Some homeowners are lucky enough to have space to build a pool in their yard, and it’s an attractive feature buyer looks for if you ever end up selling. Built-in pools are great, but what do you do if your yard is too small, or you’re renting your home at the moment?
You need an above-ground swimming pool you can build and use when you need it during the summer. However, you also need it to remain portable so you can take with you if you move or store it away when the weather turns cold in the winter.
Above-ground pools come in a variety of shapes, sizes, styles, and designs. There’s something to suit anyone’s price range when selecting an above ground pool for the garden. In this review, we’ll walk you through our top choices for the best model for your home.
Our Top Picks
- 1 Our Top Picks
- 2 Above Ground Pools Reviews
- 3 Bestway 56631E Power Steel Above Ground Pool Set
- 4 Intex Oval Frame Pool
- 5 Summer Waves Elite Above Ground Frame Pool
- 6 Above Ground Pool Buyers Guide
- 7 Installing Your Above Ground Pool
- 8 Above Ground Pool Accessories
- 8.1 Above Ground Pool Decking
- 8.2 Cost
- 8.3 Tips for Pool Safety
- 8.4 What Is the Service Life of an Above Ground Pool?
- 8.5 What Is the Best Style or Shape of Above Ground Pool?
- 8.6 What Is the Maintenance Involved with an Above Ground Pool?
- 8.7 Do I Need a Permit to Setup an Above Ground Pool?
- 8.8 How Can I Improve Safety Around the Pool for My Kids?
- 8.9 Can I Install My Above Ground Pool Myself?
- 8.10 Do I Need to Buy an Above Ground Pool from a Dealer?
- 8.11 What’s the Best Size Pool to Suit My Yard?
- 8.12 How Can I Extend My Liner Service Life?
- 9 Conclusion
When reviewing the hundreds of above ground pools available on the market, we rounded them down to the ten models in this review.
If you want to skip to the cream of the crop, then here are our top picks for the best above ground pools. Intex is the leading brand in above-ground pools for your home, and it’s not surprising to see its products feature in our top three slots.
Best Pick: Intex Metal Frame Pool Set with Filter
- Triple strong, SUPER-TOUGH laminated sidewalls are reinforced with an all-around band to keep frame legs firmly in Place
- Ready for water in 45 minutes, - Follow the Instructional DVD for easy set up, and enjoy the fun! water capacity: (90%) 4, 440 gallons
- Includes: Krystal clear cartridge filter pump 1, 000 GPH (110 - 120V). ladder. Ground cloth. Debris cover. 3-ply material
- Set-up and maintenance DVD. Convenient drain plug that connects to a garden hose so water can be drained away from pool or house area
- New dual suction outlet fittings improve water circulation resulting in better water hygiene and clarity;Easy assembly.Ages 6+
Keep your family cool and refreshed this coming summer with this circular pool set from Intex. This pool features a sturdy metal frame, a powerful and efficient pump, and filter, as well as plenty of room for the whole family.
Premium Pick: Intex Ultra XTR Rectangular Pool Set
- Engineered for strength, the ultra frame pool is supported by strong, durable Steel frames which are powder coated for rust resistance and beauty
- With a contemporary appearance and increased strength the Intex ultra frame pool is the standard for luxury in the market.Age Grading: 6+
- Connect the Krystal clear sand filter pump to enjoy clear, sparkling water. Ready for water in 60 minutes
- New dual suction outlet fittings improve water circulation resulting in better water hygiene and clarity. The newly designed ladder also provides greater support and stability
- Water capacity: (90%) 4, 545 gallons. Includes: Krystal clear sand filter pump 1, 200 GPH (110 - 120V). ladder. Ground cloth. Debris cover. Set-up and maintenance DVD
Looking to splash out in style? This model from Intex wins our pick for the best premium model above-ground swimming pool. The corrosion-resistant frame, specially coated exterior, and an efficient filter system make this model attractive and long-lasting.
Budget Pick: Intex Easy Set Pool Set with Filter
- A 110-120 volt filter pump is included and is very easy to install- just hook up the hoses and enjoy clean refreshing water;Age Grading : 6+
- Ready for water in 10 minutes, - simply spread out on level ground, inflate the top ring, fill the pool with water, and enjoy the fun!
