Just as much fun as in-ground pools, but significantly more affordable, the best above-ground pools are a great choice for keeping your family cool without the commitment of something permanent. You can also break out the pool floats and start splashing around almost immediately. “Instead of taking weeks or months to build, they can be installed, filled and ready to be enjoyed in a couple of days,” explains Troy Lindbeck, vice president of operations for Pinch A Penny, an online pool supply store. “Another great benefit is that they can be broken down and relocated to another home if the homeowner moves.”
There are three main types of above-ground pools, all of which come in a range of sizes but vary in durability and ease of setup: inflatable, metal frame and hard-sided. The right style for you depends on your preferences and needs. For example, an inflatable pool might be a good option for someone with a tight budget, but not someone who wants a super durable model. When buying an above-ground pool, you’ll also want to consider accessories like ladders and filters, and figure out whether they’re included or need to be purchased separately.
- Best Overall Above-Ground Pool: Intex Ultra Round Above-Ground Swimming Pool Set ($1469, was $2000)
- Best Metal Frame Above-Ground Pool: Bestway Steel Pro Frame Pool Set ($792, was $989)
- Best Inflatable Above-Ground Pool: Intex 13-Foot Easy Set Pool ($250, was $335)
- Best Saltwater Above-Ground Pool: Intex 26367EH Ultra XTR Pool Set With Saltwater System ($1899, was $3520)
- Best Budget Above-Ground Pool: Intex Rectangular Frame Pool ($165)
- Best Above-Ground Pool For Kids: Bestway Splash in Shade Spray Play Swimming Pool ($118)
- Best Extra-Large Above-Ground Pool: Ultra XTR Rectangular Swimming Pool Set ($2687)
Best Overall Above-Ground Pool
An 18-Foot Pool With A Comprehensive Accessory Kit
Intex Ultra XTR Frame Round Above-Ground Swimming Pool Set
- Dimensions: 18 x 4.3 feet
- Material: Galvanized steel frame, 3-ply PVC
- Included Accessories: Removable ladder, ground cloth, debris cover, filter pump
- Special Product Features: Easy lock assembly system
If you’re looking for a durable swimming pool that you can use for years to come, this 18-foot circular pool from Intex might fit the bill. It’s supported by a powder-coated steel frame with the brand’s Easy Lock assembly system, which allows for DIY setup, and it can be put together and ready for pool day in just one hour.
The pool is 18 feet in diameter and 4.3 feet deep, and it can hold 6,981 gallons of water. Plus, it comes with a variety of must-have accessories, including a Intex krystal clear sand filter pump, pool ladder, ground cloth and pool cover to keep debris out.
- Durable frame
- Fast DIY setup
- Puncture-resistant liner
- Ladder could be sturdier
Best Metal Frame Above-Ground Pool
A Circular Pool With A Sturdy Steel Frame And PVC Belt
Bestway Steel Pro Frame Pool Set
- Dimensions: 18 x 4 feet
- Material: Steel frame; PVC lining
- Included Accessories: Filter pump, filter cartridge, ladder, pool cover
- Special Product Features: Flow-controlled drain valve
Above-ground pools with metal frames are significantly more durable than inflatable models, yet they’re still easy to take down in the off season. This 18-foot pool from Bestway is supported by a rust-resistant steel frame, and it has a heavy-duty 3-ply PVC liner, as well as a reinforced belt that helps to keep the frame in place. The pool is 4 feet deep, and it can hold up to 6,092 gallons of water.
This circular pool is designed to be assembled by two to three people, and it comes with a number of accessories, including a filter pump, filter cartridge, ladder and pool cover. A flow-controlled drain valve makes it easy to empty when summer is over, and the pool comes in a variety of additional sizes, ranging from 10 to 16 feet in diameter.
- Rust-resistant frame
- Reinforced belt
- Additional sizes available
- Short warranty period
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Best Inflatable Above-Ground Pool
An Inexpensive Option That Can Be Set Up In Minutes
Intex Easy Set Inflatable Swimming Pool
- Dimensions: 13 x 2.75 feet
- Material: Laminated PVC
- Included Accessories: Filter pump
- Special Product Features: 10-minute assembly
For a more temporary above-ground pool, this inflatable option from Intex is easy to assemble and extremely budget-friendly. All you have to do is inflate the top ring, which takes around 10 minutes, and then it’s ready for water. The pool is on the smaller side at 13 feet in diameter and 2.75 feet deep, and it holds 530 gallons of water.
This inflatable pool is made from a puncture-resistant, 3-ply laminated PVC, and it includes a Krystal Clear cartridge filter pump that’s extremely easy to set up. The pool might not be the most durable option out there, but you can’t beat it in terms of value and ease of setup.
