Who wouldn’t love the ability to splash into cool, refreshing water on a hot summer’s day? But even the most cursory research will leave you with the realization a pool is an expensive endeavor. However, an above ground pool may just be the solution you’re looking for. We’ve found eight of the best above ground pools on the market. They are a solid mix affordability and ingenuity, and all will leave you feeling refreshed.
Within these eight amazing products, our Editor’s Choice is the Bestway Power Steel Swim Vista II. This above ground pool is a great, large-sized option that will provide fun for the whole family. Its outer material gives a really unique texture and design that makes this pool a focal point. And, with just a 60-minute setup, you’ll be able to relax on a hot sunny day in no time.
Top 8 Above Ground Pools Review 2020
All of the above-ground pools we found have been carefully reviewed. With each one you’ll find detailed features including pros and cons. In addition to the product reviews we have also created a buying guide that explains all the features of an above ground pool you may encounter. Finally, there is a FAQ section in case there’s anything else you’re wondering about. Together you can start splashing the day away in no time.
This model features a creatively-designed liner that makes the pool look like a crystal-blue lake with natural rocks at the bottomRead Our Review
A large round pool that is 21 feet in diameter and 52 inches in height – ideal for the whole family to enjoyRead Our Review
Bestway Power Steel Swim Vista Series II – Editor’s Choice
- Dimensions: 14 x 8.2 ft.
- Height: 39.5 in.
- Material: Tritech material, steel frame
- What’s included: ladder, pump with cartridge, debris cover, ground cloth
More features: see-through underwater panels
Ready for easy set up and tons of fun? The Bestway pool is the perfect solution if you’re short on space but really want a place to cool off in. This above ground pool measures 14 x 8.2 feet. The rectangular shape gives you a versatile option as it can be placed just about anywhere you want it to go.
The outside of the Bestway has a unique, mesh-like material that makes it stand out from the rest. The steel frame along with the TriTech material means it is stable, and you don’t have to worry about any potential spills.
Along with the pool itself you get a ladder, pump system, debris cover, and ground cloth. These accessories are vital in making your pool experience easy and pleasurable.
While older above ground pool models require you to place a floating chemical dispenser inside the water, the Bestway has a more modern design. Instead, you simply connect the chemical dispenser to a valve in the pool wall.
While the suggested set up time is just 60 minutes, unfortunately, you need to budget for a lot longer. The pool itself is easy to set up, thanks to its seal and lock system. The ladder, however, can take a bit more effort. Because of how it attaches, it can take a lot more sweat than necessary to make sure everything connects properly.
Also, budget for the water fill time. This can take up to ten hours to fill. The Bestway is a large pool, and the pump system isn’t as strong. If you are getting impatient, you might want to borrow extra hoses from your neighbors; just be ware that the trade-off is probably a dip in your pool once it’s ready.
- Large enough for kids and adults
- Extremely sturdy construction
- Chemicals can enter water through valve, not float on top of water
- Can take a long time to set up
Intex 28273EH – Best Rectangular
- Dimensions: 14 x 7 ft.
- Height: 33 in.
- Material: PVC; steel frame
- What’s included: pool only
More features: 30-minute assembly
When you’re short on space but want an above ground pool, a rectangular model is ideal. This shape is better at being tucked into a corner than a circular one. The best rectangular above ground pool is the Intex 28273EH.
With a length of 14 feet and a width of 7 feet, this isn’t the largest pool you will find. However, it is still big enough to provide ample opportunity to play and soak and cool off on a hot summer’s day.
The Intex 28273EH has a height of 33 inches, which is shorter than a lot of other pools. This height makes it ideal if you’ve got kids that are itching for something to do during summer.
The smaller size also makes it much easier to set up. In fact, the manufacturer boasts of a 30-minute setup, although there is a good chance it will take slightly longer.
This above ground pool is also incredibly easy to take down. The smaller size means less time draining, and once collapsed it won’t take up as much space in a garage.
In fact, if you have a deck area but want to place a pool on it, this is the option to consider. Its smaller size will leave room for entertaining, and you won’t have to worry about having a concrete pad or other solid surface under it for support.
