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Cheap Above Ground Pools

Cheap Above Ground Pools Cheap above ground pools have flooded the market online and it can be confusing to say the least to tell the good from the bad. There are a number of reasons why a cheap above ground pool might be perfect for your needs but you would prefer to get one that, you know, actually works. Most people do not expect a lot from a pool that costs less than an average inground pool pump - but exactly what should you expect out of a cheap pool? More times than not entry level above ground swimming pools shoppers will have a specific reason why they do not want a more permanent pool. Your pool might just be for your young kids and you specifically do not want a full size (or full depth) pool. Or you might be in a rental property that has allowed you to put up a pool but you plan to take it down at the end of the year...in that case you certainly would not want one of the more permanent styles of above ground pool and perhaps an inflatable style would be suit your current needs.


Regardless of your reasons, just because you are looking for a cheap pool does not mean you need to throw your money away. If you know what you are buying, and know what to expect, then you can make an informed decision about your purchase. Within this article I aim to give you enough information to choose the best above ground pool for the cheapest price which is a very important distinction from simply buying the "cheapest above ground pool". If you want the absolute, rock bottom cheapest above ground pool then simply go dump your garbage on the ground and get inside your garbage can and fill it with water. BAM - didn't need to spend a dollar and now you have an above ground pool. Oh - what's that? You want an actual pool and not a filthy trash can? Then you should probably read this article and see why spending a little more will get you a lot more when shopping for an entry level above ground pool.


Cheap Pools VS Cost Effective Pools

You want a cheap above ground pool. If your funds are low and the air conditioner in your house is broken (or doesn't exist) then you might be able to sell enough blood in a single sitting to buy an entry level above ground pool. If this is you - then by all means buy the least expensive above ground pool on the market. My problem is when I speak with above ground pool owners who have purchased a pool for $20 to $50 and are expecting to get three, five or seven years of life from it. If you are spending under at least a few hundred dollars on your pool, then I consider this to be a "one time use" purchase. Maybe you really take care of your belongings and you manage to get more life from your pool than this, but I suspect the vast majority of people who buy the cheapest possible above ground pools get less than one year from it before a service or repair is required that will cost more than the pool itself.


You can call me cynical if you want but I have spent my entire life working in and around swimming pools of every type and description from the smallest above ground all the way up to world class residential and commercial inground pools. There is a lot involved with taking a few thousand pounds of water and retaining it, safely, four feet above the ground. It needs to have some kind of circulation or filtration system as well as chemical maintenance just like any other size swimming pool would. When you buy a swimming pool, even a cheap above ground pool, you must realize that the pool structure is only one small part of the total costs involved. Cheap pools are, you know, cheap. Parts might break and need repair or replacement and you will also have costs associated with circulating and filtering the water as well as treating it with chemicals to make it safe and comfortable to swim in. When you are shopping for an above ground pool try to consider all of the costs involved instead of simply looking at the purchase price of the pool kit. Quite often spending more upfront will actually reduce what you need to spend maintaining the pool - not to mention that you get what you pay for with above ground pools. If you pay more for your kit then it might be more efficiently designed, more rugged and durable materials, bigger and more efficient filtration system etc. and often the additional upfront cost can be recovered over a longer service life of the pool versus the cheapest possible option on the market.


Electrical costs - Running an electric motor costs a lot of money to do. In an inground swimming pool an electric pool pump can consume as much as 50% of the total electrical draw of the home. Fortunately with a cheap above ground pool the pool will be small and so will the pump. Unfortunately that pump will not likely be very high tech, or heavy duty, and you may find that the cost of running it adds up since you need to run it so often just to keep the pool water clear.

Chemical costs - Even the smallest above ground pool needs to have chemical maintenance to keep the water safe. Many people take the approach of fill it and drain / refill once it gets dirty. This is, and would be, a mistake. Water quality can and will deteriorate rapidly and you should not swim in any pool not protected with a chemical sanitizer such as chlorine. Least of all, you should not let your children swim in a pool that does not have chemical maintenance, as this poses significant risk for bacterial infection as well as transmission of infectious disease between swimmers. If you want a simplified bare-bones rundown of the minimum pool water maintenance you need to do then you should read this water chemistry crash course.

Water fill - Unless you are lucky, water is not free and swimming pools take a lot of water to fill...even small above ground ones. If you have to hire a water truck to fill your pool then you will for sure want to spend a little more on a higher quality pump and filter setup. If water is free, or nearly free where you are, perhaps there is more validity to frequent drain and fills however the availability of clean water is not an acceptable excuse for poor, or lack of proper water chemistry maintenance in your pool. It's all fun and games until someone develops a brain eating parasite in your pool. Be responsible.


Repair bills - If you buy a cheap pool and something breaks on it then often the cheapest solution is to replace the entire pool since a service call from a professional could easily cost as much as two brand new cheap above ground pools. This is why I consider these extreme entry level swimming pools to be "throw away" since it cost less to replace than to fix. If you are a handy person then this is where you can really get ahead dealing with minor issues, such as leaks, as they develop. If you are the kind of person that could be found dead from dehydration at the side of some remote road with a flat tire - all while in your trunk you had a spare tire, a brand new jack, a tire iron and an instruction manual...well maybe you should just order two pools now and keep one as a backup. Owning a cheap above ground pool is like driving a 20 year old car - if you are handy then you can probably get more life out it. If you need to pay for skilled labor every time you have a problem then you will almost certainly pay more in repairs than what the pool cost to begin with. YouTube is your friend and can provide you with help for fixing problems with above ground pools yourself.


