The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (2024)

The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (1)

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When the temperatures rise and driving to a lake or beach is not ideal (that summertime traffic can be a pain), going outside can feel unbearable. If your kids want to play mermaids — or you, we won’t judge — and you're not interested in coughing up a college tuition to install a swimming pool, an above-ground pool can make for the perfect addition to your backyard. Our experts found some surprisingly affordable options, including a few under $500.

Our analysts and home-improvement experts in the Good Housekeeping Institute test all sorts of essentials for outdoor spaces, from inflatable pools and fire pits to lawn mowers and backyard hammocks. We relied on our experience testing hundreds of products in our Home Improvement and Outdoor Lab and researched everything from the ordering process, delivery, ease of assembly, durability, quality of the materials, size and price to find the best above-ground pools for your backyard. We considered top-performing brands and similar models from previous tests, our personal favorites and popular picks that have positive online consumer reviews.

The best above-ground pool that you can buy online is different for every individual, so we've included permanent above-ground pools, kiddie pools, inflatable pools as well as small and large options. While most of these are designed for use with chlorine, you can always add a saltwater system.

Our top picks:

1

Best Overall

Intex Ultra XTR

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Pros
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (3)Large size
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (4)Size suitable for swimming laps
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (5)Includes extras, like a ladder, pump and cover
Cons
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (6)Requires site preparation
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (7)Pricey

If you want an above-ground pool that you can leave up year-round and use summer after summer, invest in this pool that features a steel frame that Intex says is sturdy and resistant to rust.

Our pros like that it comes with everything you need to get the pool party started, including a convenient ladder for getting in and out, a cover for when not in use and a filtration and sanitation system.

According to directions and instructional videos online, setting up this pool requires some site prep. You'll need to ensure that the ground is fully level, especially where the legs of the pool will be. This will involve removing any rocks or bumps in the ground, flattening the dirt and using a laser level (anything more than an inch off can mess up the pool). "The pool is a lot of work to set up and maintain, but the benefit of having a very large pool will pay off," one customer said.

Though you can expect the set-up to eat up some of your time, consumers online highlight the pool's large size, water depth and strong construction. The rectangular shape and the 45-inch water depth make this pool suitable for swimming laps and playing volleyball, considering the depth allows adults to stand or swim. Plus, there's a saltwater version, which isn't as common of a feature in above-ground swimming pools.

Dimensions: 24' x 12' x 52" | Water depth: 45" | Water capacity: 8,403 gal | Materials: 3-ply PVC (plastic), steel frame | Shape: Rectangular | Filter pump: Yes

2

Best Value

Intex Rectangular Frame Above Ground Swimming Pool

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Pros
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (9)Great price
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (10)Easy assembly, according to reviewers
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (11)Good for small yards
Cons
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (12)Doesn't include accessories
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (13)Water depth could be deeper for swimming

Looking for a pool that doesn't break the bank? This pick is one of the most affordable you'll find. At 8.5 x 5.3 feet, it's on the smaller side, so it's an ideal size for those have less yard space. But there's still plenty of room to relax and cool off and for kids to play, albeit the shallow water depth is not very deep for swimming.

Most online reviewers were impressed with the pool's quality and found the set-up to be fairly straightforward. While it's marked at an unbeatable price, you'll have to buy a filter pump separately to keep it clean (and a ladder, unless you're willing to sacrifice that accessory). You can buy the Intex Filter Pump System for $66, Clorox Pool Shock and chlorine tablets in a floating dispenser to keep it clean — even with all that, the price of this pool is still hard to beat. Just be sure to drain the water with the flow control valve at the end of the summer.

Dimensions: 8.5' x 5.3' x 26" | Water depth: 22" | Water capacity: 439 gal | Materials: PVC (plastic), steel frame | Shape: Rectangular | Filter pump: No

3

Best Inflatable

Intex Easy Set

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If you're looking for a temporary above-ground pool that's easy to assemble, according to online reviewers, this is it. While it's smaller and not quite as sturdy as our best overall pick, it's also the deepest pool on our list — great for splashing around in with friends and family when the weather gets hot.

In terms of inflatable pools, this one tops the list for quality and durability. Our pros like that it includes a pump for filtration, a ladder and two covers to protect both the top and bottom of the pool. Just keep in mind that you'll need an air pump to inflate the pool, and it's best to store it during the winter if you live in an area where temperatures dip below 32° F.

Over 7,000 online customers rated this pool five stars, with one who wrote, "It was a good deal on Amazon and it was worth every penny. The time I spent with my son and husband in it over the summer was priceless."

