Best Above Ground Pools 2018 – Reviews & Top Picks
- Our Top 5 Above Ground Pools
- Things to Consider When Buying an Above Ground Pool
- Important Tips to Keep in Mind
Don’t steer away from the idea of an above ground pool just because of the “above” part—they have just as much to offer as an in-ground pool! In fact, about 3,535,000 U.S. residents own an above ground pool! What is the big deal about this type of pool? It is the most affordable and beneficial choice for homeowners who want to add a pool to their home. We just want to make sure you understand all your options in the pool buying business before making an expensive yet rewarding decision.
We understand it’s hard to choose a pool type and style, but we’ve done the hard work for you. Through our list of in-depth above ground pool reviews, we will help you narrow down the options, and hopefully, find the best one for your needs.
Our Top 5 Above Ground Pools
|Intex Ultra Frame Rectangular||$$$$$|
|52 x 144 x 288 inches||347 pounds||4.6/5
Our Top Pick
|Bestway 56388E Power Steel Frame Pool Set||$$$$|
|20 x 20 x 48 inches||230 pounds||4.3/5|
|Intex Easy Set Pool||$|
|30 x 144 x 144 inches||29 pounds||4.2/5
Best For The Money
|Intex Metal Frame Pool Set||$$|
|30 x 144 x 144 inches||49 pounds||3.9/5|
|Bestway Fast Set 10′ x 30″||$|
|30 x 120 x 120 inches||22 pounds||3.5/5|
#1 Intex Ultra Frame Rectangular – Our Top Pick
Engineered for pure strength, the Intex Ultra Frame Rectangular is the best above ground pool on the market. Extremely durable frames support the Ultra Frame Pool, making it one of the highest quality pools on the market. With dimensions of 24ft X 12ft X 52in, this pool can hold up to 8,403 gallons. It also delivers crystal clear water because of the dual suction fittings that improve water circulation and clarity. Surrounded by its laminated PVC sidewalls this rectangular beast is made for some serious swimming!
The Ultra Frame uses highly innovative technology that results in sparkling pool water through its aeration process. It even increases negative ions at the surface of the water for better air freshness around the pool. The Intex Ultra Frame also boasts puncture-resistant material. This specific above ground pool is not just any pool—it proves to be the more affordable and convenient option rather than building an in-ground pool, while still offering the same benefits as an in-ground pool. When you think of traditional models, the Intex Ultra Frame is the premium version, the highest end of the market.
Enjoy an amazing day with friends and family in the Ultra Frame Rectangular pool. With dimensions of 24ft X 12ft X 52in, and engineered for strength, this pool supports large groups of people, and its steel frames are coated with rust resistance to keep your pool looking new. A convenient drain plug attaches to your garden hose for whenever you need to drain the pool. This above ground pool is just as good, if not better than any in-ground pool. In fact, the inside walls are made to look like a traditional in-ground pool. Make your backyard the ultimate place to be for the summer, where your family can relax and play in the cleanest and most durable pool available on the market.
- Holds 8,403 gallons
- Sand filter pump
- Durable steel frames
- Ladder, pool cover, and ground cloth included
- Improved water clarity
- Increased negative ions
- Optimum circulation and filtration
- Dual suction
- Ready in 60 minutes
- Difficult setting up (tip: watch the DVD)
- No maintenance tools included
#2 Bestway 56388E Power Steel Frame – The Runner Up
Swim, splash, and play in this highly integrated above ground pool. The Bestway Power Steel Frame Pool is our runner-up and is generally regarded as one of the best above ground pools on the market. Made with heavy-duty PVC walls and rust-resistant metal frames, this pool is one of the sturdiest available. Due to its circular shape, the pool comes with a reinforced rope that wraps around the pool liner to keep all the legs in firm position. This ensures holes, scratches or dents will not cause leakage. The Bestway Steel Frame Pool also comes with efficient flow control drainage, and a 2500-gallon filter pump. This ensures you will always have crystal clear water all year round.
With a water capacity of 8,060 gallons, the Bestway Power Pool is large enough for the whole family and friends! This pool is extremely large in size, making it more fun for everyone. The pool’s durable PVC, polyester posterior walls, and high-tech metal liner make it one of the toughest pools. With easy connectors and clips, the pool’s frames have been specially designed for easy setup. Choosing this pool over an in-ground pool will save you plenty of money and still deliver the same benefits. This premium above ground pool is impressive and is one of the hottest picks on the market due to its size and high-quality structure.
The Bestway Steel Frame Pool is a great choice for cooling down during those hot summer days. Offering plenty of space for large groups of people, this pool is also extremely safe for children of all ages. What makes this pool second in the running is not only its high-quality frame, but its all included 48-inch ladder and industry grade 2,500-gallon filter pump.