Inflatable Ring Above Ground Pools

If you have a little space on your property that is flat and level and you don't mind killing the grass in that location then the cheapest possible above ground pool is one that has an inflatable ring. This style of pool is designed to be absolutely dead simple to install and set up. Basically after inflating the collar ring you simply fill the pool up and the walls float and raise as the water level goes up. Two things that you do not have with this type of pool would be structural integrity or longevity. This type of pool deals with a fair bit of splash out due to the design and you would want to install this pool in a place where sudden surges of water would not be a disaster. If you are looking for something to keep the kids entertained and cooled off, and your emotional investment in the pool is minimal, then grab one of these and try to get a full season of use out of it. I consider "kiddie pools" or children's pools to be the only exception to the statement that all pools need to be treated with chemicals and filtered. If the pool is smaller than your bathtub then simply drain and refill for every use with chlorinated water from your household water supply.




The Summer Waves Kids Pool is perfect if you have a little one that you want to introduce to swimming pools early. This pool measures five feet in diameter and measures 15 inches deep, which is more than enough for your little ones to splash around and have fun in.

Size: 5' round x 15" deep
Volume: 140 gallons
Pump: N/A
Filter: N/A





The Intex Easy Set Pool is a big step up from the kiddie pool listed above. While both have the inflatable ring design this pool is from Intex which is a company name synonymous with above ground swimming pools. This pool comes with a pump and filter, albeit a very basic one.

Size: 8' round x 30" deep
Volume: 639 gallons
Pump: 120 volts / 330 gallons per hour
Filter: Intex Type A or C Filter Cartridge





The Summer Waves Above Ground Pool is one of the only 10' round pools for sale on Amazon currently. If ten is your magic number then this is the one you are looking for, but of you can go up as high as 12 foot diameter I would say you should consider upgrading to the next size up Intex brand pool. Intex makes a 10' pool also but the design is somewhat bold on the Intex Ocean Reef Pool.

Size: 10' round x 20" deep
Volume: 1052 gallons
Pump: 120 volts / 350 gallons per hour
Filter: Summer Waves Type D (RP350) Filters





The Intex 12' Easy Set Pool is one of the best-selling above ground pool packages on Amazon due to being a decent mix of size, depth, brand name and cheap price. If I needed a cheap above ground pool, like tomorrow, then this is the cheapest one that I would look at. For the price, you are not going to do a lot better than this for inflatable ring style above ground pools.

Size: 12' round x 30" deep
Volume: 1485 gallons
Pump: 120 volts / 530 gallons per hour
Filter: Intex 29000E / 59900E Filters





The Intex 15' Easy Set Pool Kit takes a big step up in size and volume from the previous ring pools on this list. This pool offers a lot of water and space for the minimum possible budget. It also comes in a version that is the same size but slightly deeper.

Size: 15' round x 42" deep
Volume: 3284 gallons
Pump: 120 volts / 1000 gallons per hour
Filter: Intex 29000E / 59900E Filters





The Intex 18' Easy Set Pool Kit is one of the largest inflatable ring style pools that you can buy. Just be sure to consider where you install this as 5000 gallons of water rushing into your basement is going to ruin your whole day for sure.

Size: 18' round x 48" deep
Volume: 5455 gallons
Pump: 120 volts / 1500 gallons per hour
Filter: Intex 29000E / 59900E Filters





The Intex 20' Oval Frame Pool Set is one of the only alternatives to round pools if you are interested specifically in the inflatable ring design. The bracing system in this pool does a functionally adequate job of holding the oval shape.

Size: 12'x20' oval x 48" deep
Volume: 4393 gallons
Pump: 120 volts / 1500 gallons per hour
Filter: Intex 29000E / 59900E Filters



Metal Frame Above Ground Pools

Above ground metal (or PVC) frame pools take a page from both the traditional above ground pool market as well as the inflatable market. The design of these pools, while lighter duty, are based on traditional above ground pool designs that include bracing systems to support the side walls of the pool. Frame pools essentially took the design of more expensive above ground pools and tried to bring the price point as close as possible to the most entry level above ground pools. To do this the rugged steel walls were replaced with a PVC material held together by a snap-together frame. The modular design of these pools allows for some impressively sized above ground pools which actually have a decent measure of stability to them versus the inflatable above ground pool series.


The weak point of inflatable pools is the fact that they rely on an air chamber to float the pool walls and any hole in this results in the pool draining. The weak point for frame pools is that they really need to be built properly, specifically on flat and level ground. Frame pools are weak to slope and inconsistencies in your ground surface so surface preparation will be important if you want to get the most longevity out of one of these pools.



The Intex 10' Metal Frame Pool Set is a perfect entry level priced above ground pool if you feel that an inflatable product is not going to stand up to the wear and tear you expect your pool to get.