- Includes: SUPER-TOUGH laminated PVC sidewalls. 110 - 120 Volt Filter Pump with 330 gallon per hour flow rate. Set-up and maintenance DVD.
- Convenient drain plug that connects to a garden hose so water can be drained away from pool or house area. Water capacity: (80%) 639 gallons.
- New dual suction outlet fittings improve water circulation resulting in better water hygiene and clarity.
For those shoppers looking for the best value in an above ground swimming pool, we suggest the Intex Easy Set. This affordable pool is a simple design that’s easy to set up, and it comes with a filter as well. The inflatable pool is ideal for seasonal use, offering compact storage after the summer ends.
Above Ground Pools Reviews
When selecting our candidates for the best above ground pool, we looked at user reviews and what people were saying about their pools online and on social media, to make our decision. We found that the leading brands in above ground pool design include Intex, Bestway, Summer Waves, and Coleman.
Let’s unpack each of the offerings, allowing you to select the pool that’s right for your yard and your use. If you need some further guidance with making your
Intex Above Ground Pool – The Best Overall ModelThis model from Intex wins our top pick for the best overall above ground pool. This 15ft x 48-inch model features a circular design and a sturdy metal frame. The stainless steel frame features a white corrosion-resistant coating to protect the steel from the elements, and saltwater.
This kit comes with everything you need to set up your pool. It comes complete with a pump and filtration system, and this model has a favorable price point as well.
This model features the latest Intex pump technology called “Hydro-Aeration.” As a result, the water in your pool is crystal clear all year round. If you’re looking for an above ground pool that will last more than a few seasons, then thins Intex model is a top choice.
The only gripe we have with this model is that the liner tends to fade quickly. Reviews suggest you’ll notice a color change within the first few months of the summer. While this effect doesn’t damage the pool or its performance, it does withdraw from the aesthetic.
- Reasonable pricing
- Powerful and efficient pump and filter
- Easy assembly
- Durable design and construction
- Family size and spacious
- The color of the liner starts to fade quickly
Intex Ultra XTR – Best Premium Model
If you’re looking for the best premium model for your money, then Intex takes the cake with this Ultra XTR model. This above ground pool features an oval design, as well as a durable and sturdy galvanized steel frame with a corrosion-resistant coating.
This model comes with a sand-based water filter for optimal water filtration to keep your pool looking sparkling all year-round.
Intex also supplies a 2-year warranty on this model, protecting you against any manufacturing defaults. However, we think the robust design and quality materials used in the manufacture of this pool will ensure it provides you with extended service life.
While it may be the most expensive pool in this review, the quality of the design and components makes it a worthwhile purchase. Assembly might be challenging, and we recommend you hire a professional service to help you set up your pool.
- Sturdy frame with corrosion-resistant coating
- Powerful pump and filter featuring high-quality components
- Stylish design
- Challenging to assemble
Intex Easy Set Above Ground Pool – The Best Budget Model
If you’re looking for an above ground pool, and you need the most affordable model available, then you can’t go wrong with the Intex 8ft x 30-inch inflatable pool. This model is the ideal splash pool for kids, and it can even keep adults cool on hot summer days.
This model also comes with a pool pump to help you circulate the water, and it deflates into a compact size for easy storage at the end of the summer.
Due to the inflatable nature of this pool, you can expect that the service life will be shorter than the other above-ground models in this review. However, considering the price and the ease of use, it’s a good value choice for any backyard.
- Easy to set up
- Great as a splash pool for kids
- Includes a pump
- Offers compact storage when deflated
- Small size
- Only lasts two or three seasons
Bestway Steel Pro Above-Ground Pool
For couples living in a townhouse or cluster home, the Bestway Steel Pro 12ft x 30-inch above ground pool is a cozy option for the yard. With smaller dimensions than most of the pools in this review, the Bestway is the ideal personal pool.
This model comes with a very affordable price tag, and despite the lower price tag, Bestway doesn’t skimp on the features and quality. The pool features a stainless steel frame that durable and corrosion-resistant, and the package also includes an instructional DVD for easy setup.
You won’t need any assistance when installing this pool, and its small size allows easy positioning on a patio as well.
