So what’s better than having a swimming pool in your backyard? It’s having a swimming pool in your backyard that is safe for your kids, easy to maintain, and you take with you when you move out. More and more people are realizing the advantages of having an above ground pool.
If you’re looking for the best above ground pools, you’ve come to the right place. And as usual, we have selected the best one that satisfied all our standards and gave us the best band for our money. It’s the Intex 15ft X 48in Metal Frame Pool Set with Filter Pump, Ladder, Ground Cloth & Pool Cover. The metal frame gives it durability while the Krystal clear cartridge filter pump has enough power to keep your floating happily in clean water. Accessories include a ladder, a debris cover, and a ground cloth for extra protection while you have some splish splash.
We tested a lot of those portable pools so you don’t have to. Below you’ll find a review of the top rated pools in the market. They are
21 Best Above-Ground Pools Reviews
As usual we start with the very best. And when you’re looking for the best of above-ground pools, then the Intex won’t let you down. With its metal frame, triple strong sidewalls, and reinforced legs, you have a sturdy pool that can handle all the rough and tumble of a family having some splish splash time.
One other thing that really got our attention was how easy it was to install it. This pool can be put together within one hour or less and you’re ready to have a swim or relax in the water. It doesn’t get any better than that.And since no decent above-ground pool can miss the accessories, the Intex comes with a cartridge filter pump, a ladder, a debris cover, and a ground cloth. These add-ons will make your life so much easier. The filter keeps the water clean and sanitary while the debris cover prevents the need to drain and refill the pool every time.
One of the problems with pools is that the water gets stagnant quickly. However, the Intex comes with a dual suction outlet fittings that keeps the water moving to give you a natural ocean-like experience right there in your backyard.
- Laminated sidewalls for durability.
- Accessories include ladder, pump, filter, debris cover.
- Dual suction outlet fittings to prevent water stagnation.
- Included a setup and maintenance DVD.
- Don’t work on unlevel ground.
- Poles need to be lubed before setup.
The Intex is a popular brand in the above-ground pools market and we’re going to review quite a number of their products. To be honest they all have good quality so what sets one apart from the rest has to do with either material or features. In this case the Ultra XTR is made from high quality galvanized steel that combined with a locking system makes this a top quality pool.Since steel resists rust naturally, this pool takes this quality a step further. Both the inner and outer walls are powder coated to maximize their durability and rust-proof qualities. The sand filter pump will keep the water clean and you can pump 1,200 gallons of water per hour into the pool.
Add-ons are aplenty. You get a ladder to help you access the pool as well as a pool cover to keep it clean when you’re not using it. The pool’s water capacity is an impressive 5,061 gallons and you can fill it up to 90 percent of its capacity without any hassle.
- Maximum strength with galvanized steel and precision locking system.
- Sand filter pump.
- High water capacity.
- Legs require support.
- Ladder not as sturdy as expected.
Still with Intex and this time we’re reviewing the Prism. It comes in various shapes from round to rectangular and oval. As with other above-ground pools that Intex is famous for, the Prism has a steel frame that makes it both reliable and durable. The frames here are also coated to prevent rust and erosion.
The walls of the pool are covered with 3-ply liners and feel exquisite to the touch. Accessories are abundant and on top of them comes the pump. It can pour about 330 gallons of water an hour which is decent power for a pool this size.The pool’s water capacity is 1,189 gallons and you can fill it up to 90 percent of capacity. Putting the pool together is quite easy and you can enjoy your first relaxing experience in the water within half an hour after setting it up.
You’ll also appreciate the depth of the pool. With about 30 inches deep, you can easily stand, sit, or just let your body float in the water. Children aged 6 and above will also have no trouble playing and swimming. Younger children will need supervision from an adult in the pool with them.
- 3-ply liners for a sleek and attractive pool.
- Powdered steel frame.
- Ready within half an hour after set up.
- Pump not up to snuff.
- Loses water fast.
The Ultra Frame Pool as the name suggests has something to boast about. That’s the frame of course. It’s a good balance between functionality in the form of steel frames that resist rust and appearance as the design really catches the eyes.