Size: 10' round x 30" deep
Volume: 1150 gallons
Pump: 120 volts / 330 gallons per hour
Filter: Intex 29007E Type H Filters






The Steel Pro 12' Frame Pool Set is a great option if you are looking for something other than an Intex brand pool. I feel that the pump, and especially the filters, are smaller on this pool than similar pools this size.

Size: 12' round x 30" deep
Volume: 1710 gallons
Pump: 120 volts / 330 gallons per hour
Filter: Bestway Flowclear Type V Filter 58168E





The Intex 15' Metal Frame Pool Set is a popular pool since this package comes with the pool, the pump & filter, a ladder, ground protection cloth and a cover.

Size: 15' round x 48" deep
Volume: 4440 gallons
Pump: 120 volts / 1000 gallons per hour
Filter: Intex 29000E / 59900E Filters





The Intex 18' Metal Frame Pool Set is another pool package that comes with the pool, the pump & filter, a ladder, ground protection cloth and a cover. At 18' around this pool is quite large and the few extra feet in diameter increases the volume of the pool by 2000 gallons over the 15' model from Intex.

Size: 18' round x 48" deep
Volume: 6423 gallons
Pump: 120 volts / 1000 gallons per hour
Filter: Intex 29000E / 59900E Filters





The Intex 20' Ultra Frame Above Ground Swimming Pool Set is an upgraded powder coated steel frame pool kit from Intex. This pool is very large and comes with the ladder, protective ground cloth and pool cover.

Size: 20' round x 48" deep
Volume: 7947 gallons
Pump: 120 volts / 1500 gallons per hour
Filter: Intex Type A Filter Cartridge





The Intex 22' Ultra Frame Above Ground Pool Set is an upgraded powder coated steel frame pool kit from Intex and is big enough for up to 10 swimmers at a time. This is a pool kit set that includes a ladder, pump, filter, protective ground pad, and a pool cover.

Size: 22' round x 52" deep
Volume: 9800 gallons
Pump: 120 volts / 2500 gallons per hour
Filter: Intex Pool Filter Cartridge - Type B





The Intex 24' Prism Frame Pool Set is an upgraded powder coated steel frame pool kit from Intex. This is a pool kit set that includes a ladder, pump, filter, protective ground pad, and a pool cover. The only concern is that this pool does not have a skimmer and typically pools this big and larger should have a skimmer.

Size: 24' round x 52" deep
Volume: 12,481 gallons
Pump: 120 volts / 2500 gallons per hour
Filter: Intex Pool Filter Cartridge - Type B



In addition to the round shape for above ground pools the next most common shape is oval (and rectangle). Metal frame pools tend to be more rectangular where traditional series above ground pools are often oval shaped. If you are looking for a splash pad for your kids to play in then a round pool is great, however if you like to actually swim in your pool then the oval and rectangle shapes provide quite a big advantage over round pools.




The Intex 8' x 16' Prism Frame Pool Set is made from powder coated steel and comes with the pump, filter, ladder, protective ground cloth and a pool cover. While 8' in width is standard for lap pools, at only 16' in length this would be limiting for anyone serious about swimming lengths.

Size: 8' x 16' rectangle x 42" deep
Volume: 2873 gallons
Pump: 120 volts / 1000 gallons per hour
Filter: Intex Type A or C Filter Cartridge





The Power Steel 9' x 16' Rectangular Frame Pool Set is just a little wider and a little deeper than the 8' x 16' rectangle pool offered from Intex. This Power Steel pool kit includes the pump, filter, ladder, protective ground cloth and a pool cover.

Size: 9' x 16' rectangle x 48" deep
Volume: 3400 gallons
Pump: 120 volts / 1000 gallons per hour
Filter: Type A or C Filter Cartridge





The Intex 12' X 24' Ultra Frame Pool Set is the first pool on this list I would say is big enough, minimally, to be able to swim lengths in comfortably. This powder coated steel frame kit includes the frame, liner, pump, sand filter, salt water chlorinator, ladder, protective ground cloth, cover, maintenance kit and even a volleyball set. If you are looking for an all-in-one above ground pool package then this is a great option. The sand filter is notable on this pool as everything up until now on this list uses disposable paper filters which are notoriously poor quality.

Size: 12' x 24' rectangle x 52" deep
Volume: 8403 gallons
Pump: 120 volts / 1600 gallons per hour
Filter: 55 lbs #20 silica sand
Salt Water: 210 lbs pool salt not included





The Intex 16' X 32' Ultra Frame Pool Set includes the frame, liner, pump, sand filter, salt water chlorinator, ladder, protective ground cloth, cover, maintenance kit and even a volleyball set. 16' x 32' is the most common size for inground pools built these days and for an above ground pool this is very large. This pool size is perfect for games as well as swimming lengths and exercise.

Size: 16' x 32' rectangle x 52" deep
Volume: 14,364 gallons
Pump: 120 volts / 2650 gallons per hour
Filter: 100 lbs #20 silica sand
Salt Water: 360 lbs pool salt not included



Traditional Above Ground Pools

It should come as little surprise that you will get what you pay for when it comes to above ground pools. The rest of the list above this point would be a better fit for the "cheapest above ground pools" but if you are here looking for the best above ground pool (or the best for the lowest price) then the following pools would be a better choice. As mentioned at the beginning of this article I consider inflatable ring pools to be single season use only, despite how they might be advertised. The inflatable wall collar simply will not stand up to the wear and tear it will be exposed to. The metal frame above ground pools are a much higher quality product than the inflatable ring pools, but metal frame pools are still very much a "cheap pool". I would expect anywhere from one to three seasons of use out of a metal frame pool before you will start to experience problems or failures.


