispenser with an adjustable control ring can hold 1-inch chlorine or bromine tablets or sticks for easier dispensing. It is inexpensive and will ensure that the water in your pool is free from bacteria and other harmful microorganisms, and safe for you.
See also: Most recommended Solar Pool Covers
Even the smallest and simplest above ground pool needs to be cleaned to keep the water clean and clear from leaves and other debris. With this affordable kit by Intex, you can clean your pool perfectly. It includes a vacuum head that can be attached to a garden hose, a cleaning head, a 94-inch aluminum telescoping pole, and a surface skimmer.
If your above ground pool doesn’t have stairs or the ladder you have is unsafe or uncomfortable, we recommend that you buy these Curve base Steps by Confer. They can hold a weight of up to 400 lbs. and are sturdy, safe and easy to install and use.
This automatic skimmer works along with the pump of the above ground pool to remove any debris from the surface of the water.
It is easy to mount on the side of the pool, and its basket is also easy to remove and clean.
With this nifty device, the debris will be connected as they fall into the pool without being able to reach its bottom.
With a pool cover like this one, you will lower the costs for heating and chemicals for the pool throughout the season. It is made of premium quality, UV resistant polymers, which are also resistant to the chemicals used for the pool and to sun rays.
A good quality filter pump is essential to keep the water in your above ground pool clean and safe so that you can use it for a long time, without having to empty and refill the pool over and over again throughout the season.
This GPH Sand Filter Pump and Saltwater System set is one of the greatest you can find on the market, and it comes with a maintenance kit as well.
Tips for installing an above ground pool
Naturally, the exact installation process depends on the above ground pool you have chosen.
Usually, it will come with a user’s manual or a DVD with step-by-step instructions for the installation process.
Keep in mind that you will need another person to help you with most above ground pools.
But no matter what type of above ground pool you have chosen, you should follow the following tips to set it up correctly:
- Choose the location carefully by making sure there is enough space for the pool and at least 3ft of space around it
- Check the site for any obstructions or utility lines
- Stay clear of areas where there are mushy or wet parts
- Check with any local or state codes for installing it
- Make sure you have access to a power outlet, and a water source to connect the pump, heater and to fill and empty the pool with water
- Measure and mark the outline and add a foot to the measurements
- Clean the area from any rocks, roots, sod, and other obstacles
- Rake the area
- Level the surface properly by digging down the higher levels to match the lower ones
- Start with the base of the pool by building the bottom
- Once the base is leveled start installing the walls
- Level the ground once again, and place the liner
- Install the top rails, plates or covers
- Work any wrinkles out of the liner with your bare feet
- Proceed to fill the pool
- Remember to keep it covered when it is not in use
What are the advantages of choosing an above ground pool?
There is no doubt that in-ground pools look great, and have a much longer lifespan than the above-ground ones.
But even though not all above ground pools looks as good as the in-ground ones or are as durable as them, the fact is, choosing to install an above ground pool instead of building an inground one has quite a few advantages.
There is no doubt that buying, setting up, and maintaining an above ground pool costs just fractions of what it would cost to build and maintain an in-ground pool.
These pools are cheaper to purchase, and since they are usually smaller than in-ground ones, they require less electricity, chemicals, and water.
By buying and installing an above ground pool, you can save thousands of dollars per year.
If you choose to invest in a good quality above ground pool like one of the pools on our list, then you can be pretty sure that you will be able to use it over and over each year for a long time too.
The vast choice of models available
The market is overflowing with a wide variety of above ground pools made of different materials, with different shapes and sizes, and various features. This gives you much better control over exactly what you are looking for in a pool, given the space you have and your budget.
Easy and quick installation
To plan and build an in-ground pool, you probably will need to hire a specialized construction company and experts, which costs thousands of dollars, and the process will take days, weeks and sometimes months.
On the other hand, above ground pools are usually very easy to set up by two or more people in a matter of minutes or hours.
You won’t need to hire professional services to maintain your pool either, as you can easily keep it clean and safe by using the proper filter pump, chemical disposer, and straining and covering it.
Since above ground pools have walls which are pretty tall for babies, toddlers, and pets to accidentally fall in, as compared to unfenced in-ground pools, the former is considered a safer option for homes with children and people or animals at risk of accidental falling and drowning.
This, though, doesn’t mean that the above-ground pools are 100% safe either. Please take note of the safety precautions for setting up and using an above ground pool below.