- Heavy-duty PVC and polyester 3-ply walls
- Rust-resistant frames
- Reinforced rope wraps for durability
- 90% water capacity
- Easy flow control drain
- 2,500-gallon filter pump
- 48-inch pool ladder
- Pool cover and ground cloth
- Crystal clean water filtration
- Cover has been reported to not be as durable as the pool
- Circular shape (some prefer a rectangular shape similar to in-ground pools)
#3 Intex Easy Set Pool – Best for the Money
If you are looking for more of a “play pool”, than the Intex Easy Set Pool is perfect for you. This pool size is for those who have a smaller backyard, or those looking for more of a play pool for their family and children. However, just because the pool is smaller, does not make it of lesser quality than the larger Intex pools. The Intex Easy Set Pool Set holds 1,485 gallons, with a powerful filter that pumps 530 gallons per hour flow rate. With its extremely tough laminated PVC sidewalls, this pool is made to last through years of family fun and hot summer days.
This pool may be smaller but it still comes with all the important aspects of any quality above ground pool. The Intex Easy Pool Set has dual suction fittings that improve water circulation and produces the ultimate water hygiene and levels of clarity. A convenient drain plug allows the water to be drained efficiently. The main feature besides affordability that made this pool number three on our list was its 110-120 volt filter pump. You can fill up your pool 530 gallons per hour flow rate! You can have a brand new above ground pool set up and ready for swimming in just 10 minutes.
The Intex Easy Pool Set is the best for the money. This above ground pool is not even half the amount of our above-listed pools. It’s very inexpensive, and gives you a lot of value for the money. Although it isn’t as large and can’t hold as many people, you are still getting 80% water capacity, which is just 10% less than our top two picks. This Intex pool is absolutely the best way to go if you’re looking for an affordable and quick way to get a pool in your backyard.
- Heavy-duty, PVC sidewalls
- 110-120 volt filter pump
- Ready for water in 10 minutes
- Easy to set up
- Convenient drain plugs
- DVD setup manual
- Dual suction outlet fittings
- Extremely affordable
- Smaller than most pools
- More sensitive to surfaces that aren’t perfectly flat
#4 Intex 12ft X 30in Metal Frame
You might be wondering, what is the difference between this pool and the Intex Easy Set Pool? You are basically getting the same thing as our #3 pick, however for a higher price. The main difference is the Intex pool set with the metal frame has extremely durable laminated PVC walls and steel frames to hold up the pool. You will never have to worry about this pool not staying up, however, you can almost get the same quality but for a much affordable price by going with the Intex Easy Set Pool.
This Intex Metal Framed Pool is entirely engineered for strength. Supported by strong steel frames, this pool can hold 1,1718 gallons. Offering plenty of space to invite friends and family into the pool, it offers the perfect summer activity. This above ground pool comes with an industry-grade Krystal clear cartridge filter pump and a dual suction outlet for better water circulation. It pumps 530 gph (110-120v).
Beat the summer heat with this ultimate above ground pool. Although it’s fourth on our list, it still serves as a quality choice. It is much more affordable than other above ground pools and still delivers similar efficiency and features as the more expensive ones. Overall there is nothing wrong with the Intex Metal Frame Pool—we just think the Intex Easy Set Pool delivers better ROI. Overall, this pool will suit your summertime pool needs and is the perfect addition to your backyard.
- Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump
- 90% water capacity at 1,718 gallons
- Steel frames
- Super tough laminated sidewalls
- Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (a safety feature for the pump, in case water, breaches the electrical current)
- A 1-year warranty for the pump
- Ready for water in 30 minutes
- More expensive than the Intex easy pool set
#5 Bestway Fast Set
First of all, this above ground pool has poor ratings and for obvious reasons. It is much smaller in size and still costs almost as much as the Intex 12ft X 30in Metal Frame Pool. Honestly, if you’re looking for a pool to hold you over until you get a larger one, or if you are looking for a one-time pool, like for a birthday party, this is the pool for you. Other than that, this above ground pool serves no purpose. It only holds 961 gallons, so you can easily call it a kiddy pool. The only thing going for it is that if you have young kids, this might be a good choice. However, it might not be a smart investment, given the fact you could have paid only ten dollars more for a metal framed and larger pool.
The Bestway Fast Set 10′ x 30″ is made with a heavy-duty PVC and polyester walls and includes a 330-gallon filter pump. The only extra perks this pool comes with is a repair patch and it also has a very easy set up. Other than that, that’s all this above ground pool offers. If you’re looking for something sturdy, long-term, and attractive, the Bestway Fast Set 10′ x 30″ is not your best choice. You’re better off saving the money, and instead investing in a much better pool.