Unfortunately, your purchase of the Intex 28273EH only includes the pool. You will have to purchase accessories, like a ladder, separately. So, while the initial price tag is pretty good, once you factor in any extras, your final total may be a lot higher than you first anticipated. Still, if you’re short on space this is the perfect above ground pool to consider.
- Size is perfect for small spaces
- Very easy to set up and take down
- A great option for kids
- Doesn’t include any accessories
Lake Effect Meadows Reprieve Above Ground Swimming Pool – Best Looking
- Diameter: 24 ft.
- Height: 52 in.
- Material: 25-gauge bedrock overlap liner; resin-coated steel frame
- What’s included: widemouth skimmer; liner, coping strips
More features: overlap design
From the outside, this may just seem like your average above ground pool. However, once you jump in, you’ll be transported to a mini oasis. The Lake Effect Meadows Reprieve Above Ground Swimming Pool has a unique liner that makes it seem as if the bottom is filled with natural rocks, and the water is crystal clear to infinity. It really does seem as if you are swimming in a lake.
The Lake Effect Meadows Reprieve Above Ground Swimming Pool is a nice sized pool with a diameter of 24 feet. It has a large, 52-inch height so adults can fully partake in this refreshing activity.
One really nice feature about the Lake Effect Meadows Reprieve Above Ground Swimming Pool is that the company is committed to excellent service. Instead of just waiting all day for your package to be delivered, a delivery time will actually be scheduled, and you will be given a phone number to call in case of any emergencies. Furthermore, the company requests that you inspect the parts on delivery just in case anything was damaged en route. This is a large investment, and you don’t want to be left with a broken pool.
Unlike some above ground pools that are very complicated to assemble, the Lake Effect Meadows Reprieve Above Ground Swimming Pool is fairly intuitive. You will still need at least two people, but it won’t take as long as some other pools take for assembly.
The only real issue with the Lake Effect Meadows Reprieve Above Ground Swimming Pool is with the liner. There were some instances where the above ground pool liner was just too tight or even too short to adequately fit inside the pool. However, this concern is offset by the terrific customer service. If you do encounter any issues, call right away to have the problem remedied.
- Excellent customer service
- Design is phenomenal
- Very large pool
- Liner might be too small
Intex 26339EH – Largest Pool
- Diameter: 24 ft.
- Height: 52 in.
- Materials: puncture-resistant 3-ply; steel frame
- What’s included: ladder, pump, debris cover, ground cloth
More features: dual suction outlet fittings; 60-minute setup
There’s an expression, go big or go home. And the Intex 26339EH really embodies it. With a massive diameter of 24 feet and a height of 52 inches, this is about as big as you can get for an above ground pool.
Some people may be perfectly fine with a small wading pool in their backyard. But if you want to get as close to having an in-ground pool as possible, the Intex 26339EH will help you get there.
The frame has a solid construction with galvanized steel and an advanced locking system. There’s no real danger of collapse of even punctured. And as for rust, you don’t have to worry as all metal surfaces are powder coated for further protection.
If you’re not entirely sure about the construction, you can have great peace of mind thanks to the manufacturer’s two-year warranty. This, coupled with its excellent customer service, means you’ll have a solid pool you can enjoy for a long time.
The set up for the Intex 26339EH is relatively simple. In fact, in just 60 minutes, you will have a structure that is ready to be filled with water. Although, this is what the manufacturer states, experience has us suggesting to budget for a lot longer. However, once the pool is ready, it will all be worth it.
Included with your purchase is a pool ladder, a pool cover, and a ground cloth. The sand filter pump is strong and durable and will keep your water fresh and clean.
While the Intex 26339EH does come with a ground cloth, a pool of this size really needs some extra support. At the very least, purchase plywood board for underneath, and if you can, a concrete pad will add more stability and a more level ground.
- Extremely large and perfect for all ages
- Fairly easy to construct
- Solid construction
- Large size requires extra support underneath
Intex Prism Frame Pool Set – Most Options for Pool
- Diameter: 14 ft.
- Height: 42 in.
- Material: puncture-resistant 3-ply; steel frame
- What’s included: ladder, pump with cartridge, debris cover, ground cloth
More features: ready for water in 45 min.
