How to Select the Best Above Ground Pool in 2021

Above ground swimming pools can provide luxury, excitement, relaxation and fun for your family during those hot summer days. They are even great for hosting parties and sharing beautiful experiences with your friends and extended family members.


Most people purchase above ground pools because they are cheaper and easier to install than inground pools. However, you still have to prepare for the installation carefully. Several vital factors could impact whether an above ground pool can be set up in your backyard adequately.


Do you have a big backyard? Do you want a big pool? Consider how much space is in your backyard and compare it to the pool size that you wish to have on it.


An Overview of Swimming Pools


Before we focus on above-ground pools in particular, let’s review all the different types of pool choices available on the market. Then you can determine whether an above ground pool is ideal for your property.


Inflatable Swimming Pools


Inflatable pools are designed for younger kids to use. They are made of softer and flexible material to avoid accidental physical injuries and scrapes. Inflatable pools don’t get filled up with that much water, making it virtually impossible for small children to drown in them.


Adults love to purchase inflatable pools for their children because they don’t cost that much money. They are easy to set up without hiring a professional installer and utility worker to assist you. You could buy and install an inflatable pool for $100 to start. You won’t find a cheaper type of pool anywhere on the market.


Inground Swimming Pools


Everyone dreams of having an inground pool because it is the most luxurious choice. If you build the pool with durable materials, you can make it last for a very long time. Most importantly, an inground pool can increase the value of your property. Then you can sell your property for more money if you ever decide to list it for sale.


If you decide to install an inground pool in your backyard, get ready for a long and expensive construction job. You need to be completely prepared to commit to the project and spend at least $35,000 to get it done. Some homeowners end up spending more than $100,000 for larger inground pools. But if you think of it as an investment, then it could pay off substantially in the future.


Above Ground Swimming Pools


Above ground pools are considered the more affordable alternative to purchasing an inground pool. Installing an above-ground pool is obviously easier because you don’t have to dig deep into the ground. It is still a permanent structure, though.


The average above ground pool is made of steel and resin, which is a durable combination to resist harsh weather conditions. You can choose to hire a professional installer or perform the installation yourself.


If you choose to do it yourself, keep in mind that it is more complicated than installing an inflatable pool. You have to take measurements, dig a space on your property for the pool, and then assemble the outer structure of the pool. The job could take up to 6 hours for someone who knows what they are doing. If you learn the process as you go, it could take longer.


The good news is that an above ground pool kit costs as little as $1,500. Of course, the size and material of the above ground pool will determine its actual cost. But at least you won’t have to pay $30,000+ like you would for an inground pool.


Semi and Completely Buried Above Ground Swimming Pools


Above-ground pools are not all the same. Specific models require you to dig a couple of feet into the ground and sink the pool structure into it. The purpose is to make the above ground pool appear to be an inground pool while avoiding the massive expense of an actual inground pool installation.


There are different variations of the buried above ground pools. Some of them get buried partially, and others get buried completely. However, your total expenses will still be more than a traditional above ground pool. The average semi-buried pool costs about $10,000, which is more than three times the average surface-based above ground pool.


How to Prepare for an Above Ground Swimming Pool Installation


An above-ground pool installation is a big job. It requires you to plan every detail before you buy anything. That way, you don’t end up purchasing the wrong pool or supplies.


Here are the top preparations you need to make:


Choose a Location for the Pool


Where will the above ground pool get installed in your backyard? Choose a spot that is away from neighbors and complies with local laws. Since above ground pools provide a higher vantage point, you don’t want to be excused of peeping or spying on your neighbors. It also wouldn’t be good if they could see you either.


Choose an Appropriate Pool Size


The size of your above-ground pool must fit on the spot that you chose for the installation. Measure the diameter of the area if you haven’t done so already. Every foot makes a huge difference in terms of water capacity and human capacity. For instance, about 33% more water goes into a 27-foot pool than a 24-foot pool. You might not think a 3-foot difference in diameter will matter much, but it really does. 


Think about how many people you would like to have in your pool at the same time. If you’re planning to have pool parties, then you need a larger above ground pool. This might require you to switch to a more open spot in your backyard to accommodate a larger pool.


Just keep in mind that a bigger pool will cost you more money. If you’re not hosting pool parties regularly, then a bigger pool might not be a worthy investment. In this case, the default choice is a pool that can hold between 3 to 4 people. There won’t be enough room for lap swimming, but you can at least swim under the water without banging into people.