As an added bonus, the filter pump gives you crystal clear water that keeps sloshing around you whether you’re swimming or simply relaxing. From my experience I know that it’s not easy to keep pool water clean and sparkling. Not unless you hire a poolboy. But the Ultra Frame pool takes care of that at no extra cost for you.How it does it, you might ask. Well, it’s the dual suction outlet fittings. They circulate the water in and out of the walls of the pool to create a current that tickles your skin and makes you feel like you were swimming in an open body of water not an above-ground pool.
Water capacity is another advantage for the Ultra Frame. It can take up to 6,981 gallons of water. And it has a pump to match. The included pump gives you 2,100 gallons per hour so you won’t have to wait long to get your feet wet.
- Large size with 6,981 gallons water capacity.
- Ultra durable coated steel frame.
- High water circulation.
- The included filter is not a sand filter.
- Needs lots of maintenance.
5. Intex 18ft X 9ft X 52in Ultra XTR Rectangular Pool Set with Sand Filter Pump, Ladder, Ground Cloth & Pool Cover
We promised you a lot of Intex and here we are keeping our word. Now if you’re wondering why Intex features prominently on this list, all you have to do is check the quality of the pools and you’ll know why they’re so popular.
We really like that liner that resists puncturing. Many above-ground pools have a knack of springing a leak when you least expect it. Not this one though. Both the liner and the ground cloth help protect the pool on the outside and from within. You have ensured durability for many years to come.The rectangular shape of the Ultra XTR means you can do laps and enjoy your swimming as if it was an in-ground pool. With 18 feet in length, you sure will give your body a good cardio as you swim up and down the pool. It’s good for a large family as well.
And last but not least, this pool comes with a 2-year warranty, a pool ladder, and a trusty pump that can fill the 4,545 gallons in about one hour.
- Puncture resistant liner.
- Good for laps.
- Includes a pump, ground cloth, and pool cover.
- High price tag.
- Needs more than one person to install it.
Let’s face it. Sometimes you can’t wait for the summer months to arrive so that you can get a tan and some water fun in your backyard. And when the weather starts to warm up a little you want that above-ground pool all set and ready for you. In other words, you don’t have time to put together a complex pool. You just want one that’s easy to set.Enter Intex Easy Set Pool. It’s safe for kids to use, has a tough frame that can handle all the jumping and kicking, and it doesn’t require much space in your backyard. With all these features it’s hard to pass this pool without admiring it for a few moments.
One of the best features that we liked is the ground fault interrupter. If for some reason the pump cables get exposed in the water, this switch will turn off the pump and protect those in the pool from electrical shocks. The pool also gets ready within 15 minutes.
- Extra safety features.
- Easy to set up.
- Doesn’t take much space.
- Pool cover is inadequate.
- Hose doesn’t connect well.
We took a break from Intex for a bit to explore other products but we promise we’ll review more Intex pool on this list. Bestway has a lot going for it. For starters, it is made of steel which as we have seen is the best material for above-ground pools.
It is worth mentioning here that the pool is designed for children mainly. It’s not deep enough and they can jump and swim to their heart’s content. Adults might find it a bit awkward to splash around only to have their feet hit the bottom.Apart from this inconvenience, the pool works as expected. It has a built-in flow control valve which comes in handy when the water reaches above maximum capacity. The frame is made of three layers, one of them is a polyester mesh for extra strength. It also makes this pool exceptionally rust and corrosion resistant.
And last but not least, this is one of the easiest pools to set up that we have tried. It practically sets itself up and all you have to do is just fill it with water and jump in.
- Made of steel with 3-layers walls.
- Flow control drain valve.
- Easy to set up.
- Mostly for children.
- Needs level ground.
For a cozy pool that doesn’t take up much space in your backyard and has a good affordable price for one made from steel, the Summer Waves is a bargain worth looking into. It’s mostly suited for one or two people at most, but the intimacy of the close proximity will be all you can think of.To get you in the right mood, the design of the pool is eye catching. We have seen steel frames before and to be honest they don’t add much to the appeal of the pool. But this one really stands out. In addition, the pool comes with a pump with a filter cartridge that ensure your pool looks clean and shiny at all times.
Children above the age of 6 can enjoy a good swim in the Summer Waves. If your kids are younger than that you’ll need to be with them as they enjoy the water. The only drawback we found with this pool is its installation. It’s far from being straightforward and you’ll struggle a little or even a lot to assemble it.
