Best Above Ground Pools

UPDATED June 2024

With above ground pools, you can feel cool and happy on a hot day.

BEST ABOVE
GROUND POOL 2024

BOTTOM LINE

Have fun in the sun with this Metal Frame Pool Set, which comes with a filter and laminated side walls that maintain the round shape of the pool. You get accessories like an instructional DVD and a debris cover that keeps leaves and other debris from falling in the water. At 12X30, this pool has plenty of space for your family and friends.

PROS

The laminated side walls use three layers of laminate to help the pool maintain its shape. It also comes with a debris cover that you can use to keep the water clean.

CONS

Many users had a hard time taking the pool down at the end of the season. There were also complaints from customers about the included filter, which can stop working.

BOTTOM LINE

Get your home ready for a swimming party quickly with this Ultra Frame model, which you can set up and prepare for the addition of water in only 45 minutes. Some customers did have problems setting it up though. It comes with a ladder and other accessories for use in your yard. Measuring 14X42 inches, the pool can hold 357 gallons of water.

PROS

This Ultra Frame set comes with everything you need to swim at home, including a ladder, frame, ground cloth and liner. You can set this pool up and start filling it with water in just 45 minutes.

CONS

As this model is a little smaller than the first, you may find that it doesn’t offer all the space that you need. Some customers had a few issues setting the pool up too.

BOTTOM LINE

Suitable for adults and children over the age of six, Ultra XTR Rectangular Pool Set comes with a removable ladder and a ground cloth that protects your yard. You also get a debris cover that keeps the water clear of tree limbs and other debris.

PROS

As one of the largest above ground pools on the market, this one can hold more than 400 gallons of water and fit a big group. It comes with a steel frame that is resistant to rust as well as a filter that pumps 100 gallons of water per minute.

CONS

You should check the liner before installing it as some customers received damaged liners. You might need some help putting it together too as this pool is quite large.

BOTTOM LINE

Those looking for a pool that they can easily set up will prefer the Easy Set model. It is small enough that you can use your garden hose to fill it but large enough that it can accommodate multiple people. This one is a little on the small side measuring 10X30.

PROS

A shut off feature on this pool instantly turns the pump off when water gets inside. This one is very easy to set up, and you can fill it with water from your own garden hose.

CONS

The included pump on this one doesn’t work quite as well as those that come with other models. It isn’t as durable as those models either.

BOTTOM LINE

This model is a good choice for those who like the Easy Set but want something a little smaller. You can set it up in just 10 minutes and use water from your garden hose to fill it. It has a drain plug in the bottom for fast and convenient draining at the end of the season. At 8X30, this pool has a compact size that can fit in most yards.

PROS

You get a filter that uses up to 120 volts of power to pump up to 530 gallons every hour. Intex also added dual suction outlets that keep the water clean.

CONS

As this is a smaller swimming pool, you may find that it doesn’t have enough room inside for your group. The sides can wobble when you fill the pool and let water splash over the sides.

Shopping Guide for Above Ground Swimming Pools

You might think that you need to spend $5,000 to $10,000 on a swimming pool because you assume that you need an in-ground model. While those pools are nice, they require digging up your yard and hiring pros to put down concrete and install the pool. 

Above ground models give you the option of doing all the hard work yourself. As long as you have a free weekend, you can hop online and order a pool that arrives within a few days. Intex makes some great options that include compact models for small yards and large pools with room for a party full of guests.

When choosing a swimming pool, you also need to think about how much maintenance it needs. Some above-ground pools come with filters and debris covers that almost eliminate that maintenance.

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Selection Criteria - Best Above Ground Pools

While the cover keeps things from landing in the pool, the filter removes small particles from the water. You can swim as long as you want without worrying about cleaning the pool and preparing the water. 

With sold frames that support the weight of the water and the guests inside, these pools can last from one season to the next too. Use this above-ground swimming pool guide to find the best pool for your home and yard.

Selection Criteria​

One important factor that I considered is the ease of setup. It can take hours to set up a standard above-ground pool and even longer to fill that pool with water. With Intex models, you can save some time on setup. Some of the top models take only an hour or less to set up. You can use a garden hose to fill it and have a ready-to-use pool in around two hours.

