The Best Above Ground Pools

Families love above ground pools because they’re non-permanent but still offer plenty of seasonal fun. Here we’ll discuss the best above ground pools for every application, plus cover the pros and cons of our top recommendations. Stick around to the end too where we cover our research criteria, our weighted scoring methodology, and what you should consider in your decision.

Our Top Picks for the Best Above Ground Pools

We found 6 above ground pools that stood out among the competition. Read more about each of our recommendations below.

Intex Prism Frame Pool with Pump

⭐ Best Cheap Above Ground Pool

If you’re shopping for an affordable pool for the family, Intex’s Prism Frame Pool might be the perfect fit. The 10-foot diameter pool comes with a pump and sets up in 30 minutes, so you can start filling it ASAP.

A steel frame keeps the pool from collapsing, and you won’t have to worry about filling it with air, which is one feature we like. The framing setup also helps avoid drowning hazards from kids leaning over the side, as is possible with inflatable pools. Some families might find it a bit shallow – it’s only 30 inches high – but for most kids, it’s adequate.

Intex 10ft X 30in Prism Frame Pool Set with Filter Pump
  • SUMMERTIME FUN: The Intex 10ft x 30in metal frame above ground pool set is engineered for strength and to help you beat the heat all summer long for...
  • DURABLE BUILD: The sturdy metal frame is powder coated for rust resistance and has super tough puncture-resistant 3-ply sidewalls that are reinforced...
  • EASY-SET-UP: An affordable and easy-to-set-up is ready for water in 45 minutes. The drain plug accepts a garden hose to drain water away from the pool...
  • PRODUCT INFO: The Intex pool set comes with the pool, instructional DVD, filter pump, and filter. The capacity of the pool is 1,185 gallons (90%);...
  • DISCLAIMER: Please review your HOA rules and restrictions before purchasing this product. Not all housing agencies permit private above-ground pools

Research Score: 4.2 / 5

  • Durability: 4
  • Price: 5
  • Installation: 4
  • Features: 3


  • Round; measures 10 feet by 30 inches
  • Includes a 110-120V cartridge filter pump
  • Holds 185 gallons at 90 percent capacity
  • Powder-coated steel frame and 3-ply liner


  • Comes with a pump
  • Strong powder-coated frame holds the pool’s shape
  • Easy to set up


  • A bit shallow for bigger kids/adults
  • The pump might not be strong enough to filter daily gunk out (consider an upgrade if that becomes an issue)

Bestway Steel Pro Rectangular Pool

⭐ Best for Small Kids

Bestway’s steel rectangular pool is the ideal size for small kids to play in, without worries about swimming ability. The 7.25 by 5-foot rectangle is only 17 inches deep, though larger sizes are available, too.

The small size is preferable for kids whose parents prefer not to get wet, and setup is a snap with two or more people helping. However, the water capacity likely means you’ll need a pump to keep the water fresh – and there isn’t one in the box.

The good news is, it won’t take you long to set up this swimming pool since it requires no tools. The Tritech pool walls are lightweight but strong, and the steel frame is corrosion-resistant for multiple seasons of enjoyment.

You will need to prepare the pool site adequately – it’s possible that the “feet” can sink into the ground with the weight of the water. A few concrete pavers for the poles to rest on can solve the problem.

Bestway 56545E Steel Pro 7.25 x 4.9 x 1.4 Ft Outdoor Rectangular Frame Above Ground Family Kids Swimming Pool with Easy Setup, Blue
  • ENDLESS SUMMER FUN: Kids and adults of all ages can enjoy swimming and splashing in Bestway's Steel Pro Above Ground Pool. It's the affordable...
  • SUPERIOR FRAME DESIGN: The pool frame is applied with a rust and corrosion-resistant coating to protect the pool from UV and abrasion damage
  • BUILT TO LAST: Extra strong sidewalls are made with 3 separate layers of material. The inner layer of polyester mesh is laminated to the 2 outer heavy...
  • EASY DRAINING: Built-in flow control drain valve makes it easy to drain water away from the pool by attaching to a garden hose, saving your lawn
  • EASY TO ASSEMBLE POOL SET: Easy to set up and easy to take down for off-season storage; No tools are required to install this above ground pool in...