- Cozy and sturdy at the same time.
- A pump with a filter cartridge is included.
- Affordable price.
- Needs a larger pump.
- Has to be installed on level ground.
So we’re back to Intex and our pool this time is one of the Easy Set lines. The name says it all. All you have to do is hook up the hose and fill it with water. The pump will take care of that part for you. You’ll have yourself a pool sloshing with water in no time.The difference between this pool and the other one we reviewed earlier is in size not in features. All the Easy Set pools have the same high quality material and appealing designs. The laminated PVC sidewalls are as tough as much as they’re attractive.
This one too has a drain plug that you can connect to a hose and drain the water anywhere you like. You won’t have to flood your backyard everytime you want to empty the pool. Just make sure you install it on level and solid ground.
- Easy to install.
- Laminated PVC sidewalls for strength.
- Convenient drain plug.
- Needs a perfectly level surface to install.
Here’s another Intex but this one belongs to the Prism family. The whole Prism line of production stresses quality over quantity. This means that your pool will be sturdy, durable, and convenient although it will be on the small size.If 12 feet in diameter is too small for you, you might consider an in-ground pool instead. Apart from the size, the Prism is famous for the 3-ply material liner which prevents leaks and gives the pool a durability that makes it a good investment for your money.
The pool comes with a filter pump that can fill the 1,178 gallons pool in about half an hour. Make sure to fill the pool up to 90 percent of its capacity. Another advantage of this pool is the affordable price compared to its size.
- 3-ply material liner.
- Durable, sturdy, and convenient.
- 1,178 gallons capacity.
- Pump not as durable as the pool.
- Thin bottom liner.
Another quaint pool from Bestway that will give you kids yet another reason to love the summer months. This children’s pool has everything you’d expect from an above-ground pool. It’s easily accessible, not too deep, and is safe for children to play in.As we all know, children are hyperactive when it comes to pools and water. This can be a problem for a pool that’s not steady on its feet. The Bestway Deluxe takes care of this problem. There’s a reinforced rope that runs along the bottom liner of the pool to make it sturdy and keep the legs firmly on the ground.
Draining the pool is as easy as connecting a hose to the drain valve and dispose of the water anywhere you like. And since we’re talking about convenience, it’s worth mentioning how easy it is to put this pool together. You won’t have trouble setting it up and giving the kids the best gift they could have this summer.
- Reinforced rope to keep it steady.
- Convenient drain valve.
- Easy to assemble.
- Not very durable.
- Doesn’t have a pump.
If you thought that Bestway specialized only in pint-size pools, the 13429 is here to prove us all wrong. With 16 feet in diameter, this is one sturdy pool that does away with the nice appearance to focus totally on functionality. It’s durable thanks to the 3-ply structure, and it’s sturdy because it’s made of polyester.The pool’s size is its most attractive feature. As an oval pool, the 13429 can accommodate a family of 4 or 5 without feeling like you’re swimming in a community pool after school hours. The unique shape has the best features of both round and rectangular pools. It doesn’t take much space and it lets you swim laps in it.
It comes with a drain valve, a pump, and a water capacity shy of 1,000 gallons. And despite the complex structure, it’s easy to set up and get it ready within a few hours.
- Rigid structure made from tri-tech material.
- Oval shape that doesn’t take up much space.
- Decent water capacity.
- Water exchange lines are too short.
- Pump has no filter.
Another one of the Intex Easy Set family is worth your consideration. It has a decent size, a ladder, a Krystal Clear Cartridge filter pump and a pool cover. It also comes with a ground cloth to protect the bottom of the pool against friction.Another safety feature that will set your mind at ease is the ground fault interrupter. The last thing you’d want is the pump short circuiting and causing injuries to those in the pool. This mechanism will switch off the pump immediately to keep everyone safe.
The water capacity is an impressive 3,284 gallons and you can fill the pool up to 80 percent of its capacity. Naturally, you’ll need a good pump to fill up this massive pool without having to wait all day. The included pump has the power to push 1,000 gallons per hour.
- Laminated PVC sidewalls.
- Good water capacity of 3,284 gallons.
- Krystal Clear Cartridge filter pump.
- Intake hose is flimsy and pops off easily.
