How to Buy an Above Ground Pool: A Definitive Guide

Buying an above ground pool is more than just a luxury for the family. It opens the door for nice, relaxing summer days, fun parties, and a lifetime of memories. Buying an above ground swimming pool can be a tricky process – one that runs deeper than many might assume.

It’s not a quick product you can just buy and throw in the backyard. You’ll need to consider a few key factors before installation, including what kind of property you have, what size of pool you’re looking for, and what will make your pool experience worthwhile.

This complete guide on buying an above ground pool will help you consider various factors from buying to installation.

In this guide, we will discuss:

Let’s “dive” in, shall we?

The Different Types of Pools

First things first: before you throw yourself into the world of above ground swimming pools, make sure you have an idea of the pool type you’re looking for. There are several options, and it’s smart to evaluate all of them before you open your wallet.

Inflatable Pools

kids playing in inflatable pool

An inflatable, movable pool is often ideal for people who have small children. They’re not too deep, and you can fill it up or pack it away as necessary. Plus, the sides are softer, resulting in fewer scraped knees and injuries.

And the best part? They’re super easy to set up!

However, inflatable pools are certainly not a permanent option. Weather, animals, and even rough-housing children can cause damage. They’re definitely not meant for long-time use - more often, they’re pulled out seasonally.

Inflatable pools come at the cheapest price point – with the smaller models generally starting at around $100.

Traditional Above Ground Pools

traditional above ground pool

For those who don’t want to spend $30K on an in-ground pool, an above ground option is cost-effective and enjoyable. It’s a permanent installation that allows for a deep, year-round pool without digging too far into the ground. These are typically made with a steel structure, resin, or a hybrid of both.

A traditional above ground pool setup can be installed by a consumer, but it’s usually recommended to have a professional installer do the job. Typically, it takes about 4 -6 hours to level out the designated space and set up the pool.

The pricing of traditional above ground pools can vary quite a bit. In most cases, you’ll need to get a quote from a supplier. Depending on the size and material, above ground pool prices usually start at $1,500 for the kit alone.

Semi-Buried/Fully Buried Above Ground Pools

Another option is to sink your above ground pool two to three feet into the ground, then cover the top of the pool with stones, brick, or another material. This gives your above ground pool a similar appearance to an in-ground pool - without the major construction or huge price tag.

However, not every kind of above ground swimming pool is meant to be installed partially in the ground. You’ll need to research specific products to determine if they can withstand being semi or fully buried.

Again, you’ll likely need to get a quote from a supplier for exact pricing. However, most semi-buried pools average at around $10,000.

In-Ground Pools

in-ground pool

This is the most luxurious option on the list. Installing an in-ground pool boosts your homes value and can be used in any weather, as long as it can be heated. High-quality materials are used to promote longevity, safety, and cleanliness.

Now on to the cons: when choosing between an in-ground or above-ground pool, youll notice that in ground pools are substantially more expensive. Additionally, they take up more space in your yard and require more time for installation. In ground pools are a commitment and one that homeowners must be prepared to make.

The average cost of an in-ground pool usually starts around $35,000 but can exceed well over $100,000.

How to Plan for Your New Above Ground Pool

So, you’ve decided the above ground pool option is the best fit for your home and family. Now it’s time to do some planning before you start shopping.

Determine Where it Will Go

Obviously, finding a landing spot for your pool is going to be the first order of business. Most above ground pools are placed in the backyard, but you can put it wherever you feel is best, depending on if there are local laws regulating this.

Now, one thing you might want to consider is how it will impact your neighbors. An above ground pool will give you a higher vantage point, which might not be desirable for them. If you’ve got a spot in mind, do the right thing and talk to your neighbors to make sure you won’t be stepping on their toes or intruding on their privacy.

Choosing Your Pool Size: Consider a Pool Size Chart

What size of above ground pool should you buy?

This is the most important (and oftentimes the trickiest) question to answer when buying an above ground pool.

There are many different things to consider here. Most importantly, you need to have a good idea for how many people will be using the pool on a day-to-day basis.

Now, you probably want to plan for the occasional party here and there. But is it worth buying a gigantic pool - that you’ll have to take care of all year long – if you only have two or three parties per season?

You definitely want to be able to accommodate guests, but it’s surprisingly easy to get fooled by the numbers themselves. For example, a 27’ pool might not sound all that much bigger than a 24’ pool. Additionally, the price of the kit and installation doesn’t change much between the sizes. However, a 27’ pool holds 33% more water than a 24’! That’s a HUGE difference!

The steps between pool sizes are very big.

Before you make any big decisions about the size of your pool, refer to a pool size chart to learn more about your options and how they can accommodate your needs.

Here is the pool size chart that will help you understand the required pool size to accommodate the number of swimmers:

pool size chart

What Materials Will You Use?

When installing an above ground swimming pool in your backyard, you’ll need to decide what material to use for the base pad. Most homeowners use mason sand, which will need to be transported to your house by a heavy-duty pickup truck or a small dump truck.

You might want to use stones around the base of your above ground pool to keep things stable. Look into the style of landscaping rocks you’d like to implement around the base. These can be any size, from little pea gravel to heavy rocks.