Research Score: 4.0 / 5

  • Durability: 3
  • Price: 5
  • Installation: 5
  • Features: 3


  • Rectangle, measures 7.25 feet by 5 feet by 17 inches
  • Corrosion-resistant metal frame
  • Pool only
  • Holds 317 gallons at 90 percent capacity


  • Features a flow control drain valve
  • Quick set up (10 minutes with 2-3 people per Bestway)
  • Shallow for small children (and pets) to play safely


  • 17-inch depth might be too shallow for some water activities
  • No pump included

Intex Easy Set Pool

⭐ Best Frameless Pool

If you don’t want to deal with frames and long-term setups, Intex’s Easy Set pool might be the ideal solution. Its 15-foot diameter offers ample space for everyone, and all you need for setup is a flat surface and an air pump.

The kit includes the top-ring inflatable pool, a filter pump that filters 1,000 gallons per hour, a removable ladder, a ground cloth, and a debris cover. It even has a setup DVD if you need more detailed instructions.

You might need to have a couple of people inside the pool to spread out the bottom while it’s filling. This way, you can ensure it’s flat across the bottom.

Intex 26167EH Easy Pool Set, Blue
  • SUMMERTIME FUN: The Intex 15ft x 48in inflatable above ground pool set is engineered for strength and to help you beat the heat all summer long for...
  • DURABLE BUILD: The pool is constructed with puncture-resistant 3-ply material.
  • STAYS CLEAN: The pool comes with an Intex 1,000 GPH filter pump and type A or C Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter that is 100-120V to keep your water...
  • EASY-SET-UP: Inflatable design allows for easy setup and is ready for water in as little as 15 minutes, no tools needed. The drain plug accepts a...
  • SPECIFICATIONS: Pool type: Above ground; Pump voltage: 110-120 volt; Pump flow rate: 1,000 gallons per hour; Capacity: 8 people; Water capacity: 3,736...

Research Score: 3.9 / 5

  • Durability: 3
  • Price: 4
  • Installation: 5
  • Features: 4


  • Round, 15-foot diameter and 48 inches deep
  • Comes with a filter pump, ladder, ground cloth, and cover
  • Holds 736 gallons at 80 percent capacity
  • Comes with a pump


  • Easy to set up—just fill the top ring with air
  • Drain plug for connecting to a hose for emptying
  • Dual suction outlet fittings for filtering the water more effectively
  • Comes with a ladder, which helps avoid damaging the pool’s sides and ring


  • Soft-side pools are more susceptible to tears and can have air leaks
  • Not ideal for families with small children who can fall in or pets that can damage the ring

Intex Ultra XTR Rectangular Pool

⭐ Best Rectangular Above Ground Pool

Intex’s Ultra XTR pool combines the convenience of an above ground pool with the features you love in inground pools. Its galvanized steel frame makes the rectangular shape feel like a standard inground pool, and the 52-inch height offers plenty of space to swim.

It will take about 90 minutes to set up, Intex notes, and getting the site ready could take some prep work – it needs to be level. That said, the kit includes everything you need: the pool and frame, the sand filter pump and saltwater system, a ladder, a ground cloth, and a cover.

Because this is a saltwater model, it offers lower levels of chlorination than comparable chlorinated pools.

Intex 32ft X 16ft X 52in Ultra XTR Rectangular Pool Set with Sand Filter Pump & Saltwater System, Ladder, Ground Cloth, Pool Cover, Maintenance Kit & Volleyball
  • RELAXING ABOVE GROUND SWIMMING POOL: Above ground outdoor swimming pool designed with a gray outer liner and blue tile-print inner liner for a...
  • MINIMAL AMOUNT OF MAINTENANCE: Easy maintenance with sand that only needs routine backwashing and replacing every 5 years; Quick set up means it's...
  • HYDRO AERATION TECHNOLOGY: Hydro aeration technology in the pump improves circulation, filtration, and water clarity while increasing the water's...
  • INCLUDES: Includes sand filter pump that has a pump flow rate of 2,650 gallons per hour. Also includes: pool, pool ladder, ground cloth, sand filter,...
  • SPECIFICATIONS: Pump voltage: 110-120V; Pool type: Above ground; Material: Steel and PVC; Water capacity at 90% is 14,364 gallons; Liner included:...

