Complete Guide to Above Ground Pools

Guide to Above-Ground Pools

Congratulations on your decision to purchase a new above ground pool! Get ready for endless amounts of fun for you, your family and your friends! This article explains how to purchase an above ground pool and what to expect as a happy pool owner.

1. Planning

Where will you put your new swimming pool?

So now, the big question: Where will you put your pool? Do you have the perfect area in your backyard or side yard? Where do you get the most sunshine? We recommend placing the pool in an area that has fencing or shrubs, if possible (but not a must). This will not only stop debris from entering the water, but help block wind and deter water evaporation.

Don’t forget to check your local city zoning regulations. Do you have an HOA? You may also want to check with them before scheduling time with a local pool builder.

Do you plan to add a deck or fencing in the future? Keep this in mind when selecting the location for your above ground pool.

2. Choose a Size and Shape

Do you prefer a Round or Oval Above Ground Pool?

Round pools are typically easier to install and are a little cheaper than oval pools. Oval pools, on the other hand, will help maximize the available space in your yard. This makes it possible to swim laps, set up a pool volleyball net or other fun activities. Also, think ahead when choosing a pool shape: Will you eventually add on a deck? This will also take up space, so plan accordingly.

Okay, now let’s find the best Pool Size for your backyard.

Above Ground Pools typically range in size from 15’ Round all the way to 18’ x 33’ Oval sizes. This size will also determine the volume of water in your pool, the amount of chemicals needed to maintain your pool, and what size equipment needed to circulate and filter the water. You can easily compare your preferred size and shape by using the dropdown menus on our Above Ground Pool page.

General Pool Sizing:

12 Ft X 20 Ft = Small Pool 5-15,000 Gallons

16 Ft X 32 Ft = Medium Pool 15-30,000 Gallons

20 Ft X 40 Ft = Large Pool 30,000+ Gallons

Based on 52″ wall height pools and a flat bottom, the ACTUAL average approximate water depth is about 44″. This is the true fill, not the capacity, of the water.

Size and shape combined will give you total volume of water in your pool. This number helps pool owners know the correct amount of chemicals to add to a pool. 

Pool Volume Chart

Above Ground

48″ Wall Height

Pool SizeGallons
15′ Round5,300
18′ Round7,600
20′ Round9,400
24′ Round13,600
27′ Round17,200
28′ Round18,500
11×25 Oval6,500
11×30 Oval7,800
15×25 Oval8,900
15×30 Oval10,600
18×33 Oval14,000
18×38 Oval16,100
Above Ground

52″ Wall Height

Pool SizeGallons
15′ Round5,800
18′ Round8,300
20′ Round10,200
24′ Round15,300
27′ Round18,600
28′ Round20,000
11×25 Oval7,000
11×30 Oval8,400
15×25 Oval9,600
15×30 Oval11,500
18×33 Oval15,200
18×38 Oval17,5000

For more info on how to calculate Pool Volume, check out our easy guide HERE.

3. What are the different materials for above ground pools?

Steel 

Steel is the standard material for most above ground pools. All-steel pools are typically used for chlorine sanitation, compared to salt water (aka chlorine generator), which can be more corrosive to steel components.

Hybrid of Steel & Resin / Salt Water Friendly

Usually a mix of resin components and steel pool walls. These pools have a higher price tag, but give pool owners the option to upgrade to a salt water system in the future. Check out our Salt Friendly Pools HERE!

4. Installation – Who is going to build your pool?

DIY 

Though they are not very complicated to construct, you will want to do some research on how to grade and level the proposed pool area. We recommend checking out our blog and video on How to Install an Above Ground Pool. You can use our Pool Customizer to build your dream pool, or choose one of our industry-leading Above Ground Pool Packages that include everything you need to get started!

Hire A Local Pool Builder

Talk to your local pool builder and coordinate the best time to order your pool online. You may want to discuss the pros and cons to other options, like: pool shape, pool material and pool equipment.

What To Expect

When ordering from PoolSupplyWorld, you will have the 3 options for your pool package: Base, Premium or Custom. The Base models include everything you need to get your pool up and running. The Premium models include an upgraded pool liner, pool liner pad and coving strips. Custom models allow you to select all the upgrades (like a cleaner, pool light and a cover) and additional products to create your dream pool and backyard area!

5. What are the components of an Above Ground Pool?

Pool Walls 

Typically made of steel, pool walls are built to last for years. They come with unique designs on the outside, depending on the model you choose. The standard height of Above Ground Pool Walls are 48″, 52″ and 54″.

Coping / Top Rails

The Top Rails are what seal your pool liner to sit snug against the pool wall. We recommend shopping for a pool with top rails that look comfortable to you. Some Top Rails are constructed of resin material, instead of steel, for those that may plan to convert there pool to salt water.

Pump & Pool Filter

Your pool pump and filter are most-likely connected as one unit. These above ground pool filter systems circulate the water to avoid stagnant water or algae-blooms. Circulation also distributes pool chemicals for an even spread across the entire pool. The pool pump pushes water through your pool, while the pool filter removes dirt and debris before returning the water to your pool. A clean pool is a happy pool!

Wall Skimmer

The Wall Skimmer pulls water into the filtration system, when the pump and filter are running. Wall Skimmers typically have a removable skimmer basket, which helps remove big debris before entering the filtration system.