The only issue we have with this pool is that it comes with no pump or filtration unit, and no accessories. Therefore, you might end up blowing the savings you make on the purchase price when you go to buy your accessories.
- Stainless steel frame for excellent corrosion resistance
- Easy to assemble
- Affordable and good value
- No Ladder Included
Bestway Steel Pro Rectangular Above-Ground Pool
Bestway makes a second appearance in this review with another affordable above ground pool that’s one of the largest in this review.This model features a stainless steel corrosion-resistant frame and a quick drain feature for easy clean up at the end of the summer.
After reading the customer reviews on this pool, there seem to be some random issues with the siding of the pool liner. Some users report premature leaking during the first swimming season.
Similar to the previous Bestway model we covered, this model comes with no accessories and no pump or filter. Being a large pool, you’ll probably need some assistance when setting it up in your yard.
- Large family size
- Quick drain feature
- Challenging to set up
- No pump or filtration unit included
Summer Waves Above Ground Pool
Sumer Waves offer this affordable above ground pool for your yard. The 12ft x 33-inch size of the model makes it an attractive choice for smaller yards.
You get a filter and pump in the kit, but there’s no other accessories included and no ladder. Buying these accessories by themselves will significantly increase the costs involved with your purchase.
User reviews suggest there are some quality control issues with this model, and some users state that the siding springs leaks after just a week of use.
The PVC frame is lightweight and corrosion-resistant, but it lacks the durability of stainless steel or other alloys.
- Easy to set up and install
- A robust frame and durable siding
- Pump and filtration unit included
- Ladder not included
- Siding might fade after a few seasons
Bestway 56631E Power Steel Above Ground Pool SetThis model is Best ways flagship, and it’s an impressive above ground pool made with top-quality materials. The stainless steel, powder-coated frame offers plenty of structural strength, and the walls feature design and construction with PVC mesh for extra resilience.
The frame also features a “Lock and Seal” system that prevents water from getting into the hollow tubes of the frame.
While this pool does come with a pump and filtration unit, there’s no ladder included in the package, and you’ll need to buy it separately.
The pool is somewhat challenging to assemble, and you might need the help of a handyman to set it up in your yard.
- Lock and Seal stainless steel frame
- Includes pump and filter
- Stylish design
- Doesn’t come with a ladder included
- Challenging assembly
- Frustrating customer service
Intex Oval Frame Pool
We love this oval-shaped pool from Intex. If you want a larger pool, then this model is a good choice. This model is affordable, and it comes with a full complement of accessories, including a ladder, and a pump and filtration unit.
The oval design adds a pleasant aesthetic to the pool, and the sturdy, corrosion-resistant frame provides years of use.
- Robust and durable corrosion-resistant frame
- Stylish oval design
- Includes pump and filtration unit
- Full range of accessories included
- Good value for money
- Easy to set up
- The pump is somewhat underpowered
Splash Pools Oval Deluxe Above-Ground SetThis above ground pool is expensive, and it’s enormous. If you want a pool for doing laps, then this model is your best option. Featuring an oval design, you can fit ten or more adults in this pool with ease.
The package includes a surface skimmer, pump, and filtration unit, as well as a high-quality ladder. While its more expensive than most models in this review, the extra cost doesn’t translate to quality, and there are numerous reports of leaks occurring with this model.
- Includes a full range of accessories
- Pump and filter included
- Some buyer reviews suggest frequent leaks
- Challenging assembly
Summer Waves Elite Above Ground Frame PoolThe Summer Waves Elite above ground pool is an excellent option. This model comes with a pump and filtration unit, as well as a ladder and a solar cover. The affordable price is appealing, but customer reviews say that this model also experiences leaks in the sidewalls.
It has a durable metal frame which is easy to put together so you should have your pool up and running in no time at all.
- Pump and filter included
- Durable siding materials
- Design might not be to everyone’s taste
Above Ground Pool Buyers Guide
Now that you have an idea of the best models available, let’s give you the information you need to know to settle on which pool is right for you and your home.
Plan the Pool Site
Planning where you’re going to put your pool in your yard is the most important step of selecting the right above ground pool. Before you head to the check out its time to do some homework.