Dimensions: 15' x 48" | Water depth: 48" | Water capacity: 3,736 gal | Materials: PVC (plastic) | Shape: Round | Filter pump: Yes

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4

Best for Kids

Bestway Above Ground Kids Round Swimming Pool

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Pros
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (20)Great for children and adults
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (21)Includes canopy and built-in water mister
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (22)Cute, playful design
Cons
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (23)Doesn't include cover or pump
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (24)Low water depth

When you need a break from the sun's scorching rays, this above-ground pool with an attached canopy is extremely useful. The size is big enough for kids of all ages and even adults (they'll just have to squat a bit!). Take note that the water depth is low compared with other above-ground pools, making it ideal for young children and less ideal for pool floats. Kids will like the cute, playful design too.

Our pros like that there's an included water mister that you can attach to a garden hose for extra cooling, but some online reviewers mention that it can be finicky. Other online consumers, however, approve of how easy it is to assemble and that it's possible to add on a filter pump (which isn't included). The steel frame and durable liner will help keep this pool in good condition, but it's best to store it for the winter.

Dimensions: 8' x 20" | Water depth: Under 20" | Water capacity: 446 gal | Materials: 3-ply PVC (plastic), steel frame | Shape: Round | Filter pump: No

Pros
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (26)Large size is suitable for swimming laps
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (27)Around 4 feet of water depth
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (28)Sturdy construction
Cons
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (29)Pricey

Thanks to its 32-foot length, this above-ground pool is large enough for swimming laps or challenging friends to a race. You'll also get about four feet of depth, so cooling down on hot summer days won't be an issue.

Our pros love that accessories are included, from a ladder to a filtration system to a cover to keep bugs out. Though you can expect installation to be a two-person job, online reviewers found this pool to be sturdy and of wonderful value despite the higher price tag.

The dual suction outlet fittings will keep your water clean and clear by improving water circulation, which impressed online customers. "Our water (from a well) looked pretty yellow when we initially filled the pool. I was unsure that the filter could clear all that up, but after the initial clean cycle the water has been crystal clear," one reviewer wrote.

Dimensions: 32' x 16' x 52" | Water depth: 45" | Water capacity: 14,364 gals | Materials: Plastic, steel frame | Shape: Rectangular | Filter pump: Yes

6

Best Steel Frame

Bestway Steel Pro MAX

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Pros
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (31)Constructed with steel frame
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (32)Affordable price
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (33)Ideal medium size
Cons
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (34)Might require a more powerful pump

This medium-size above-ground pool is held up by a steel frame, which should be more durable and sturdier than heavy-gauge plastic, according to our pros. Online reviewers like its solid construction and competitive price. One online customer who purchased the pool three years ago said, "it is still going strong" and "the dogs have jumped on the sides because they want in and it hasn't punctured."

A filter pump to clean the water is included, along with a liner, ladder and more. Some reviewers do point out, though, that it might require a more powerful pump to successfully clean the entire water volume.

Dimensions: 14' x 33" | Water depth: Under 33" | Water capacity: 2,700 gals | Materials: Plastic, steel frame | Shape: Round | Filter pump: Yes

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7

Best for Young Kids

Intex Rainbow Ring Inflatable Play Center

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Pros
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (36)A lot of fun features for kids
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (37)Affordable
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (38)Easy to assemble
Cons
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (39)Small size
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (40)Not ideal for adult use

Children will love this inflatable kiddie pool that's practically a mini water park. Online reviewers say their kids had a blast using it, thanks to all its fun features. In addition to going down the waterslide, small kids can play ring toss or a ball-roller game with several inflatable balls and rings.

Our pros like that there's a rainbow-shaped water sprayer to keep everyone cool and entertained. It's a great choice for toddler birthday parties at a price that's hard to beat. One customer's 3-year-old loved "sliding down and climbing back up" the slide and playing with the blow-up ring toss circles that come with the pool.

It's inflatable, so it may not be the sturdiest option out there. One customer said, "the little rainbow part with the sprinkler kept leaning over, but that made no real difference." The small size limits how many kids can use it at a time, and it's also not large enough for adults.

Dimensions: 9'9" x 6'4" x 4'5" | Water depth: 5.5" | Water capacity: 54 gals | Materials: Plastic | Shape: Irregular | Filter pump: No

8

Most Durable

Bestway Power Steel Above Ground Swimming Pool

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Pros
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (42)Durable steel frame with extra-secure joints
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (43)Comes in a variety of sizes
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (44)Includes accessories like the ladder, ChemConnect dispenser and a cover
Cons
  • The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (45)Some sizes do not include a ladder or a chlorine dispenser

This pool is built to last with the brand's TriTech 3-layered surface material provides stability to the pool wall and the PVC pipes use their Seal & Lock system to ensure the joints (corners) are secure, tight and will not leak.