- Heavy-duty PVC walls
- 330 Gal filter pump included
- Easy setup
- Poor quality
- Holds up to 961 gallons
- Does not have steel frames
- No dual suction outlet fittings
- Small in size
- Expensive for what you receive in return for your money
Things to Consider When Buying an Above Ground Pool
While being in the market for an above ground pool is a difficult task, we want to help make your decision just a little bit easier. We understand with the many models on the market today, it can seem like an impossible decision and a time-consuming task of sifting through endless options. With our expert tools and knowledge, our buying guide will help steer you in the right direction towards the best above ground pool. Before you start searching the internet for a pool, take into account our things to consider when buying one:
Durability is listed first because it is the most important aspect of an above ground pool. Now, most of these pools are not cheap. So when you invest so much of your money and time into an above-ground pool, you want to make sure it will last an extremely long time before having to replace it or start performing repairs. Most quality pools should last around 7 to 15 years before you need to replace it. However, that is only if you choose a pool with steel frames and PVC and Polyester linings. These materials are the most durable, and many of the most popular above ground pools have those features.
When you’re looking for a high-quality pool that will last, you need to consider its durability first. Check for its structure, lining, and even its pump, because without a good pump your pool will grow algae and rust, which causes it to fall apart much quicker. You even want to look for anti-rust technologies and laminated sidewalls if you want ultimate durability. These qualities will ensure the pool won’t leak or spill over. However some above ground pools are made with fiberglass, which is the most expensive, but they last up to 20 years!
The important thing about considering water capacity is that it determines how big of a pool you want. Ultimately the decision is up to you, but you need to consider how many people max do you think you would want to enjoy the pool at once. If you have a large family and a lot of friends, you would want to consider looking at an above ground pool with at least 90% water capacity, which means it holds more water, ultimately because of its bigger in size. Smaller sized pools usually range from 80% water capacity to even 90%, however, it’s important to still check how many gallons it can hold.
Another aspect of water capacity you want to consider is the size of your yard, and how much you’re willing to spend on filling up a pool. For example, if you have a small backyard, your space is much more suitable for an 80% water capacity. Any above ground pool larger than that will probably take up every inch of your yard. Also, if you can’t afford to fill up a 1,800-gallon pool, then you could look for a pool that has a capacity of 800 to 1,000 gallons.
While most above ground pools come with a filter, it’s important to know what filter it comes with, and how powerful it is. The filter is crucial when it comes to water quality and keeping your pool in optimum shape. If you want your pool to last long, and you want to have clean crystal clear water during all seasons, you need a powerful filter. Usually, the pool states the filter online. If it does not, that either means the filter is not included or you should move on to the next above ground pool.
Almost every above ground pool comes with either a Krystal clear cartridge filter pump or a sand filter pump. These pumps are both extremely powerful, and they are able to clear out the hardest of dirt and sand. You also want to ensure these pumps work at least at 110-120 volt. This means it can filter out more water at once at a much faster rate. The more efficient your filter is, the better you’re getting for your money, because without a strong filter, algae, mold, rust, and dirt can accumulate extremely fast and ruin the structure of the pool. You want your money’s worth when you’re spending almost half a thousand dollars, so, ensure the water pump is of high quality before buying.
The options of above ground pools can get extremely overwhelming. There are many different sizes, shapes, and types of materials when it comes to these pools. This makes it hard to know which one is the best: the steel frame or the easy set pool sets? Round or rectangle? Sometimes these things don’t matter when it comes to quality, however, they do deliver slightly different benefits. Determining what benefits and aspects you prefer about your above ground pool will help differentiate the style of pool. The most common styles of pools are listed below:
Rectangle Steel Frame
The rectangle steel frame gives homeowners a feeling that they have a real pool. It looks similar to an in-ground lap-style pool and is one of the largest above ground pools available. Take a look at the Intex Ultra Frame Rectangular—it is one of the sturdiest and largest designs. The rectangle shape is a more traditional in-ground pool shape, which is why many people gravitate towards this style of pool.
However, when it comes to the material, both round and rectangle come in all materials such as resin, hybrid, or steel. If you want a pool to do laps in or a longer pool to fit easily in your backyard rather than a large circle, then the rectangle steel frame might be the best choice.
Round Steel Frame
The most traditional style of an above ground pool is the round steel frame. It’s rare to see rectangle above ground pools, but mainly because it’s a new design. The round steel frame has been the most popular buy for many years because that’s the only kind they used to make. The round shape is supposed to be more durable for holding hundreds or thousands of gallons of water. The round steel frame is not only supported by frames but a large supportive rope around the outer edges for extra strength. All in all this style of pool is just as sturdy as any rectangle pool. Some people prefer the round shape for fun, or because it’s the more affordable option. However, if you’re looking for or prefer the style, there is no difference in quality between these two shapes, just price.
