The 8 Best Above-Ground Pools for Hours of Backyard Fun

Our favorite above-ground pool is the Intex Ultra Frame Pool Set

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Intex Ultra XTR

The Spruce / Kelly Hodgkins

As you get ready for summer fun, adding an above-ground pool–easier to keep clean and less expensive than their in-ground counterparts–can be a great way to maximize your time outside during the hot months. We researched dozens of options, evaluating them for ease of assembly, durability, and value.

Our top pick, the Intex Ultra Frame Pool Set, is available in multiple sizes, is easy to set up, and comes with an effective filter.

Here are the best above-ground pools to get your yard ready for celebrating all summer.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Intex Ultra Frame Rectangular Pool Set

4.6
Ultra XTR Rectangular Above Ground Frame Swimming Pool Set

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Large size

  • Easy to set up

  • Effective filter

What We Don't Like
  • Requires site preparation

  • Best on firm ground

  • No pump outlet hose

Who else recommends it? Good Housekeeping and Forbes both picked the Intex Ultra Frame Pool Set.

What do buyers say? 87% of 4,000+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

A best-seller of all above-ground pools on the market, the Intex Ultra Frame Pool Set comes with everything that you need to set it up and start splashing. It comes in three size options that allow swimmers to find a pool that will work for their backyard space. It is rectangular and quite large, big enough to let multiple kids splash and play while their parents lounge in the pool as well. After setting it up in their own yard, our tester used it with four adults comfortably and six kids playing Marco Polo.

Installing the Intex Ultra Frame Pool Set doesn’t take professional skill or equipment but requires site preparation: a level space, clear of vegetation, protruding sticks, and rocks, with compacted soil that can support 8,403 gallons of water when the pool is filled. It takes two or three people one to two hours to set up. 

Our tester also liked the easy-locking powder-coated steel frame, which held up to an entire summer of use without much wear, and could be quickly stored at the end of pool season. An effective pool filter and included ladder added to our tester’s thumb’s up for Best Overall pick.

Dimensions: 288 x 144 x 52 inches︱Shape: Rectangle︱Water Capacity: 8,403 gallons︱Frame: Steel︱Set-Up Time: 1-2 hours (after site preparation)

What Testers Say

"The puncture-resistant three-ply pool liner feels rugged. We had zero leaks throughout the summer. The kids regularly bumped into and kicked the sides when they were playing with no effect. We even accidentally hit the side of the pool with a shovel, and there wasn't even a scuff."—Kelly Hodgkins, Product Tester

Intex Ultra XTR

The Spruce / Kelly Hodgkins

Best Budget: Bestway Steel Pro Above Ground Round Frame Pool Set

Bestway 56680 Steel Pro

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Easy set up

  • Durable liner

What We Don't Like
  • PVC frame

  • Lacks pump and filter

  • Lacks cover

The Bestway Steel Pro above-ground pool comes in multiple sizes, offering something for every backyard and budget. One of the easier options to set up, you simply unfold it, set up the PVC frame, and three-ply. tear-resistant liner, and fill the pool.

This pool includes no pump or filter, so expect to do a bit more cleaning to keep the water clear. (Purchasing a pool cover can be another great way to keep debris out of the pool.) Given its affordable price, it is still cheaper to purchase additional accessories separately than splurge on a pricier pool.

Dimensions: 144 x 30 inches︱Shape: Round︱Water Capacity: 1,710 gallons︱Frame: PVC︱Set-Up Time: 1 hour

Best with Steel Frame: Intex Ultra XTR Pool Set with Sand Filter Pump

Intex Ultra XTR Pool Set with Sand Filter Pump

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Powder-coated steel frame

  • Frame blends into pool look

  • Easy to connect and take down

What We Don't Like
  • Higher price

  • Requires several  people to set up

Similar to our top pick, this round pool from Intex has a durable steel frame and puncture-resistant three-ply pool wall. The powder-coated steel support beams, which connect via sturdy, durable T-joints, resist rust and blend into the pool’s contemporary gray outer color. When it’s time to disconnect the pool at season’s end (best done by at least two people), simply press a button at the joint to remove the frame pieces.

The pool includes extras you would expect at this price point; sand filter pump, ground cloth, removable ladder, and pool cover. The ladder is particularly important, helping keep kids from accessing the pool without supervision.