- Quick and easy to setup
- Not very durable
Best Saltwater Above-Ground Pool
A Large Rectangular Pool With A Salt Water Filter
Intex 26367EH Ultra XTR Pool Set With Sand Filter Pump & Saltwater System
- Dimensions: 24 x 12 x 4.3 feet
- Material: Steel frame, PVC liner
- Included Accessories: Pool ladder, ground cloth, sand filter, pool cover
- Special Product Features: Saltwater-compatible filter
Not a fan of having that chlorine smell in your hair? This rectangular above-ground pool comes with a saltwater filter pump system, which uses gentler chemicals to sanitize your pool. The pool is 24 feet long and 12 feet wide, and it’s supported by a steel frame lined with a thick, 3-ply PVC liner. It has a water capacity of 8,403 gallons, and it’s 4.3 feet deep.
In addition to the Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump and Saltwater System unit, this pool comes with several accessories, including a ladder, ground cloth, and debris cover. Its Easy Lock assembly system makes it easy to put together in around an hour, but the process is much easier if you have someone to help you.
- Large size
- Saltwater system
- DIY installation
- Ladder is poor quality
Best Budget Above-Ground Pool
A Well-Priced Option That’s A Breeze To Build
Intex Rectangular Frame Pool
- Dimensions: 9.8 x 6.6 x 2.5 feet
- Material: Metal frame, laminated PVC liner
- Included Accessories: N/A
- Special Product Features: N/A
Pools can be quite a large investment, but this above-ground option is a budget-friendly choice for your yard. The rectangular shape is available in four sizes and it’s supported by a rust-resistant metal frame and lined with laminated PVC.
This above-ground pool is easy to set up, but keep in mind that it doesn’t come with a filter or any other accessories—you’ll have to purchase them separately, if needed.
- Good value
- Easy to assemble
- No accessories
- Not very deep
Best Above-Ground Pool For Kids
A Cheery, Shallow Pool With A Sun Canopy
Bestway Splash in Shade Kids Spray Play Swimming Pool
- Dimensions: 8 x 1.6 feet
- Material: Metal frame, 3-ply PVC
- Included Accessories: Repair patch, UV canopy
- Special Product Features: Water sprayer, canopy
Kids will have a blast splashing around in this 8-foot pool, which is specifically designed for families. Not only does it have a shallow design that’s just 1.6 feet deep, but it also comes with a UV-protection canopy that will keep the pool shaded on hot days. It even has a fun, colorful exterior that children are sure to love and a water sprayer that mounts underneath the canopy.
This small pool has a rust-resistant metal frame and PVC lining, and it features a PVC support band around the pool wall. It comes with a repair patch in case the liner ever springs a leak, and a flow-controlled drain makes it easy to empty excess water.
- Shallow design
- UV-protection canopy
- Hard to clean
Best Extra-Large Above-Ground Pool
A Spacious Option That Can Accommodate A Ton Of Swimmers
Intex Ultra Xtr Rectangular Swimming Pool Set
- Dimensions: 32 x 16 x 4.3 feet
- Material: Galvanized steel frame, PVC liner
- Included Accessories: Pool ladder, ground cloth, sand filter, pool cover, deluxe pool maintenance kit, volleyball set
- Special Product Features: Volleyball set, salt water system
If you have a large yard, you might want to splurge on an extra-large above-ground pool, such as this one from Intex. It measures in at 32 x 16 feet, and it holds a whopping 14,364 gallons of water. It’s definitely spacious enough for your largest pool parties.
This pool is supported by a galvanized steel frame, and it comes with a combination sand filter and salt-water system pump, in case you want to forgo traditional chlorine maintenance. Other accessories include a ground cloth, debris cover, and pool ladder, and it even comes with a volleyball set for a little friendly competition.
- Extra large size
- Saltwater system
- Volleyball set
- Low-quality ladder
How To Choose The Best Above Ground Pool
The right above ground pool for you depends on a number of personal preferences—for example, how big of a pool you want and how much you’re willing to spend. Below, these are the factors worth considering to help you determine which above-ground pool is best for you and your yard.
Above ground pools come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and the best option for you depends on your specific needs. “You’ll want to consider the space you have available and how much of it you’re willing to fill with the pool,” says Lindbeck. On top of that, you’ll need to take into consideration how many people will be using the pool, as well as the ages of those people. For example, some of the larger options are 50 inches deep (or more), which may be too deep for younger children.