Before the market for above ground pool became flooded with impossibly cheap pool options there was a type of above ground pool which dominated the market. These above ground pools are built largely the same as how you would build an on ground or inground vinyl pool - except that the walls were much lighter duty than any wall panel made for direct burial. Unlike the other pools on this list, these traditional above ground pools use a coping track (liner retainer) as well as a vinyl liner for the interior surface of the pool. Most of the other pools on this list use a modified PVC liner for added strength. Vinyl liners are one of the most popular interior pool surface choices in the world, and above ground pools have been built this way for decades. If you have a larger budget to spend on your above ground pool installation, or you like the idea of getting more longevity out of your purchase than one to three years, then these will be a good option. With care, these above ground pools will last for at least two liners, if not three. Each liner will last from three to five years on average making the expected service life from these pools somewhere between 10 and 15 years. When you break this down into the cost per year, these higher quality above ground pools actually cost less than many other cheaper options - simply because they are higher quality. It is worth noting however that changing liners will cost money, and to get 10 to 15 years from your pump and filter you will probably end up replacing both of these items at some point. The costs to carry (maintain and repair) these above ground pools is substantially higher than other pools on this list but that can be attributed to the fact that they are high enough quality to actually be a serviceable product - as opposed to a throw away product.



The Wilbar Meadows 12' Round Above Ground Vinyl Liner Pool is a traditional above ground pool that uses a metal wall supported by vertical braces and a top rail. This pool also uses a skimmer (something missing from lower quality above ground pools) as well as a much more respectable pump and filter setup.

Size: 12' round x 52" deep
Volume: 3000 gallons
Pump: 120 volts (0.75 HP) / 3720 gallons per hour
Filter: 16" sand filter / 100 lbs #20 silica sand
Liner: Overlap (25 gauge, but gauge is not a unit of measurement - likely 20 mil thickness)




The Heritage Yosemite 15' Round Above Ground Pool Kit comes with the pump, sand filter, ladder, overlap liner, walls & supports, skimmer and return. While the pump is larger than other pools of this size the filter is still only 16" and the thickness of liner slightly thinner than other similar brands. This liner is also plain blue with no print or border.

Size: 15' round x 52" deep
Volume: 4150 gallons
Pump: 120 volts (1.0 HP) / 4740 gallons per hour
Filter: 16" sand filter / 100 lbs #20 silica sand
Liner: Overlap (20 gauge, but gauge is not a unit of measurement - likely less than 20 mil)


The Wilbar Meadows 18' Round Above Ground Vinyl Liner Pool Kit comes with the pump, filter, skimmer, return, ladder and overlap liner. The brand name of the equipment included with these Wilbar Meadows pool kits (Splapool) are a Hayward clone product and lower quality than Hayward, Pentair, Zodiac and Waterway equipment, but still better than the equipment that comes with any of the metal frame or inflatable ring pools.

Size: 18' round x 52" deep
Volume: 5200 gallons
Pump: 120 volts (0.75 HP) / 3720 gallons per hour
Filter: 19" sand filter / 175 lbs #20 silica sand
Liner: Overlap (25 gauge, but gauge is not a unit of measurement - likely 20 mil thickness)



The Heritage Yosemite 18' Above Ground Pool Kit comes with the pump, sand filter, ladder, overlap liner, walls & supports, skimmer and return. The filter is small for this size of pool compared to other brands this size. Still, this sand filter will out perform any of the paper cartridge filters from less expensive above ground pool kits.

Size: 18' round x 52" deep
Volume: 5200 gallons
Pump: 120 volts (1.0 HP) / 4740 gallons per hour
Filter: 16" sand filter / 100 lbs #20 silica sand
Liner: Overlap (20 gauge, but gauge is not a unit of measurement - likely less than 20 mil)



The Cornelius Phoenix 18' Round Above Ground Pool Kit is a good choice if you are looking for a reliable brand name to purchase your pool from as Cornelius has been making above ground pools for over 45 years. However the pump flow rates listed for this kit are very low for this size of pool.

Size: 18' round x 52" deep
Volume: 5200 gallons
Pump: 120 volts / 1200 gallons per hour
Filter: 14" sand filter / 50 lbs #20 silica sand
Liner: Overlap (20 gauge, but gauge is not a unit of measurement - likely less than 20 mil)




The Cornelius Phoenix 21' Round Above Ground Pool Kit is a much better choice from Cornelius due to the upgraded pump size and flow rate for this pool compared to the 15' and 18' models. This kit includes the pump, sand filter, ladder, walls and supports, liner, skimmer, return and a spring chemical kit.

Size: 21' round x 52" deep
Volume: 7000 gallons
Pump: 120 volts (0.5 HP) / 2400 gallons per hour
Filter: 14" sand filter / 50 lbs #20 silica sand
Liner: Overlap (20 gauge, but gauge is not a unit of measurement - likely less than 20 mil)


The Wilbar Meadows 21' Round Above Ground Pool Kit comes with just the pool kit, liner, skimmer and return - you will need to order a pump and sand filter separately as well as a ladder or any other peripheral equipment you will want. If you just want a pool and wish to purchase better equipment than normally comes with above ground pools this will be a good option.

