To have a pool in your backyard can be a costly endeavor. But not so much when you install an above-ground pool. Those cost-effective and easy-to-install and maintain pools are the right solution for everyone dreaming of having a pool at home. You don’t have to spend a small fortune digging a pool in your yard. Instead, you can have the kids splashing all summer for a fraction of the cost.
In fact, above-ground pools have more advantages over regular pools in portability and installation ease. You can set up the above-ground pool anywhere you like in your backyard. If you don’t like the spot and want to move it to another area, that’s easy. All you have to do is drain the pool, dismantle it and install it somewhere else.
As for maintenance, these pools are easy to keep clean and maintain all summer long. The filters they come equipped with keep any debris and sand out of the water. And when the summer is over, you can take down the above-ground pool and store it away until next year.
We tried out the top above-ground pools in the market and put together these reviews for you. The buying guide walks you through the key features to look for, and the FAQs section at the end answers all your above-ground pool questions.
Best Above Ground Pool Reviews
Whether it’s the price, quality of material, or the number of accessories included, some above-ground pools stand out. The following reviews compare the best features of the 8 pools that made the cut.
1. Editor’s Choice: Intex 15ft x 48in Metal Frame Pool Set
We start with the best of the pack. The Intex 15ft x 48in Metal Frame Pool Set is all about stability, durability, and better water circulation. The steel frame keeps the above-ground pool in place even when it’s full of water and people. No shaky legs either since the inside walls are reinforced for better stability.
The round pool is 15 feet in diameter and rises 48 inches above the ground. That makes it ideal for a family of 4 people to enjoy splashing and water fun without feeling too crowded. The laminated walls resist rust and the build-up of grime or dirt. That makes it easier for you to maintain and keep the pool clean.
But what makes the Intex pool stand out is how fast it is to set it up without the need for special equipment. It takes only 45 minutes from the moment you unbox it until it’s full of water and ready to use—no need for long preparations or waiting for hours for the pool to fill up. The pool needs about 4,400 gallons of water to fill at 90 percent capacity. There are accessories included that help you get started.
The Krystal clear cartridge filter pump, which comes with the pool, has a 1,000 gallon per hour capacity. You also get a ladder to make it easier to get in and out of the pool. The pool cover is 3 ply and protects the water against debris when you’re not using it.
The one problem we had with this pool was that the plastic snaps that keep the frame attached to the frame legs are too flimsy. It would have been better if bolts and nuts were used instead.
- Triple strong reinforced walls.
- Laminated inside walls for better protection against rust.
- Krystal clear cartridge filter pump.
- 15 feet in diameter.
- Fills up with 4,400 gallons at 90 percent capacity.
- Flimsy plastic snaps that give away under pressure.
2. Best Budget: Bestway 56680 Steel Pro
With prices going up everywhere, you sometimes need an above-ground pool that’s easy on the wallet without compromising on quality or durability. The Bestway 56680 Steel Pro scores high marks on both counts. More stable than inflatable pools, the steel frame offers durability, while the size of the pool accommodates 4 people in it with ease.
The 56680 is a round pool about 12 feet in diameter and rises one foot above the ground. That makes it easy to climb into the pool without the need for a ladder. It fills up with 1,170 gallons which the included pump gets done within less than a couple of hours. The frame, both on the inside and outside, is coated with an erosion-resistant layer that protects it against rust and UV damage.
The frame is also supported by a 3-ply PVC layer that gives it more strength and durability. However, the walls of the pool feel soft when you pump against them. This ensures that the children will not injure themselves when splashing around and accidentally hitting the walls.
The pool frame also includes a safety valve that makes it easy to empty the pool when you’re done for the season. Both setting up and dismantling the pool can be done without the need for special tools. The whole pool, including the built-in pump and filter, weighs only 50 pounds.
The downside about Bestway was the pump. It’s not powerful enough to keep the water volume in constant motion. You might need to order a solid pump.
- 12 feet in diameter and one foot high.
- Takes 1,170 gallons of water to fill up.
- Protective coating against the damage of rust and UV light.
- 3-ply PVC reinforcement to keep the frame sturdy.
- Affordable price.
- The included pump lacks the power to keep the water in motion.
3. Premium Pick: Intex 18ft X 52in Ultra XTR Pool Set
This is the second Intex pool we have on this list, and it won’t be the last. The Intex 18ft X 52in Ultra XTR Pool Set was a top contender for the editor’s choice with its large size, sleek design, and included accessories. Only its steep price tag kept it from the top position on this list.
