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Above Ground Swimming Pool Buyers Guide

28,Apr 2020
With the weather warming up and summer just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about how you plan to spend the hot days of summer. If you’ve been considering an above ground pool where you can cool off and relax this summer with friends and family, you may be wondering where to start?

At Swimming Pool Discounters, we know that pool shopping can be overwhelming, so we have put together a guide full of valuable information to help you find the best above ground pool for your family.

With such a wide variety of swimming pools available, there is sure to be one that will match your needs and your budget. One of the biggest things to start with when shopping for an above ground pool is to make sure you understand the pros and cons of each type so you can confidently make this investment for your family.

Inflatable Above Ground Pools

Inflatable pools that you can purchase from big box stores are the perfect option if you have small kids or if you are a renter and can’t make significant changes to the property to install a traditional above ground pool. This type of pool typically has a ring around the top of the pool that inflates to allow the wall of the pool to rise as it is filled with water.

Pros:
  • Quick installation with little to no prep work
  • Easy to tear down for storage through the winter
  • No permanent alterations to the property required
  • Easy to find and purchase
  • Fairly low price
Cons:
  • Difficult to keep clean for extended periods due to lack of sufficient equipment
  • Not as sturdy in construction as other above ground pool options

Traditional Above Ground Pools

The traditional above ground pools are the ones you will usually find in your local specialty pool stores. These pools are great for adults and kids and provide a more permanent option for homeowners. Traditional above ground pools are made of a steel or aluminum wall, metal or resin posts, a top ledge for support, as well as a vinyl liner and filter and pump system.

These above-ground pools are available in a round or oval shape that varies in size from 12′ to 33’in diameter and are between 48″ – 54″ deep.

Pros:
  • Only one day required for installation
  • Relocation is an option if you move to a new home
  • Most components of the pool come with a warranty
  • They last 15-20 years when maintained properly
  • Affordable pricing
  • Safety features such as a removable ladder to protect children
Cons:
  • Prep work is required to prepare your property for installations
  • You will need to have or install a 110v electrical connection to run the pump and filter
  • Without proper maintenance, the vinyl liner could get a hole in it and begin leaking
  • Above ground pools have no deep end, so diving is permitted

Type of Above Ground Pool: Buried or Semi-Buried?

Buried and semi-buried above ground pools are similar to traditional above ground pools, but they are equipped with fully insulated wall panels designed to withstand the pressure the ground puts on the walls and come in a variety of sizes.

Pros:
  • Quick installation, typically 3-5 days
  • More of an in-ground pool look
  • Comes with a warranty
  • Provides a more permanent, long-term solution
Cons:
  • Difficult to relocate if you move to a new property
  • Higher price due to the cost of installation

Choosing the Size of Your Above Ground Pool

When you are considering installing an above ground pool, there are a number of steps you should take first to make sure you have enough room for the pool, among other factors.

In addition to making sure you have enough room in your backyard, you will understand your city’s easements that may be in place. You will check if you have any utility lines running through your backyard so you can avoid them during installation, or in some cases, you can have them moved out of the way. Also, make sure there are no overhead power lines above your pool’s location.

After making sure you have sufficient room and that you are up to speed on your city’s easements, you will need to determine the largest pool that will fit into your backyard. Typically above ground pools are available in the following sizes:

12′, 15′, 18′, 21′, 24′, 27′, 30′, and 33′. If your backyard can’t accommodate a round pool, there are also a variety of oval-shaped options available.

Location of Your Above Ground Pool

If your backyard is larger, you can be a bit more selective on location, but it is recommended that you position the pool within proximity to your electrical breaker box. You will not be able to run your pump or filter using an extension cord, so you will need to be close enough to your electrical breaker box so you can have a permanent service ran to the pool.

You also should consider placing your pool in a location that is away from trees. This can help keep the pool cleaner longer and prevents leaves from accumulating. It is also best to choose the flattest area of your yard to help reduce your need for excavation during the pool installation.

What Materials Should You Choose?

Once you’ve determined your location and the size of the above-ground pool you want, it is time to consider the material. For above-ground pools, there are three different material options, including hybrid, metal, and all resin pools. Regardless of the material you choose, all three options have a metal wall with a vinyl liner. The posts, caps, and top ledge can be made out of different materials of your choice. You can choose all-metal options for your caps, posts, and ledge, as well as all resin options. There is also a hybrid option with a combination of metal and resin.