The reviews posted by shoppers who bought these pools helped us see what others thought. This gave us an idea of what to look for when I tried out these pools. 

You can use the pros and cons shown in the chart above to find out what customers liked and didn’t like about these top models. This selection criterion includes all the important factors you would use when picking a pool.

We looked at more than 10 models and read reviews from more than 1,000 customers to pick our top Intex swimming pools.

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Though Intex makes swimming pools at a range of prices, its Metal Frame model is the best one for the money. Retailing for $500, this model costs less than the Ultra Frame pools but provides more stability than you would get from an Easy Set option. 

While it does come with a metal frame, it’s quite easy to set up. Once you lay out the liner, you insert the poles and base that make up the frame. As soon as you lift the frame, the pool is ready for some water. You can use the included ground cloth to protect the bottom of the pool too.

This is the best model for the money because of the included accessories. You get a ladder that fits inside the pool, but you can easily remove this ladder to keep others from jumping in the water. The ladder has a slip-resistant design to keep users safe. It can support swimmers of up to 300 pounds.

Also included is a filter pump with a flow rate of 1,500 gallons per water. This efficient filter works quickly to keep your water clean. The debris cover helps keep the water clean too.

Expert Tip

Avoid setting up your new pool on wet or sandy ground to keep the pool from sinking into the ground.

The Ultra Frame 16X48 is the best swimming pool for adults who need to stick to a budget. This is a round version of the Ultra Frame model. While it’s a little smaller, it still gives you all the space that you need for a pool party.

Priced at less than $600, it costs a fraction of what a standard above-ground pool would usually cost. You also get the freedom to put the pool away in the fall and winter before bringing it back out for the warmer months.

With a water capacity of more than 5,000 gallons, this pool comes with a filter pump that you can hook up to any 110 or 120V outlet. That filter circulates the water around and has a flow rating of 1,200 gallons per hour. It works quickly to eliminate sand and other debris in your water.

All the accessories that you need come with this model, including a DVD that tells you how to set up the frame and how to maintain your pool. The frame snaps right into the pool liner, which is what holds the water. You can use the ground cloth to protect the pool from damage.

Expert Tip

Make sure that you have right outlet and circuit to accomodate the filter that come with your pool.

The best above-ground pool for all shoppers is the Ultra XTR Rectangular Pool Set. With a galvanized steel frame, this pool is easy to set up and might be ready for water in just 60 minutes. 

I highly recommend that you get some help putting it together though as the pool is quite big. The sides can also feel a bit cumbersome until you add the water. At 24X12X52, this pool has a nice size that makes it suitable for most homes and is big enough for kids and adults.

Intex gives you loads of accessories with this pool too. The Krystal Clear sand filter has a large opening that is resistant to corrosion and a good pump rate that keeps the water moving through the filter to keep it clean. 

It has pre-set cycles that run every hour to 12 hours too. You get a ground cloth that covers the ground beneath and around the pool as well as a debris cover that keeps debris out of the pool. With the removable ladder, you will have no problem getting in or out of the water. This ladder can accommodate swimmers of up to 300 pounds.

Did you know?

Intex shows you how to set up this pool and get it ready for water in just 60 minutes.

The Intex swimming pools that made this list are all easy to set up and use. If you want one that you can set up as quickly as possible though, I recommend the Easy Set. You can set up this model in just 15 minutes because it does not come with a frame that you need to assemble first. 

The thick sides act as a frame and help the pool keep its structure. You can actually place this one right on a patch of clear and dry ground, extend the sides, place a garden hose in the center, and begin filling it with water. Though it may look a little smaller than other models, the Easy Set holds more than 700 gallons of water. It’s large enough for several adults or a number of kids.

Despite its low cost, this pool comes with some of the same features found on the Ultra Frame models like a dual suction and circulation system. Two outlets located on the sides work with the filter to keep water circulating around inside and to provide swimmers with a steady stream of clean water. That pump has a 1,000-gallon-per-hour flow rating.

Checking the flow rating of the included pump tells you exactly how quickly water will circulate around the pool

To pick the best pool for kids, I wanted one that was a little on the shorter side. The Easy Set Pool Set with Filter Pump measures just 30 inches tall, which makes it great for families with kids. 

