Above Ground Pool Cost Breakdown

Written by Michael Dean
January 9, 2024

above ground pool next to a cost analysis

Whether you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to an inground pool or need something to occupy your family during the summertime, there are a lot of advantages to purchasing an above ground pool.

However, as convenient and simple as these pools can be, they also have plenty of hidden costs. If you’re serious about adding one to your backyard, here’s what you should know about above ground swimming pool costs and the pool installation process. I’ll walk through the following:

A Quick Price Estimate of Above Ground Pools

It’s never easy to come up with an exact price estimate for an above ground pool, especially since the size, materials, and labor costs can vary from pool to pool. However, what I can do is highlight some of the average costs that you can expect to pay for an above ground pool:

Minimum National Cost$250
Maximum National Cost$13,500
Average Cost Range$1,000 – $6,000

Remember that these are rough numbers, and there’s always room for exceptions. The maximum people may pay for an above ground pool is around $13,500, but if you plan to add intricate landscaping or special features, the price could be even higher. On the other end of the spectrum, you can pay around $250 for a small, budget above ground pool, but in some cases, they can cost even less!

With this type of pool, you can contribute a significant portion of your final bill to professional installation costs. The materials may only cost you $1,000 to $2,000, but the contractor you hire could charge $3,000 for labor.

Factoring in the Size and Shape of Your Pool

Most of the best above ground pool brands come in “kits,” so you don’t generally create your own measurements or design specifications. Most above ground pools are:

  • Circular: Cheapest
  • Oval Shaped: Mid-range
  • Rectangular: Most Expensive

A standard circular above ground pool has a diameter of 24′ and can fit around four to five people comfortably. The most popular rectangular and oval-shaped above ground pool size is 12 feet by 24 feet.

Circular Above Ground Pool

Here’s the average cost of circular above ground pools segmented by common sizes. As you can see, larger pools also have higher installation costs (more on that topic later).

Pool DiameterPool Cost (Average)Installation Cost (Average)Total Average Cost
12’$1,200$800$2,000
15′$1,350$1,200$2,550
18’$1,750$1,500$3,250
24’$2,200$1,900$4,100
30’$2,800$2,300$5,100

Oval-Shaped Above Ground Pool

Pool DimensionsPool Cost (Average)Installation Cost (Average)Total Average Cost
12’ by 24′$2,100$1,500$3,600
18′ by 33′$2,700$1,900$4,600
21′ by 41′$4,300$2,500$6,800

Rectangular Above Ground Pool

Pool DimensionsPool Cost (Average)Installation Cost (Average)Total Average Cost
9’ by 18′$1,500$1,200$1,700
12′ by 24′$2,250$1,500$3,750
18′ by 33′$3,000$1,900$4,900

While it doesn’t always play a massive role in the total cost, you’ll also need to account for the wall height (or the depth) on your above ground pool. Most standard walls are around 36 to 48 inches, but if you want a slightly deeper pool, you can spend $200-$400 more and get one that is 54 inches.

Cost of Materials Used for Above Ground Pools

Here are the common materials used to build the framing of above ground pools and how much they cost.

Steel

Above ground pools made from steel are generally one of the cheapest options per square foot. This lower cost is because steel pools will rust and erode over time. So, steel frames don’t last as long as other options and will eventually need to be replaced.

Cost: Steel-framed above ground pools cost around $1,000 on average, can cost as little as $400, and will go up to around $2,000 depending on their size.

Aluminum

Above ground pools made from aluminum are the most expensive. Aluminum does not oxidize and rust like steel, so the material lasts longer and is more durable than steel. Aluminum is also lightweight, so installation will be easier. Budget-friendly aluminum above-ground pools are made of a mix of aluminum and other materials, as pools made entirely of aluminum will be very expensive.

Cost: Aluminum-framed above ground pools generally cost an average of $2,500 but can cost as little as $1,200 and run up to $7,000 for large premium models.

Resin

Some above ground pools are made from a type of hard plastic called resin. Resin does not rust and is generally a pretty durable material that does an excellent job containing pool water. However, most resin pools still require some steel parts in the pool walls because the plastic needs extra support to hold the pool water, especially for large pools. In this case, the steel parts will likely still rust, but since they are only some parts of the pool’s structure, you will not need to replace the entire pool. If you’re deciding between resin and steel, I break down all the differences in my resin vs. steel above ground pools research.