Dimensions: 216 x 52 inches︱Shape: Round︱Water Capacity: 6,981 gallons︱Frame: Steel︱Set-Up Time: 1 hour

Best for Kids: H2OGO! Underwater Oasis Spray Pool

Underwater Oasis Spray Pool

Courtesy of Costco

What We Like
  • Easy to set up

  • Fun interactive features

  • Repair patch included

What We Don't Like
  • Requires an air pump and hose

  • Not very durable

  • No exterior frame

This fun pool, designed for children but too small for adults,  keeps your kids laughing and splashing all summer!. It is easy to set up using an air pump (not included). We recommend setting up a small tarp or ground cover under the pool to keep sharp items from puncturing it or bothering your swimmers. Other than that, setup is as simple as filling the pool.

The H2OGO! Pool has a delightful kid-appropriate spray dolphin (connect a garden hose). The kid-friendly illustrations, colors, features, and size all make the H2OGO!  perfect for younger swimmers. 

This pool may not last for more than one season. Fortunately, it comes with one repair patch, increasing its longevity.

Dimensions: 96 x 26 inches︱Shape: Round︱Water Capacity: 555 gallons︱Frame: Plastic︱Set-Up Time: 30 minutes

Best Inflatable: Summer Waves Quick Set Inflatable Above Ground Pool with Filter Pump

Summer Waves Quick Set Above Ground Swimming Pool

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Good size for an inflatable pool

  • Easy to set up

  • Budget-friendly

  • Extras included

What We Don't Like
  • Air pump needed

  • Lacks ground tarp and cover

For something easy to set up that is big enough for adults to use, try the Summer Waves Inflatable Above Ground Pool with Filter Pump. It has a 10-foot diameter and is big enough for the entire family to enjoy. One of the best parts of this pool other than its affordable price is how easy and quickly you can start swimming. Just inflate the pool with an air pump, sold separately. Within just a few minutes, you can start filling the pool.

It does include some great extras that will make maintaining the pool easier.: a filter pump, chlorinator, and filter cartridge are all included. Consider purchasing a ground tarp to go under the pool and a cover to go over the pool. This helps keep the pool in great shape and reduces the overall time you spend getting rid of debris. At the end of pool season, simply drain the pool, clean it, and fold it (dry) for storage.

Dimensions: 96 x 30 inches︱Shape: Round︱Water Capacity: 608 gallons︱Frame: PVC︱Set-Up Time: 30 minutes

Best Splurge: Palisades Above-Ground Hard-Sided Pool Package

Palisades Above Ground Hard-Sided Pool Package

Home Depot

What We Like
  • Durable hard sides

  • Stylish design

  • Numerous Extras included

  • Large size

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Requires site preparation

  • Difficult to set up

A bit more expensive than our other selections, the Palisades Above Ground Hard-Sided Pool nevertheless is one of the largest, fitting up to 12 adults. We found it’s also one of the sturdiest, with sides made of hard resin, with weather-resistant steel top rails, uprights, and bottom rails. Palisades took some extra design steps with this pool. The sides have a stylish design to help transport you to a swimming oasis.

Setup is more complicated than other options. You need an ample level space, and you or a professional may need to compact the soil. Setup requires at least two people; even experienced DIYers recommended hiring a professional. However, the kit includes plenty of extras: a blue pool liner, wide mouth skimmer and return, pool light, sand filter, and 1 HP pump, sturdy ladder, and maintenance kit.

Dimensions: 288 inches x 52 inches︱Shape: Round︱Water Capacity: 13,595 gallons︱Frame: Steel︱Set-Up Time: 2-3 hours (after site preparation)

Best Saltwater: Intex Ultra XTR Rectangular Pool Set with Sand Filter Pump & Saltwater System

Ultra XTR Rectangular Pool Set with Sand Filter Pump & Saltwater System

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Easy to maintain

  • Doesn't use harsh chemicals

  • Durable materials

  • Has a volleyball set

What We Don't Like
  • Need to purchase salt separately

  • Only available in two sizes

Saltwater pools are easier to maintain than freshwater pools and require no chemicals that may be too harsh for some swimmers. (You need to add your own salt, but Intex’s helpful instructions tell you just how much, and how to maintain a saltwater pool.) We also recommend  Intex above-ground pools for their quality construction, durability, and great features, and the  Ultra XTR Pool Set with Pump and Saltwater System is another great option for this top-performing above-ground pool manufacturer. 

This pool has all the other great features you expect from Intex: a weather-resistant steel frame, a three-ply pool liner, and a reliable pump and filter. A  saltwater system comes as an add-on to two of Intex’s most popular above-ground pool sizes, both rectangular. It also comes with a two-year warranty and a water volleyball set that is made to work with the Intex pool.