Size: 21' round x 52" deep
Volume: 7000 gallons
Pump: N/A
Filter: N/A
Liner: Overlap (20 gauge, but gauge is not a unit of measurement - likely less than 20 mil)




The Heritage STL 21' Round Above Ground Complete Pool Kit is on the opposite end of the spectrum compared to the same sized Wilbar Meadows pool above on this list. This pool comes with everything you need - pump, filter, walls & supports, overlap liner, safety ladder and skimmer and the best part is this system uses Hayward brand equipment which is a notable quality increase over many of the pool kits listed on this page.

Size: 21' round x 52" deep
Volume: 7000 gallons
Pump: 120 volts (Hayward 1 HP PowerFlo LX) / 5160 GPM
Filter: Hayward S166T 16" sand filter / 100 lbs #20 silica sand filter
Liner: Unibead (25 gauge, but gauge is not a unit of measurement - likely 20 mil thickness)




The Heritage Yosemite 24' Above Ground Pool Kit comes with the pump, sand filter, ladder, overlap liner, walls & supports, skimmer and return. Note that this pump comes wired with a twist lock style plug (not normal 120 volt plug) which is a safety requirement in some areas. You would either need a Twist-Lock receptacle or a twist lock to standard 120 volt plug adapter.

Size: 24' round x 52" deep
Volume: 13,000 gallons
Pump: 120 volts (1.0 HP) / 4740 gallons per hour
Filter: 19" sand filter / 175 lbs #20 silica sand
Liner: Overlap (Perma 25 series, but this is not a unit of measurement - likely 20 mil thickness)




The Heritage Taos 27' Above Ground Pool Kit comes with the pump, sand filter, ladder, overlap liner, walls & supports, skimmer and return. This pool kit has Hi-Flo equipment, which is a rebranded Waterway pool pump and filter. Waterway is a well known and established pool equipment manufacturer. This pump also comes wired with the same twist lock plug as the 24' Heritage Yosemite.

Size: 27' round x 52" deep
Volume: 16,500 gallons
Pump: 120 volts (1.5 HP) / 5700 gallons per hour
Filter: 22" sand filter / 250 lbs #20 silica sand
Liner: Overlap (Perma 25 series, but this is not a unit of measurement - likely 20 mil thickness)



The Wilbar Meadows 27' Round Above Ground Swimming Pool Kit comes with just the pool kit, liner and skimmer - you will need to order a pump and filter separately for this pool as well as a ladder or any other peripheral equipment you will want. Buying a pool kit like this allows you to add higher quality equipment, ladders and filtration if you prefer.

Size: 27' round x 52" deep
Volume: 16,500 gallons
Pump: N/A
Filter: N/A
Liner: Overlap (25 gauge, but gauge is not a unit of measurement - likely 20 mil)



The Wilbar Meadows 12' x 24' Oval Above Ground Swimming Pool Kit comes with just the pool kit, liner and skimmer - you will need to order a pump and filter separately for this pool as well as a ladder or any other peripheral equipment you will want.
Size: 12' x 24' oval x 52" deep
Volume: 7700 gallons
Pump: N/A
Filter: N/A
Liner: Overlap (20 gauge, but gauge is not a unit of measurement - likely less than 20 mil)




The Wilbar Meadows 15' x 30' Oval Above Ground Swimming Pool Kit comes with just the pool kit, liner and skimmer - you will need to order a pump and filter separately for this pool as well as a ladder or any other peripheral equipment you will want. This is a decent option for people with not a lot of yard space but who want to use the pool for swimming laps.

Size: 15' x 30' oval x 52" deep
Volume: 12,000 gallons
Pump: N/A
Filter: N/A
Liner: Overlap (20 gauge, but gauge is not a unit of measurement - likely less than 20 mil)





The Heritage Taos 15' x 30' Oval Above Ground Pool Kit comes with the pump, sand filter, ladder, overlap liner, walls & supports, skimmer and return. This pool kit has Hi-Flo equipment, which is a rebranded Waterway pool pump and filter. Waterway is a well known and established pool equipment manufacturer. This pump also comes wired with the same twist lock plug as the 24' Heritage Yosemite.

Size: 15' x 30' oval x 52" deep
Volume: 12,000 gallons
Pump: 120 volts (1.0 HP) / 4740 gallons per hour
Filter: 19" sand filter / 175 lbs #20 silica sand
Liner: Overlap (Perma 25 series, but this is not a unit of measurement - likely 20 mil thickness)





The Splash Pools 15' x 30' Oval Above Ground Pool Kit is a good attempt to provide you with everything you need in one convenient order including the pump, a sand filter, the walls and supports, the liner, the skimmer and a ladder. The equipment with this kit is also the Hi-Flo (Waterway) brand name.

