We spent a fun 14 days researching and testing several different types and brands of above ground pools and found that ease of set up, sturdiness, and size were the most important factors consumers looked for when purchasing an above ground pool. The Steel Pro 12′ x 48″ Frame Pool Set by Bestway scored high above the others in all categories and is our overall top pick. This roomy pool is easy to set up and just requires one screwdriver to assemble. The durable steel frame is rust-resistant and can withstand the elements all year round.
Above Ground Pool Buying Guide
There are many advantages to getting an above ground pool. We have listed these advantages below.
Less expensive than in-ground – The most notable advantage to getting an above ground pool is the lower cost. In-ground, permanent pools can cost $20,000 or more to install and take weeks to get the hole dug and everything in place. An above ground pool only takes a few hours to set up and you can find a great quality one for an inexpensive cost.
Less maintenance – Above ground pools are a lot easier to maintain than in-ground pools. They also have the added benefit of being able to be uninstalled and taken down unlike an in-ground that is always in the same place. If you change your mind about where you want the pool, move to another location, or your region gets really cold in the winter you can take the pool down and store it.
Variety of Sizes – There are many different sized above ground pools in a variety of shapes. Round, rectangular, and oval are the predominant shapes you will find. There is a large variety of sizes as well depending on how much room you want to have and how many people you want to accommodate. The great thing about above ground pools is that you can make them permanent by building a deck around them and add a whole outdoor space to enjoy. With the large range of sizes and shapes available, there is an above ground pool for every budget and lifestyle.
Can remain portable or be stationary – One of the great things about an above ground pool is the versatility it offers. You can set it up in your yard and then take it down in the winter or you can make it a stationary part of the yard by adding a deck where you can add patio furniture, outdoor grill and anything else you want. An above ground pool that has been permanently installed with a deck can be a real thing of beauty where people may not even realize that it is an above ground pool at all.
Steps to Purchasing an Above Ground Pool
There are several things you will need to consider when you decide to purchase an above ground pool. Covering all your bases will ensure that you find the highest quality, best pool that you can afford. We have listed the steps you need to cover below.
- Plan Ahead – Planning for purchasing your above ground pool is the most important step of the process because this will determine what you need and want and that will prevent you from ending up with a pool that does not meet your needs. Two of the things you want to decide BEFORE you start your search include:
1. The shape – Above ground pools come in a variety of shapes including round, oval, and rectangular. Look at the shape of your yard to determine which the best shape for the pool is. To measure the proper radius, put a stake in the yard to indicate the center of the pool and figure out how long and wide the dimensions will be.
2. The size – Make sure that the pool you choose matches the yard space you have. You do not want to get a huge above ground pool for a tiny yard. Choose the largest pool you can afford and that will comfortable fit in your yard without taking up all your space.
- Materials – To ensure that you are purchasing a high quality above ground pool, pay attention to the materials that the pool is made of. Common materials used for above ground pool construction include:
1. Steel – Above ground pools are treated with additional chemicals that will increase the durability of the frame. Look for galvanized steel frames that are zinc-dipped. The uprights and railings of the frame should also have this zinc-dip. The inside should have a coat of resin to protect it from moisture damage. Look for high quality steel because even though it has more structural soundness than the other materials if you choose a low quality pool it can break down quickly.
2. Plastic – If you are looking for something to last, plastic (resin) is a great choice. Look for frames that have a quality coating that is anti-UV. Another benefit to resin is that it is much better for temperature control. Heat doesn’t travel through resin the same way it does with steel and aluminum. Watch out for flexing with resin frames since it is not as sturdy as aluminum and steel. Some pool installers will charge more to install a resin pool because they can be a little more difficult to set up. If you choose to hire someone to professionally set up the pool make sure they are reputable or the pool’s integrity could be at risk.
3. Aluminum – Aluminum can corrode and oxidize over time. It can also break down faster in inclement weather much faster than a frame made from steel. Many aluminum frames are coated with a layer that protects them from corrosion and oxidation.
- Check for your liners – When you consider certain above ground pools make sure you check out the liners. It may not be as important as some of the other features but you still want to consider it. There are some companies that offer patterned liners to add some style and color to the inside of your pool. Some pools come with the liners and others require the additional purchase of a liner. Make sure you are aware of which applies regarding the pool you choose.
- Know your warranty – When you are looking at different above ground pools, be sure to take a look at the warranty and know what it offers and requires. A reputable company is going to have a good warranty in place to protect buyers from purchasing a defective pool or one that has some defects. Most above ground pools have extended and standard warranties that they offer. Look for the highest coverage warranty you can get that will typically cover labor, water, and everything else about the pool up to the liner. A standard warranty is going to just coverage any defects structurally but nothing else. Make sure you understand what the warranty requires in the way of any maintenance, registering, and other things so you do not accidentally void your own warranty. If you know what is expected, what is covered, and how to report any problems you will be protected from out of pocket expenses should something go wrong.
- Budget – Setting a budget before you start shopping around is a great way to narrow the field of choices that are out there. If you only want to spend $1000, you don’t want to be looking at above ground pools that are $1500. Once you set your budget you can sort the different pools by price point, eliminating any that are above what you want to spend. Do not go for the cheapest pool you can find. This is never a good idea, as you get what you pay for. There are great pools at there for almost any budget, but you should make sure that the budget you set is realistic so you are not faced with having to choose a low quality pool which will only end up costing you a lot more in the long run.
Buying an above ground pool is an investment and it should be treated as such. This is not just buying a little inflatable pool where it doesn’t much matter if something goes wrong after a week or two. When people purchase above ground pools they want to purchase something that is sturdy, roomy enough for their friends and family to enjoy, structurally sound, and of great quality.
Taking the time to learn about the points to consider before you purchase a pool will save you a lot of hassle and headache. The three top-rated above ground pools featured above are all excellent quality pools from reputable companies that are known for quality. Any one of these three choices will provide you with a quality pool that will withstand the elements and last for many years to come, especially if you follow the care instructions.
Make sure that you take the information that you have learned in the buying guide and apply it as you sort through the different brands and sizes that are available. Having the right information and knowing what to expect will help you avoid analysis paralysis and being completely overwhelmed.
When you have the right knowledge, sorting through the choices becomes almost easy. Then it just becomes a decision as to which one you actually decide to purchase. None of this research work is wasted energy. When you and your family are swimming in the pool and having a great time on hot days, you will be glad you took the time to do your homework.