Easy Set Pool Set
The easy set pool set is much different from the steel framed pools. These above ground pools usually range from one hundred dollars or less. The biggest difference is there are no steel structure, just PVC, and polyester linings. These pools typically hold less water, so they only need a strong wall to support the weight. However, if you’re looking for a pool to hold lots of people at once, this pool is not for you. The easy set pool sets are mainly for kids, or a quick and easy setup pool for those looking for an instant water activity, not necessarily a high-quality pool for long-term usage.
Always check for added inclusions when looking for an above ground pool. The main added features you should always receive are a pump, a ladder (depending on the size of the pool), a draining system (sometimes dual), and a pool cover and ground cloth. If you are paying a lot of money for an in-ground pool and not receiving any of these included features, you are wasting your time and money! Most high-quality brands have the pump, ladder and pool cover included at time of purchase. You can usually find out if a pool comes with these inclusions under the description section or customer reviews.
You will save money in the long run by choosing a pool that comes with these inclusions. Sometimes pool filters can cost half as much of the pool itself, and pool ladders and covers can get extremely expensive as well. Buying it all together from the same company will ensure optimum quality and efficiency. So before you make a large purchase make sure it comes with at least two or three of these features. Remember that it’s important to keep your pool clean. Some pools will come with a filter or something along the lines of that, but if you need proper cleaning then you should consider an automatic pool cleaner. They’re really effective.
You always want to consider the setup process when buying an above ground pool. Check out whether it has an instruction manual, how much time it says it will take to be ready for water, and if it comes with tools. When looking for a quality above ground pool, it should have a DVD manual and a quick setup process. Most pools promise a ready-for-water in 10 minutes process and some promise 30 minutes. It all depends on the size of the pool, however, you should never choose a pool that says ready in over 60 minutes. Sixty minutes is usually the limit, and that is mainly for large rectangle steel pools.
If you want something more time efficient and easy, the non-steel easy set pool sets are extremely quick to pop up and fill with water. It takes less manpower and time to set it up in under 10 minutes. However, if you want a large above ground pool that you plan on making your permanent pool, then all you need to look for is if it has a DVD instructional video. A longer set-up process is expected. Some pools come with tools to help set up, however many don’t. It’s not a bad thing if it doesn’t, just make sure you have the right tools at home before buying one.
Read the Reviews!
The reviews are everything when it comes to buying an above ground pool. It’s a tricky market because above ground pools are extremely expensive and buying one can be a big decision. Just like any market, there are brands you should trust and brands you shouldn’t.
You can also read all the reviews you want, but if you want to know all the secrets and facts about a product, customer reviews are the way to go. The only people you can truly trust besides reading reviews are the customers who have actually bought and tried the product first hand. Although it helps to keep in mind that not every issue or problem a customer might experience is a reoccurring problem with all the other customers. Be sure to read both the good and bad reviews of each product. Then you will be well informed and prepared to make a purchase.
Important Tips to Keep in Mind
Now that you know what essentials to look for when buying an above ground pool, there are a few things to keep in mind that will help make your decision easier. We understand spending a large amount of money on a pool is hard to do, but we are here to help you find the absolute best above ground pool.
- Decide which shape of a pool you want before you start your search. It will help narrow down hundreds of options. (Round or rectangle)
- Determine how many people are in your household and how many friends you would have over to play in the pool. This will help determine the size of pool you want to look for.
- Think long term. Do you want this pool to last the next ten years? Or are you just looking for a temporary solution until you get an in-ground pool, or while your kids are young? If you’re just looking for a kiddy pool for a party, the one hundred dollar pools such as the Intex Easy Set Pool would be the choice for your ROI.
The technology for above ground pools has been updated throughout the years. That’s why we seek to provide guides that cover the latest in pools with the latest technology to make sure that the guides and reviews you get are the most up-to-date. Given our analysis and reviews of many different models, we can say confidently that the Intex Ultra Frame above ground pool is the top pick for design, durability, water quality, and water capacity. However, a budget is sometimes a constraint that one has to work with, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have an above ground pool. For the money, we strongly recommend the Easy Set Pool from Intex. If you came here looking for a something even more cozy, then you should also consider checking out an inflatable hot tub. Those things are super relaxing.
No matter what above ground pool you decide on, ultimately, it’s your tastes, expectations, and pool needs that will ensure the pool you choose is the best fit for your life and home. As pool technologies continue to develop, we strive to keep you updated with the latest and greatest. With our reviews to help you make your decision, we hope you find the best above ground pool for your needs. Happy shopping, and happy swimming!