The 10 Best Above Ground Pools
This wiki has been updated 27 times since it was first published in January of 2017. Nothing can turn an uncomfortable, sweltering afternoon around quite like a refreshing dip in the pool. But if you lack the cash to have a gigantic hole dug in your backyard, you can still enjoy all the fun with one of these above-ground models that require no excavation and little expense. Just remember that if you've got kids in the water, always watching them is the best way to keep them safe. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
March 12, 2019:
Intex has a lot of good offerings on the market, and an update to their XTR vastly improved both its performance and appearance, and skyrocketed it to a much higher spot on our list. A few other models had to be retired due to performance issues, most notably a Bestway option that had a big problem with frame corrosion. The Summer Waves Elite at number 10 is a fine choice for anyone with a particularly small yard, but unless you're really worried about your youngsters drowning out there, you might want something a little bigger.
Why Stay Above Ground?
Floodwaters and other debris have a much easier time getting into an in-ground pool than an above ground pool.
It’s probably fair to say that everyone would prefer to have an in-ground pool to an above ground model, given how attractive an in-ground option can be. There are some compelling reasons to opt for the above ground version, however, a few of which you might have already thought of, and others that might take you by surprise.
For starters, there’s the cost. The amount of labor and expense involved in creating an in-ground pool is astronomical. The landscaping portion of the cost alone is many times more expensive than the price of a good above ground pool. Then, when it comes time to actually lay the foundation of the pool itself and set everything in motion, you’ll likely be on to your second reverse mortgage.
Damage to the systems and construction of an in-ground pool is often much more expensive to fix than damage to an above ground model, as well. This is even more pertinent if you live in an area that’s prone to particularly inclement weather, especially if your property is at risk for flooding. Floodwaters and other debris have a much easier time getting into an in-ground pool than an above ground pool. It’s simply a matter of height.
Safety is another concern when it comes to your decision. An in-ground pool is like a black hole for kids and pets; once they get within a certain distance of it, it’s a forgone conclusion that they’re going to end up in the water. Without proper supervision, this could result in significant injuries or even death. With an above ground pool, the worst that can happen to a little one is that they run into its outer walls and get a bruise, especially if you’re responsible enough to remove the ladder whenever the pool isn’t in use.
If you’ve ever seen the move Poltergeist, then you’re also familiar with another significant hazard of in-ground pools. During their construction, there’s a moderate chance that you’ll disturb an old Indian burial ground, and that those spirits will whisk your young daughter away to a horrible land on the other side of a snowy TV screen. It’s not guaranteed to happen, but is it really worth taking the chance?
Choosing The Best Above Ground Pool
More than any other consideration, the amount of space you have to dedicate to your above ground pool will likely hold the dominant influence over your decision making process. That said, you will notice that there are several models listed with a number of available sizes, so you should familiarize yourself with a few other available features to ensure you make the most informed decision possible.
If you’re worried about assembly and we specifically say one model is particularly difficult or easy to put together, be sure to take our word for it.
One of the most popular features that a modern pool can offer is the ability to utilize salt water instead of chlorine. There aren’t a lot of options on the market that make this option available, but when it is, you may find that it’s well worth any extra investment. That’s because salt water is much gentler on the body, particularly on the hair and the eyes, than chlorine. If you’re someone who climbs out of a chlorinated pool with bloodshot eyes and a head of hair that’ll take three showers and a whole bottle of Korean shampoo to right itself, this may be the ideal option for you. Maintenance of a salt water pool is also safer, as you won’t have to handle any large amounts of potentially dangerous chemicals.
On the maintenance front, you’ll want to keep an eye out for any and all cleaning and servicing tools that come with a given pool. Some pools provide you with nothing but a receptacle for water, while others outfit you with everything from a comprehensive filtration system to a simple leaf skimmer. There’s a good chance that buying many of these tools separately will get you a better deal on higher-quality implements, but that’s liable to raise the overall cost of your investment compared to purchasing an above ground pool that comes complete with everything you need.
Finally, when you get your pool delivered to your house, you’re going to have to set it up, or at least to pay someone else to do it for you. Most of the available models on the market will boast an easy assembly regardless of the truth of the matter, but we often keep an eye out for that sort of thing. If you’re worried about assembly and we specifically say one model is particularly difficult or easy to put together, be sure to take our word for it.
Essential Pool Accessories
Once your pool is up and running, and you’ve got a summer of cool fun in the sun to look forward to, you’re going to want to outfit your swimming zone with as many augmentations as possible to elevate the experience for everyone.
Just make sure any and all drinks are kept in plastic containers.
Pool toys are always welcome, even if you don’t have kids to play with them. Adults can create fun drinking games around many of these toys, like a floating basketball hoop, for example. Just make sure any and all drinks are kept in plastic containers. Broken glass and pools do not mix well.
If you opt for a large enough option, it might be worth your while to invest in a raft or two. These make lounging in the sun a breeze, and are particularly useful for anyone trying to maximize their summer tan.
Finally, whether or not your pool came with a ladder, it might be a smart idea to upgrade to something as robust as possible. Climbing in an out of an above ground pool is one of the most dangerous moments in using one, so a sturdy ladder is a must.