Which Above Ground Pool Will You Want?

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If you have ever dreamed of having a swimming pool in your backyard, but found the price of an inground pool prohibitive, an above ground pool may well be within your reach. Not only does it cost far less to buy an above ground pool than to install an inground pool, but the above ground pool is also easier to keep clean and safer if you have pets or young children.

A pool provides so much fun and exercise for the entire family. Imagine hot afternoons spent floating on a raft, glass of lemonade in hand. Or backyard barbecues around the pool. Or your kids splashing and laughing all summer long. There are many great benefits to having an above ground pool, but there are also several factors to consider when deciding what type of pool to buy.

Regardless of the type of above ground pool you choose, the location is the first decision you will need to make. A pool should be placed:

  • In an area large enough for the pool, ladder and filter
  • With sufficient surrounding area for swimmers to easily access the pool
  • Away from any tall trees or power lines
  • In full sun

You will also need to check with your local city zoning office about any required permits. Be aware that some areas require the same type of safety fencing around an above ground pool that is required for an inground model.

There are three basic types of above ground pool.


Do You Want A Pool For Occasional Use?

Ring Pools: These pools are made of a heavy vinyl shell with an inflatable ring around the upper edge. Once the top ring is inflated, you simply fill up the pool with water which expands and fills out the pool’s shape. Ring pools range in size from 5 to 20 feet across and from 3 to 4 feet deep. Taking only half an hour or so to set up, these are perfect for occasional use during warm weather or for a special occasion. When not in use, the entire pool can be collapsed and stored in the garage or shed. Most ring pools come with a small ladder and filter pump that sits on the ground outside the pool. This is the least expensive option, but also the least durable. You can set up a ring pool on grass, sand, gravel or concrete. Most are round, but oval pools are also available. You can buy a ring pool for as little as $100, or up to $1,000 for large, elaborate models.

Do You Want A Pool Just For The Summer Season?

Frame Pools: The next step up in terms of durability and price, frame pools consist of a strong metal frame that shapes and supports a puncture-resistant, very heavy vinyl liner. Round or rectangular pools are available with sizes ranging from 12 to 24 feet across and 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 feet deep. Frame pools generally include the ladder and filter pump and are easy to set up. You can expect to have your frame pool ready to fill with water in an hour or so. These pools are a great choice if you want to enjoy your pool during the summer, but store it for the winter. You can set up a frame pool on grass, gravel, sand or concrete. Expect to pay between $300 and $1,500 for a frame pool.

Do You Want A Permanent Pool?

Hard-Sided Pools: These are permanent pools, requiring a bed of sand for installation. Though a very experienced DIYer can set up a hard-sided pool, most people leave this job to professionals. The hard, formed sides are made of aluminum, steel or resin with a heavy vinyl liner for the pool’s inside. The hard walls are surrounded with a supportive frame. The thicker the frame, the stronger the pool will be. You can build a deck around your hard-sided pool to disguise the unattractive frame, provide a pleasant place to lounge or sit and make the pool look more like an inground pool.

Aluminum is the lightest and least expensive material for a hard-sided pool, but also the least durable. Steel is extremely durable and heavy, but may rust if not coated with a rust resistant protectant. Resin is very strong and durable and will not rust or oxidize. You can choose a round, rectangular or oval shaped pool with sizes ranging from 12 to 36 feet across and from 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 feet deep. Usually the ladder and filter are sold separately. Since this is a permanent pool, you will also need to consider any necessary seasonal items such as a pool cover, winterizing chemicals and stakes and clips made for keeping a pool protected in harsh weather. The price range for hard-sided pools is very wide depending on material, size, installation and choice of accessories. However, generally, you can expect to pay between $2,000 and $6,000 for the installed pool. When you consider that the average price for an inground pool is over $20,000 to install, you realize the tremendous cost savings of an above ground pool.

Pool Accessories

Along with your pool, ladder and filter, you will need supplies for keeping the pool clean. Plan on buying:

Adding an above ground pool to your yard will change it from boring to the center of summertime action in your neighborhood. Make sure to get a few pool toys along with the other supplies and enjoy watching your kids splash and play all summer long.

Last Updated: July 15, 2012
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About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

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