Look at a pool size chart for further assistance in selecting the right size above ground pool for your backyard.


Choose the Right Materials


Above ground pools require the proper combination of materials to secure it in place. For example, the base pad that goes underneath the pool must be comprised of durable materials. You can start with mason sand throughout the area of the base pad, followed by stones around the perimeter of it. That should stabilize your pool nicely.


You don’t have to transport these materials yourself. Contact a construction or landscaping company, and they can transport the materials on heavy-duty dump trucks to your home. If you buy the materials from a home improvement store or pool store, they will arrange this for you.


Create a Budget


All of the installation and maintenance expenses must be organized on a budget sheet. You need to track the cost of every material and service fee involved in the installation process.


The first big expense will be for the above ground pool kit itself. The second big expense is for the installation. Even if you try to install the pool yourself, you will still have material and transportation costs to consider from an independent standpoint. Most professional installers will include all these costs on the final bill you receive.


The average above ground pool kit will cost anywhere from $1,500 to $8,000. The size and materials are what influence the price. The installation cost is anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000, which is also influenced by the size and materials of the pool. In total, you will pay between $2,500 and $11,000+ for your above ground pool.


Don’t forget about the costs of the utilities, accessories and deck too! An above-ground pool kit does not include any of these items. They must be purchased and installed separately. 


Here is how much you will likely pay for these items and utility services:


  • Deck: $2,500 or higher


  • Water: Between $80 to $1,200 (to fill up the pool with water)


  • Electricity: Between $350 to $500


  • Water Pump and Pool Filter: Between $750 and $1,100


  • Pool Cover: Between $20 and $450


  • Pool Chemicals & Sanitation: Between $50 and $100 per month


The prices will vary for everyone. But now, you should have a rough idea of how much to budget for your above ground pool installation.


The Installation Process


Once you have your budget and finances figured out, the next step is to proceed with installing the above ground pool. Below are the main stages of the installation process.


1) Clear and Mark the Spot of the Designated Pool Location


During your preparations, you should have chosen a spot in your backyard for the pool. Now it is time to clear the land area of this spot and mark it with stakes and ropes. Clearing the designated area means removing the grass, rocks, sticks, and any other obstructions from it. Check with your local zoning and building agency for information about the barrier codes for your area.


2) Level the Designated Spot


Your designated spot is not perfectly even. Therefore, you have to level the area to make it even on all sides. A professional landscaper might be better suited for this task. They can use a skid steer or bobcat to level the area quickly and easily.


3) Drainage


You have to plan on pool water splashing onto the ground frequently. If you don’t have the proper drainage features set up on the site, your pool area could become a swamp before you know it. So, please take the appropriate steps to install drainage and pipes around the pool area.


4) Build the Foundation


Build the pool foundation by placing patio stones and blocks on the sides of the pool area. Level the blocks so that you’ll have a stabilized pool frame.


5) Place the Pool Base Material


Install the pool base pad. It is what lies between the terrain and the thin vinyl membrane of the liner. It will absorb all kinds of debris, such as insects, small animals, rocks, and stones. A robust supportive pool base can also protect the overall structure of your pool.  


6) Place the Liner


After the pool base pad is placed, the next step is to place the liner down over it. Do your best to place the liner without getting too many wrinkles in it. A couple of small wrinkles is not a problem, but bigger wrinkles and folds are a problem. If the wrinkles overlap, it is even worse. Make sure you resolve these issues before adding water to the pool.


7) Set Up the Frame


Now you can assemble the pool frame on the site. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Each piece is part of an overall uniform shape, so make sure the right shape is being formed. Also, make sure you tighten all the bolts and screws as much as possible.


8) Clear the Debris


The site will have a lot of sod and dirt leftover from the installation. Rather than throw it away, try redistributing the sod and dirt to other areas of your backyard. Any leftover packaging materials should be stored in your garage or shed for safekeeping. Don’t throw them away because you might need them if you ever disassemble your pool.


9) Review the Local Codes


Some cities and states require pool owners to obtain a pool permit for the construction job. It must be displayed on the site to stay in compliance with the local building and zoning codes.


If you have electrical wiring connected to the pool, the electrical configuration must be in compliance with local codes as well.