We couldn’t just pass on the opportunity to try another one of Bestway’s trademarked tiny pools. Just try it for size as they say. Well, tiny here is used loosely of course since this pool is about 8.5 feet in length. Can you do laps in it? Well, you can if you’re a child or you’re an adult with arrested development. But let’s not go there.So what makes this pool worthy of a review on our esteemed site? (modesty has never been one of our character flaws!) Well, two things stand out with the Bestway Steel Pro. The first is the exceptional strength that the combination of heavy gauge PVC and mesh layers add to the sidewalls. The second is the ease of setting up.
It will take you less than an hour to get everything in place and then it’s just having to wait for the pool to fill up. To drain the pool, just hook the garden hose into the drain valve and keep your backyard dry and clean.
- Heavy gauge PVC and mesh layers.
- Easy to set up.
- Safe draining with a drain valve.
- Small size and mostly suitable for children.
- Not for the long game.
Steel Pro is another pool from Bestway. It’s a portable above-ground pool that you can set up in a few minutes. Now don’t let the steel in the name fool you. Despite the steel frames, the pool itself is as flimsy as they come.
Perhaps that’s why the package includes a repair patch. I’m not being cynical or anything but a lot of the people who used this pool complained that either the pool arrived with holes in it or it sprang leaks immediately after they filled it with water. So don’t expect the pool to stay with you for long. It’s not something that will pass from one generation to the next. You’ll be lucky if it makes it through the summer.
The water capacity is 1,236 gallons which is not bad for a 10 foot pool. The included filter pump gives you 330 gallons per hour so you’ll have to wait for about 4 hours to fill it up to 90 percent of its capacity.
- Easy to set up.
- Water capacity is 1,236 gallons.
- Repair patch and filter pump included.
- Not durable.
- Expect to use the repair patch a lot.
16. Intex 18ft X 10ft X 42in Oval Frame Pool Set with Filter Pump, Ladder, Ground Cloth & Pool Cover
If the previous pool from Bestway failed to impress you, wait till you see this one from Intex. It has everything that the other pool lacked. From a large size to a Krystal Clear Cartridge filter pump that keeps your pool full and your body buoyant to a powder coated steel frame that resists rust.A pool that’s 18 feet long has got to have a water capacity to match. And you won’t be disappointed with the 2,885 gallons of water nor of the sturdy pump that comes with the pool. You also get a ladder, a debris cover, and a ground cloth. This is the usual package for Intex although other brands don’t seem to bother with accessories.
The sidewalls are laminated PVC which gives them appeal and strength. But that’s something else we’re used to from Intex by now. This supersize pool lets you connect a hose to the drain valve for safe draining.
- Large size with great water capacity.
- Laminated PVC sidewalls for strength.
- Plenty of accessories.
- High price of course.
- Filter needs replacing regularly.
Whether it’s oval, round, or rectangular, Intex got you covered. This rectangular pool is easy to assemble and gives you the advantage of floating on it and admiring the interlacing tree branches.. Now if you’re confused about the measurements, let me shed some light on what 86 inches mean. It’s just a few inches north of 7 feet.So you won’t be doing much swimming there. The most you can do with your small family is lean against the sidewalls and splash water over each other. It’s a lot of fun if your idea of fun in the pool doesn’t include swimming.
To be fair, some people prefer the quiet and contemplative experience that being submerged in the water with your loved ones around you brings. It’s a Zen moment. So if that’s what you’re after, this pool is definitely a bargain.
- Steel frame and all round support for sturdy legs.
- Easy to set up.
- Laminated sidewalls.
- Small size.
- Pump not included.
You know how thespians fear being typecast? That’s when an actor gets offered the same role over and over again for many years. Well, rumors have been going around the backyards of middle class America that Bestway was mainly for small pools that only children will delight in. It’s a vicious rumor and the 56388E Power is Bestways’ best answer to that baseless rumor.The pool is huge. That’s the best way I can think of to describe it. The oval pool made from heavy-duty PVC is 20 feet long. That’s almost as long as regular in-ground pool. Of course a pool this size comes with its own perks and disadvantages.
You get 8,060 gallons in water capacity. Durability and reliability. And you get a pool that will stay with you for many summers. On the other hand, maintenance is an issue and installation will take more than one person.