Take a set of four wooden or plastic stakes and a ball of string. Walk into your yard and stake out the area where you want to put your pool. Make sure that you keep the pool at least 6-feet from your walls to allow you to move around the pool for easy cleaning and maintenance.
It’s also essential to keep your pool at least 8 to 10-feet away from trees to allow for full sun conditions on the surface of your pool throughout the day.
Stake out the area, and mock up the footprint of your pool by tying the string around the stakes. Use a measuring tape to measure out the area, and you now have a good idea of the best size pool to suit your yard.
If you’re planning on adding a deck to the pool, then make sure you accommodate for this in your measurements.
As a final check before you decide on your purchase, make sure that you are following local HOA and city or town regulations. Most states, cities, and towns see pool permitting as the homeowner’s responsibility.
Shape and Sizing
After staking out the floorplan of your pool, and taking the measurements, it’s time to look at the shapes and sizes of pools to suit your yard. Most above ground pools work out to between 12 to 18-feet in diameter, with some models being as large as 40-feet, making them as big as a built-in swimming pool.
When it comes to selecting the shape of your pool, you’ll have to choose between a circular, rectangular, or oval design.
Rectangular or oval models are the best choice if you want to do laps in your pool, or if you fit the pool into a corner of your yard.
Circular pools are easy to set up and dismantle, and it’s a typical shape for most inflatable pools as well. If you and your family want a pool for your yard, then we recommend selecting a model that’s at least 24-inches in diameter. This size is suitable for 5 to 6-people to use the pool at a time.
Most above ground pools come with heights varying between 48 to 54-inches. If you have young kids, then consider getting a shallow pool so they can put their feet down and have their heads as close to the surface as possible.
Above Ground Pool Frames
When selecting your ideal above ground pool, it’s essential to pay attention to the frame of the model. Most pools feature design and construction with durable, lightweight materials like stainless steel or resin-molded tubing.
When selecting your pool, choose a model that offers easy user setup. If you’re constructing a large pool by yourself, then it might be a good idea to hire a handyman for the day to help you set it up in your yard.
If you’re buying a pool with a steel or alloy frame, make sure that it offers corrosion resistance. Look for coated steel or resin-molded frames if you intend to use a saltwater chlorinator in your pool. The saltwater eats away at an unprotected structure quickly, resulting in a loss of structural integrity in the pool frame that could tear your liner.
However, if you’re using a standard chlorine filtration system for your pool, then most frames will be suitable for the job. However, coated frames provide excellent corrosion resistance to the outside elements as well, so consider that factor when selecting your ideal above ground pool.
A resin-molded frame might not offer the same strength as steel or alloys, but it’s far more durable, and it’s entirely corrosion-resistant.
Pool Liner Materials
The pool liner is another critical component of selecting the best above ground pool. You want a robust and durable coating that lasts through many seasons. The liner receives exposure to the sun’s UV rays, and it can fade and damage low-quality siding materials used in above ground pools.
Most above ground pools make use of a vinyl lining, which offers the best resistance to sun weathering, providing your pool liner with long service life.
Filtration and Pumps
If the water does receive circulation and cleaning through a pool pump and filtration unit, then it’s going to turn stagnant at some stage. Stagnant water results in all types of health hazards, and you’ll need to drain and replace the old water with fresh water every other day or so, depending on your environmental conditions and how often you use the pool.
Therefore, it’s advisable to choose a unit with a pump and filter included in the package. The pump and the filter work together to keep your pool sparkling all summer long. When selecting the pump and filter, makes sure you know the difference between a saltwater chlorinator and a chlorine-based system.
The pump is the heart of your pool. This unit pulls the water from the pool, sending it through a filtration system that removes all debris from your pool. You need to ensure that the pump has enough power to circulate the water efficiently, or you’ll end up experiencing issues with the pump, and reduced service life of the machine.
Saltwater chlorinators are suitable for those families where members have sensitive skin, and chlorine might make them feel itchy after a swim.
However, saltwater chlorinators are typically more expensive, and you’ll need to buy giant bags of salt to throw into your pool from time to time. Usually, a saltwater pool is easier to maintain than a chlorine system, and you’ll experience fewer issues with chemical imbalances in the water.