But that high price is justified when you consider the size of the pool. When fully set up, the round pool covers an 18-foot area and rises 52 inches above the ground. It seems the “Ultra” in the name is not just a moniker but an apt description of the dimensions and qualities of this above-ground pool. We also liked the amount of thought and work that went into designing the pool. It’s more than just a solid frame that sticks out in your backyard. Instead, it adds to the setting with its blue tile-print interior and gray laminated pool liner.
Suitable for adults and children aged 6 and up, the pool comes with the patented Intex Krystal Clear Sand filter pump. Powered by HydroAeration technology, the pump and filter work together to keep the water clean and clear all the time. The pool’s capacity is 6,981 gallons, and the pump has a water flow rate of 2,100 gallons per hour.
High price aside, setting up the pool needs extra attention, especially when you’re filling it up. The corner L pieces don’t fit into the groves, and you have to adjust them manually.
- 18-foot in diameter and 52 inches high.
- Sturdy steel frame.
- Sleek design.
- Krystal Clear Sand filter pump.
- HydroAeration technology.
- Not easy to set up.
- High price tag.
But an 18-foot above-ground pool is not for everyone. Even if such an expensive pool is within your pay grade, you still need a large enough backyard to fit it in. So what if you don’t have such a spacious property? That’s where the Summer Waves Quick Set Inflatable Above Ground Pool comes in. Measuring only 8 feet in diameter, the round pool fits in small backyards and is easy to set up.
The Summer Waves is an inflatable pool. It doesn’t hassle you with setting the frame legs upright on level ground or worry about the soft soil underneath. It only takes minutes to get the pool up and start filling it with water. Since it has a modest water capacity of only 608 gallons, it won’t take long for the pool to fill up and be ready for swimming and splashing around.
But what the pool lacks in width, it makes up for it in depth. Standing more than two and a half feet above the ground, you will get more than your ankles wet when you ease yourself inside the full pool. We also liked the filter cartridge that came with the pool. It has a built-in chlorinator that keeps the water clean and kills the germs and insects that find their way into the water. The D filter cartridge removes sand and debris from the water, so you’ll always be getting into a clean pool every time.
On the downside, the design of the pool is not up to snuff. It really sticks out, and the standard blue color makes it an eyesore in your backyard. Apart from that, you really need to keep your pets away from it since they could easily scratch it and spring a leak.
- Suitable for small backyards.
- Quick to set up.
- 608-gallon capacity.
- Built-in chlorinator.
- Not a very appealing design.
- Not very durable.
We know by now that the name Intex is all about large sizes and spectacular designs. A case in point is the Intex Ultra Frame Rectangular Pool Set. The first rectangular above-ground pool on this list, it stands about 52 inches high, 32 feet long, and 16 feet wide. That’s enough to keep a large family happy all summer.
The body of the pool rests against steel frames that keep it stable. It has a removable ladder that makes it easy to install it anywhere you like against the pool. And despite its large size, the whole pool can be installed within 90 minutes and is ready for water filling.
The Krystal clear sand filter pump does a good job of mixing water with air which keeps the water in constant motion. It gives the water extra clarity that reflects nicely against the blue tile print inside. And thanks to the dual suction outlets, you won’t have to worry about water hygiene no matter how many hours the swimmers stay inside the pool.
The water ideal capacity of the pool is a whopping 14,346 gallons. That’s enough to fill it to 90 percent of its capacity. But the included pump has a water flow rate to match. At 2,800 gallons per hour, the pump creates lapping currents that reach all corners of the rectangular pool.
The Achilles heel to this otherwise delightful pool is the unstable ladder. Even though you can move it around, the ladder itself is rather rickety. There’s also the issue of the walls bowing in when you fill it with water. But that’s not a serious issue since the walls straighten back up once the pool hits the 90 percent water capacity mark.
- Rectangular pool measuring 32 feet long by 16 feet wide.
- The sand filter pump mixes the air with water for better hygiene.
- Steel frames to keep the pool sturdy.
- Easy and quick to set up.
- An unstable ladder that needs level ground.
- Walls bow in while filling the pool with water.
If you ever wondered what an above-ground pool with windows would look like, wonder no more. The Coleman Power Steel Swim Vista Series II is here to fulfill that fantasy of yours. Building on the success of their first Vista series, where they introduced portholes into the sides of the pool, the second series takes this novel concept to a new level.
The portholes are more than just a way for swimmers to make silly faces at those lounging in the backyard. They also allow the parents to keep track of their children when they dive underwater. And if you’re worried about leaks, the Vista Series II comes with reinforced and tightly sealed portholes that give you a clear view of the inside of the pool.