Vinyl Liner

The three main types of above ground pool liners are: Overlap, Unibead and Beaded. Each type features a unique way of connecting the liner to your pool wall.

  • Overlap: Overlap Vinyl Liners are perhaps the most economical option for Above Ground Pool liners. They hang over the wall and attach by using simple coping strips to secure the liner in place.
  • Unibead: Unibead Vinyl Liners offer a clean look with added flexibility. The design allows pool owners to use an existing unibead set-up or replace an overlap liner. Owners with an overlap liner will use a J-Hook to attach the pool liner. Owners with a unibead set-up will need to remove the attached J-Hook and simply snap the liner into place. Unibead liners offer additional patterns and eliminate excess material from hanging over the side of the pool.
  • Beaded: Beaded Vinyl Liners are the easiest to replace by simply snapping the liner into the bead receiver. The precise fit offers a clean and consistent look with multiple colors and designs.
Liner Protection
We highly recommend investing in some Liner Protection, like Floor Padding, before installing your new pool. This will protect the liner from potential rocks, weeds and roots that may exist on the installation site. It will also create some added cushion for swimmers.
Cove Protection
Pool Cove Protection or Coving Strips are designed to keep your pool liner in peak condition. The coving strips create a nice, slope (typically a 45 degree angle) where the liner meets the floor. They are easy to install and help pool owners avoid the mess of using sand.
Pool Ladder
An Above Ground Pool Ladder is an important part as it provides safety and can update the overall look of your pool. Most Above Pool owners prefer to use an A-Frame Ladder, which allows entrance into the pool and exit from the pool. They typically include a flip-up section for safety against accidental entrance.
Some pool owners opt to add steps instead of a ladder. you can choose from the traditional 4-step unit with anti-entrapment feature, or a birthday cake-shape staircase that fits seamlessly against round pool walls.
Accessories
First and foremost, you will need to have a way to clean the pool on a regular basis. Manual pool vacuums are easy to use – just connect to the pool suction line in the wall skimmer or directly to the pool filtration system. Pool Vacuums are affordable, but more labor-intensive than other options. We highly recommend investing in an automatic pool cleaner that will do the work for you. Now, we’re not saying you can skip the removing any large debris from the bottom and brushing the walls & steps, but an automatic pool cleaner can save you hours on maintenance each week!
Other items include a Leaf Rake, Vinyl Bristle Brush, Telescopic Pole, Water Test Kit and Chlorine Tab Floater. Each of these items is fairly cheap and very necessary for weekly pool maintenance.
Pool Chemicals
How many chemicals do you need for an above ground pool? Where to begin? Just like an in-ground pool, you will want to keep your water balanced and fresh all year round. Unless you have a salt water system, you will expect to use chlorine tablets for sanitation. Pool Shock is also a must to quickly adjust the free chlorine level (think after a pool party). Here is our Easy Guide to Testing and Balancing Swimming Pool Water. Need a refill on 3″ Chlorine Tabs, Shock or Water Adjusters? Find everything you need HERE.
Pool Covers
Pool Covers aren’t mandatory for every pool, depending on where you live in the country. Winter Covers are great for pools located in areas that experience freezing weather. They also keep out precipitation and help avoid damage from freezing water. Solar Covers, on the other hand, are perfect for any pool, any location. Solar Covers help eliminate water evaporation, conserving heat. Find affordable solar covers and accessories HERE.

6. Opening & Closing An Above Ground Pool

Pool Closing / Winterizing 

For areas with freezing weather conditions: Closing your pool is essential to keep the water and equipment happy and healthy through a harsh winter. Winterizing the swimming pool helps protect it from freeze damage that occurs from the expansion of ice within your pool equipment. It also keeps your pool water clean and well balanced for the next season. Closing your swimming pool can save you a ton of time and work when it’s time to open in the spring.

Closing a pool typically requires winterizing chemicals, winter pool cover, water bags, air pillow and a cover pump. You can find all Pool Closing products HERE. Make sure to download our FREE Pool Closing Checklist HERE.

Pool Opening

Opening your pool before summer officially kicks off is a great way to get pumped and ready for those relaxing poolside days. We recommend that you open your pool early in the spring time as the weather is warm enough for you to enjoy your pool before official swimming season begins. Find all the Pool Opening Supplies on our Spring Opening page.

So, what does opening a pool in the spring entail?

  • Removing the Pool Cover
  • Bring your pool water to the appropriate level (typically to the middle of your wall skimmer)
  • If you winterized your pool, you’ll want to reconnect all of the pool equipment and plumbing. Don’t forget to remove all winterizing plugs before starting up your filtration system for the first time!
  • Run your pump and filter to circulate the water.
  • Vacuum and clean the pool.
  • Now, it’s time to test the water and make any adjustments necessary.
  • Enjoy!

7. Enjoy all the benefits of owning an above ground pool

Cannonball! 

You are officially an expert on all things Above Ground Pool. Order your favorite above ground pool or give us a call at 800-772-0467 to help you custom build the dream pool. And don’t stress – we’ll be here every step of the way. Let’s make this summer the most memorable to date! Looking for a metal frame pool? Check out our large selection HERE!

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Brian Champ
When Brian isn't writing pool-related articles, he enjoys anything that will take him outdoors: hiking, biking and trail running ...to name a few. Brian is excited to share his pool knowledge with helpful how-to guides, product reviews, comparisons, and more!