With an above ground pool, you don’t have to worry about your investment if you happen to choose the wrong location for it, or if you are moving to a new house. All you need to do is empty it, clean it, fold it up and move it.
The same goes for storage. When the end of the season comes, you can easily disassemble the above ground pool so you can store it away for next year, without worrying about protecting and maintaining it during the winter.
Safety tips for installing and using an above ground pool
Even though due to their elevated entry point and walls, above ground pools are considered safer than in-ground ones when it comes to accidentally falling in and drowning, there are still risks associated with these pools, just like with all other pools.
Here are some safety tips to follow when choosing, installing, and using the above ground pool:
Remove or lock the pool ladders
When you are not using or supervising your pool, you should either remove or lock the pool ladder from the pool. Also, make sure there aren’t any objects which a toddler, child, pet, or others can use to get into the pool.
Make sure that you choose a ladder that has a weight carrying capacity sufficient to safely hold each of the members of the family or the people who will be using the pool.
Secure the pool with a gate or fence
Depending on where you live, you may be legally required to fence and secure your pool no matter whether it is above or in the ground.
It makes sense to place a secure fence or fence panels to prevent accidental and unauthorized access to the pool.
Consider using an above ground pool alarm
There are several types of pool alarms available which you can choose from. One of them senses any waves on the sub-surface of the water, meaning that something or somebody may have fallen or dropped into the water. Another type detects surface waves, and some alarms have wearable parts like bracelets to control the safety of the wearer.
Always keep any pool chemicals, no matter how small quantities you use, stored away safely from the reach of children and animals.
Use dedicated scoops for each of the chemicals, and make sure all of them are tightly sealed and stored safely away.
Always supervise children in the pool
If you have young kids, you should closely supervise them or designate a water watcher to keep an eye on them not only when they are in the pool, but also when they are playing outside of it.
Remember that drowning can happen very quickly and silently.
Teach your children all the basic safety tips when in the water.
Learn CPR and other basic life-saving techniques
CPR training and other basic rescue skills can come in handy at any given moment. They are especially helpful if there is an accident in your pool.
So, make sure you learn the essential water rescue skills which may someday help you save a life.
FAQs about above ground pools
When is the perfect time to purchase an above ground swimming pool?
The perfect time to get the best deal for the pool of your choice is out of season. You are much likely to get the above-ground pool you want at a better price during the winter or autumn, then in mid-season, because many stores are looking for ways to clean out their inventory and warehouses off-season.
Which shape is best for an above ground pool?
It depends on the location you have for an above ground pool. A narrow and long space calls for a narrower and longer rectangular pool, while a round or square pool is more suitable for a square-shaped space.
Also, round pools are better if you are planning on having parties with people sitting in it or around it, while rectangular ones allow for more space for swimming.
When should I install my above ground pool?
Wait until the temperature outdoors becomes at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit before proceeding to set it up. This will help prevent algae development. Also, choose a time when it is dry outside, and the ground
When should I de-install the above ground pool?
As soon as the weather turns cool and the temperatures start falling below 60 degrees for 3 days in a row, it is time to close down your pool and store it away for next year.
What depth is best for an above ground pool?
The height of the walls or depth of the pool depends on your preferences, and who will be using it.
If you have small children, you should choose a pool that they can safely stand up straight in with their heads above the water level.
Remember that pools are not filled to the brim but rather at 90% of their capacity, so you should subtract 6-10 inches from the height of the brim when calculating the depth and height of the walls.
Do I need to cover my above ground swimming pool?
By covering your pool, you will keep it clean from falling leaves and other debris. A pool cover will also reduce the need for using chemicals for cleaning the water and will save power for heating and filtering as well as money for having to empty and refill it often.
A pool cover is also a safety precaution to keep young children and pets safe when the pool is not in use.
How do I drain the above ground pool?
Pools have drains, and most of them can be connected to regular garden hoses so that you can direct the draining water away from the pool itself. Allowing the water to drain around and under it can cause damage to the liner as the soil gets saturated.
How long do the above ground pool liners last?
Although their durability can vary, an average pool liner will last for 6 to 10 years. Liners can be replaced quite easily and affordably. You should also replace your liner if you notice that there is a leak.
Hopefully, we have helped you decide which above ground pool is the one for you.
As you can see, these pools are inexpensive, easy to set up and maintain, and are the most affordable and easy way to create your own oasis in your backyard for the summer heat.
Good luck with your purchase, and enjoy your new above ground pool!
Last update on 2021-06-18 at 03:23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API