The 7 Best Above Ground Pools to Buy in 2018

Cool off with these top backyard picks

Swimming pool in the backyard
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Many people dream of the chance of owning their own pool someday. The ability to get outside when the weather is hot to cool off with friends and family is unique. Unfortunately, the average cost of an inground pool is simply too expensive for the typical family or homeowner and maintenance can be a never-ending task. That is why a good number of people turn to the next best thing: the above ground pool.

Even though they aren't as popular as they were decades ago, above ground pools still offer a great way to experience some wet fun in your backyard without digging a giant hole or requiring hefty insurance. Above ground pools come in many different sizes with circular and rectangular shapes being the most common layouts. Made of reinforced fabrics and meshes supported by steel frames, these pools are usually easy to set up and use in just an hour or two. As with any open water you'll need to be sure to always supervise children. And if you plan to leave this set up overnight you might want to consider a fence or secure cover so young children or pets can't get in. 

Here's a look at the top above ground pools you can buy today.


  • 01 of 07

    Best Overall Above Ground Pool: Intex Metal Frame Set

    In some ways, it can be extremely difficult to choose the right above ground pool for you and your home. Size, alone, is a big personal preference that varies from person to person. That is why this next pick, taking the top spot on this list, is a good middle-of-the-road option size wise that also provides everything you need to get it set up and going in a short amount of time.

    The Intex Metal Frame Set is meant to be a semipermanent installation that you can set up in less than an hour before using. The 15-feet diameter metal supports are large enough to host entire families or pool parties without anyone feeling crowded. The interior of the pool is also designed to promote water circulation, keeping the water cleaner and safer to swim in. It comes with an installation DVD for guidance.

  • 02 of 07

    Best Budget Above Ground Pool: Intex 12' x 30" Pool

    Many people become fearful when they hear the words "budget" and "above ground pool" in the same sentence. It can be easy to find a poor quality pool at a budget price if you are not careful. If you look for the right set of ingredients, however, like a solid steel frame and puncture resistant skin, you can save some money while getting that great wet experience outside.

    As a great budget option, the Intex 12' x 30" Pool actually provides more space and features than other comparable models. Ten feet in diameter, the size is just large enough for a few people to enjoy or play games. The outer liners are designed to be resistant to punctures and tears so they can survive rougher play without failing. Installation is quick and easy using the included DVD and manual.

  • 03 of 07

    Best Large Sized: Intex 24ft X 12ft X 52in Ultra Frame Rectangular Pool Set

    Sometimes, only the largest pool will do. If you want something that can almost rival the inground options, a large rectangular pool will be your best bet. Compared to circular pools, a large rectangle maximizes the amount of space you have to play and swim in while still being easy to install and maintain.

    If you have space and want something that feels more like a traditional inground pool, the Intex 24' Pool is the solution for you. Measuring 24' x 12' x 52"​ in depth, the rectangular profile maximizes the amount of space you have while swimming. In fact, short laps back-and-forth are possible with this option. The pool is supported with PVC sidewalls and steel frame supports for extra durability. You'll also get a pool ladder with this purchase and a debris cover to help you keep leaves and dirt out. 

  • 04 of 07

    Best Easy Set-Up: Intex 28111EH 8ft X 30in Easy Set Pool Set with Filter Pump

    While the care and maintenance of an above ground pool is much easier than their inground counterparts there is still some labor that is involved. If you plan to only break out your pool a few times a year you might want to look for an option that has an easy setup so you aren't spending your whole weekend getting it set up. 

    Another top model from Intex allows you to start filling it with water in about 10 minutes, then you just need to wait for it to fill with water and you are ready to go. It comes with a filter so you can ensure your pool stays clean and healthy for however long you leave it up. 

    Many customers say this does the job to keep small kids entertained and parents cool, though some note setting up the filter can be a pain. Thankfully, a DVD is included to help you figure it all out. 

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Best Premium Above Ground Pool: Summer Waves Pool

    Summer Waves Elite 9 ft. x 18 ft. Rectangular 52 in. Deep Metal Frame Swimming Above Ground Pool
    Courtesy of Home Depot

    The great thing about above ground pools is their average price tag. Compared to inground pools, which can cost thousands of dollars, a good above ground option will save you a lot of time and money. Still, there are the premium, cream-of-the-crop pools out there for you to consider if you want a few extra handy features and accessories to enjoy.

    This is a pool you could almost drop directly into a hole. Coming in a 9' x 18' rectangular shape, the Summer Waves Pool uses PVC-reinforced mesh that creates a solid barrier to contain the water during heavy use. Premium features you get for the price include a built-in pump system, a sturdy, reinforced frame, and included entrance and exit letter. Pool maintenance is easy with the included cartridge and skimmer basket. Assembly time takes about two hours with this model.

  • 06 of 07

    Best Child Above Ground Pool: Step 2 Shaded Pool

    Step 2 37.5 in. Round, 7 in. Deep, Above-Ground, Play and Shade Pool with 40 in. Umbrella
    Courtesy of Home Depot

    Don't let the children miss out on the experience of having their own above ground pool to use and enjoy. Compared to the adult-size versions, a good kiddie pool takes mere minutes to set up and use. This top children’s pool choice also comes with a little bit of extra shade to protect your children from the harsh sun.

    The Step 2 Shaded Pool is almost like a wet playpen for your children to enjoy some time outside under the protection of a sunshade. Made of durable molded plastic, the pool comes with two built-in seats and a ​40-inch umbrella. The bottom of the pool features a traction padding to keep your child from slipping while he or she is moving around. In total, the pool holds up to about 12 gallons of water.​​

  • 07 of 07

    Best Inflatable: Intex Swim Center Family Inflatable Pool

    When the temperatures rise its time to get outside and nothing feels better than a nice dip in the pool. While an above ground pool is smart to have if you plan to use your pool often an inflatable pool is another solid option for an occasional cool off. You'll just need to pump (pump not included) in some air, fill with water and sit back and relax. 

    This pool measures 120" X 72" X 22" so it's not large at all but it will get the job done by bringing your internal temperature. It doesn't have a filter so it is not recommended to leave it sitting out for a few days.

    Break it out at a family barbecue or for an after dinner swim. When this is deflated it takes up such little space, so you'll be happy you always have an impromptu pool on hand.