This pool is offered in many sizes. This 18-x-9 foot size includes a ladder, pool cover and the brand's ChemConnect dispenser that adds chlorine to the pool from the side of the wall to free up swimming space. Other sizes do not include these accessories, but you can always get an adorable floating turtle chlorine dispenser.

This pool boasts over 2,000 5-star ratings on Amazon and online reviewers love the pool for it's sturdiness and ease of assembling, with one who wrote that the pool stayed in good condition through four summers. Another said, "It stayed fairly clean for quite some time considering we have a lot of trees! This was so worth the price."

Dimensions: 18' x 9' x 48" | Water depth: 48" | Water capacity: 3,913 gal | Materials: 3-ply PVC liner, steel frame | Shape: Rectangle | Filter pump: Yes

How we choose the best above-ground pools

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When selecting the best above-ground pools, our pros vet each pick for ease of assembly, materials, construction, design and features. We considered top-performing brands or similar models from previous tests, personal favorites and popular picks with positive online consumer reviews.

The Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute's Home Improvement and Outdoor Lab, Dan DiClerico, also met with six outdoor-living brands and experts at the National Hardware Show to evaluate the latest products, including top-rated above-ground pools.

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What to know before putting in an above-ground pool

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If this is your first time buying a pool, our pros suggest doing some research first. "While not as complex as in-ground pools, there are a lot of considerations that come with putting an above-ground pool on your property," DiClerico said. Here's what to keep in mind:

  • Regulations and permits: DiClerico suggested doing your due diligence and checking with your community, building department or local zoning board regarding any zoning regulations before making a purchase. Many communities require a permit for installing a pool too.

"First and foremost, make sure the pool will fit in the yard without violating any zoning regulations," he said. "These vary by community, but pools generally need to be five feet from property lines and a certain distance from the main house, maybe 12 or 15 feet." He also noted that there may be limitations on where you can place your pool in relation to power lines and underground utilities.

  • Location: You can't just install an above-ground pool anywhere. "You need to make sure your yard's landscape is suited to a pool," DiClerico said. Before setting up your pool, make sure that the ground is flat, even and not obstructed with rocks or pebbles. "Does your ground slope, or are there large trees or rocks in the way? You will have to pay to have these removed or relocated," he said.

DiClerico also pointed out that some communities have codes regarding tree removal, so be sure to double-check. Finally, soil stability could be a factor, depending on the size of the pool. “If the soil is very soft and sandy, you may need to amend it before putting in the pool,” he said.

  • Insurance: Consider getting insurance and find out how installing a pool will affect your rates. "In general, houseguests are covered for injuries that may occur while using the pool, but the pool itself is not covered by any damage that might occur," DiClerico said. "Many insurance companies will require you to put up a protective fence or childproof gate before they’ll even consider coverage."

What to look for when shopping for an above-ground pool

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✔️ Size: Once you've done your homework, measure your outdoor space and your desired location of the pool.
You'll need to determine if there is adequate room on each side of the pool to easily get in and out.

✔️ Type: There are several types of above-ground pools, from inflatable to steel frame to premium pools. Consider these picks:

  • Inflatables: If you're looking for the most inexpensive option, consider inflatables. "They're affordable and very DIY-friendly but not meant as a permanent solution, so you'll need to deflate and store the pool at the end of every season," DiClerico said. Many inflatables tend to be shallow and geared towards children, but there are a few options that are suitable for adults as well. You'll also have to be careful around sharp objects like rocks that could puncture the exterior.
  • Structured above-ground pools: If you have a bit more wiggle room, a structured above-ground pool is a great option. "A lot of pools in this category will have soft-sided plastic walls," DiClerico said. "They're more durable than an inflated pool, but might show signs of wear and tear after a few years."
  • Hard-sided pools: These pools, on the other hand, typically feature "frames made from durable, weather-resistant materials, like stainless steel or heavy-gauge, rigid PVC. A pool like that can easily provide a decade of service, though you may need to replace the liner at some point," DiClerico said.
  • Premium above-ground pools: If you really want a pool that can last a few decades (with the proper care and maintenance), opt for a premium above-ground pool. "Besides maximum size — 25-foot in diameter or more — these pools will feature top-quality design and construction, so they will look better in the backyard and last a lot longer," he said.

✔️ Shape: Much like in-ground pools, above-ground pools come in all shapes and sizes: oval, round, rectangular and more. Pick the shape you like, but make sure to consider your outdoor space and what makes the most sense, as well as what you'll be using the pool for. Are you going to be swimming laps? Consider a rectangular shape for its longer length. If you think you'll use the pool for lounging or letting your kids play, a round shape might be fun. Also, keep in mind that bigger sizes and certain shapes cost more than others. "As you go up in price, pools get larger and more diverse in shape, including rectangular, oval and hexagonal," DiClerico said.