Your kids can jump into the pool without the use of a ladder, but they can also climb over the side of the pool to get out again. The walls on this pool use a type of laminated PVC that can withstand the constant pressure of people leaning against the sides.

Parents of small children don’t always have as much free time as they would like, which is why I recommend this model for parents. It sets up so quickly that you can start splashing in the water with your kids in just a few hours.

Once you take it out of the box, you need to inflate the top ring that surrounds the pool. This is what gives the sides their structure. You can then fill the pool with water and hop right inside. This model also lets you stop worrying about your kids’ health and safety because the included filter circulates more than 500 gallons of water around every hour.

Types

Inflatable

If you want to save time and money, consider an inflatable swimming pool. This type of pool features sides made from plastic or similar material with an inflatable ring around the top. You also get a pump that lets you quickly fill this ring with air. As soon as you add water, the sides will quickly rise. 

You don’t need to do anything else to the pool. While inflatable pools are easy to set up at the beginning of the season and tear down later, they aren’t very sturdy. You can accidentally poke holes or rip the sides, which will require a repair kit to fix.

Metal Frame

Another type of above-ground pool is one that comes with a metal frame and posts. These are among the more popular pools because they are semi-permanent. You will need to clear the ground beneath the pool and set up the posts before adding the liner. 

A thick ring of metal sits on top of the posts and keeps the pool upright. These pools are often larger than inflatable models and come with a ladder that you can remove to keep people out of the water. They’re more expensive than inflatable pools and require more maintenance to keep the water clean.

Semi-Buried

One option you might consider is a semi-buried pool. This combines elements of above-ground and in-ground models. They usually sit a few feet into the ground but are mostly above the ground. 

 

The pools have steel walls inside that keep the earth from shifting and tearing or ripping the liner. With this type of pool, you usually need to add some type of deck to the top, which provides access to the water. 

They are much more expensive to install and typically require some professional help. With this type of pool, you need to pick the right spot before installing it because you cannot move it later.

Choosing the Right Location for Your Pool

One of the most important things you need to choose before setting up your new pool is where to place it. You should check your city or county codes to find out if there are any rules regarding pools. Some areas require that owners put pools a set number of feet back from the road or that they install a fence.

Another thing to consider is whether you want the pool to sit in a sunny or shady spot. Putting the pool in a sunny location allows the rays from the sun to slowly heat the water. 

If you choose a shady spot, your pool will last longer because those rays won’t break down the sides. A shady spot may result in more leaves falling in the water, though this isn’t a problem if you use your debris cover.

You should also consider what the ground in your yard looks like. The ground should be completely flat and level to keep the sides of the pool from warping. It’s also important that you look for an area that stays dry too, which keeps the pool level as you use it.

Expert Tip

  • Natural paths that your family and guests use to move through your yard.
Choosing the Right Location for Your Pool - Roots growing
  • Roots growing through the ground or just beneath the surface of the ground.
Choosing the Right Location for Your Pool - Tree branches
  • Tree branches located directly above the pool or branches that extend over the water.

Size and Capacity

No matter which Intex pool appeals to you, you need to make sure that it has enough space for your group. Think about the size of your family or the number of people you typically invite over for a swim. 

If you pick a pool with a depth of less than five feet of water, you need around 20 square feet of space per person. With pools at least five-feet deep, you need only 15 square feet of water per person. 

Measure the dimensions of each pool to see the amount of square footage provided by each one. This will help you see which ones are suitable for the number of swimmers usually using that pool.

Size is important because it gives each person his or her own space. If you ever swam in a public or community pool before, you know that finding a place to take a breath or relax is hard. Choosing a pool slightly larger than the maximum size that you need ensures that each guest will feel comfortable. 

If you need a swimming pool for your kids and their friends, you can choose a smaller model because kids need less space.