Size: 15' x 30' oval x 52" deep
Volume: 13,047 gallons
Pump: 120 volts (1.0 HP) / 4740 gallons per hour
Filter: 19" sand filter / 175 lbs #20 silica sand
Liner: Overlap (20 gauge, but gauge is not a unit of measurement - likely 20 less than 20 mil)




The Heritage 18' x 45' Oval Above Ground Pool Kit comes with the pump, sand filter, ladder, overlap liner, walls & supports, skimmer and return. The length of the pool is incredible and this pool is perfect for any level swimmer or athlete that needs to put in exercise lengths at home on the lowest possible budget.

Size: 15' x 30' oval x 52" deep
Volume: 20,549 gallons
Pump: 120 volts (1.0 HP) / 4740 gallons per hour
Filter: 19" sand filter / 175 lbs #20 silica sand
Liner: Overlap (Perma 25 series, but this is not a unit of measurement - likely 20 mil thickness)


All of the oval pools listed above use a buttress system to add support to the long, straight walls of the pool. There are buttressless, or buttress free, oval shaped above ground pools as well. These pools typically use a buried support system that spans the width of the pool underground which allows for stability and rigidity in the walls without the need for external A-frame or buttress supports. These pools are quite a bit more expensive than similar sized above ground pools with buttresses however if space is a big concern for you then paying more for a buttress free design may be an idea worth considering.



The Morada RTL 15' x 30' Oval Extra Deep Swimming Pool Kit is a buttress free above ground pool. It comes as a complete package that includes a pump, filter, skimmer, walls and supports, liner, ladder, maintenance kit (includes pole, vacuum and vac hose) as well as a starter chemical kit.

Size: 15' x 30' oval x 54" deep
Volume: 12,500 gallons
Pump: 120 volts (Hayward 1.0 HP PowerFlo LX) / 5160 GPM
Filter: Hayward S166T 16" sand filter / 100 lbs #20 silica sand filter
Liner: Overlap (25 gauge, but gauge is not a unit of measurement - likely 20 mil)



The Splash Pools 18' x 33' Oval Above Ground Pool Kit comes with everything you need in one convenient order including the pump, a cartridge filter, the walls and braces, the liner, the skimmer and a ladder. The equipment with this kit is also the Hi-Flo (Waterway) brand name. This is a buttress free design.

Size: 18' x 33' oval x 52" deep
Volume: 13,047 gallons
Pump: 120 volts (1.5 HP) / 5700 gallons per hour
Filter: 150sf cartridge filter / C-8414 replacement filters
Liner: Unibead (20 gauge, but likely less than 20 mil)


What Is The Best Above Ground Pool?

In order to provide you with any sort of meaningful answer to the question of "what is the best above ground pool?" we need to qualify the question a little bit. As discussed at the beginning of this article the cheapest pool is probably not the least expensive one - the cheapest pool is the one that gives you the longest service life for the lowest amount of money. Choosing the best above ground pool is very much the same.


You need to determine your priorities if you want to get the best above ground pool for your money. If you want the biggest pool possible to swim in, but budget is one of your primary concerns, then I would suggest to look into the metal frame above ground pool series as they provide maximum volume and swimming area for the lowest price. However if quality is more of a priority than budget, and you are either very handy or willing to hire someone to build your pool kit, then the traditional above ground pool kits are worlds better than either the inflatable ring style or the metal frame style. If ease of installation is your biggest concern then the inflatable ring are dead simple, and with a modest effort the metal frame pools go together pretty easy. Traditional above ground pool kits have probably caused an alarming amount of divorces by couples who attempt to install one. They can be maddeningly complicated and the instructions always leave much to be desired. If you want to build a traditional above ground pool kit yourself you need to have reasonably good construction skills and the patience to see the job through to completion.


When it comes to answering the direct question about which above ground pool is the best I tend to defer to quality over low price. Sure a metal frame pool costs way less than a traditional above ground pool, but the performance shows it. It lacks a skimmer, which will drive you batty (especially with larger pools), and they do not have a replaceable vinyl liner. The pump and filter systems on the traditional above ground pool kits are hands down superior. A traditional above ground pool kit will be more money to purchase than a metal frame pool kit, but I suspect the service life of a well built traditional kit to be as much as 10 times longer than a metal frame kit. Again, I consider the inflatable pools to be single season use only...if you get more than that you are beating the system in my opinion.


Can I Add Salt Water To My Above Ground Pool?

This is the first question that every new above ground pool owner wants to know. To answer your question, using salt in an above ground pool can be problematic unless the pool was specifically built for use with salt chlorinators. There are a few all resin & stainless hardware above ground pools (traditional kits) which have been made for use with salt water. You can tell these pools straight away since they are double if not triple the cost of other similar sized steel, galvanized steel and powder coated steel pools. If you need to ask whether a pool is rated for salt water or not - it is not. If it were then the manufacturer would be flying that flag very clearly to justify the increased cost of the pool.


Some unscrupulous sellers of above ground pools will tell you that salt water is fine and to go ahead and add it to your pool - this is a dangerously one-sided opinion and one that I certainly disagree with. As I have written about extensively in my articles on salt water reviews and is salt water bad for your pool? using an electronic salt chlorine generator in your pool is not without risks. Now, those articles relate specifically to inground pools with salt water, and I have a slightly different view about above ground pools and salt water. First, if you buy one of the more expensive traditional above ground pool kits that is made from steel and then add salt to it - well this is a bad plan to be sure. The pool will not burst into flames, but you might likely see advanced corrosion of metal components. This is specifically important since those same metal components provide the structural integrity needed to hold tens of thousands of pounds of water above the ground. The concern for structural weakening and failure is too high to recommend to add salt to any pool which has not been built specifically for this purpose.