While each of the three options will provide you with great quality, each option also has its own pros and cons. In most cases, you will want to consider the system you plan to run. For example, if you are going to use a saltwater system, you will want to avoid using metal.

In most cases, the option you choose will depend on the look you want. You may want a more traditional look or a more modern style with clean, sleek lines.

Above Ground Pool Pricing

Typically, your above ground pool will be quoted as a kit price, which includes the actual pool made of the wall, bottom track, top ledge and posts, the liner, pump, filter, and a ladder. Some retailers will include general maintenance equipment and a starter kit of chemicals. When comparing pricing between different pool stores, make sure you know what they include in their kit so you can get an accurate picture of who has the best price.

Above Ground Pool Kit Pricing

When it comes to the actual cost for the above ground pool, you expect an all-metal pool to cost around $1,700 and around $7,500 for an all resin 33′ above ground pool. Metal pools tend to be the most inexpensive option, while a resin pool kit will be the most expensive. If you are considering a hybrid above ground pool, then you can expect the price to be in the middle of a metal pool price and all resin pool kit price.

Pricing for Above Ground Pool Liners

Liners for your above ground pool range in price depending on how they attach to the pool wall and how thick they are. Pool liners commonly range in thickness from 18 – 25 mils. The liner can attach in two different ways. One way is for the liner to overlap the pool wall, or it can be attached to the top track of the pool, which is known as a beaded liner.

Pool liners for above-ground pools range in price from $100 – $1,000. The price will depend on the type, size, and thickness of the liner. Your base liners are the overlap pool liners in plain blue. The next level of pool liner is a printed bottom overlap liner, and the next being a full print overlap liner. The top tier is the beaded liner, which will be available in full print and will range in price based on the thickness.

Pool Ladder Pricing

The pool ladder or entry system can range in price depending on the type of pool ladder you choose. A-frame ladders are a common choice for most retailers because they are very cost-effective and are great for above ground pools. From a ladder, you can choose to upgrade to an entry system, which includes a ladder as well as steps into the pool and handrails to assist you with getting into and exiting the pool.

For those looking to install a deck around their pool, they can purchase deck mounts for the ladders to make the transition from the deck to the entry system or ladder easy.

Pricing for the Above Ground Pool Filter and Pump System

Pricing for the pump and filter system will depend on the size of the system your pool requires. Both 1 speed and 2-speed pumps are available, with the 2-speed pump being the more expensive option. With a 2-speed pump, you get the flexibility of running the system on a low or high setting. This allows you to keep the pump running 24 hours a day on a low setting, making the system more energy efficient. Retailers offer a standard option for the pump and filter system with their pool kit, but you can inquire about upgrades that may be available.

The retailer may also offer an upgrade for the filter media that is used. A common media is sand, while others use a glass filter media that carries a higher price tag but does not need to ever be replaced whereas, sand needs to be replaced every 3-5 years.

Upgrades to Consider for Your Above Ground Pool

The options you will have for upgrades will depend on the retailer you choose and the product lines they carry. Commonly, you will have the option to upgrade to a hard bottom for your above ground pool as well as an upgraded ladder or entry system, and even automatic or robotic vacuums to help make maintenance easier.

All of these upgrades are optional, and choosing them will be based on your individual needs and preferences. Be sure to discuss all of your upgrade options and their benefits with your retailer.

Accessorize Your Above Ground Pool

There is a wide range of above ground pool accessories from basketball floats and toys to floating coolers, and more, the possibilities are endless!

In addition to the fun accessories, there are a lot of accessories available that can make your life as a pool owner much easier. When you purchase your above ground pool, you will likely be provided with basic maintenance equipment like a backwash hose, leaf net, telepole, and a manual pool vacuum. There are other variations of this equipment that can make maintaining your pool even easier.

Once your pool has been installed, and you begin using it, you will begin to see what areas of maintaining the above ground pool you could use extra assistance with and what equipment you may need to add on or upgrade. You may notice that you’re having trouble keeping your pool free of leaves, so you may consider purchasing a vacuum that is specifically designed for removing leaves from your pool to make clean up easier. You may even want to upgrade with a bracket and a net that is installed on the wall of your pool to catch leaves before they can drop to the bottom, helping to prevent algae from forming.