The frame of the pool is made from steel to resist erosion and provide strength and stability. The Seal & Lock System used to construct the frame means you won’t have any issues with leaks or rust even in the presence of portholes in the frame. As for the 3-ply pool liner, it’s made from Tritech material. It is both durable and puncture-resistant. As for the design of the inside of the pool, it’s covered with a rattan wicker print which gives it an attractive look and makes the pool blend in with the surroundings.
The round Vista Series II pool is 18 feet in diameter and rises 48 inches above the ground. It fills with 6,092 gallons of water at 90 percent capacity. The pool comes with a ladder, a filter pump, and a pool cover.
Speaking of the filter pump, it doesn’t have enough power for an 18-foot pool. The water on the other side of the pool remains calm and unaffected by the feeble currents the pump creates.
- Portholes in the side of the pool.
- 18-foot in diameter.
- 3-ply liner made from Tritech material.
- Steel frame.
- The pump is not powerful enough for a pool this size.
There’s no denying the innovative design and durability of Intex above-ground pools. But the Intex Ultra XTR Rectangular Pool Set takes this innovation to a whole new level with its saltwater system and hydro aeration technology. In addition, it requires minimal maintenance due to the inner liner, which repels grime and dirt.
The rectangular Ultra XTR is a large pool measuring 32 feet long by 16 feet wide. It rises 52 inches above the ground giving you a decent true water depth of about 45 inches. That’s enough water to soak an adult. The pool also comes with a dual suction system that keeps the water volume in a pool of this size in constant circulation.
But it’s the hydro aeration technology that gives this pool something to brag about. Basically, this technology means there’s a steady stream of air being pumped into the water to improve oxygenation and increase the number of negative ions. These negative ions attract and latch onto the debris and dirt particles in the water. This leaves the water looking and feeling sparkling and clean.
The saltwater system allows you to create the level of salinity you’re comfortable with inside the water without causing damage to the inner pool liner. It gives you the same refreshing swimming experience you get when you take a dip in the ocean.
The pool also comes with a durable ground cloth measuring 34 feet long to protect the bottom of the frame. It also has a pool cover with a rope that you can tie to the sides of the frame to prevent it from blowing off.
Although the pool comes with a decent filter pump with about 2,650 gallons per hour flow rate, it takes about 3 days to fill up the pool to its recommended 90 percent capacity. It’s also not easy to set up if you’re working on your own.
- Hydro aeration technology to keep the water sparkling clean.
- Saltwater system to achieve the water salinity levels you like.
- 32-foot long and 16-foot wide rectangular pool.
- True water depth of about 45 inches.
- Takes up to 3 days to fill up the pool.
- Not easy to set up.
We end our reviews with a steel pool from Bestway that is neither too large nor too small. It fits snugly in a small backyard and doesn’t wear you out either in installing it or in maintenance work. Behind the simple design of the Bestway 56417 Steel Pro Above Ground is a complex steel frame that gives the pool durability and sturdiness.
The frame has an extra coating to make it more rust- and erosion-resistant. You won’t have to worry about the damage UV light will have on the frame or the material. The 3-ply PVC material that makes up the body of the pool is tear-resistant and tough.
The pool is easy to put together. It doesn’t require any special experience or extra manpower. One person alone can assemble the pool within a couple of hours. As long as the ground is level under the pool, you won’t have trouble filling it up in one go.
Although the 56417 pool from Bestway has an affordable price and the quality of the frame and outer and inner liners are decent, the rest of the parts are not above reproach. For example, the hose clamps are made of plastic, and they tend to snap quickly. The filter is not easy to install if you follow the instructions manual, which is nothing but pictures.
- Reinforced steel frame that resists rust.
- 3-ply tear-resistant PVC body.
- Affordable price.
- The instruction manual is nothing more than pictures.
- Small parts are not as durable as the rest of the pool.
Above Ground Pool Buying Guide
Now that we know how the above-ground pools fare in a fair comparison let’s elaborate on the key features to look for. It also helps to know what types the pools come in and which type is best for your specific backyard space or family needs.
Above Ground Pool Types
Although above-ground pools come in different shapes and sizes, we can break them down into five types or categories.
- Inflatable: The easiest and most popular type of above-ground pool types. They don’t require much in the way of installing or getting them ready. You just inflate the pool, fill it with water, and jump in. When you’re done, you drain it, deflate it, and fold it. Apart from their low-maintenance requirements, pools such as the Summer Waves Quick Set Inflatable Above Ground Pool are also quite inexpensive and don’t require much skill or experience to install and dismantle.
- Aluminum: Slightly more expensive than inflatable pools, these types have a frame made from aluminum. They are still sturdy and can be quite stable. That said, they do take some fiddling to get them all propped up. You also need to check on the aluminum frame from time to time to make sure it has not oxidized in the proximity of water and sun.