Above Ground Swimming Pool Maintenance Tips


Maintaining your above ground swimming pool does not have to be complicated. Just stick to an organized maintenance schedule to avoid any significant problems with the water. Follow these tips below:


Activate the Pool Filter Every Day


When you shop for a pool filter, choose one that eliminates bacteria and debris from the water.  Let your pool filter run for a minimum of 12 hours per day, but preferably for the entire 24 hours of the day. It will ensure that your water stays clean.


Conduct a pH Test on the Water


You need to know the pH value of the pool water. Conduct a pH test weekly to find out the value. It is best for the pH level to be anywhere from 7.2 to 7.6. If it is over or under these amounts, then apply the necessary chemicals to adjust the pH levels accordingly.


Conduct a Chlorine Test on the Water


If you use chemical chlorine in your pool water, you need to keep the chlorine level at around 2.0 to 4.0 ppm. Too much chlorine in the water can be just as bad as too little chlorine. You can tell when there is not enough chlorine because the pool water will turn green and ugly looking. So, keep testing the chlorine levels and adjust them appropriately.


Clear Debris from the Pumps and Skimmers


The pump basket and skimmer basket will get filled with debris quickly. Too much debris will prevent the filter from doing its job. That is why you must routinely clear out the debris from the pump basket and skimmer basket to keep the filter working fine.


Look for Algae and Mold


Algae and fungi are supposed to get killed by the chlorine chemicals. However, there could still be some algae deposit accumulating in various areas of the pool. You must remove these deposits and clean those areas before they accumulate too much.


 The Best Accessories for Above Ground Swimming Pools


Below are the must-have accessories for an above ground pool.




A water pump is what circulates the water in your pool. It allows pool water to pass through the filter and recirculate clean water back into the pool. Your cleaning system cannot function if you don’t have an active water pump.


Expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $400 for a good water pump.




A pool filter works alongside the pump to keep the pool water clean. As the pump circulates the water, all its debris and physical contaminants will get blocked at the filter area. Then only clean water will come out from the other side of the filter.


Expect to pay anywhere from $450 to $700 for the filter. Choose a heavy-duty filter that can handle cleaning the size of your pool.


Perma Salt (optional)


Some pool owners like to avoid using chlorine and other cleaning chemicals in their pool water. A more natural pool cleaning alternative is Perma Salt. Its natural minerals will break down the toxins and contaminants in the water without causing you any side effects. That means no irritated eyes or lungs like you might experience with chlorine.




You don’t have the luxury of hopping into an above ground pool from the ground level. It is an elevated structure with high walls erected from the ground. You can either climb over the walls to get into the water or use steps on the outside.


Pool steps are rounded and only have a few steps. The important thing is to choose heavy steps that can give you added stability before getting into the water. They are easy to install because you just need to position the steps on the outside of the pool.


The cost for good-quality pool steps will be between $250 and $400.




Steps in the pool water don’t really work as well as they do on the outside. It is better to use a ladder to climb out of the water. The ladder should be positioned adjacent from the steps on the other side of the wall.


The cost of a pool ladder is between $150 and $200.


Storage Units


Pool accessories pile up quickly. Between the vacuums, nets, chemicals, and equipment, you’ll need a good place to store all of these pool items. A storage unit or shed might be the perfect place for them.


You can buy a high-quality storage unit for between $250 and $500.




If you have small kids on your property, you’ll want to prevent them from getting into the pool area when you’re not around. A sturdy fence surrounding the pool is a great way to keep small kids out of it.


Good pool fences cost between $80 and $230.


Automatic Pool Cleaners


An automatic pool cleaner simplifies pool maintenance tremendously. It automatically cleans the bottom of your pool so that you don’t have to work as hard to clear the water.


Automatic pool cleaners cost between $130 and $600.


What is the Best Above Ground Pool for You?


Your backyard space will determine this more than anything else. Some above ground pools come with a deck and rails for added convenience. In this case, you would need a lot of available backyard space to accommodate it. But if you have a smaller space available, then you don’t need a pool that comes with a deck and rails. Instead, you can just build a stone wall fence around the pool.


Consider the purpose of your pool tool. Will you use it to host pool parties or events at your house? If you plan to have many people using your pool regularly, then a large pool with a huge deck might be appropriate. But only choose the larger option if you plan to host events at your home often. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be worth the money as an investment. You could settle for a smaller pool and be just as happy.


Don’t let the pool consume your entire backyard. You’ll still want to have plenty of free space to walk around and have fun with the family dog.