How Will You Budget for the Installation and Maintenance?

Installation costs are comprised of two components:

  • The kit
  • The installation process

Typically, kits can cost between $1.5K and $8K, depending on the quality and size of the pool.

The installation cost will likely run between $1K and $3K - again depending on the size and type of the pool. In all, you’re looking at about $2.5K up to $11K for the best above ground pools.

Above ground pool prices depend on many different factors. These include:

  • Size. This involves the perimeter, height, and shape. Smaller, 12’ round pools generally start on the lower end, whereas the bigger, oval pools tend to be more expensive.
  • Deck. These are optional, but do a ton to make the pool easier to access and more appealing. Decks can typically add a minimum of $2,500 to the overall cost.
  • Water. $80 - $1,200.
  • Electrical. $350 -$500
  • Pump & Filter. $750 - $1100
  • Winter Cover. $20 - $450
  • Maintenance. $50 - $100/month

How the Above Ground Pool Installation Process Works

Now that we’ve talked a little bit about the pricing and details surrounding the installation, let’s take a deeper dive into what the process entails.

As we said before, you can install an above ground pool on your own, but the assistance of a professional is highly recommended.

Step 1: Clearing the Designated Area

Once you’ve chosen a spot to place your pool, you’ll need to clear the area. Remove the sod from beneath the pool’s eventual resting place, as well as any materials that could cause damage. Be sure to look up your area’s requirements for local buildings and barrier codes.

Step 2: Leveling the Site

After you’ve removed the sod, it’s time to level the area. The higher sides of the spot must be equal with the lowest grade of sod. To help with this, most professionals use a bobcat or skid steer. 

Remember: the weight of the pool will push on the ground down and outwards, which means the ground must be supportive of the weight and you should never build a pool on fill dirt. 

Step 3: Think About Drainage

If the perimeter of your pool warrants it, you’ll need to make provisions for additional site drainage. This is when the advice of a professional comes in handy - they can tell you if the pool could dry up your yard or turn it into a swamp.

Step 4: Frame the Foundation

Using full-sized patio blocks or stones, you’ll need to provide extra support for the sides of the pool. All blocks should be leveled to ensure the pool frame rests firmly on the blocks.

Step 5: Install the Pool Base Support Material

When you install the base beneath the liner, it acts as a buffer between the pool’s thin vinyl membrane and the harsh terrain nearby. A good pool base material also helps absorb rock, stone, animal, and insect debris. The more supportive your pool base is, the more protected it will be from the elements.

Step 6: Install the Liner

Although common, the fewer wrinkles you have in your liner, the better. If you have massive folds, you could run into problems. Avoid any wrinkles with overlapping liners and remove excess material as you start to add water.

Step 7: Assemble the Frame

Fully assemble the frame in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. All of the pieces should fit in a uniform shape. Ensure that all screws and bolts are tightened and that all cover caps have been checked.

Step 8: Remove the Excess Ground Material

After the ground has been prepared for the pool, you’ll need to distribute the dirt and sod throughout the rest of your yard or find a legal way to dispose of it. Similarly, you’ll need to find places for all of the empty cartons and packaging materials left over from the installation.

Step 9: Abide by Codes and Electrical System Requirements

Remember: you may need to obtain a permit for your pool and display it during or after construction. Afterward, make sure that all of your wires and setups are in accordance with local codes.

Here is the image that shows how the above ground pool installation process works:

above ground pool installation process

 

How to Handle Above Ground Pool Maintenance

If not done correctly, maintaining a pool can feel like a never-ending science project. To avoid any nastiness and unpleasant surprises, you need to have an idea of all the maintenance involved in having a pool.

Let’s go over the major points to keep in mind.

Run the Pool Filter Daily

For 12 to 24 hours every day, your pool filter should be running to keep things clean. Invest in a filter system that removes bacteria thoroughly.

Remember to Test pH Levels

Weekly, check the pH value of your pool. Levels should be between 7.2 and 7.6.

If Using Chlorine, Check Your Chlorine Levels

Although chlorine helps keep your pool safe - when there’s too much - the pool can become dangerously full of chemicals. If there’s not enough chlorine, your pool is susceptible to bacteria and can turn a nasty-looking green color. Check to make sure that your levels are between 2.0 and 4.0 ppm.

Empty Skimmers and Pumps as Needed

When your skimmers and pump baskets become full of debris, they can’t pull in enough water. This means they aren’t filtering well, which can leave your pool dirty and unsafe.

Check for Hidden Algae and Mold Monthly

Chlorine kills the algae in your pool, but sometimes, hidden deposits can build up. Check for any fungi in your pool on a monthly basis so you can get ahead of the problem before it worsens.

how to handle above ground pool maintenance

 

Above Ground Pool Accessories You Should Have

Pump

The pump is the heart of your pool’s water circulation system. It works to pull water from the pool through the skimmer and filter. Without the pump, the cleaning system cannot operate, the filter cannot do its job, and the water essentially stays stagnant. If you are going to invest heavily in any aspect of the pool maintenance, let it be the pump system.