Easy Set Pools

  • 8’x30″
  • 10’x30″
  • 12’x30″
  • 15’x42″
  • 15’x48″
  • 18’x42″
  • 18’x48″

Round Metal Frame Pools

  • 10’x30″
  • 12’x30″
  • 15’x36″
  • 15’x42″
  • 15’x48″
  • 18’x48″
  • 24’x52″

Ultra Frame Pools

  • 16’x48″
  • 18’x52″

Rectangular Ultra Pools

  • 9’x18’x52″
  • 12’x24’x52″
  • 16’x32’x52″

Prepping the Ground

With traditional above-ground swimming pools, you need to do a lot of prep work before setting up that pool. Intex models are easier to set up, but that doesn’t mean that you can skip the prep work. 

Once you decide on the location for your new pool, you need to prepare the ground. Using a broom lets you sweep away any debris that can damage the liner such as tiny rocks and stones. 

Go over the ground several times with the tool and with your own hands to look for any small things you missed. Many models have liners that sit directly on the ground. As you walk across the bottom of the pool, you risk dragging your feet across debris that rips and tears the liner.

You should then put down the ground cover that comes with your pool. This is a lightweight material that serves as protection for the pool. 

Place the cover flat on the ground and pull it slightly until it sits as flat as possible. You may want to have a friend hold one side as you pull on the other. Set the liner and frame on top of this cover.

Setting Up the Pool

Intex offers two different types of pools: those that come with an included frame and those that have thick sides. Models that come with a frame require a little more time to set up. 

Once you have your ground cloth down, you will need to lay out the pool liner. This fits inside the frame and holds the water. You will want to spread the liner out and check for any holes or damage. This step is especially important when it comes to taking the pool down at the end of the season.

The frame features multiple parts that snap together and slide through pockets and straps in the liner. Follow the included instructions to make sure that you use the right parts in each area of the pool. As you insert the parts, the pool will slowly come together and begin supporting itself. You then add water.

With Easy Set models, you do not need to put together a frame. You only need to lay the pool out flat on top of your ground cloth and inflate the bumper that runs around the top of the pool. As you add water, the pool will slowly lift up and come together.

Expert Tip

Watch the included instructional DVD all the way through to make sure you understand how to put your pool together.

Setting Up the Pool

Regular Maintenance

One benefit of choosing an Intex pool over a traditional above-ground pool is that these require less maintenance. You still need to be aware of problems that can occur, including water that develops a cloudy appearance and algae growing in the water. 

If you do not properly maintain your pool, you also risk the water burning your eyes and skin. As long as the filter works correctly, you shouldn’t have any problems. These filters may not last an entire season though. There is a chance that you need to replace the cartridge in that filter to keep your water clean.

Regular Maintenance

It’s also important that you use the included debris cover. Mosquitoes and other insects seek out water sources and can drown in your pool. The debris cover keeps those bugs out. It also does a good job of reducing the risk of tree leaves and trash blowing into your pool. 

The cover is easy to use. You can slide it in place when you finish swimming for the day and pop it back off the next morning. The cover also traps heat inside, which keeps your water from feeling too cold.

Cleaning and Testing Your Water

Owning any type of swimming pool requires regular testing of your water. You can pick up a pH testing kit for less than $20, which comes with a tube for collecting water from the pool and chemicals for testing the pH balance of that water. The water should fall within a range of between 7 and 7.6. 

Most kits come with liquids that change the color of the water when added to the tube. This makes it easy to see whether the water needs cleaning. You may need to add more chlorine to the water. Shocking the pool involves a large amount of chlorine, which will kill bacteria, algae, and other contaminants in the water.

The filter that comes with your pool does a good job of cleaning and purifying the water. This filter will only work when you run it though. Many people do not realize that they need to run their filters for between 10 and 12 hours every day. You should also check the filter cartridge for any clogs caused by larger pieces of debris.

Putting Away the Pool at the End of the Season

Traditional swimming pools require that you prep the water and take steps to keep the pool safe during the off-season. With an Intex pool, you can completely break down the pool and put it away until the following year. Intex recommends setting up your pool in a location far away from your home. This keeps the water from potentially damaging your home when you drain it later.

All models have a drainage hole located on either one side of the pool or on the base. You simply unplug this hole and allow the water to drain out. Depending on the size of the pool, you may need to adjust the liner to force the water towards that hole. Let the pool sit out for a few hours or overnight to give the liner time to dry.

