12 Above-Ground Swimming Pool Designs

above-ground pool

The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Since their inception, above-ground pools have been a popular alternative to in-ground residential swimming pools. They're less expensive, simple to install, and easy to disassemble and move. Doughboy Recreational and Haugh's Products made the early above-ground pools. And by the 1960s, the pools had become larger and deeper with similar equipment to in-ground models, such as filter systems.

In recent years, above-ground pools have drastically changed in appearance and features. Some are equipped with fiberoptic and LED lighting, top-notch circulation systems, decking, and spa-like extras. Take a look at a variety of above-ground pool designs from the mid-20th century through the modern era, the latter of which do great impersonations of in-ground models.

  • 01 of 12

    Vintage Above-Ground Pool

    vintage Doughboy pool

    A vintage black-and-white photo from Doughboy shows the life of leisure that surely awaited the average consumer once they bought a round above-ground pool, complete with a pool deck (or perch). With sides made of aluminum or steel, these pools were sturdy enough to hold gallons of water, not to mention the multitude of people who wanted to come over for a swim.

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    Modern Round Pool

    round Doughboy pool

    When above-ground swimming pools became popular during the 1950s and 1960s, the most common shape available was the classic round. It remains popular today but has been updated with decking, fencing, stairs, and safety gates. Doughboy, the manufacturer of this pool, has started making in-ground swimming pools in addition to above-ground models. But technically Doughboy in-grounds are above-ground pools that can be sunk into the ground up to a depth of 7 feet. It's all part of what the company calls its "Doughboy Buried Pool Program."

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    Stock Tank Pool

    Vintage swimming pool in the pasture
    kievith / Getty Images

    Stock tank pools are a no-frills alternative to standard above-ground and in-ground models. Originally made to provide water for livestock, these inexpensive galvanized steel pools also serve as a way for people to take a dip. Owners even take a DIY approach to them, adding decking, filters, and other traditional pool elements.

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    Decked-Out Pool

    above-ground pool with decking

     San Antonio Above Ground Pool & Spa Company

    The Above Ground Pool & Spa Company in San Antonio, Texas, has won awards for its innovative above-ground pool designs. Here, in a hilly section of San Antonio, an above-ground pool is connected to the house above it via a custom-built wood deck. The deck is comfortable on swimmers' feet and provides an anti-slip surface when things get wet as swimmers enter and exit the pool. The surface surrounding a pool is always an important consideration when choosing paving or decking materials.

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    Rectangular Above-Ground Pool

    rectangular above-ground pool

    @manolo_andre / Instagram

    If you have do-it-yourself skills, try making a wood surround for a rectangular-shaped above-ground pool. That's what Manolo Andre did with this Bestway model. The straight lines make the project somewhat simpler than if you were to try to create a frame for a curved pool.

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    Raised Deck Makeover

    above-ground pool with a deck

    @vaughnhillhome / Instagram

    Design blogger Carol Beckman and her family built a raised deck surround for their above-ground pool. They enclosed it with fencing and an arbor-covered gate for safety and added design flair. During the swim season, the area is decorated with string lights, fun floats, and container plants.

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    Multilevel Deck Surround

    above-ground pool with decking
    San Antonio Above Ground Pool & Spa Company

    How do you incorporate a flagstone patio with a new above-ground swimming pool? While beautiful and durable, walking on flagstone pavers in bare feet isn't exactly a pleasant experience. These deck builders came up with a smart solution that eases the transition from flagstones to pool: a multilevel deck that creates a surround for the pool, giving it the appearance of an in-ground model. The wood decking is much kinder on swimmers' bare feet and is more anti-slip than flagstones are. The deck levels also serve as low, wide steps leading up to the pool deck and can be used as casual seating or a place to dry off after swimming.

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  • 08 of 12

    Backyard Haven

    Doughboy pool with deck

    This Doughboy pool is separate from the house, off in a corner of the property, making it more of a private swimming and sunning retreat. Surrounding the pool and deck are a matching fence and gate. This feature adds safety to the backyard haven, making it difficult for young children to access the pool.

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    Decking Connection

    above-ground pool with decking
    San Antonio Above Ground Pool & Spa Company

    Here's another example from the San Antonio Above Ground Pool & Spa Company of an above-ground pool that doesn't necessarily look like it's above ground level. That's because it features wood decking that's flush with the top of the pool. The effect is like a sunken bathtub or the look of an in-ground, custom-built swimming pool.

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    I Can't Believe It's Not In-Ground

    above-ground pool with deck
    San Antonio Above Ground Pool & Spa Company

    From this vantage point, it's hard to tell this oval swimming pool from the San Antonio Above Ground Pool & Spa Company is an above-ground pool. At least, it started as an above-ground pool. Sunken into a raised deck surround, the pool has all of the conveniences and accessibility associated with an in-ground design. With the outdoor patio dining set, umbrella, and trees, the entire pool deck has a look of permanence. The main differences between an in-ground and above-ground pool in this setting: the cost and materials.

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    Enclosed Above-Ground Pool

    above-ground pool
    San Antonio Above Ground Pool & Spa Company

    Built on a platform with a surrounding deck and fence, this pool area from the San Antonio Above Ground Pool & Spa Company becomes a private paradise. Swimmers and sunbathers can hang out at this backyard spot for hours, with space to lounge in and out of the pool as they please. The high walls provide a little added seclusion, which is something most residential pool owners desire. And the oval sunken above-ground pool has a look of permanence.

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    Retractable Pool Cover

    above-ground pool
    San Antonio Above Ground Pool & Spa Company

    The addition of a pool cover makes it easier to maintain your pool. The cover protects the pool from dirt, mildew, and algae growth. It prevents heat loss and evaporation. And it keeps children from accidentally falling into the pool. Retractable pool covers are available in automatic and semi-automatic styles, both of which can be operated by remote control. They are usually made of water-resistant materials, such as mesh, nylon, and various forms of plastic, corrugated fiberglass, and foam.