There are three main types of above-ground pools: inflatable, metal frame and hard-sided. Inflatable options are the most affordable and easiest to set up, but they lack durability, as they don’t have a hard frame. If you’re looking for something a little sturdier, consider a metal frame pool, which you can easily take down during the cooler months. While these take a bit longer to set up than inflatable pools, they typically have a rust-resistant steel frame that holds a PVC liner, which is a strong, flexible liner that contains the water within your pool to prevent leaks, mold and chemical waste. The most durable pools are those that are hard-sided, which are also the most costly.
Above-ground pools are typically made from a combination of metal frames and PVC liners, though those are not the only materials used. Some pools feature multi-ply liners, which tend to be more durable and are often tear- and puncture-resistant. You can also find pools with plastic frames, which are often cheaper than their sturdier counterparts. Just keep in mind that they won’t hold up as well to frequent use.
There are a variety of features commonly seen in above-ground pools, including easy-to-connect frame pieces, flow-controlled drains and reinforced belts. Many pools also come with key accessories like filter pumps, ladders and pool covers.
Ease of Assembly
One great thing about above-ground pools: Typically, they don’t require professional installation. That being said, these pools aren’t always easy to assemble, meaning you probably don’t want to put one together on your own. More hands on deck will lead to an easier, quicker installation process.
How do you install an above ground pool?
Before setting up your above ground pool, you’ll first need to level out the area where the pool will rest by putting down a layer of sand for cushioning or laying down a ground cover (if your pool came with one). From there, follow the manufacturer’s directions for assembling the frame and attaching the liner. “Be sure to read your pool’s warranty,” advises Lindbeck, as installing your pool improperly can “void your manufacturer’s warranty.” (If you opted for an inflatable pool, you’ll want to use an electric air pump to fill the sides with air.) Once your pool is fully assembled, go ahead and fill it up with water.
How do you clean an above ground pool?
There are a few tools you’ll need to keep your above ground pool clean. The most important is a filter pump. Connect it to the water line to help to filter out debris like dirt, bugs and leaves. Ideally, you’ll want to run it for several hours every day.
It’s also worth using a flat skimmer net “on the surface of the pool to remove floating leaves and debris,” recommends Lindbeck. “Brush the walls and ladder steps with a soft bristled brush to remove any algae or debris. Empty your skimmer and pump baskets.”
Then, on an as-needed basis, use a pool vacuum to remove algae and other debris from the pool. “Unless you have an automatic pool cleaner (a robot vacuum cleaner that automatically sweeps your pool floor), you need to manually vacuum your pool to clean up remaining debris from the pool floor,” says Lindbeck. “Be sure you’re using equipment made for vinyl liners to ensure that you are not damaging the pool while doing routine maintenance.”
How do you disassemble an above ground pool?
With the exception of hard-sided models, most above ground pools should be taken down when swimming season ends. To do this, you’ll want to start by cleaning out the pool and draining its water through the drain valve. Then, remove the inner liner and break down the frame into pieces, which you can then store however you choose.
Is it cheaper to build an above ground pool?
Yes, it is significantly cheaper to bui ld an above ground pool when compared to an inground pool. On average, large above ground pools cost between $1,000–$2,000 while in-ground pool installation will cost between $28,000–$55,000 according to Homeguide.com.
Memorial Day Deals On Above Ground Pools
From larger hard-sided options and blow-up pools to smaller kiddie pools and even options designed specifically for dogs, there are plenty of Memorial Day deals on above ground pools to be found this weekend.
A Great $100 Blow-Up Pool
INTEX 28131EH 12ft x 30in Easy Set Pool with Cartridge Filter Pump
A Smaller Version of the Best Metal Frame Above Ground Pool
Bestway Steel Pro MAX 15′ x 42″ Above Ground Pool Set
At fifteen x four feet, this metal-sided pool will still give your family plenty of room to float around. It’s currently $220 off at Amazon.
A “Doggy” Pool Designed to Help Your Pup Cool Off
YAHEETECH Foldable Outdoor Hard Plastic Dog & Cat Swimming Pool, Blue, X-Large
This foldable pet swimming pool is made of PVC and MDF boards and features a drainage hole on the side.
A Blow-Up Kiddie Pool Big Enough for the Whole Family
Zwissliv Inflatable Family Swimming Pool
At 95″×59”×24”, this blow-up kiddie pool is big enough for adults to lounge in, too. Made from PVC, this pool features kid-friendly designs on the exterior and two cup holders along the top.
Intex Prism Frame Above Ground Swimming Pool With Pump
For even more Memorial Day savings opportunities, head over to our Memorial Day Weekend coupon page to check out the deals from some of our favorite retailers