Some of the pools on this page even come with a salt water chlorinator so you might wonder why these pools are different and safe for use with salt water. Well, they aren't really. On pools that are little more than single use pools, or pools with minimal metal components that can rust, some manufacturers will sell salt water systems. While I can not professionally recommend to add salt to an above ground pool not built for use with salt water, I do want to address the people who have done this, or will choose to do this with their pool anyway. Please inspect your pool often for any signs of corrosion, damage or deficiency as a result of increased rates of galvanic corrosion within the system. You will likely not get as long from your pool as the same pool operated without salt water.


Note about partial burial - Much like the comparison here with salt water, burial or partial burial of any above ground pool not purpose built for this application is a bad idea. Yes many have done it before, however most of those pools failed early. Being buried below grade will cause extremely fast corrosion of metal components and structural parts of the pool which will not be visible for regular inspection. If you choose to partially bury your above ground pool anyway the same advice as with salt water would apply - don't...but if you do, inspect your pool often for any signs of corrosion, damage or deficiency and you should expect to get a reduced service life for your pool and pool equipment.


Above Ground Pool Liners

If you are shopping for an above ground pool with a vinyl liner then you need to learn a little bit about vinyl liners, how they are made, what thickness they are, how the liner attaches to your pool and some basic information about color options. Without this information the world of above ground pool liners is going to be confusing, and you might end up ordering the wrong thing. If you want to read an in depth article about pool liners, where they come from and how manufacturing of pool liners has changed (not for the better) in recent decades, then you can read this recent article about how long should a pool liner last?.


Thickness - Vinyl liners are specifically sold without telling you how thick the liner is. Every manufacturer on this page listed their liner thickness in "gauge' which is a common tactic to make their product sound good. In reality gauge has no specific meaning in the world of standardized measurements. If you want to know how thick a liner is then you need to know how many "mil" it is. Mil is a standardized unit of measurement that relates precisely to 1/1000th of an inch. When your liner is listed in gauge, well, you get what you get. This is just the reality of the world of pool liners and it is unfortunate as this leaves a lot of room for unscrupulous manufacturers and liner installers to "sell" something to a customer that really doesn't mean anything. Above ground pools are supposed to be 20 mil in thickness. 30 mil liners are what goes in an inground pool but 20 mil is better for above ground pools as the pools are not built as strong and it is very likely that the extra weight of the liner could pose a problem for your walls or coping. As a pool owner do not get hung up too much on how thick your liner is. Even if you called the manufacturer that makes the liner and asked them directly, and they told you that your liner is 20 mil or 25 mil - I would not believe it...or at least I would believe it when I saw it myself. Liner thickness is nothing but smoke and mirrors designed to make you feel like you are getting something special when in reality all above ground liners these days are cheap and thin. There is just no way around this.


Color - Traditionally vinyl liners in above ground pools are solid, light blue in color. This is called base color and works well with overlap liners as borders on an overlap liner would be exceedingly difficult to line up well during installation. Solid light blue liners look "cheap", and are cheaply manufactured, and most above ground pools have one of these because they are, well...cheap. Now you can pay extra to get one of two color options for pool liners which are print and border. Print is a pattern that exists on the liner stock which covers the walls and floor of your pool. Usually this print is subtle. The border option is the same as where a tile band would be on an inground concrete pool in that there is a one foot tall border around the top of the wall. This busy color and pattern at the top of the wall helps to hide dirt and scum lines that develop along the waterline of the pool. Solid blue and cheap is the norm for when you order an above ground pool kit since, again, pool manufacturers are doing everything they can to get the total price point as low as possible for the kit. Even if you start with a solid blue liner now, when you replace the liner in three to seven years you can choose a different color or pattern at that time.


Bead - There are multiple kinds (styles) of how an above ground pool liner is retained on the pool. Most commonly, as with the ones on this page, you have an overlap liner. This means there is extra liner that goes up and over the wall over which you put a retainer clip on the top of the wall. This holds the liner in place and allows you to adjust more or less liner to attempt to lose any wrinkles during installation. Overlap liners are considered to be easy to work with and cost effective. As the quality of liner increases so does the retaining system. A bead is attached to the liner at the top of the wall, and this extra strong vinyl bead physically connects into a coping track from where the liner hangs. An above ground pool with a coping track will require a liner with a bead and more accurate liner measurement and pool specifications since you do not have the ability to wrap any extra vinyl up and over the wall like with an overlap. Beaded liners, which come in unibead (fits multiple bead / overlap styles), J-bead, reverse bead and standard bead. If the liner goes up and over the wall in your pool then this is overlap, or possibly J bead if the liner does not just end but instead has a J shape profile. If the liner hangs from a track on the wall then this is most likely standard bead.