Installing Your Above Ground Pool
After purchasing your pool, the online retailer will ship it directly to your door. Setting up the pool in your yard can be a challenging or straightforward task, depending on the model you buy. For the most part, inflatable pools are easy to set up. All you need to do is fill them with air and water, and you’re ready to take a swim.
However, larger pools with frames and liners require some calculated thought when setting them up in your yard. If you order a large pool, then you might want to think about hiring a professional installation company or handyman to help you build the pool.
There are quite a few steps involved with the successful installation of a large above ground pool.
A professional handyman or installation service might cost a few dollars, but it’s worth it when you consider the hassle involved with the process of building your pool.
Start by leveling the ground. Your pool needs a stable and level surface, or you’re going to end up having one side that’s fuller than the others. Ensure that the ground has no stones or roots are showing, and then pack the soil around the pool area using a leveling machine.
Make sure that you place patio blocks under all of the uprights of the frame to prevent them from sinking into the ground. If you’re working with a large kit, it might take two or three people to help you with the job, unless you want to try and struggle by yourself, which isn’t a great idea.
As mentioned, most above ground pools come with a filter and pump. These units require electricity to operate, and you’ll need to have a power supply. We advise against the use of an extension cord, as it can end up causing an electrical hazard around water, which is a dangerous situation for you and your family.
Call an electrician to wire up your pool to your home’s electricity. It might be an additional expense, but the safety of your family is priceless.
Above Ground Pool Accessories
Check the kit you’re interested in buying for the accessories it offers with your purchase. Some above goring pools come with a full range of accessories, while others come with none. If you have to purchase your accessories separately, the costs could mount up to the same as the sticker price of your pool, in some cases.
Some of the more popular accessories to look out for when purchasing your pool are the following.
- Ladders – An essential accessory for getting in and out of the pool without damaging the frame or yourself.
- Heaters – Extend your swimming season well into the fall
- Cleaners – Skimmers ad pool cleaners provide you with easy maintenance
- Salt Chlorinators – Turn your pool into a saltwater system that’s easier on your skin than the chemicals in a chlorine pool
- Pool lighting – Some pools come with built-in lighting systems for swimming at night
- Solar cover – Keep your pool warm when not in use
Above Ground Pool Decking
If you purchase a high-quality above ground pol from this review, then you can use it as a permanent fixture in your yard with the addition of decking around the perimeter of the pool. Decking provides a pleasing aesthetic to the pool, and it improves the pool experience, making it feel like a real built-in pool in your yard.
Decks are a great idea for any above-ground setup, but you’ll need to take the size of the deck into account when planning your pool. As a rule of thumb, your decking should be no less than 6-feet wide for safety reasons.
Decks also hide your pump system, as well as any other pool maintenance and cleaning accessories, keeping your pool neat and tidy, with no clutter lying around.
When buying your above ground pool, you need to take into account the costs of the entire exercise. Some pools come with a full accessory kit, while others require you to buy them separately. When assessing the costs of your pool, take the following factors into account.
- The sticker price of the pool
- The cost of the accessories if not included
- The costs of hiring a professional fitment team or handyman to help you with the setup of the pool
- The costs of any related city permits
- The maintenance and running costs of pool ownership during the year
Choose a pool that’s within your budget. You need to understand all of the cost components involved with your pool before you settle on your purchase.
Tips for Pool Safety
Pool safety is paramount to ensure your safety and that of your family. Never let anyone swim alone. They could bump their head and pass out in the pool, resulting in drowning.
If you have young children, then make sure you take preventative measures to ensure that your kids stay out of the pool when you’re not around. Adding a fence around the perimeter of the pool will keep your kids and pets out of the pool, preventing a tragic accident.
Kids require adult supervision whenever they use the pool.
Above Ground Pools FAQ
The chances are you still have a few questions about your above ground pool before you settle on the model that’s right for you and your yard. We put together this list of frequently asked questions to help you narrow down your decision.
What Is the Service Life of an Above Ground Pool?
Your above ground pool should provide you with a service life of anywhere between 5 to 15-years, depending on the brand.
What Is the Best Style or Shape of Above Ground Pool?
The style and shape of your pool, depending on your use. If you want a pool for swimming laps and keeping fit, then you’ll benefit from a rectangular or oval pool that allows you to swim from end to end.