Cost: Resin pools are pricier, costing around $2,200 on average, and generally run from $900 to about $5,000 maximum.

Hybrid

A hybrid above ground pool will be made of more than one material. Most likely, this means parts of it are made of steel while others are made of aluminum or resin. Manufacturers will use aluminum or resin in areas more likely to rust to optimize the pool’s build, making it last longer.

Cost: Hybrid pools are mid-range. They are less expensive than all aluminum or all resin models but will last much longer than all-steel pools. They run from around $700-$4,500, with an average cost of about $1,500. I recommend a hybrid model for pool owners on a tighter budget who want to avoid having a pool made entirely of steel.

Inflatable

Inflatable above ground pools are very cheap and extremely easy to install compared to hard-sided pools. All you need to do is inflate them with air and fill them with water (for most models). Inflatable pools are an excellent option for homeowners who do not plan to use the pool often and would like to be able to pack away the pool equipment completely during the off-season. These are much more cost-effective than the other options, but they will not last as long as they are prone to tears.

Cost: Small basic inflatable pools will only cost about $100; however, large higher quality inflatable pools can cost up to $1,000.

Average Cost of Popular Above Ground Pool Brands

Here is my breakdown of some leading above ground pool brands and their average cost.

Intex

Intex is probably the most popular brand regarding above ground pools. They offer great budget options and quality above ground pools and spas. They have many options to choose from for swimming pools, equipment, and accessories. A quality above ground pool from Intex will generally set you back around $200 for a budget option to $2,000 for a nicer one. The Easy Set Inflatable pools are the company’s most affordable option, which you can purchase for as little as $55! The Ultra XTR Frame pool is the higher-end option from Intex. The Ultra XTR has a graphite liner, a coated steel frame, and a sand filter.

Doughboy

Doughboy above ground pools are generally very solid and durable; each model comes in a few different sizes. They are considered luxury pools and range from around $2,000 to $10,000. I would consider these some of the best quality above ground pools on the market, but they come with a higher price tag than other brands. Doughboy pool liners and frames come with a lifetime warranty for any manufacturing defects. These pools are known to last 15-20 years!

Kayak

Kayak is another above ground pool company that offers very nice products. You are easily able to customize your pool with Kayak. They also provide great pool decking options. Since they offer so much customization, it is hard to show an accurate pricing estimate. But they can range from $1,000 to $15,000 depending on the pool’s decking, size, and shape. It is also worth mentioning that Kayak offers a 30-year warranty on their pool liners and will install the pool for free.

Aqua Leader

Aqua Leader produces pools with unique aesthetics. The textures and designs stand out and add to your yard. The materials they use are also solid and durable. They offer a few different designs that are generally mainly composed of resin. You will need to contact them for a specific price quote, but they can cost as much as $12,250.

Bestway

Bestway is another brand offering everything from cheaper inflatable pools to high-end, more expensive pool sets. They provide smaller pools with basic equipment costing only about $100, so they are one of the most affordable above ground pool companies. Although their pools are decent, I would recommend Intex over Bestway for a budget option due to the overall quality of the parts. The Bestway price range is $100-$1,500. They offer small, budget inflatable pools and larger steel-framed pools. Most Bestaway pools are circular with a vinyl liner and a steel frame. However, the company also offers steel-walled rectangular and oval-shaped pools.

Above Ground Pool Installation Costs

While there are certainly simple above ground pool options that you can install yourself, large above ground pools may require professional help. Here are some costs you can expect to install your above ground pool.

Basic Labor Costs

Although above ground pools are easy to self-install, there are many advantages to hiring a professional to do the work properly. Some larger models can be very heavy and more complex to build yourself. Homeowners can expect to spend between $700 and $3,000 for professional above ground pool installation, depending on the size and complexity of the project.

Feature Installation Costs

Your above ground pool will need to be equipped with basic features for proper usage, just like any other pool. Some of these items include ladders, steps for entry and exit, and a filter for maintenance. Many additional features can be added to enhance the above ground pool that you may consider adding.