You can also upgrade your vacuum heads to larger ones that cover more surface area as well as ones that will brush the pool floor while you vacuum. You can also purchase robotic vacuums that function very similar to a Roomba to make vacuuming easier.

There is also a wide range of chemical maintenance accessories to consider, including automated water testing units and floating chlorine dispensers that can make your chemical maintenance duties a breeze. With automated water testing systems, you can get alerts when chemicals need to be adjusted.

Above Ground Pool Installation Process

Generally, you can expect your above ground pool installation to take about 4-6 hours with an experienced crew. Depending on the extent of the excavation work required, the size of the pool, and the location, you can expect your installation fees to start at $750 and go up from there.
The steps for your above ground pool installation include:
  • Excavation and leveling of the pool site.
  • Preparing the bottom of the pool (with a hard bottom or sand).
  • Laying out the pool’s bottom track.
  • Setting up the wall of the pool.
  • Installing the liner.
  • Securing the liner to the wall with the top track.
  • Secure the wall and liner with the pool posts.
  • The tops caps are attached to cover the connection points of the liner, top track, the wall, and the posts.
  • A vacuum is then used to remove the air between the wall and liner.
  • The pool is filled.
  • Skimmer is cut out, and the skimmer plate is installed.
  • Pump and filter system is installed and connected

Final Steps for Above Ground Pool Excavation

Creating/Compacting the Berm

Once your pool is filled, you will want to make sure there is a layer of dirt built up around the outer edge of the pool. This dirt should be compacted to form the berm. You can do this by simply walking around the pool and stomping the dirt down. With a solid pool berm, you can prevent weed or grass from getting out of control, and you can also prevent washout under your pool due to heavy rains.

Backfilling Your Yard

If your above ground pool was installed on a slope, the installation crew likely excavated the hills to make the site level. This will typically leave behind a trench in between the hill and your pool, which will need to be filled back up and compacted.

Wait until the pool is full and then fill in this area and make sure it is compacted to prevent washout during storms.

Above Ground Pool Warranties and Services

Above ground pool warranties, in some cases, can be difficult to navigate since all of the components for the pool do not come from the same manufacturer. When you purchase an above ground pool, you will have a separate manufacturer warranty for the pool, which includes the bottom track, wall, top track, ledge, top caps, and posts. You will have another manufacturer warranty for the pool liner and another one for the filter and pump systems.

Each warranty will have a different warranty period, and each warranty will have items that can void the warranty. Depending on the retailer, they may add an additional warranty on individual components of the pool to back up the manufacturer warranties you have.

Warranties can be voided for a variety of reasons, such as running your pump with an extension cord for more than a week or pool maintenance equipment ripping your liner. Be sure to check with your retailer to see if they can assist you in fully understanding your warranties to ensure that you do not end up voiding them or missing out on a replacement or repair that is covered in the warranty.

While you can navigate the warranties on your own, it is always good to consult with retailers who have experience with these warranties and understand exactly how they work. This will help you get your reimbursement for the manufacturer and leave you with more time to use and enjoy your pool.

Services for your above ground pool include closing your pool, opening your pool, patching holes in the liner, maintenance, and leaning, changing filter media, changing out pumps, and reworking your pool’s bottom sand floor. Many of these tasks can be handled on your own or by a service technician.

What is the Buying Process?

After you’ve visited a retailer or browsed their site and found the above ground pool you want, you will reach out and make your purchase.

Whether you choose to buy over the phone, via email, or in person, you will work with a sales associate who will answer any questions you may have and then they will gather the information they need from you regarding the pool model, size, and any accessories or upgrades you want to purchase upfront.

You will also provide them with the information about your location and site for the installation so they can add in your installation costs and estimated costs for excavation if needed. After this information is provided, you will hear from the person who will schedule your above ground pool installation, and then you will be working with the installation crew who will walk you through the pool installation and the steps you will need to take once it is completed.

Depending on your budget, you may want to consider financing. In most cases, it is relatively easy to do and can usually be done online. You can even go through a preapproval process to see what funds you have available while shopping.

Contact Swimming Pool Discounters today to learn more about our above ground pools and how we can help you keep cool this summer!