- 20 feet in length.
- Made from heavy-duty PVC.
- Great water capacity.
- Needs a stronger pump.
- Ladder not easy to set up.
We’re coming close to the end of our rather large list and you know we can’t leave without squeezing in another Intex. We do love this brand. And did we mention that it’s our editor’s choice? This pool is one of the Easy Set pools and it’s just small enough to give you an exquisite experience.To install it, just spread the pool and inflate it. Yes, this is one of those inflatable ones that your kids would love. Within 10 minutes you got a pool ready for water. Now hook the hose and let the included pump do its magic.
Water capacity is a modest 639 gallons and the filter pump keeps the water clean all the time. Not suitable for kids under 6.
- Laminated PVC sidewalls.
- Dual suction outlet fittings.
- Easy to install.
- The patching material included doesn’t come with glue.
- The filter pump could be better.
Summer Waves have an ace up their sleeve as far as backyard above-ground pools are concerned. This beauty is 12 feet in diameter and it packs a punch. It’s only 2.5 feet deep which makes it suitable for adults and children alike, and it has a good water capacity.The filter pump fits the needs of this powerful pool to a T. It comes equipped with a GFCI plug as well as a type D filter cartridge. This ensures the water in the pool remains clean.
The pool’s outer design is something to enjoy too. The wicker basket style means it fits right in your backyard.
- 12 foot in diameter.
- Solid and functional.
- Wicker basket design.
- No ladder included.
And we have another Bestway to complete this roundup of above-ground pools. The 12 foot round pool has a metal frame and is made from heavy duty PVC that adds durability to the sidewalls.
It’s easy to drain the pool with the flow control valve. Just hook your garden hose and dispose of the water wherever you like. Water capacity is 1,710 gallons which is decent for a pool this size.
Installation is made easier with a DVD manual and it comes with a repair patch kit that you will use along the way to patch holes and leaks.
- 1,710 gallon capacity.
- PVC repair patch kit.
- 12 feet in diameter.
- The pump is not adequate.
- Pool cover not included.
Things to Consider Before Buying
Naturally you’d want to buy the biggest pool that you can afford. But not so fast. There are other factors to consider when deciding on the right pool size for you. First and foremost, you have to think of the size of your yard.
Do you have enough space for a large pool? Your pool will be a great addition to your backyard, but it will also take up most of your precious real estate. Also, ask yourself if you really need a pool that big.
For a family of 3, you might have to settle for a medium-size pool. It’s easy to set up and maintain and will not burn a hole in your pocket. But if you plan to have pool parties and invite friends and family, then a large one will do.
As we’ll see in the section below about pool types, pools are made from different materials. But for your own sanity, you’d want one made of metal. It’s sturdy, doesn’t rust, and can handle all the rough treatment it gets from the swimmers.
If you don’t like to cough up a lot of money for a pool that you’ll only use during the summer months, then plastic should be a good option. Plastic pools are cheaper, lighter, and easy to install. However you won’t expect them to keep you entertained for many summers to come.
Inflatable pools are an option for someone on a budget. You fill them up with water, have your pool party, and maybe keep them for a few days longer. As expected, they’re quite fragile and if punctured they’ll flood your backyard.
When you consider the various shapes that pools come in you will feel grateful that you live in these times when being spoilt for choice is a thing. Pools are either round or rectangular. With each shape having a few advantages and drawbacks.
Round pools don’t take up much space and are easy to maintain. However, you won’t be able to swim laps or play water ball in them. If you care more about laps and water sports than you care about space, then a rectangular pool is the one.
You should look for a pool that comes with its own pump. It’s out of convenience. Because that means you can set up your pool and get to enjoy a swim the same day the package arrives. Otherwise you’ll need to go online and start looking for a pump.
Not only will that cost you more, but you don’t have a guarantee that the pump will fit this type of pool you bought. In general, look for a pool that comes with its full set of accessories. If you don’t, then you might as well dig up a hole in the backyard and fill it with water. Because that’s what a pool without a pump feels like.
Some people consider a filter just one of those accessories that one could do without. Well, that’s not true and a pool filter is a necessary part that you should make sure is included. The filter keeps the water clean and bug-free.