While the version of the Intext Prism Frame Pool Set we have chosen to feature is 14 feet in diameter, there are many other size choices on offer. This is why the Intex Prism series is so versatile. You can fall in love with its features but at the end of the day, choose just what size of pool you actually want.
In addition to the 14-foot diameter model that we have included, you can also choose from 10 feet, 12 feet, and 15 feet diameters. The smaller sizes, 10 and 12 feet, are paired with a 30-inch height while the larger models have a 42-inch height.
For all of the Intex Prism models, you can expect quality construction. The material is puncture-resistant, and the steel frame won’t bend or buckle.
In addition to the pool itself, your purchase will also include a ladder, ground cloth, debris cover, and pump.
Unfortunately, the pump isn’t as amazing as you would expect. While it does an ok job of circulating water, you might want to eventually look for a stronger, more durable replacement. If your pump does break down right away, be sure to contact customer services. They are helpful and will send a replacement. However, the hassle of dealing with a company and waiting for a replacement, may prove to be too much, so its best to budget for a replacement pump.
Despite the pump issues, the Intex Prism Frame Pool Set is still a quality investment. This is why it’s one of Amazon’s best-rated above ground pools. Users, both adults, and kids, all agree that this pool is a solid bet. It is easy to install, and you can start splashing your way through summer in no time.
- Easy to install
- Comes in multiple size options
- Durable construction
- Pump is not very durable
Bestway 56631E – Best Value
- Dimensions: 9 x 6 ft.
- Height: 33 in.
- Material: 3-ply PVC; steel frame
- What’s included: ladder, pump with cartridge; cover, ground cloth; ChemConnect dispenser
More features: mosaic print on the inner side
Above ground pools may be a lot less expensive than in ground endeavors, but they can still come with hefty price tags. If you really want to keep cool this summer but have a limited budget, consider the Bestway 56631E as an option for the best value above ground pool.
It is a smaller pool, measuring 9 x 6 feet. However, it is perfect for those hot afternoons when you really want to beat the heat.
The Bestway 56631E is constructed with a steel frame and 3-ply PVC. Like most models, it includes a ladder, a cover, a ground cloth, and a pump and chemical dispenser.
The design of the Bestway 56631E is a bit unique as its steel frame is external and looks as if it props up the entire pool. It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing above ground pool, but it works well, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters most.
Set up for the Bestway 56631E is incredibly easy. It will take two people to help fill the pool, but it won’t take forever to accomplish.
As for downsides, you might want to budget for a new pump, even with a newly purchased pool. The pump that comes with the Bestway 56631E is a small filter pump and not a sand pump. Unfortunately, this is a less than reliable model. However, because this is a well-documented issue, you can at least be prepared and not be surprised once the original pump malfunctions.
While the size of the Bestway 56631E is on the small spectrum, Bestway does offer other above ground pools in their product range. Therefore, if you really like the design elements of this pool but want something bigger, there are plenty of options to choose from. Just remember that a larger size will result in a larger price tag.
- Nice price to value ratio
- Also comes in larger sizes
- Easy to set up
- Included pump is not of the highest quality
Summer Waves Above Ground Frame Pool Set – Best Assembly
- Diameter: 14 ft.
- Height: 48 in.
- Material: heavy gauge PVC, polyester mesh; steel frame
- What’s included: ladder, pump
More features: dark herringbone bask weave wicker pattern
When it comes to above ground pools, you need to take the set-up time with a grain of salt. Most companies will state that their pool can be ready for use in as little as an hour. When in reality this timeframe can quickly encompass the entire day. While you’ll eventually have your pool ready, the aggravation involved can lead you to be pretty exhausted.
With the Summer Waves Above Ground Frame Pool Set, you actually get to enjoy pool in a decent amount of time. Most previous customers agree that it is easy to set up and will only take one or two hours. For best results, however, start filling up your pool right away. Not only will this speed up your fill time, but it can also let you see if there are any leaks due to shipping.
The Summer Waves Above Ground Frame Pool Set is a nice sized pool. It has a 14-foot diameter and larger 48-inch sides. This is the perfect above ground pool if you’ve got adult neighbors looking to cool off.
As for the design, this pool has an attractive external wicker finish. It comes in two color choices: dark grey and light grey. You don’t always get color choices with above ground pools, so this is a nice bonus.
The Summer Waves Above Ground Frame Pool Set comes with a ladder, a pump, and a ground cover. Unfortunately, it does not come with a pool cover. If you have a backyard with plenty of trees, a cover is a necessity to stop debris from getting in. A cover will also hold in heat overnight. So, be sure to add a bit more to your budget as a pool cover is quite the necessity.
- Very easy to set up
- Includes two color choices
- Large size is perfect for adults
- Does not include a cover
Cornelius Phoenix Steel Frame Above Ground Swimming Pool Kit – Premium Choice
- Diameter: 21 ft.
- Height: 52 in.
- Material: PVC steel frame
- What’s included: sand filter pump, liner, skimmer, ladder, chemical kit, phosphate removal chemical, pool net
More features: sharp marble wall design
Worried about your above ground pool springing a leak? While all models are tested to ensure optimal performance, the Cornelius Phoenix Steel Frame Above Ground Swimming Pool Kit will give you the peace of mind you’re looking for.
This circular pool has a diameter of 21 feet, making it extremely large. It also has a height of 52 inches, which is almost double the height of other above ground pools. Really, this pool is as close to having an in-ground pool as you can find.
The large size of this pool is possible thanks to the steel frame design. All the components have steel incorporated into them, so you don’t have to worry about anything going wrong.
Other exceptional features that the Cornelius Phoenix Steel Frame Above Ground Swimming Pool Kit includes a ladder, a skimmer, a pool net, a chemical kit, and a phosphate removal chemical. As the name suggests, this is a pool kit perfect for anyone just starting out.
Also included is a sand filter. This type of filter is considered top of the line for a reason. You can cycle through 2,400 gallons of water per hour, ensuring nothing but the cleanest water to play in.
The biggest issue with the Cornelius Phoenix Steel Frame Above Ground Swimming Pool Kit is the ladder. While it does work fine, it feels a bit flimsy. Kids would probably be fine climbing it, but adults with a bit more girth should take note. The last thing you want to do is accidentally belly flop into the pool in front of everyone.
You should also expect to spend a lot of time setting up the Cornelius Phoenix Steel Frame Above Ground Swimming Pool. This is unfortunately true for most above ground pools. While you can enlist the help of your neighbors, you might want to hire professionals instead. It will cost more, but you can get to splashing and relaxing so much quicker.
- Very large size
- Steel construction makes it sold
- Includes a lot of accessories
- Ladder is flimsy
Ready to take the plunge into a pool but not sure about the actual purchase? If you’re still trying to decide which above ground pool will work best for you, our buying guide can help. Here you’ll find out what all the features mean and get answers to any burning questions you might still have. An above-ground pool requires a fair bit of commitment. Not only are you spending your hard-earned money, but you will need to dedicate part of your yard to it. Before you dive in, it’s best to know as much as you can about this refreshing investment.
Advantages of an above ground pool
In-ground pools take a lot of work and money to install. Not only do you need to first save for the expense, but you need ample planning for one. The site has to be dug up, which not only requires a digger but access to the backyard for the differ to get through. Then, a lot of concrete is needed to pour the base. Finally, a liner and or coating has to be applied. While the result may be amazing, it requires a lot of hard work to get there. Oh, and in-ground pools are pretty permanent.
Above ground pools still cost a little bit, but it is a fraction of the cost. They are much easier to install and can be done with the day, and some, like kiddie pools, only take a few hours.
While above ground pools come in many different sizes, you don’t really need much space in your backyard for one. Thus, even small places can have the benefits of an above ground pool.
Finally, you may think you want an above ground pool for years to come, but if you change your mind, it is easy to get rid of one. Simply disassemble and store for later use. Then, you have the versatility of all that open space again. And if you just want to give your pool a new look, you can always redecorate it.
For those that simply can’t stand the summer heat, an above ground pool is a necessity. You can stay cool, socialize, and take advantage of the joys of summer.
Features to consider when choosing an above ground pool
There are many different types of above ground pools, and all have their unique features. Here are some important features to consider before your next purchase.