- Resin: Resin pools are like outdoor tubs. They are made of resin which is a little sturdier than plastic. The pools can still resist the elements but don’t expect them to serve you more than a few summers. Under the hot sun, they tend to crack and fade. But their affordable price makes them easy to replace.
- Children: Children pools are small and lack the frills and thrills other pools have. They have simple designs, are usually small, and not very deep. However, you still need to keep a watchful eye on the kids when they are swimming in these pools.
- Steel: The most expensive but durable of all above-ground pools. These pools have a steel frame that makes them stable. They come in large sizes for large families and can be a good replacement for an in-ground pool in your backyard. That said, they also take more work to install and takedown, but you can afford to leave them out during the winter. A good example of a steel pool is the Intex 15ft x 48in Metal Frame Pool Set. The frame resists erosion and rust, and you can expect it to stay with you for many years.
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Most above-ground pools come with different features and accessories. The question is, which features are essential for the pool and which are just frivolous add-ons to pad the price tag? The following features should be high on your list of considerations.
- Size: One of the first things to consider when buying an above-ground pool is what size you want. A large pool is good for the whole family, but it also takes up more space in your yard. It’s good to have a large pool, but it’s even better if you have enough space to walk around the pool that allows you to get in and out of it easily.
- Safety: One thing about above-ground pools is that they’re high above the ground. That elevated position makes safety a big concern, especially where children are concerned. This is also true of pools with steel or aluminum frames where the swimmer could hit their head. So make sure that children are always accompanied by an adult when they get into the pool and that nobody goes swimming on their own.
- Installation and Maintenance: Of course, the above-ground pool is portable. You will be installing and uninstalling it just about every year. So you need to make sure that the pool is easy to install and doesn’t require a professional to set it up. As for maintenance, the pool should be easy to clean and doesn’t get dirty easily.
- Accessories: When buying a pool, you need to make sure it comes with as many accessories as possible. Things like ladders, heaters, cleaners, covers, and pool lights are more than a luxury. They will make splashing in the water safer and more fun. Water heaters, for example, will make the water warm and cozy so you can start your swimming season long before the summer has set in. As for a pool with a saltwater system such as the Intex Ultra XTR Rectangular Pool Set, they give you the same experience as swimming in the ocean.
- Pumps and Filters: Filters and pumps are more than accessories. The pumps need to be powerful enough to circulate the whole water volume in the pool in a short time. The pump also keeps the water moving by creating gentle currents. Stagnant water is breeding grounds for bacteria, so a good filter system combined with a pump will maintain the clarity and cleanliness of the water. The filter also prevents the build-up of debris and sand in the pool.
Is it easy to clean the above-ground pool?
Above-ground pools are just as easy to clean as other types of pools. The pools come with a filter pump that keeps the water clean for the most part. As for fallen leaves and other floating debris, you can use a net for fishing them out of the water.
How can I install an above-ground pool?
Installing an above-ground pool is usually easier than installing in-ground ones. For one thing, there’s no digging involved. You just need to make sure the ground is level to provide stability to the pool. Inflatable pools don’t need much time or hassle to put them together. As for metal-frame pools, they usually require you to start with putting the frame together. While filling up the pool with water, you will need to adjust the frame legs. Don’t fill the pool above the recommended 90 percent capacity.
How about draining the above-ground pool, how easy is it?
The above-ground pool comes with a draining system that empties the pool in a shorter time than it takes you to fill it up. In many pools, the built-in drain is so powerful it could trap an adult if they get close to it. So avoid swimming in a pool that’s being drained.
The Last Words
One thing is clear from the above best above-ground pool reviews and buying guides, the competition is fierce among the manufacturers vying to take your money. So after comparing the 8 pools that made the cut, we gave our editor’s choice to the Intex 15ft x 48in Metal Frame Pool Set. The round pool measures 15 feet in diameter, so it’s suitable for a small to the medium-sized backyard. The steel frame gives it durability, and the laminated inner liner repels dirt and protects the pool against rust and UV damage.
We also liked the Bestway 56680 Steel Pro as the best budget value pick. It has a steel frame, 3-ply PVC reinforced walls and comes with all the necessary accessories to set it up and keep it in good shape. And all for an affordable price.
Our premium pick award went to the Intex 18ft X 52in Ultra XTR Pool Set. The 18-foot round pool has a steel frame, a dark gray outer frame, and a blue tile print inner liner. The sleek design is only matched by the innovative features that keep the water crystal clear and make it easy to clean and maintain the pool at all times.