Research Score: 4.5 / 5

  • Durability: 5
  • Price: 3
  • Installation: 5
  • Features: 5


  • Rectangular, measures 32 feet by 16 feet, 52 inches deep
  • Galvanized steel frame
  • Includes a sand filter pump and saltwater system
  • Holds 14,364 gallons at 90 percent capacity


  • Saltwater system avoids the smell and heavy chlorination of standard chlorine pools
  • Feels like an inground pool with solid sides
  • Complete kit with the accessories and equipment you need


  • Intex says you can assemble in 90 minutes, but setup requires multiple people
  • The pool liner is heavy and requires some maneuvering to smooth out

Intex Ultra XTR Round Pool

⭐ Best Deep Above Ground Pool

At 52 inches deep, the Intex Ultra XTR Round pool provides plenty of room for frolicking in the water. It’s an excellent choice if you want a hard-side pool for the whole family. We like the galvanized steel frame – which features a locking system and doesn’t require tools for setup – and the simple setup.

All it takes is about an hour, and you can snap together the pieces via push-button connectors. The frame resists rust, and the liner is three-ply and puncture resistant. In short, this pool will last your family for multiple seasons with no problem.

The kit also has everything you need – a sand filter pump, removable ladder, debris cover, and ground cloth.

Intex 26329EH Intex-18' X 52" Ultra XTR Frame Set Pool, 18ft X 52in, dark grey
  • 26329EH 18´ x 52" Ultra XTR Frame Pool
  • Comes equipped exclusively with Intex Krystal Clear sand filter pumps with Hydro Aeration Technology - providing the best filtration performance and...
  • Maintenance is incredibly easy since sand only needs routine backwashing and replacement every 5 years
  • Uniquely designed frame combines high quality galvanized steel with precision engineered locking system, enhancing the overall quality, durability and...
  • Encapsulating inner and outer powder coating ensures the ultimate resistance to rust

Research Score: 4.3 / 5

  • Durability: 5
  • Price: 3
  • Installation: 5
  • Features: 5


  • Round, 18 feet by 52 inches deep
  • Galvanized steel frame and locking system
  • Comes with a sand filter pump
  • Holds 6,981 gallons at 90 percent capacity


  • Snap-in assembly requires no tools
  • Can withstand multiple seasons—no breakdown required in winter
  • Comes with a pump and accessory kit


  • Heavy to handle without multiple helpers setting it up
  • Might be too deep for families with young children

Cornelius Pools Phoenix Steel Pool

⭐ Best Steel Pool

With only a screwdriver, you can assemble the Cornelius Phoenix steel pool and enjoy outdoor recreation for years. The heavy-duty construction means it lasts practically forever, though the liner and skimmer (and other accessories) do not come with this package.

If you prefer a pool that can stay up year-round and involves near-permanent installation, this is the kit for you. Prep the site, build the pool, then drop in the liner and accessories you prefer – and you won’t need to repeat the process again unless you decide to upgrade.

Aquarian Phoenix 24 x 52 Foot Round Steel Constructed Frame Above Ground Family Sized Outdoor Backyard Swimming Pool Without Liner or Skimmer
  • ABOVE GROUND POOL: Relax after a long day in the soothing waters of this pool in the comfort of your own backyard
  • 24-FOOT-DIAMETER: Round above-ground pool frame features a 24-foot diameter and is 52 inches high
  • LINER AND SKIMMER NOT INCLUDED: Liner and skimmer sold separately; Please note: For best water care, only use pool chemicals; DO NOT use bleach
  • BUILT FOR FAMILY FUN: Designed with active families in mind for lasting strength and beauty
  • LONG-LASTING CONSTRUCTION: All components are made of steel for lasting durability

Research Score: 4.3 / 5

  • Durability: 5
  • Price: 3
  • Installation: 5
  • Features: 3


  • Round, 24-foot diameter and 52 inches deep
  • Steel frame
  • Pool frame only (liner and skimmer separate)
  • Requires extensive assembly


  • Steel construction for durability
  • Ideal for permanent pool setups
  • