On a hot day, there’s truly nothing better than immersing yourself in a refreshingly cool swimming pool. Not all of us can afford to install an inground pool, and inflatable pools just don’t cut it when you actually want to swim.

Enter: above ground pools.

Above ground pools are generally pretty easy to set up, are way more affordable than inground pools, and are big enough that multiple people can swim around in them.

How to install an above ground swimming pool

First of all, you’ll need a decently sized yard if you want to set up an above ground pool. Sorry to all you apartment and city dwellers. (Also, check with your homeowner’s association if you have one to make sure they allow above ground pools in your neighborhood.) Second, you need a solid patch of ground — don’t put the pool on sand, mud, or loose soil, otherwise you’ll probably run into some sinking action.

Whichever pool you purchase will come with specific assembly instructions, but the gist is that you’ll have some metal or PVC tubing to put together with the pool lining wrapping around it. You can fill the pool up using your garden hose, and most of these pools come with their own filter pump to keep the water circulating and clean.

When you’re ready to take the pool down or swap out the water, you can attach your hose to the pool’s drain plug to let the water out away from the pool area and away from your house.

How to take care of an above ground pool

Stability is huge with above ground pools. If the pool collapses while it’s full of water, you’re going to have a pretty bad flooding problem. Just a note: If you live in an area prone to hurricanes and violent storms, your pool might not be able to withstand everything Mother Nature throws at it and it may break and flood your yard or home. So, keep that in mind when getting an above ground pool.

Because of the amount of water that sits in these pools, they require chlorine to maintain proper pH levels. A pool pump will do a lot of work, too, to keep the water looking clear. Pool water doesn’t need to be swapped out super often, and it actually helps to keep the pool full almost all of the time. When an above ground pool doesn’t have water in it, the lining can shrink, distort, and crack. Water helps it maintain its shape and moisture.

Inground pool vs. above ground pool vs. inflatable pool

Above ground pools are the “just right” in this Goldilocks trio — they fall right in that sweet middle spot when it comes to price and size. Inflatable pools are pretty cheap, with some options for less than $30. Inground swimming pools are not cheap. Having one installed can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Above ground pools range in price from a couple hundred bucks to a couple thousand, depending on size and material. Above ground pools are not as attractive looking as in-ground pools, but you get what you pay for.

Above ground pools relate more to inflatable pools when it comes to setup, but are closer to in-ground pools in terms of size. You’ll have enough room to practice swim strokes or just drift along on a pool float.

Here are our picks for the best above ground pools to make the most out of your summer.


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