Pool lights: Lights cannot be installed the same way as in an inground pool. You must consider using floating or underwater lights, which are great alternatives for above ground pools. These can cost between $15 to $130 per light.

Pool decks: They are not necessary, but decks add significant visual appeal and convenience, with an average cost per square foot ranging between $10 and $30. I’ll go into more depth on decking a bit later.

Pool heaters: Adding a good above ground pool heater will allow you to enjoy your pool year-round. The average cost for installing an above ground pool heater ranges from $170 to $2,000, depending on the type of heater you choose and the heater size needed for your pool.

Pool covers: Covers are convenient for keeping unwanted leaves, insects, and debris out. Most above ground pool covers will cost less than $100 or can be as much as $300, depending on the size needed. Solar pool covers can cost less than $50 for small cheaper options, and thick safety covers can cost over $300 for large above ground pools.

Pool fencing: If you have young children running around, consider installing a fence around your pool, too. Pool fencing will cost you anywhere from $500 to $1,500, depending on the material you choose.

Pool filters: Above ground pools need a filtration system to keep the water circulating and prevent an algae infestation. Most smaller above ground pools run on sand or cartridge filters, which cost between $40 and $1,000 depending on the size and quality of the filter.

An above ground pool doesn’t need to be bland. Countless additional features can be added inside and outside your above ground pool, like fountains, waterfalls, and more. Prices can vary based on many different factors, so it’s essential to shop around and research to get a complete understanding of what your overall cost will be when deciding to install an above ground pool.

DIY Installation Cost For An Above Ground Pool

Installing your above ground pool yourself is by far the cheapest method. For smaller, simple inground pools, you will need minimal materials, and the installation may only take a couple of hours. That being said, above ground pools need to be on a level space, so usually, the project involves a bit of landscaping and excavation. Larger above ground pools should be placed on a very flat, stable surface such as concrete or an above ground pool pad.

Excavation will cost anywhere between $100-$1,000, depending on the type of equipment needed for the job. If you plan to pour concrete, you can expect to pay an additional $4-$10 per square foot. However, the cost of pouring the concrete will be cheaper if you mix and pour everything yourself.

Setting up an above ground pool tends to be fairly easy. However, the pieces can be heavy, so you may want to make sure you have an extra pair of hands to help you assemble the pool.

The total cost of DIY installing an above ground pool (materials + installation) can range from less than $1,000 for a small, simple pool to $6,000 for a larger, more complicated pool.

The Cost of Adding a Deck

Many homeowners choose to do a bit of landscaping and add a deck to their above ground pool. This isn’t essential, but there are a few pros to adding one:

  • It integrates the pool into your backyard much better
  • It makes it easier to enter and exit your pool
  • Cleaning the pool is less time-consuming
  • It gives the above-ground pool extra support (and can reduce the risk of damage from poor weather or other elements)

You can calculate the cost of a deck in two main ways: either with professional installation or by purchasing a DIY deck kit and doing the installation yourself.

It’s safe to assume that professional installation will cost more, and most homeowners spend at least $2,500 for the deck alone when they use a contractor. If you do the project yourself, you can save a little money by purchasing a kit for anywhere between $500 to $3,000.

In general, you should budget around $10 to $30 per square foot for your deck. Using these numbers, installing a one-sided 56-square-foot deck should cost between $550-$1,500.

However, a four-sided deck with 400 sq. ft. could cost over $10,000, especially since you’ll likely need professional help for a project of this size.

Above Ground Pool Maintenance Costs

The good news is that maintaining your above ground pool is relatively cheap, especially when compared to the maintenance costs of an inground or natural swimming pool. If you do everything yourself (and without professional cleaning services), you may only spend around $200 a year on maintenance and opening and closing your pool.

This number includes the cost of cleaning equipment and purchasing the appropriate chemicals, which will set you back around $100 per year.

However, if you’re short on time, a professional cleaning service can be more convenient (but also more expensive). A one-time professional cleaning can cost $60 to $100 per hour, depending on the specific services you want. Some pool owners choose to get their above-ground pools cleaned professionally once a month, 4 times a year, twice a year, or yearly. This can mean an additional $150-$1,800 in yearly maintenance costs.