With Easy Set pools, you will then need to remove the air from the inflatable tube around the top. If you have a frame model, you can pull apart the frame. Make sure that you put all parts in a large bag and that you put the instructions inside that bag. Check the liner for any signs of damage before putting it away.

Expert Tip

If you find holes or tears in your liner, you can use a repair kit to cover those tears before putting the pool back up again.

Swimming Pool Sizes

It’s important that you look at size because it shows you how many people you can fit in the pool. Size also tells you the overall dimensions and lets you know what to expect when you set that pool up on your lawn. You can find out the exact dimensions of each model before placing your order.

  • The Ultra Frame Rectangular measures 18 feet long by nine feet wide by 52 inches tall.
  • At 48 inches tall, the Ultra Frame 16X48 is a little shorter than the rectangular model. This round model measures 16 feet around.
  • Intex made its Metal Frame Pool Set stand 48 inches from the ground as well. This pool has a round shape and measures 18 feet around
  • The Easy Set also stands 48 inches from the ground, but this pool also measures 15 feet around
  • At just 30 inches tall, the Easy Set Pool Set with Filter Pump is one of the shorter pools available. It measures 12 feet around.

Expert Tip

Shorter pools are best for younger kids because they don’t need a ladder to get in and out of the water.

Things to Consider When Buying a Pool

Make sure that you consider all the following factors when picking out an Intex pool.

Shape

Intex makes pools in both round and rectangular shapes. You may prefer a round shape that lacks the sharp angles found in rectangular designs.

Depth

The top pools I found have a depth of between three feet and four feet deep. Some of these models are even deeper. A shorter pool can make you feel more relaxed and comfortable when swimming and playing with your kids.

Frame of No Frame

You can purchase a swimming pool that comes with a metal or PVC frame, but you can also buy one that uses PVC walls instead of a frame. Metal frames can last longer but can rust. A PVC pool lacks any type of frame and may not have the structure you want.

Pump Size

Pump sizes vary from model to model. Larger pumps do a faster and more efficient job of pumping clean water through the pool.

Warranty

Read the warranty information to find out how long the warranty lasts and what it covers. You may have just 30 days to make a return after your pool arrives.

Expert Tip

When buying a pool online, you can often use both the site’s Return Policy and the warranty on your pool.

Benefits of Above Ground Pools

Intex swimming pools have a number of advantages over more traditional above-ground models. Those benefits include:

  • Smaller Size
  • Less Construction
  • Cost
  • More Flexibility
  • Greater Selection

Expert Tip

If your water looks cloudy, you can take a sample to a pool store and ask for help.

Above Ground Pools Prices

Buying a new swimming pool shouldn’t affect your finances. You can easily find models that fit your budget and help you save money this summer on your kids’ usual sunny day activities. The Metal Frame pool that made this list is highly affordable and retails for less than $120. 

If you worry that it won’t have enough room for your family and friends, you can spend more and upgrade to a larger pool. Priced at $430, the Ultra Frame costs much less than an in-ground pool but comes with tons of space. It is also tall enough for adults to take a dip too.

The Ultra XTR Rectangular Pool Set is the most expensive model and sells for around $1,250. The steel frame that won’t bend or rust makes it a good choice for those looking to save money. You can rest assured that you won’t need to replace the frame later. 

The most affordable above-ground pools include the Easy Set and Easy Set with Filter. Both cost less than $60 and can fit in any yard. Those cheaper models are inflatable pools though that may not last beyond the coming summer.

Cost of Above Ground Pools

Frequently Asked Questions

A: Not all of the best above ground pools for 2024 include a ladder. You may want one if you have trouble getting in and out of the water. Most inflatable pools lack this feature.

A: It can take between 15 and 60 minutes to set up one of these pools. Easy Set models take 15 to 30 minutes to set up, but it takes longer to put together one of the larger pools because you also need to assemble the frame. You’ll want to factor in the time that it takes to fill the pool too, which can add a few hours to the total set up time.

A: Some of the negative reviews posted online came from customers with complaints about parts breaking down or not working properly. You can find all the replacement parts that you need online through sites like Amazon and the official Intex website. Intex sells pool accessories online too.

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