The Top 10 Best Above Ground Swimming Pools


Above ground pools come with different features and sizes. The manufacturers usually specialize in designing and building above ground pool kits for consumers. Since each kit is unique, doesn’t assume that all the features will be the same with each kit. You need to consider the durability of the frames, maintenance options, and depth variations of the kits.


Below are the top 10 above ground swimming pool sets on the market today.


1) Intex 26367EH Ultra XTR Above Ground Pool Set


The Intex 26367EH comes with the necessary accessories for establishing a thriving pool environment. Its D-shaped tubular components and powder-coated steel frame provides amazing durability and resistance to rust. These materials allow the pool to store a vast amount of water.


The dimensions are 24’x12’x52”. There is no need to hire a professional installer because the pool set is designed to simplify the installation process. There is interlock joint system where the pieces snap together without much hassle. The average user is able to assemble and install the pool within an hour.


If you prefer natural cleaning solutions for pool water, then you will appreciate the saltwater cleaning system that comes with this kit. Some of the other accessories that come with the kit include a debris cover, ladder, filter, liner, saltwater pump, and ground cloth.


When you implement all of these accessories together, you end up with an above ground pool with almost the same functionality as an inground pool. Just make sure you plot out enough space in your backyard because this above ground pool is larger than many of the others on the market.


2) Bestway 56597E Pro MAX Above Ground Steel Frame Pool


The Bestway 56597E has a strong frame design and premium quality materials. There are several different heights and sizes available for this model. Whichever sizes you choose, the joint reinforcements and designs are the same. When you put everything together, it produces a stable and secure above ground pool for your backyard.


The assembly process does not require a professional installer. In fact, it doesn’t even require any hardware or tools either. You simply have to lock the joints of the pieces together to produce the above ground pool structure. Most laymen pool owners can handle this task.


The price of the Bestway 56597E is very affordable. However, it doesn’t come with a filter, pump, ladder, or any other accessories. The only things you get with this kit are the pool and frame. Everything else needs to be purchased separately. Fortunately, the frame is extra durable and contains a coating that makes it resistant to rust and UV rays. It also protects against scratches and scuffs as well.


The flooring and walls are made of PVC material, with a 3-ply PVC band surrounding the base for added security and support.


3) Intex 15’x48” Easy Set Pool


The Intex Easy Set Pool features a simple three-step installation process as soon as you receive it. The first thing you do is lay the pool flat out on the ground in the designated spot you chose. The next step is to fill the top ring with air. Within about 15 minutes, you can begin filling the pool with water. Sound simple? It is!


Intex is generous enough to include essential accessories like a debris cover, ground cover, filter pump and ladder. The pool walls are made of laminated PVC for durability and resistance. However, it doesn’t have an actual frame, which means it won’t have as much durability as the other frame-based models. But still, the Intex Easy Set Pool is affordable and aesthetically pleasing to the eye.


When you’re ready to take down the pool for the winter, you can quickly drain it, fold it down, and place it in storage conveniently.


4) Intex 26743EH Greywood Premium Steel


The Intex 26743EH features an 18’ x 48” Greywood premium steel frame to form your above ground pool. Once the pool and frame are assembled, you can fill the pool with up to 6,423 gallons of water. The setup process should be pretty straightforward. Intex uses an interlocking joint system so that you can easily snap the pieces together to assemble the frame. Most people finish the assembly within an hour or so.


A moderate level of maintenance will be required. The good news is that you don’t have to keep draining the pool and refilling it with water. If you can regularly treat and filter the water, you can avoid replacing the water frequently. Plenty of tools and accessories come with this pool set, making it easy to keep the water clean. These accessories include a debris cover, ground cover, ladder, and filter.


5) Intex Rainbow Ring Inflatable Play Center


The Intex Rainbow Ring is an inflatable pool combined with a child’s play station and features a sprinkler, water slide, balls, and rings for kids to have fun and enjoy themselves.


It has a 16-foot diameter and a height of 5.5 inches, allowing small kids to enter the pool area easily. It is not a deep pool, so your kids will remain safe the entire time. All of the fun and enjoyable accessories will give your kids plenty of things to do.


Since it is an inflatable pool, it won’t take you much time to set it up and fill it with water. When you are done with the pool, you can easily drain the water and deflate the frame.