Cost: $300 - $400

Filters

Remember: your pool will only be as clean as your filter and pumps can keep it. Therefore, it’s a good idea to invest in a fairly expensive, high-end option. Look for a durable filter system that is rated for your pool size and provides heavy-duty cleaning.

Cost: $450 - $700

Alternative: To cut down on the maintenance and chemicals that go into your above ground pool, Perma Salt can be a great alternative to chlorine. The Perma Salt Purification System is a non-chlorine purifier that uses natural minerals to keep your pool clean. In addition to cutting down on the maintenance required on your part, its super soft on skin, hair, eyes, and swimsuits!

Cost: $399

Pool Steps

Because above ground pools have relatively high walls, you’ll likely want some steps leading up to the water. This makes it easy for children (and adults) to access the pool without trying to climb up the high sides.

Pool steps come in many different styles, but one of the most popular options are the “wedding cake” steps that are rounded and easy to climb with a handle for balance. A solid stair option like this will likely set you back a couple hundred dollars, but they’re easy to install and use.

Cost: $250 - $400

Pool Ladders

Once you’re in the pool, you’ll want an easy way to get out. This is especially important if children will be swimming - they’ll need a place to rest and climb out. Look into a pool ladder that extends into the water and makes exits safe and simple.

Cost: $150 - $200

Storage Units

All pool owners will acquire a lot of equipment, from pool toys to cleaning solutions and vacuums. We highly recommend purchasing a storage bench or chest that can keep these things neatly tucked away.

Cost: $250 - $500

Fences

Accidental drownings amongst children are a serious problem. Prevent your loved ones from accessing the pool without supervision by installing a fence around the area. Although this is another expense to consider, it’s well worth it if it keeps your family members safe. Here are some great reliable fences to choose from.

Cost: $80 - $230

Automatic Cleaners

If you really want to make your pool maintenance simple, purchase an automatic pool cleaner that keeps the pool bottom and water sanitary. Check to make sure the cleaner or vacuum you purchase is made for above ground pools, not just in-ground pools.

Cost: $130 - $600

above ground pool with deck

How to Choose the Best Above Ground Pool for Your Yard

Think About the Necessary Walls

As we said before, fences and barriers can serve as a defense against accidental drowning. The kind of walls you decide to install can play a big role in the type of above ground pool you decide to install.

  • Do you want one that’s small enough to fit in your backyard with an above ground deck and rails?
  • Are you going to install a simple fence or an entire stone wall around the pool?

Knowing what your above ground pool will look like before you make big decisions will help you pick the right size and shape, as well as the location for the pool in the backyard.

Consider What You Will Use It For

  • Are you more of an entertainer or a chillax-on-your-own type of person?
  • Who will be using the pool?
  • What events will you be hosting in the future?

Thinking about how your above ground swimming pool will function in your yard early on will help you make the best decision. Some people want a simple set up that’s just for family use. Others want to install a big deck with a pool that’s great for hosting a summer pool party,

Don’t wait until the pool is installed to decide who will use it and when - think about it ahead of time.

Think Critically About Your Space

Take a look at your backyard before you install the pool and think critically about the space it will take up. It’s not always the best idea to install the biggest pool just because you have the room. Consider how much free space you want leftover and what will really benefit you: more yard or more pool.

4 Things to Be Mindful of When Buying An Above Ground Pool

In the process of buying an above ground pool, there are several factors to consider before taking the plunge. Here are the major factors to keep in mind:

1. Determine Your Budget Before You Start Shopping

This is a big one. It’s surprisingly easy to get caught up in the bells and whistles tied to pools. Before you even look at a single model, do your research, determine a budget, and stick to it!

2. Check the experience level of the pool builder or contractor.

To reiterate, there is a fair amount of groundwork involved in making sure your pool is sitting on a good foundation. Be sure the pool builder is qualified to do the job and has the formal training to install the pool. Remember, if the cost seems too good to be true, it probably is.

3. Don’t Get Carried Away with Estimates

Obviously, you want to get the best price for your above ground pool. However, you don’t want to go overboard and get as many estimates as possible – as this can easily jumble your thought process and get confusing. If you want to shop around, do yourself a favor and stick to three or four estimates max.

4. Don’t Shop Over the Phone

Getting the perfect pool involves a detailed estimation where a professional walks you through the entire process and shows you exactly what your options are. Additionally, it’s always recommended to go to the physical store and speak with someone face-to-face. They will educate you and help you make the perfect decision.

In Conclusion

Hopefully, this article has given you some insight into what it looks like to install an above ground pool - and what you should consider before the process begins. It’s certainly not a small task, and it requires a great deal of thought.

Be sure that you’re considering materials, size, and type thoroughly before you purchase your above ground pool. Additionally, you need to be prepared to clean the pool, maintain it over the years, and make it a safe environment for friends and family.

An above ground swimming pool is a fantastic addition to your home. While the decision to buy an above ground pool can be a spur-of-the-moment thing, the process of searching for the perfect pool and planning out how it will rest in your yard shouldn’t be.

If you have any questions about buying an above ground pool and how to avoid any big oversights, feel free to get in touch with the experts at Family Leisure. We are always happy to help steer people in the right direction!



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