The 10 Best Above Ground Pool Ladders

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This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in April of 2017. These ladders are specifically designed to help you enter and exit your above-ground pool safely. They are available in a variety of designs, including simple A frames and those that accommodate a deck. Some also offer removable or lockable steps to prevent kids from climbing in unsupervised. Even so, it’s important to keep a close eye on children at all times near water. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Confer Plastics Access Step

2. Swim Time NE113

3. Confer Plastics A-Frame

Editor's Notes

July 21, 2020:

In today’s update, the Confer Plastics Access Step moves into the top spot, as it hits all of the marks for safety, durability, and a thoughtful design. Its wide stairs feature non-skid surfaces, and side openings help circulate your pool’s water and chemicals to minimize algae growth. Once you’ve added some sand, as instructed, it should stay put in the water without lifting up or floating. It’s easy to assemble in a few snap-together steps and can support up to 400 pounds, which is a higher weight capacity than many others. For a sturdy, reliable A-frame model from the same manufacturer, look to the Confer Plastics A-Frame, which is great for families with small children, as it offers a lockable roll-guard barrier that helps stop kids from climbing it when they’re unsupervised. This one also includes a large, stable top platform, so you’ve got a comfortable place to sit with your feet in the water. For a model from the company that’s compatible with deck setups, check out the Confer 6000X, which can accommodate decks between 46 and 56 inches in height, and its neutral beige and gray color scheme will look great with virtually any backyard decor, and many prefer it to the stark white of a lot of alternatives. It’s made of high-impact vinyl resin with high-quality stainless steel hardware that’s resistant to rust and corrosion.

If your baby is of the four-legged variety, the WaterDog Adventure is worthy of a look. It’s got a small four-inch step height that’s convenient for dogs of most sizes and ages, and they’ve got slip-resistant surfaces to keep rambunctious pooches from sliding as they enter and exit the pool. Its bright yellow color ensures it stays visible as the sun starts to set. A downside of this choice, however, is that it’s relatively pricey.

As a word of caution for parents of young children, even if your ladder has safety features like a lockable roll-guard barrier, always keep a close eye on little ones whenever they’re around a swimming pool. It’s also important to make sure your ladder is installed properly so that it’s stable and sturdy. Mount the ladder away from any pool-cleaning vacuum. Neither children nor adults should be allowed to jump off the ladder either into the pool or onto the ground. Young kids should wear floaties in the pool at all times, though these are not a replacement for close adult supervision.

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.

4. Confer 6000X

5. Main Access Easy-Incline

6. WaterDog Adventure

7. Confer Plastics Economy

8. Vinyl Works Deluxe

9. Intex 28075

10. Champlain Plastics Drop-In

A Brief History Of Pools

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?

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.

These simply hook over the wall of your pool, and give you an identical set of steps on each side.

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.

Ladders, fences, and alarms are no substitute for your supervision, so don't let them lure you into a false sense of security.

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).

Karen Bennett
Last updated by Karen Bennett

Karen Bennett lives in Chicago with her family, and when she’s not writing, she can usually be found practicing yoga or cheering on her kids at soccer games. She holds a master’s degree in journalism and a bachelor’s in English, and her writing has been published in various local newspapers, as well as “The Cheat Sheet,” “Illinois Legal Times,” and “USA Today.” She has also written search engine news page headlines and worked as a product manager for a digital marketing company. Her expertise is in literature, nonfiction, textbooks, home products, kids' games and toys, hardware, teaching accessories, and art materials.

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