6) Homech Inflatable Swimming Pool


The Homech Inflatable Swimming Pool is one of the biggest inflatable pools on the market, with dimensions of 82” x 56” x 22”. It is still easy to set up indoors or outdoors. The walls and base are made of PVC material for added strength. The electric pump fills the three separate air chambers within minutes.


Deflating doesn’t take a lot of time either. You can fold up the Homech pool after you’re done with it and store it away somewhere safe. If you want an inflatable pool that combines a larger size with ease of use, then choose the Homech Inflatable Swimming Pool for your backyard.


7) Independence Deep Hard Side Pool


The Independence Deep Hard Side Pool features galvanized steel components and injection-molded resin connectors to create a durable and solid above ground pool. The diameter is 27 feet, and the depth is 52 inches. The steel top rails are 6 inches each, and the verticals are 5 inches each. Together, they produce a solid foundation to resist harsh weather conditions and the heavyweight of the water capacity.


Everything you could want is in this package, such as a skimmer, ladder, liner, maintenance kit, magnetic pool light and filter. The only things you’ll need to purchase separately are the debris cover and ground cover. The assembly may take some time because you need to prepare the site appropriately. Once the pool is assembled and set up, it can last for several years if properly maintained.


8) Intex 28273EH Rectangular Frame


The Intex 28273EH is a rectangular framed pool that is 14.75 feet by 33 inches, making it a decent-sized pool for any backyard. Its frame is made of heavy-duty PVC material, which can withstand the 1,883-water gallon capacity of the pool. If you want a smaller size pool, this particular model has three smaller sizes to choose from as well.


The assembly is no problem because the frame pieces lock together. We recommend you have two adults present to set up the frame. The pool size is large enough to accommodate a couple of adults and children as young as six years old. If you have a family of four people, the pool should be large enough to accommodate everyone at the same time.


The ground cover has to be purchased separately.


9) Blue Wave Martinique Deep Metal Wall


The Blue Wave Martinique Deep Metal Wall is 24 feet in diameter and 52 inches in depth, allowing for a total water capacity of 13,600 water gallons. This should leave enough room to accommodate up to 12 children at a time.


The zinc and aluminium-coated steel frame is resistant against corrosion, chips, nicks, scrapes, scuffs, and rust. Its resin components add extra durability and resistance to prevent UV fading and weather-related damage.


All the essential tools and accessories are found in the pool set, such as the filter, skimmer, ladder, and return. However, don’t expect to assemble and set up the entire pool within an hour. It is a little more complex and requires a minimum of 6 hours to set up. Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully so that you do everything correctly.


The pool is meant to be a permanent structure after it gets installed. So don’t store it away because it will deteriorate fast if it is unmaintained.


10) QNTICH 6’ Swimming Pool


The QNTICH 6’ Swimming Pool features a rounded shape to accommodate smaller backyards. The 6-foot diameter should leave enough room for kids to play and families and guests to move about in the backyard at the same time. Simply inflate the ring to set up the pool anywhere that you’d like. The pool is made of PVC material that is resistant to chemicals and UV rays.


You don’t need to empty and deflate the QNTICH pool after each use. In fact, it comes with a filter to clean the same water each day. But if you want to drain the water, you can use the drain valve to allow water to drain out of it directly. The valve helps prevent yard flooding too.


The Top 4 Tips to Remember Before Purchasing an Above Ground Pool


Try to remember the following four tips before rushing out and buying an above ground pool.


1) Calculate Your Budget


Understand how much money you are going to spend before you buy anything. That way, you don’t get surprised by any upfront costs and ongoing expenses later on. Research everything carefully.


2) Hire an Expert Pool Builder


If you hire a professional pool builder or installer, make sure they have the necessary credentials to do the job right. Check out their background and history of customer service to see if it is positive.


3) Get Up to Four Estimates at the Most


Getting a good deal is essential, but don’t overwhelm yourself with getting too many estimates. Just get between 3 and 4 estimates at the most. Then decide on which deal is the best for your budget and pool needs.


4) Shop at the Physical Store


An above-ground pool is a significant investment, so you shouldn’t buy it over the internet or by phone. It would help if you saw the physical pool in person first. Find a local pool shop in your area and browse the above ground pools they have available. That way, there are no misconceptions about its size or the quality of its materials.




Now you should understand the important considerations to make when buying an above-ground swimming pool for your backyard. It is not always a small or easy task because you must consider several different variables and factors. But if you pay attention to the size of your backyard and the materials and features of the pool, you should be able to choose the right pool for your needs.