How to Buy an Above Ground Pool

If you’re in the market for a new above ground pool, you’ll want to do your research to ensure you buy a pool that’s right for your yard and your family.

Luckily, no matter your budget, there’s likely an above ground pool that’ll fit your needs.

Before you buy a pool, make sure you consider the following:

  • Space, shape, and landscape of your yard. (Trees, wind protection, slope.)
  • Climate/weather where you live. (Can you leave the pool up in the winter?)
  • Local zoning regulations. (Size/weight restrictions.)
  • Intended use of the pool. (Swimming vs wading.)

With those things in mind, you’re certain to start your search for the best above ground pool on the right foot.

Plan & Prepare Your Yard

When deciding on a place for your above ground pool, make sure you have:

  • Level ground.
  • Direct sunlight.
  • Wind protection.
  • Distance away from large trees.
  • Level, smooth surface.
  • Easy access, clear sight lines.

Your biggest constraint when selecting a pool will be the physical space you have to work with in your yard.

The size of your yard will dictate the size and shape of your pool. Most above ground pools will need to be installed on perfectly level ground (especially more permanent pools).

You’ll need to find a space in your yard that can be feasibly leveled and smoothed. You’ll need to make sure that the pool’s supports and frame are sturdy and that there’s nothing that can damage or puncture the liner.

Given that above ground pools don’t usually come with a water heater, you’ll want to make sure you can install your pool in a spot that will get enough sun and will be protected from wind. The sun will help keep the water at a comfortable swimming temperature and wind protection will help prevent too much water evaporation. (Maintaining the water level in your above ground pool is important).

Next, you’ll need to find a place that’s far enough from the trees in your yard that will minimize the debris and leaves that will fall in the pool. This will also minimize the risk of sidewall or liner damage due to a fallen tree or branch. Try to find a spot that’s at least 7 feet away from large trees and branches.

Finally, pick a place in your yard where the pool is clearly visible from the house in case of an emergency. You should also find a place that makes access and entry to the pool easy as well as maintenance.

Check with your local city government or homeowner’s association for any potential zoning regulations regarding above ground pools. Some places have restrictions on size and water capacity for above ground pools for private residences.

Choosing a Pool

How to choose an above ground pool. Your main options include:

  • Round vs Oval vs Rectangular.
  • Materials.
  • Saltwater vs chemical cleaning.
  • Inflatable ring vs frame supports vs solid wall.
  • Overall size and depth.

Once you’ve evaluated your available yard space, you’ll be better prepared to select your above ground pool.

The first choice to make is on the pool’s shape. You can typically find above ground pools in:

  • Round.
  • Oval.
  • Rectangular.

The shape you choose is largely dependent on the size and shape of your yard, but also how you intend to use the pool.

Longer, narrower above ground pools in rectangular or oval shapes are usually better for laps and water volleyball. Round pools usually offer a little more room for more people to swim around.

Generally, round pools will be less expensive than oval or rectangular pools of similar sizes. For the most part, oval and rectangular pools require more materials to support them, making them a bit more expensive.

Above Ground Pool Depths

Your above ground pool depth options typically include:

  • 30”
  • 42”
  • 48”
  • 52”

Deeper pools are usually more expensive and may come along with a more difficult setup. Shallower pools are some of the easiest to set up and are perfect for families with small children and those looking for a more temporary pool set up.

Above Ground Pool Materials

With a pool shape and size in mind, you’ll need to decide on what kind of materials you want the pool to be made of. As a general rule of thumb, more expensive pools are going to be made out of materials designed to last longer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a long-lasting inexpensive above ground pool.

The most important part of your above ground pool is its liner. A thick, sturdy pool liner will protect itself from punctures, stand up to UV rays, and keep your pool lasting longer.

Second to the liner is the frame and support materials. Your options are typically:

  • steel.
  • resin.
  • Or a combination of the two.

The main thing to look for in frame material is how well it can stand up to the elements (especially if you’re choosing a steel frame pool). You’ll want to make sure the steel is properly sealed to help prevent rust and corrosion.

Some other pool options include inflatable ring pools and solid wall pools.

Inflatable ring pools work with a top ring filled with air that rises as the pool is filled with water, this makes installation and takedown extremely simple.

On the other end of the spectrum are solid wall above ground pools. Solid wall pools are the most heavily constructed above ground pools and are typically the most difficult (or time consuming) to assembly. Solid wall pools tend to last for a very long time.

Read through some pool reviews to get a better idea of which type is right for you.

Compare Above Ground Pool Sets

With the shape, size, and materials of your above ground pool selected, your list should be narrowed down quite a bit.

Finally, you’ll need to compare what’s included with the pools you want to buy.

At a bare minimum, you’ll need the following to get your pool ready for use:

  • Filter, pump, hoses.
  • Chlorine or saltwater.

You’ll also probably want to have:

  • A ladder for pools deeper than 30”.
  • An automatic skimmer or vacuum to keep large pools clean.
  • A pool cover to protect it from debris when not in use.
  • A ground cover to protect the bottom of the liner.

Certain above ground pools include all of the above, others may just include a pump.

Often times, you’ll find that you may need to replace or upgrade from the pump/filter that’s included with your pool package. Read customer reviews for the particular models to find out if this may be a potential issue. A new filter a few months or seasons from your purchase may be something you want to factor into the price.

This is a great time to start reading reviews and getting the specifics on a few above ground pool models.

Buy Your Pool

With everything planned out and your options weighed, you’re ready to buy your new above ground pool!

You’ve still got a few options here, including:

  • Amazon or Ebay.
  • Hardware and big box stores (Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, etc.)
  • Local pool suppliers and contractors.

How you buy the pool really depends on your needs. The list above represents an ascending order of both price and assistance, with a descending order of options.

Amazon is by and far going to provide you with the largest selection of above ground pools to choose from at the lowest prices. However, you’ll be mostly on your own for setting up your pool unless you choose to hire someone.

Hardware and big box stores usually stock only a few brands and models of above ground pools. Depending on where you live, they may not stock any.

Local pool suppliers and contractors will usually be as close to a local expert on above ground pools that you can get. These people install all different types of above ground pools for a living and will have very specific knowledge on setup and maintenance. If you are completely clueless about how to go about buying and installing an above ground pool, a local pool contractor may be right for you, though your pool selection will be limited to what they offer and you’ll typically be paying a premium price.

Buying an Above Ground Pool Online

When you purchase an above ground pool online, be sure to check any shipping and delivery restrictions based on the pool’s weight.

While most above ground pools available online are light enough to be shipped right to your door, some of the heavier, more permanent models are too heavy for home shipments. In that case, you may need to arrange for pick-up and delivery from a one of the distribution centers near you.

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