The 10 Best Above Ground Pool Ladders
We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. These above-ground pool ladders are designed to let you enter and exit the water safely. We've included models for pools with and without decks, and units with features like removable or lockable exterior steps for preventing kids from climbing in unsupervised. Even so, it's important to keep a close eye on children at all times. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best above ground pool ladder on Amazon.
March 04, 2019:
Removed the Confer CCX-AG after the company issued a recall on the product. No drownings were caused by the product, as only minor injuries — such as arm abrasions — occurred, but we feel it's not worth taking the chance. Likewise, the Vinyl Works A-Frame was removed due to concerns with stability, as well as the lack of safety features on the exterior of the unit. As a general rule, we stayed away from A-frame models that lacked safety measures like steps that could be locked or raised. Any unit that only extended into the water from a deck was rated on sturdiness rather than accessibility, but users should be certain to pair those models with a gate of some kind to keep little ones out. The WaterDog Adventure made its debut on the list, as it's easy to forget that your four-legged kids are as vulnerable to drowning as your two-legged ones.
A Brief History Of Pools
Bathing and recreation were chief among them, of course, but they also had large pools designed for athletic and military training.
You might think that pools are a relatively new creation — after all, our ancestors were too busy drawing on walls and running from predators to take a dip, right?
In actuality, though, we've been using pools since at least 3000 B.C.E. The oldest known pool-like structure is the Great Bath in Pakistan, which was basically a man-made water park lined with bricks and tar.
The Greeks and Romans both had pools during their times, and they used them for an assortment of purposes. Bathing and recreation were chief among them, of course, but they also had large pools designed for athletic and military training.
Pools as we know them didn't start to take shape until midway through the 19th century C.E. The British were especially fond of them, and several public pools were built as an alternative to swimming in rivers.
What really jump-started its popularity, though, was when the sport was included in the 1896 Olympic Games.
Interest in the sport trickled off during WWI (as did interest in most things, except presumably WWI). However, once the war ended, swimming — especially competitive swimming — became immensely popular, and pools both public and private were built to accommodate this new fascination.
Another new fascination — picture shows — would help bolster the image of owning a pool as a status symbol. Having a pool in your backyard became more common after WWII, and after a few decades, owning one was within the reach of many homeowners.
Today, you can find a public pool in just about any town in the United States, and it's estimated that over 10 million Americans have one in their backyard, whether built-in or above-ground. It's never been easier for the common man to take a dip whenever he feels like it — and he doesn't even have to worry about sharks, snakes, or alligators (except maybe in Florida).
Choosing The Right Ladder
You expect to be faced with quite a few choices when you buy certain products, like shoes, ice cream, or black market weapons, but you might think that there'd only be one kind of above-ground pool ladder.
You'd be wrong.
There's actually a variety of styles available, each with its own pros and cons. There's not necessarily a wrong answer when shopping for a ladder, either — so long as the one you get fits your needs.
That said, you do need one, as they make it easier and safer to get in and out of the pool, especially if you're tired, so having a ladder can potentially save lives.
Often, versions like this will have handrails, making them smart for young and old users alike.
The most common is the A-frame ladder. These simply hook over the wall of your pool, and give you an identical set of steps on each side. Most have safety mechanisms that enable you to pull the rungs up when not in use, so a child can't climb in while you're not looking. They do tend to wobble if unsecured, though.
Most other models have different styles of steps on one side or the other. For example, some have ladders on the outside and staircase-like steps on the inside, or vice versa. These have wider steps, which comes in handy when your feet are wet and slippery. The downside is that they take up a lot of room, and most above-ground pools don't have much of that to spare.
Finally, some models only give you steps on the inside. These are intended for pools that come with decks, so it's expected you'll step down into the pool upon entry. Often, versions like this will have handrails, making them smart for young and old users alike. The only problem, of course, is that you need to have a deck.
Once you decide on a style, the main considerations to keep in mind are the amount of weight they can support, step size and texture, and how hot they'll get in the sun. Most of these should be common sense decisions, though.
Oh, and always secure it to something, so that it doesn't collapse on you at the wrong time.
Keeping Kids And Pets Safe
It's a grim thing to say, but if you're not careful, any pool can be a death trap for kids and pets.
So, let's talk about how to be careful, shall we?
The most important thing to do is watch your little ones like a hawk. Make sure they don't climb up on the pool, and if you decide to let them in, never take your eyes off them.
The most important thing to do is watch your little ones like a hawk.
Of course, you can't watch your kids every second of the day. That's why you'll need to set up some sort of system to keep everyone out of the pool when you're not there.
Most ladders can help you do this. They'll often have safety guards that prevent them from lowering, and some come with self-closing gates.
You can augment this by building a fence around the pool. This is a great way to keep little ones and pets out, while also being an attractive addition to your yard.
Beyond that, consider investing in a pool alarm. These are devices that, when activated, monitor the water with an electronic sensor, and when anything over 15 pounds or so hops in, it triggers a loud alarm in the yard and in your home (and you can keep smaller things out with a good cover).
Ladders, fences, and alarms are no substitute for your supervision, so don't let them lure you into a false sense of security. However, setting up a few barriers to entry into your pool could be all it takes to convince a curious kid or pet to investigate some other part of the yard (and knowing kids and dogs, they'll probably find a bush filled with bees or something).
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