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8 Best Above-Ground Pools of 2023
The deepest swimming pool on our list is also under $500.
There's no better way to cool down in the summer heat than dipping your toes into a swimming pool, especially one that's just feet away from your home. Though an in-ground pool is a great long-term solution, you may want to consider investing in an above-ground pool if you'd prefer a less expensive option or a speedy turnaround — or if you don't necessarily want to deal with pool maintenance year-round. Not only are above-ground pools significantly more affordable, but they come in a range of sizes, shapes and designs. Most can even be stored away for the winter. That's why our pros have narrowed down the best above-ground pools, whether you're looking for a durable metal-frame pool or one that's inflatable and great for the kids.
At the Good Housekeeping Institute, our analysts and home-improvement experts test a range of essentials for outdoor spaces, from inflatable pools to pool toys, lawn mowers and backyard hammocks. When selecting the best above-ground pools, we relied on our experience testing hundreds of products in our Home Improvement & Outdoor Lab. While we haven't yet tested each above-ground pool featured below, we considered top-performing brands or similar models from previous tests, our personal favorites and popular picks that have positive online consumer reviews. According to our pros, these are the best above-ground pools to keep your family and friends entertained all summer long.
Our top picks:
Best Overall Above-Ground Pool
Intex Ultra XTR$1,299 at Amazon$1,299 at AmazonRead more
Best Value Above-Ground Pool
Intex Rectangular Frame Above Ground Backyard Swimming Pool$122 at Wayfair$122 at WayfairRead more
Best Inflatable Above-Ground Pool
Intex Easy Set$292 at Amazon$292 at AmazonRead more
Best Above-Ground Pool for Kids
Bestway Above Ground Kids Round Swimming Pool$171 at Amazon$171 at AmazonRead more
Best Above-Ground Pool for Small Backyards
Summer Waves Natural Teak Elite$280 at Amazon$280 at AmazonRead more
After browsing our list, scroll down to learn more about our selection process and what to look for when shopping for an above-ground pool. Want more inspiration for upgrading your outdoor space? See our picks for the best fire pits and the best affordable patio chairs.
How we choose the best above-ground pools
When selecting the best above-ground pools, our pros vet each pick for ease of assembly, materials, construction, design and features. While we haven't yet tested the picks on our list, we considered top-performing brands or similar models from previous tests, personal favorites and popular picks with positive online consumer reviews.
The director of the Good Housekeeping Institute's Home Improvement & Outdoor Lab, Dan DiClerico, also met with six outdoor-living brands and experts at the National Hardware Show to evaluate the latest products, including top-rated above-ground pools.
What to look for when shopping for an above-ground pool
If this is your first time buying a pool, our pros suggest doing some research first. "While not as complicated or complex as in-ground pools, there are a lot of considerations that come with putting an above-ground pool on your property," Dan says. Here's what to keep in mind:
?? Shape: Much like in-ground pools, above-ground pools come in all shapes and sizes: oval, round, rectangular and more. Pick the shape you like, but make sure to consider your outdoor space and what makes the most sense, as well as what you'll be using the pool for. Are you going to be swimming laps? Consider a rectangular shape for its longer length. If you think you'll use the pool for lounging with friends or lettings your kids play, a round shape might be more fun. Also, keep in mind that certain shapes cost more than others. "As you go up in price, pools get larger and more diverse in shape, including rectangular, oval and hexagonal," Dan says.
?? Size: Dan suggests doing your due diligence and first checking in with your community, building department or local zoning board regarding any zoning regulations before making a purchase. "First and foremost, make sure the pool will fit in the yard without violating any zoning regulations," he says. "These vary by community, but pools generally need to be five feet from property lines and a certain distance from the main house, maybe 12 or 15 feet. There may also be limitations on where you can place your pool in relation to power lines and underground utilities. Many communities require permits for installing a pool." Once you've done your homework, measure your outdoor space and the future location of your pool. Can you easily get in and out with adequate space on each side?
?? Location: You can't just install an above-ground pool anywhere. "You need to make sure your yard's landscape is suited to a pool," Dan says. Before setting up your pool, make sure that the ground is flat, even and not obstructed with rocks or pebbles. "Does your ground slope, or are there large trees or rocks in the way? You will have to pay to have these removed or relocated," he says. Dan also points out that some communities have codes regarding tree removal, so be sure to double-check. Finally, soil stability could be a factor, depending on the size of the pool. “If the soil is very soft and sandy, you may need to amend it before putting in the pool,” he says.