Since you’re not going to be draining the pool after you’ve had a swim only to fill it up again the next day, then a filter is your key. This is true for all types of pools, except maybe for portable ones. Those you will be emptying when done so a filter would be redundant.
While some pool packages come with the necessary equipment such as a pump and a filter, others go an extra step and throw in a ladder, a cover, and ground cloths. The more add-ons the package contains the better.
Ladders are important to climb in and out of the pool. How else will get to the pool? Especially if it’s a large one with a high frame? As for the cover, it’s to protect the water from debris, leaves, and other flying objects. You’ll have your pool water looking clear as crystal every time thanks to the pool cover.
The pool’s frame is what contains the water. It’s the body of the pool and it’s the most important part. A flimsy frame might not hold and a small kick to the frame might bring the whole pool down with the water and swimmers tumbling over each other.
So look for a metal frame that resists rust. Steel is the best option, although these pools are usually the most expensive. Also, maintenance-wise, they require a lot of work to keep the pool in good shape and the water inside pristine.
When it comes to pools and water, safety should be your number one priority. Especially when you have children who will be using the pool. As we all know, children will sacrifice anything for the sake of having a few hours of fun in the pool. This includes their own safety.
This is one advantage that above ground pools have over in-ground ones. The pools have barriers which means less risk for children to fall into the pool. And to ensure that your kids won’t get into the pool unsupervised, just remove the ladder.
Let’s face it, you’re buying an above ground pool instead of digging a pool in the backyard, because you’d want to take the pool with you when you move out of the place. In other words, you won’t be leaving behind money that you literally dumped into the ground.
Above ground pools are easy to transport and when you move to a new place, just fold the thing and stuff it in the trunk of your car. So look for a pool that is easy to install and dismantle and won’t give you a headache to move from one place to another.
We’ve all been there before. You have a pool and when you fill it with water, you just can’t wait to jump in. But a few months down the line, the water starts to smell and looks anything but inviting. What’s wrong? You forgot to clean the pool of course.
Or maybe you didn’t forget. It was just a real hassle. A good pool is one that’s easy to maintain and comes with a filter to keep the water clean. So make sure you’re up to the task before you invest in a large pool that is a maintenance nightmare.
Types of Above-Ground Pools
As we all know, above-ground pools come in different shapes and sizes. They also have different types. In fact there are 6 types of pools that you can choose from. These are:
- Semi-in-ground pools: if you’re looking for a sturdy pool that will live with you for years to come then the half-buried pools are your best option. Since they’re not totally above ground, they are easy to access and much safer than other types.
- Hybrid pools: pools that are made from both steel and resin are called hybrid pools. They don’t rust and the steel part gives them durability while the resin resists water and the effects of chemicals. Hybrid pools are cheaper than the semi-in-ground ones although they have the same strength.
- Steel: for the best quality and durability, you should choose a steel pool. However, since steel has different varieties, it’s up to you to get the best material which might require you to pay a steep price for it. But it’s a good investment overall since steel doesn’t rust nor does it dent.
- Resin: resin pools are considerably cheaper than steel although they lose some of the strength that steel pools are famous for. Cold weather causes these pools to crack so you might want to pack your pool when winter comes.
- Aluminum: the advantage that these types of pools have is they can handle saltwater better than steel or resin. They don’t cost much and can last for years.
- Inflatable: Because they’re cheap and easy to install, many people prefer these types. However, they’re made from vinyl which is not very sturdy and the best you can hope to get out of them is a few weeks of water fun.
There is more information you need to know about backyard above ground pools.
After this whirlwind tour of the best above-ground pools for your backyard, it’s time to declare the name of the best of the best. And if you have been following so far you’ll know which one we’ve been raving about. It’s the Intex 15ft X 48in Metal Frame Pool Set with Filter Pump, Ladder, Ground Cloth & Pool Cover. And why did we like it? For more reasons than we can squeeze in a small place like this.
We liked the super-tough sidewalls, the sturdy frame, the reliable filter pump, and the dual suction outlet fittings. This is one durable pool that will keep your summer fun and happy for many years to come.
It has plenty of accessories and the Krystal clear cartridge filter pump that gives you 1,000 gph is what you need for a pool with 4,400 gallons water capacity. All in all, a great investment for your money.
Mike Zhang. Founder of FamilyLifeShare