Don't get too hung up researching which liner is the thickest since all manufacturers hide behind "gauge" and you are simply not going to get an honest and fair assessment from any manufacturer about the measured thickness of their product - only sales pitches. Do not upgrade your liner to 30 mil because you want better quality for your above ground pool - 20 mil thickness is what is expected from, and works well with, above ground pool kits. If you have never put a liner in before and you are not sure what to order then the overlap is probably a safe bet. Unibead is also very adaptable for different situations, as it was designed to be, but overlap still represents the entry level liner for both cost and ease of installation.


Above Ground Pool Floor

A very common question from people shopping for an above ground pool is whether or not they need to buy an underpad (protective pad) for the liner to sit on. The answer to this is both yes and no. The liner does need to be protected, and the underpad does help to protect the liner...but you don't need it. Many above ground pool installers actually prefer to use sand for the floor of the pool. If you bring in clean, washed brick sand (not masonry sand, no pebbles or larger aggregates) by the half yard or yard then you can use this to trowel a smooth and level floor in your pool.


Sand bottoms are considered the entry level pool floor for above ground pools and how well yours works will have everything to do with how well you are able to trowel the floor level and smooth and how much sand you use. You want to have a thickness of sand at least three inches thick at the absolute minimum and you want to compact it as you apply it to the bottom of the pool. You can also create a cove with the sand where it meets the walls of the pool to avoid buying extra coving materials. The only real trick to working with sand bottom pools is that you are not supposed to stand in the pool when hanging the liner like you would with a concrete floor pool. Ideally you would trowel the floor perfectly smooth and then hang the liner by draping it over the pool with the help of three or four people. When done correctly the liner will fall perfectly into place and you will not need to have any footprints in the floor of your pool. Once the weight of the water compacts the sand you will have much less chance of developing footprints or divots while walking around or jumping in the pool.



While you don't need to use a protective ground cloth when you install a sand floor in an above ground pool, you may find that bringing in a few thousand pounds of sand is too difficult for your taste. Sand can be expensive if you have to buy it by the bag from a hardware store. If you can have bulk sand delivered from a landscaping company it is far more affordable, but you still need to be able to get it into the pool and troweled smooth. If you know that you don't have the skills to get that done then perhaps a protective pad would be the easiest choice. Simply level the ground and then lay down this pad to protect your liner from sharp stones, twigs or other debris that may be there. Using a pad like this is not a replacement for being thorough and cleaning your pool floor area before installing the liner. You also still should put down some base aggregate under the pad - if you just put the protective pad on your grass, or uneven dirt, then the floor of the pool will look bad.



If you want to have a cove where the pool floor meets the pool walls, but you do not want to use sand to shape your pool floor, then pre-formed pool cove foam is the best option for you. The cove where the floor meets the wall in your pool is the hardest place to line up your liner correctly. This cove product will help to make sure the liner sits nicely in this area. Also important to note is that without a cove it is possible that the liner can push underneath the walls of your pool - especially if there is a leak in this area that begins to erode the sand - washing it away slowly. Pool cove helps to minimize the risk of these problems by covering the potential gap where the pool wall meets the pool floor.


Above Ground Pool Pumps & Filters

Above ground pools are often paired with pump and filter units that come with the pool kit. If your pool does not come with a pump and filter, or if the one that came with your pool was inadequate or broken then you can purchase and install your equipment separately from the pool. Most often you will find that above ground pools compete hard on price point and as such you will often receive off-brand or low quality pumps and filters with your pool just to keep the upfront price attractive.


Spending a little more on your equipment will go a long way towards getting something higher quality that will operate effectively and reliably. Pool pumps and filters are complicated and there are a million ways to cut corners with manufacturing of these products. If you are thinking of buying your equipment separately then you should consider Pentair, Hayward, Zodiac, Waterway followed by Intex as the pecking order of quality based on my years of experience. Note that the difference in quality between most of these brands are minimal, if at all. I would choose a Pentair pump over a Waterway pump if both were offered to me for free - but Pentair, Hayward, Jandy / Zodiac, Waterway (and especially Speck Pumps) all make what I would describe as high quality pool equipment.


Pump & Filter Sizing - You want to be able to filter your entire pool water volume completely every day. If you want to go above and beyond and approach commercial pool standards you want to filter the volume of your pool every day three times over. If you plan to keep your pump turned off for part of the day every day then you need to account for that in this calculation. For example:


5000 gallon pool
5000 gallons filtered in 24 hours (minimum)
15,000 gallons filtered in 24 hours (maximum)
5000 / 24 = 208 gallons per hour
15,000 / 24 = 625 gallons per hour

This means that for this 5000 gallon pool you should have a pump that can pump between 208 to 625 gallons per hour. If you want to only run your pool pump 12 hours per day then you would double these numbers to 416 to 1250 GPH. If you want to run your pump only 8 hours per day then you multiply the original number by three which is 625 to 1875 GPH. If you choose a pump that can pump the volume of water in your pool three times per day, within the amount of time you want your pump to have to run, then this would be a safe choice for adequate filtration rates.


Additional considerations for above ground pools - Picking out your above ground pool kit is only one small part of the total purchase experience. You will most likely find that your above ground pool, while good, could potentially use a few upgrades. If you have finished this article about above ground pool kits then next you should read this list of must have items for above ground pools which will help you identify some of the areas that you might like to look into improving if you want to get the most out of your pool installation.





Swimming Pool Steve

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