If you want a pool for family fun to splash around, then a circular option is the best choice. For those parents looking for a pool for their kids, a circular inflatable option is a great choice.
What Is the Maintenance Involved with an Above Ground Pool?
Your above ground pool is easy to maintain, provided that you adhere to the maintenance schedule. You’ll need to add salt or chlorine to your pool to keep the water ph balance in check, and you’ll need a water kit for testing as well.
Other than that, you’ll need to replace the sand in the filter every few years. This task helps to keep your pool looking sparkling. A brush and net help to keep the surface of the water and the sides of the pool clean.
Do I Need a Permit to Setup an Above Ground Pool?
In most cases, you won’t need a permit to set up your pool, especially if it’s a small inflatable. However, all cities and municipalities are different from state to state, so check in with your town planner or city council before you buy your pool. The zoning department will be able to assist you with any permits you require for the installation of your above ground pool.
How Can I Improve Safety Around the Pool for My Kids?
If you have small children, and you don’t want them falling in the pool on accident, we recommend you install a fence with a locking gate around your pool for safety’s sake.
Can I Install My Above Ground Pool Myself?
If you’re buying an inflatable option, then you can easily get away with putting up your above ground pool by yourself. However, if you’re purchasing a larger pool for many people, chances are you’re going to need some help.
Hire a handyman to help you prepare the floor of the pool, and an electrician to wire the pump safely. A professional fitment service might cost you a few more dollars on your pool budget, but it’s worth the money – trust us on that one, the hassle of trying to do the job yourself isn’t worth the savings you make.
Do I Need to Buy an Above Ground Pool from a Dealer?
You can buy your above ground pool from a dealer, but prepare yourself for a premium price tag. Dealers have overheads to pay on their showrooms, and they add that into the sticker price of your pool.
Also, dealers have an incentive to sell specific models. As a result, the dealer might not have your best interests at heart, and they might sell you a rubbish product just to drive up revenues.
We recommend that you get your above ground pool from a reputable online dealer or seller, such as Amazon. There is far more selection on offer, and sellers don’t have the same overheads as brick-and-mortar retailers. Therefore, you can probably score a significant discount on your pool by shopping online.
What’s the Best Size Pool to Suit My Yard?
When selecting the best size above ground pool for your yard, use the staking process we outlined earlier. When staking out the area, make sure that you include room for a deck if you want to set one up.
You’ll also need to ensure that you have an electrical outlet nearby to power the pump, or you’ll need to hire an electrician to come into your yard and wire your pool to the mains. When selecting the right size pool for your yard, ask yourself what you want from your pool.
Do you want a simple splash pool? Or do you want a pool for swimming training? Both of these suggestions require different pools, so make sure you choose a model that’s suits your swimming needs and the size of your yard.
How Can I Extend My Liner Service Life?
If you’re trying to extend the service life of the liner in your above ground swimming pool, then make sure you choose the right cleaning equipment. After heavy rains, the water in the pool experiences a chemical and pH imbalance, resulting in the water turning slightly green as the algae start to grow.
Algae stick to the sides of the pool walls, and you’ll need to clean it away with a soft brush to allow the filter to process it out of the water. Avoid using hand vacuums, as they may tear the material. Limit your use of floor cleaners for your pool, as they might split the material if they get stuck. Only use the cleaner when necessary.
Watch the liner above the water surface for signs of fading and dry rot. Be careful with your use of pool chemicals, and always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for adding chemicals to the water.
Fortunately, most manufacturers offer replacement liners if your liner starts to wear after a few years of use.
If you’re still sitting on the fence trying to figure out which above ground pool is the best choice, then why not rely on our top pricks?
If you’re looking for the best pool for family fun, then you can’t beat our top choice; the Intex 15ft X 48-inch Above Ground Pool. This pool has everything you need to get swimming as soon as possible.
If you only have a room for a splash pool to keep you cool on hot summer days, then we recommend the Intex Easy Set Pool Set with Filter (8ft X 30-inches). This pool is easy to set up, and it’s all kids and adults need to cool off in warm weather. The affordable price tag is appealing if you’re working with a budget, and it even comes with a pump as well.
There’s an above ground pool in this review to suit your yard and your family’s swimming needs. Make this summer exceptional, and treat you and your family to a cool, cool summer.