Dimensions: 384 x 192 x 52 inches︱Shape: Rectangle︱Water Capacity: 14,364 gallons︱Frame: Steel︱Set-Up Time: 1-2 hours (after site preparation)

Best with Pump and Filter: Summer Waves Elite Above Ground Swimming Pool with Filter Pump

Summer Waves Elite Above Ground Swimming Pool with Filter Pump

Amazon

What We Like
  • A lot of extra maintenance accessories

  • Pump works with a variety of filter types

  • Great size for price

  • Exterior pattern

What We Don't Like
  • Only one pattern available

This pool is quite large and is great for neighborhood summer get-togethers. The pump and filter on the Summer Waves Elite above-ground pool works efficiently and is compatible with a lot of upgrades. The pump works with an included standard filter, a sand filter, or a saltwater system filter. The pool also comes with a skimmer, pool vacuum attachment, and cover, which help keep out debris and dirt.

The kit includes a sturdy ladder, as well as a ground cover that reduces the potential for punctures. The exterior has a basket-weave print, but it’s unavailable in any other color or pattern.

Dimensions: 240 x 48 inches︱Shape: Round︱Water Capacity: 8,241 gallons︱Frame: Steel︱Set-Up Time: 1 hour

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the Intex Ultra Frame Pool Set. It is one of the more expensive models but should last for years with proper use and storage. It is also big enough to host epic summer pool parties without requiring permanent installation. For a more budget-friendly option, consider the round Bestway Steel Pro Above Ground Backyard Frame Pool. It is also sizable, and has a durable steel frame.

Intex 12ft x 30in Metal Frame Set Swimming Pool

The Spruce / Angelica Leicht

What to Look for in an Above-Ground Pool

Size

When buying an above-ground pool, one of the most important considerations is size. You need to make sure it not only fits in your yard but also encompasses a few feet of space on all sides. We recommend accurately and carefully measuring your outdoor area a couple of times before buying. Though models vary, rectangular and oval pools tend to be the largest, with water capacities of up to 20,000 gallons. If you're short on square footage, a smaller, round pool might be your best bet.

Type

Typically, standard pools have steel walls or steel-frame-supporting, tear-resistant PVC walls. Inflatable options usually are made of the same PVC material, without steel frames. Inflatable pools tend to be the most portable and affordable. You also can get a saltwater-ready pool. This type of above-ground pool comes with a saltwater system (also known as a salt chlorinator) for achieving the correct salinity, though you need to add your own salt.

Features

Many above-ground pools come in kits, which include all the necessary components for setting up, using, and maintaining your pool. Often, kits include a filter pump, a pool liner, a ground cloth, and a debris cover. Some larger pools also come with slip-resistant ladders. Additionally, you can find above-ground pools with dual-suction outlets, for easier cleaning. Others contain built-in chemical dispensers, eliminating the need for free-floating cleaners.

Intex Ultra Frame Pool Set

The Spruce / Kelly Hodgkins

FAQ
  • How do you install an above-ground pool?

    Installing an above-ground pool depends on the type. However, you can follow a general process when setting up standard pools, with PVC walls and steel frames. After clearing an area and making sure the ground is level (and compacted, if installing a large pool), start by laying down the ground cloth and placing the bottom plate on top.

    Next, connect the metal rails to the bottom plate and around the perimeter. Then, connect the vertical side rails to the bottom portion of the frame. Be sure to read the directions carefully, as different metal rods can appear similar but don't line up or connect properly if you use the wrong ones.

    After that, install the lining onto the bottom plate and up the walls. When finished, your pool should have a balanced shape, and the walls should be the same height.

  • How do you clean an above-ground pool?

    Generally, you clean above-ground pools using the same tools and methods as in-ground pools. You can use a pool skimmer, which draws water from the pool's surface and sucks it through the filter. Another option is a pool hose, which attaches to your filter or pool vacuum and sucks out debris. You also can employ a pool net to manually fish out leaves, bugs, dirt, and other debris.

  • How do you drain an above-ground pool?

    Start by unrolling the pump's intake hose, reaching it as close as possible to the center of your pool. Then, point the female end toward an area that drains  the water away from the pool without flooding your property. Next, plug the pump into a nearby electrical outlet and turn it on. Allow the pump to run until your pool is completely empty (might take several hours). Turn off the pump and you should be all set.

Why Trust The Spruce

This article was researched and written by Katie Begley, a freelance writer specializing in home and family products. Katie has been writing for The Spruce since 2019. An avid swimmer, Katie has spent every summer swimming laps as part of her swim team growing up and now splashes in the pool with her own children. For this article, she looked for pools that were easy for homeowners to set up and maintain that also provided enough space to enjoy pool games.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Best Above Ground Pools Of April 2022. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/home-improvement/best-above-ground-pools/

  2. The Top 8 Above-Ground Swimming Pools for Cooling Off This Summer. Good Housekeeping. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home-products/g36386221/top-above-ground-swimming-pools