?? Type: There are several types of above-ground pools, from inflatable to steel frame to kid-friendly to premium pools. Consider these picks:
- Inflatables: If you're looking for the most affordable option, consider inflatables. "They're affordable and very DIY-friendly but not meant as a permanent solution, so you'll need to deflate and store the pool at the end of every season," Dan explains. You'll also have to be careful around sharp objects like rocks that could turn your pool into a puddle.
- Structured above-ground pools: If you have a bit more wiggle room, a structured above-ground pool is a great option to consider. "A lot of pools in this category will have soft-sided plastic walls," Dan says. "They're more durable than an inflated pool but might show signs of wear and tear after a few years."
- Hard-sided pools: These pools, on the other hand, typically feature "frames made from durable, weather-resistant materials, like stainless steel or heavy-gauge, rigid PVC. A pool like that can easily provide a decade of service, though you may need to replace the liner at some point."
- Premium above-ground pools: If you really want a pool that can last a few decades (with the proper care and maintenance), consider a premium above-ground pool. "Besides maximum size — 25-foot diameters or more — these pools will feature top-quality design and construction, so they will look better in the backyard and last a lot longer," he says.
?? Installation and ease of assembly: Some above-ground pools are much easier to install than others. Ask yourself whether you want a DIY project or don't mind bringing in professionals. "You can shop online for above-ground pool kits, which include pool liner, sides and edging, as well as a pump and ladder," Dan says. "An experienced DIYer might have the pool up and running in a couple of hours, especially with help from a couple of buddies." Just don't forget that you'll need to ensure the surface you're working with is flat (especially for larger above-ground pools), which might require the help of professionals.
?? Extra features: Does the pool set come with accessories like a ladder, filter, pump, pool covers and liners? "When setting the budget, think about how you want to use the pool," Dan says. "If you just want a personal place to relax and cool down, a basic round will do. If you want it for entertaining or for the kids to play in, you'll need a larger pool with a surrounding deck for lounging and additional safety features, including a fence and removable ladder to keep unattended children from accessing the pool." You can also consider adding on other features, such as underwater or floating lighting for summer nights, as well as a heater for year-round use if you live in a warmer region.
?? Filter and pump: You'll likely want a filter and pump to keep your pool water clean and avoid having to change it frequently, especially if you're opting for a pool with a large water capacity. Just keep in mind that the pump and filter need electricity to run. "You must use a 110/20 amp dedicated line, and the pool must be bonded and grounded," Dan says. "Electrical requirements might be different if your pool is considered 'storable.' Check with the manufacturer and consult a professional electrician to make sure everything is safe and up to code."
?? Insurance: Consider getting insurance and find out how a pool will affect your rates. "In general, houseguests are covered for injuries that may occur while using the pool, but the pool itself is not covered by any damage that might occur," Dan explains. "Many will require you to put up a protective fence or childproof gate before they’ll even consider coverage."
Is an above-ground pool worth it?
Above-ground pools are more affordable than in-ground pools, and they're a wonderful way to enjoy summer weather from the comfort of your home. They're fun and relaxing for kids and adults, and the investment can certainly be worth it.
"The obvious advantage of above-ground over in-ground pools is cost," Dan says. "Most people spend between $1,000 and $4,000 on above-ground pools, or about $2,500 on average. Compare that with in-ground pools, which average around $50,000 and can easily run into the six figures if you spring for luxury features, like a hot tub and waterfall."
If you're ready to add a pool to your backyard, an above-ground model is a great way to get the same benefits without the hefty investment of a more permanent installation.
How do you clean an above-ground pool?
Although several above-ground pools include a filter pump to keep the water clean, you'll also need a few tools for general maintenance and upkeep, Dan says:
"You'll want to purchase a skimmer to take out leaves and debris, a soft-bristled pool brush to clean the liner and a pool test kit to make sure you have the proper balance of chlorine and other chemicals."
Why trust Good Housekeeping?
Media & Tech Reviews Analyst Olivia Lipski oversees product testing and covers everything from consumer electronics to outdoor gear, appliances, travel, home and fitness. She continues to stay on top of the industry's latest innovations and helps readers make better buying decisions by testing and reviewing the best gadgets to hit the market. While she may not own her own above-ground pool, she's been swimming since she could walk.
Dan DiClerico, director of the Home Improvement & Outdoor Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, has written about the outdoor-living space for more than 20 years, reviewing dozens of products from every leading brand. He also keeps up with the latest innovations by attending trade shows and industry events, like CES, the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show and the National Hardware Show.
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