✔️ Installation and ease of assembly: Some above-ground pools are much easier to install than others. Ask yourself whether you want a DIY project or don't mind bringing in professionals. Just don't forget that you'll need to ensure the surface you're working with is flat (especially for larger above-ground pools), which might require the help of pros.

"You can shop online for above-ground pool kits, which include a pool liner, sides and edging, as well as a pump and ladder," DiClerico said. "An experienced DIYer might have the pool up and running in a couple of hours, especially with help from a couple of buddies."

✔️ Filter and pump: You'll likely want a filter and pump to keep your pool water clean and avoid having to change it frequently, especially if you're opting for a pool with a large water capacity. Just keep in mind that the pump and filter need electricity to run.

"You must use a 110/20 amp dedicated line, and the pool must be bonded and grounded," DiClerico said. "Electrical requirements might be different if your pool is considered 'storable.' Check with the manufacturer and consult a professional electrician to make sure everything is safe and up to code."

✔️ Saltwater or chlorine: If you are not a fan of chlorine due to its scent, the level of maintenance it requires, irritation of the skin, eyes and hair, you may prefer a saltwater pool instead. Most above-ground pools are designed to be used with chlorine, but there are some that you can buy online. You can also buy a saltwater system like this one from Intex and add it to a compatible above-ground pool.

✔️ Extra features: Does the pool set come with accessories like a ladder, filter, pump, pool covers and liners? "When setting the budget, think about how you want to use the pool," DiClerico said. "If you just want a personal place to relax and cool down, a basic round pool will do. If you want it for entertaining or for the kids to play in, you may need a larger pool with a surrounding deck for lounging and additional safety features, including a fence and removable ladder to keep unattended children from accessing the pool."

You can also consider adding on other features, such as underwater or floating lighting for summer nights, as well as a heater for year-round use if you live in a warmer region.

How much should an above ground pool cost?

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Above-ground pools are more affordable than in-ground pools — and it's possible to find models for under $1,000, depending on the size and the materials. If you're ready to add a pool to your backyard, an above-ground model is a great way to get the same benefits without the hefty investment of a more permanent installation.

"The obvious advantage of above-ground over in-ground pools is cost,” said DiClerico. “As our round-up shows, you can find a quality blow-up pool for under $100. You’ll need to spend a couple hundred dollars for a sturdier inflatable pool that’s designed to stay out all summer." One example is the Intex Easy Set inflatable pool.

Soft-sided plastic pools can often be purchased for less than $1,000 — and sometimes for less than $500 in the case of the Bestway Above Ground Kids Round Swimming Pool and Intex Rectangular Frame Above Ground Swimming Pool. This makes them a great option for staying cool all summer long without breaking the bank.

Structured above-ground pools, such as the Intex Ultra XTR and the Bestway Power Steel Above Ground Swimming Pool, are more of an investment and will typically be around $1,000 or more. These pools are a bit more of a permanent option (meaning they'll stay in good condition for multiple summers), so the price is relatively affordable when compared with the $50,000 or more that most homeowners spend on an in-ground pool.

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How do you clean an above-ground pool?

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Although several above-ground pools include a filter pump to keep the water clean, you'll also need a few tools for general maintenance and upkeep.

"You'll want to purchase a skimmer to take out leaves and debris, a soft-bristled pool brush to clean the liner and a pool test kit to make sure you have the proper balance of chlorine and other chemicals," DiClerico said.

Why trust Good Housekeeping?

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Writer Olivia Lipski covers everything from consumer electronics to outdoor gear, appliances, travel, home and fitness for the Good Housekeeping Institute. While she may not own her own above-ground pool, she's been swimming since she could walk.

For this story, she worked closely with Dan DiClerico, the director of the Home Improvement and Outdoor Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, who has written about the outdoor-living space for more than 20 years, reviewing dozens of products from every leading brand. He also keeps up with the latest innovations by attending trade shows and industry events, like CES, the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show and the National Hardware Show.

The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (52)

Olivia Lipski

Media & Tech Reviews Analyst

Olivia (she/her) is a media and tech product reviews analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute, covering tech, home, auto, health and more. She has more than five years of experience writing about tech trends and innovation and, prior to joining GH in 2021, was a writer for Android Central, Lifewire and other media outlets. Olivia is a graduate of George Washington University, with a bachelor's degree in journalism, political science and French, and she holds a master’s degree in communications from Sciences Po Paris.

The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (53)

Isabella Cavallo

Assistant Commerce Editor

Isabella (she/her) covers commerce and product-related content in the home, lifestyle, fitness, technology and beauty. She graduated from Binghamton University in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in English: Literature & Rhetoric. Before joining GH, she was an editorial assistant at Prevention, where she covered health topics and celebrity news.

The Best Above-Ground Pools for Your Backyard This Summer (2024)

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