I don’t blame you for deciding to take the plunge and invest in an above ground pool. But you will quickly discover that there are so many options to choose from. And with those options come many different ways to install the pool itself.
To make your experience easy, I compiled all you need to know about installing above ground pools. Everything from choosing the right site, how to prep the area, supplies you will need, and step-by-step instructions on assembling your swimming pool. By the end of this article, you will be confident and ready to install your above ground pool.
Choosing The Site For Your Above Ground Pool
The location you decide to place your pool is critical because it is challenging to change once you set it up. If you want a quick and easy build, I suggest you place your pool on a piece of flat, level ground. If you don’t have a flat garden, don’t worry, pools can be placed on a slope; they will just require extra digging and a retainer wall to be put in.
You will also want to ensure that your pool is not under low-hanging trees or bushes and has good drainage. People often overlook the distance of your pool from a hose pipe, so unless you have a mile-long hose pipe, build your pool close enough so you can refill it easily.
For more information on site choice, you can read my article on how much space you need for an above ground pool.
Prepping The Site For Your Above Ground Pool
Once you’ve decided on the best spot to install your above ground pool, prep the site. To start, you need to consider the pool frame’s actual size and allow more space to work with. A good rule of thumb is to give yourself an extra 5 feet of room. Use a tape measure, and spray paint or a marker to mark the outer line. Once you’ve marked out the area, remove all the grass and debris. Then it’s time to get digging.
Make sure you’re using a site level as you dig so your floor is level; this will save you a lot of trouble and money. You can level the ground using shovels or a mechanical digger.
By now, your ground should be level and compressed with no rocks or pebbles. Laying a pool base is the next step. I suggest laying down a good 2 inches of clear sand. This creates an excellent barrier between your pool frame, the vinyl liner, and the soil. You have a few choices, though. Read my guide on what to put under your above ground pool for more information about each option.
Your site is now ready for assembly.
How to Set Up an Above Ground Pool
Different types of pools have different methods of installation and equipment that are needed. I provide a set of general installation instructions and the supplies you will need below for each type of pool, but note that all above ground pool kits will come with an extensive instruction booklet for you to follow.
Now that your site is prepped for your steel frame pool, let’s install it.
Step one: Spread the tarp
Open and spread the tarp provided on the ground.
Step two: Examine all of the parts
Lay out all the parts so you can see everything is there. All equipment should be provided for installation by your choice of pool supplier.
Step three: Check that the pump is facing upright
The pump should face upright so that it is in the correct position to be pumped. Also, check that the drain valve is in the right area.
Step four: Place the pool frame on top of the tarp.
Ensure all the frame pieces are laid out like the diagrams in your instruction booklet.
Step five: Build the frame
Insert the pole rails into the pockets provided in the tarp. Each pole is connected with a T- connector to hold the frame together, then pull up the tarp, creating the “walls.” Small pins will be provided; these will need to be inserted into the pre-drilled holes. Continue inserting all poles and footings until the frame is secure.
Step six: Check that the drain cap is closed and the liner is wrinkle-free
Doing this simple check will save you headaches down the road.
Step seven: Fill the pool with water
Ensure you balance your pool chemicals after filling the pool, and then you’re ready for swimming!
Installing a resin-framed above ground pool is very similar to steel-framed pools. However, more tools are required. As always, once your site is ready for installation, let’s move on to the required steps.
Step one: Place the resin frame down on the ground
Here, you will need to lay down the channel and posts provided in the correct layout where they will be bolted together.
Step two: Insert and tighten all bolts
Using your hammer and spanner, insert the bolts and ensure they are tight enough to prevent the frame from moving.
Step three: Cement the posts of the frame into the ground
This step is not required, but placing the posts into cement after assembly is advisable to ensure extra durability.
Step four: Unroll the pool wall and place it into the bottom panel strips of the frame
Make sure the filters and drainage openings are in the correct position.
Step five: Tighten the pool wall with more bolts
A handy tip is to cover them with duct tape to not tear the vinyl liner.
Step six: Place the liner inside the pool
You can do this by rolling from each end.
Step seven: Fill the pool with water
The pool can now be filled with water when the liner is smooth and compact.
The hybrid pool is a combination of resin and steel frames. The installation process is very similar.
Step one: Lay out all the parts you will need
These will all be provided in your “kit.” You will also need cement, a spanner, and a hammer.
Step two: Bolt the outer frame together using provided bolts and washers
Ensure your bolts are secure!
Step three: Roll the wall out and put it into the panel strips
Roll the wall out once the frame is intact and place it into the panel strips, just like a resin pool installation. The walls may seem warped, but they are built to do that, as to provide flexibility.
Step four: Check that the filters, drainage valve, and pump holes are in the correct position
This step is important to ensure you can set up your equipment correctly.
Step five: Check that the pool liner is smoothed out
Wrinkles in your above ground pool liner are your worst enemy.
Step six: Fill the pool up with water
The same step as any other pool!
The inflatable pool is the easiest pool to install. Here are the steps to do so.
Step one: Place the pool tarp over your smoothed and prepped surface
The area prep I discussed above still applies to inflatable swimming pools.
Step two: Unfold the inflatable ring on top of the tarp and smooth it out
While it may not seem as important, getting the wrinkles out early will also save you some headaches here.
Step three: Check that the pool pump hole is in the correct location
I like to have my pool equipment on the side of the pool that is less visible to my family and guests.
Step four: Install support beams (only for some models)
Some pools may come with support beams that will need to be installed. These will need to be attached to the pre-drilled holes provided.
Step five: Inflate the top ring until it is firm
You can use an electric or hand-powered pump to do this.
Step six: Install the inflatable pool pump
Install the pool pump and attach it to an intake/outtake hose.
Step seven: Begin filling the pool with water
As the water rises, so does the inflatable ring, which then causes the walls to rise and hold the water.
As a final tip to first-timers, the most important things to remember are: follow the detailed instructions in your booklet, have a couple of friends over to help you, and finally, always make sure there is no debris to tear your pool liner.
Electrical Needs For Above Ground Pool Installation
While above ground pools do not require as much voltage as inground pools, they need electricity to run the pumps. An above ground pool typically requires around 120 volts, so this does mean that you should install a dedicated circuit breaker. This way, you won’t blow breakers or trip the electricity in your house.
I strongly suggest having an experienced professional install anything electrical-related.
DIY Or Professional Installation?
The whole idea behind above ground pools is that they are much easier to install than an inground pool and are often marketed as great “DIY projects.” However, when choosing to install it yourself, you must have the site thoroughly prepared beforehand and be able to read and understand the instructions thoroughly. On the other hand, if you have the budget and are not confident in your building skills, a professional installation from a reputable pool company in your area might be the best for you, offering a stress-free installation.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How hard is it to put in an above ground pool by yourself?
Generally, it is not too hard, but it helps to have a couple of people to assist. It will undoubtedly make the installation process a lot quicker.
How much will it cost to install an above ground pool?
The installation price varies between different styles and sizes; if you’re installing it yourself, the average cost is $750 and upwards. But if you decide to have your pool professionally installed, the costs can start anywhere from $3,000.
I hope that you are now feeling confident about installing your own above ground pool and what tools, costs, and installation processes are involved. But if you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact me.
If you need to uninstall your old pool, read my article on how to take down an above ground pool. And if you haven’t pulled the trigger on a new pool yet, check out my recommendations in my best above ground swimming pools article.