Above ground pools come in all shapes and sizes. The most common are circular and rectangular pools. Circular above ground pools will be measured by diameter, or the length across the pool. The Intex Prism Frame Pool Set and the Summer Waves Above Ground Frame Pool Set are the smallest circular pools on our list with diameters of 14 feet. The Intex 26339EH and the Lake Effect Meadows Reprieve Above Ground Swimming Pool are the largest circular pools on our list, with diameters of 24 feet.
Before you purchase an above ground pool, decide where you want to place it. Above ground pools are hard to set up, and you don’t want to make the mistake of not having enough space when you install one.
When it comes to height, you can expect above ground pools to hit around the 50-inch mark. The smallest on our list is the Intex 28273EH, which is only 33 inches tall. Conversely, there are three models that reach 52 inches in height: the Cornelius Phoenix Steel Frame Above Ground Swimming Pool Kit, the Lake Effect Meadows Reprieve Above Ground Swimming Pool, and the Intex 26339EH.
If you have smaller children, a smaller pool will be just fine. If, however, you and your neighbors will be the ones enjoying the new pool, added height will leave room fore more versatility.
When it comes to an above ground pool, you want quality construction. These pools hold a lot of water, and the last think you need is for gallons upon gallons of water to suddenly flood your backyard.
All the above ground pools on our list use PVC for the pool lining. This is either heavy gauge PVC or 3-ply PVC. When you’re setting up your pool, you can start to fill the water while you’re still assembling it. Water, especially if just coming from your hose, can take quite a long time. This way you can slowly check for leaks.
Unfortunately, leaks happen even in the best above ground pools. Fill your pool slowly and do continuous walk-arounds to seek if any damage may have occurred via delivery. If there is, stop filling with water and call customer service immediately. The companies on our list all have solid customer service. While a leak means you won’t get to bask in the cool shallows right away, remember that leaks are fixable.
If you have a small leak you can always try to fix it yourself. This will require a bit of leak filler and enough time to let it dry completely.
It’s recommended that you perform regular cleanings on your above ground pool. This should include a walk around so you can inspect the exterior for any leaks. It’s far better to catch a small hole and fix it than to neglect it and have a large rim in your pool’s seam.
To give sturdiness to your above ground pool, the liner will be held up by a steel frame. This often looks like external pipes. Unfortunately, a steel frame can be a little less than appealing. If aesthetics are a big part of your decision process, though, there are other options.
The Cornelius Phoenix Steel Frame Above Ground Swimming Pool Kit and the Lake Effect Meadows Reprieve Above Ground Swimming Pool both had a slightly different set up. While they are both made with the standard steel frame and PVC liner, the frame melds better with the entire setup. Therefore, it makes it seem like a giant tub rather than a fragmented construction.
There are a few standard accessories that above ground pools are often included with. A ladder is key as you will need a way to get into your pool. Just note that some ladders are sturdier than others. If its primarily kids that will be using the pool, you want something sturdy, but most are fine as they can handle the weight load. If you are a larger person, pay attention to the construction of the ladder. You don’t want it collapsing unexpectedly. If this seems a possibility, it’s best to purchase a separate, more durable ladder for enhanced safety.
A ground cover is often a cloth that protects your pool and gives you a layer between the ground. If you have an uneven backyard, you might want to do a bit of prep work first. Some people will even create a concrete pad to place their pool on, just to give it a bit more stability.
Finally, an above ground pool should come with a pump. This will keep the water circulating. Just know that, unfortunately, many included pumps aren’t all that good. So, while you may be thinking you’re getting a great deal because a pump is included in the purchase, many people go on to replace this apparatus with a stronger, more durable pump. Just be sure to factor a new pump into your budget so you’re not caught unaware down the road.
On the other hand, if you want some extra fun, you can consider adding a pool slide. They usually can be bought separately, and there's a variety of choices when it comes to those designed specifically for above ground pools.
If you are on a budget or simply don’t care about extra accessories, there is one option on our list that you will like. The Intex 28273EH comes with just the pool. No ladder, no pump, no cover. Simply set it up and then decide what to do with it. It is on the smaller size, so if you place it near a deck or fashion your own steps for it, you can easily find a way inside the pool. And, the lack of accessories means it is taken down a notch price-wise.
When it comes to above ground pools, they exist in all shapes and sizes. Some are basic models while others are more premium offers.