Pool owners must also purchase all the required chemicals and cleaning supplies when installing an above ground pool. So, prepare to purchase the following after initially installing your pool.

  • Pool brush
  • Skimmer net and pole
  • Chemicals (chlorine, muriatic acid, cyanuric acid, algaecide, etc.)
  • Pool vacuum
  • Testing kit/strips

Other Factors That Influence the Price of an Above Ground Pool

Most people think they are off the hook once you’ve purchased the kit and hired a contractor. Although you’ll likely pay a lot of money when installing the pool, there are a few hidden expenses to watch out for.

Obtaining a Permit

Not every pool will require a permit, as not every city or county will require you to get one. However, most cities require you to obtain a permit for an above ground pool. As long as your above ground pool is deeper than two feet, your municipality will usually consider it permit-worthy.

Not all permits cost the same, and some cities tack on extra fees for zoning or reviewing your plan. If you’re unsure how much you’ll need to budget for a permit, you can contact your local government for specific details. On average, most permits cost anywhere from $150 to $300, with all the fees included.

Insurance Costs

Pools add value to your home. So, your insurance premium can take a hit when you install a pool, even an above ground one. Many companies consider your pool an “attractive nuisance” and often recommend increasing your liability coverage. Your pool could tack on another $75 or more to your premium every month.

Your insurance premium might not climb as much if you live somewhere with a hotter climate, like Texas or California. In these states, adding a pool might already be factored into your premium.

Above Ground Pool Cover Cost

Pool covers are often an essential feature of your above ground pool. Not only will they protect the structure during the off-season and keep debris out of the water, but they could even be a safety feature. Homeowners with small children often add pool covers to reduce the risk of someone falling in the water and getting injured.

Occasionally, a kit will come with the pool cover included. If the pool cover is not included, expect to pay between $50 to $300, depending on the size of your pool. Typically, the bigger your pool is, the more you can expect to pay for a cover.

If you want something a little more intricate, like a sun dome, you could be looking at upwards of $1,000. Head to my research on the best above ground pool covers and pool cover cost for recommendations and comparisons.

Landscaping Costs

While some homeowners might already know what landscaping they’d like to add to their pool, others don’t always know what they need to add. Some city governments might require you to add a protective fence or gate with a child lock to get a pool permit. Adding an access gate or fence could cost around $15 to $25 for every linear foot.

Depending on the layout of your backyard, you might need to remove bushes or trees to make room for the pool or level out the ground. Generally, most homeowners need to budget at least $1,500 for landscaping, but that number is subject to change depending on several factors.

Talk to a contractor or speak with your local government to give you a good idea of what landscaping costs you may have to pay.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How much does an above ground pool cost to run?

Above ground pools are typically smaller and cheaper to run than inground pools. If you plan to do all of the maintenance yourself, you may spend as little as $100 per year. However, if you hire a pool professional to do monthly or weekly cleaning, the yearly cost of running your pool will rise dramatically, adding another $150 to $200 monthly costs.

How long do above ground pools last?

Above ground pools will not last as long as inground pools because they are not as durable. While an inground pool can last for decades, an above ground pool typically lasts between 7-15 years on average.

Is it worth buying an above ground pool kit?

Above ground pool kits are designed for those who want a pool with a simple DIY construction. While these are not generally the flashiest pools and come in a limited range of sizes and shapes, they are mass-produced and easy to obtain and install.

Are above ground pools worth it?

Above ground pools require less maintenance and are not nearly as big of an investment as inground pools. So, if you are looking for a cheap and easy way to add a pool to your yard, an above ground pool is the way to go. However, it’s worth noting that above ground pools do not add any value to your home.

Final Thoughts

An above ground swimming pool cost estimate isn’t always easy to calculate, especially with hidden costs like permits, insurance, and landscaping. Exploring your options is a good idea if you’re trying to create a budget.

Once you have determined your budget, you can choose the swimming pool model and install the pool. You will be swimming in no time!

For more cost estimates, read my guide on inground pool costs.

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