The Lake Effect Meadows Reprieve Above Ground Swimming Pool has the added affect as looking as if you are stepping into a lake, with a pebble-inspired liner. Combined with the crystal-clear water you will no doubt have in this pool, you will be instantly transported to a wilderness experience, all from the safe area of your backyard.
Most above ground pools will come with pumps, but not all pumps are created equal. And, unfortunately, many people end up having to replace these standard pumps because they just aren’t good enough. The Cornelius Phoenix Steel Frame Above Ground Swimming Pool Kit comes with a sand filter, which is a much more premium type of pump.
Some above ground pools, like the Bestway Power Steel Swim Vista Series II, have the ability to circulate your chemicals via the pump. This means you don’t have to place chemical pucks that float in the water. Instead, the chemicals are released into the water, so you and your guests aren’t even aware of them.
Finally, a nice feature to look for has to do with how the pool looks. For example, the Summer Waves Above Ground Frame Pool Set has a wicker weave pattern on the outside. It comes in dark or light grey. Above ground pools can be seen from all sides so it makes sense to find one that isn’t so utilitarian.
Other pools will focus more on the inside design of their pool. For example, the Bestway 56631E has a mosaic print on the inside of its liner. You can argue both ways about which is better – internal or external details. It is nice that there are now so many options to choose from.
How to maintain an above ground pool
Proper maintenance is required to preserve the lifespan of your above ground pool. This maintenance combines work on both the frame and the pool water.
The frame itself should be cleaned and expected once a week. Clean any dirt or debris from the outside to maintain its appearance and increase its lifespan. Check for any holes or leaks. Small leaks can be patched efficiently so that they don’t become bigger nuisances.
As for the water, you should invest in a water testing kit. There are many DIY kits available. Nobody wants to get sick from swimming in your water. Some chemicals will be necessary to maintain your water and keep it from forming algae.
Any good above ground pool set will have all the necessary tools for instillation. Other, universal tools, such as a wrench or a screwdriver might be needed in the process. However, between the tool kit and your own garage, you should have everything you need for a smooth set up.
Just remember that the most important tools to set up an above ground pool are people. It takes at least two people for proper set up. And, if you have a large above ground pool, the more the merrier. The best thing is that there should be no shortage of help around. Simply tell your neighbors you have a new above ground pool, and they’ll quickly realize that the price of admission is helping you set it up.
You should aim to clean your above ground pool about once a week. This includes both the interior and exterior.
For the pool water itself, you will be using chemicals to keep the water as clean as possible. You can purchase easy to use water test kits to ensure the proper chemical levels are maintained. A pool skimmer should be used daily to remove any leaves or branches. If possible, empty the water a bit to clean the liner of the pool.
As for the exterior, proper maintenance means a longer lifespan. Give your pool a good scrub each week. This will also allow you to perform an inspection to ensure there aren’t any cuts or holes.
Yes, you should disassemble your above ground pool for winter. While these types of pools are extremely durable, winter is an unpredictable season. It can bring hail, wind, and bitter cold that can quickly knock through even the toughest pool liner. Furthermore, large snowbanks can actually buckle your pool, leading to permanent damage.
If you live in a warmer, milder climate, you can consider leaving your above ground pool out year-round. They are hard to assemble and disassemble, so it’s nice if you can cut out all this extra work. You can also invest in a nice pool heater in order to keep the water in your pool warm enough in a cool weather. Anyway, be prepared to face the consequences if you do leave your above ground pool out for winter.
Ready to have a cool, refreshing summer? Our Editor’s Choice for best above ground swimming pools is the Bestway Power Steel Swim Vista II. This large pool is easy to assemble and will provide fun for the whole family.
If you’re short on space, a rectangular pool is ideal. The Intex 28273EH is large enough to swim laps in but compact enough to fit into any backyard corner. With it, you can feel refreshed no matter what size your yard is.
Finally, if you want both form and function, consider the Lake Effect Meadows Reprieve Above Ground Swimming Pool. Thanks to its innovative liner, it looks as if you’re slipping into a pond with crystal clear water.
There are many options to help you find the best above ground pools. Review our list and find one that meets all your needs. No matter how hot summer gets, you’ll be prepared!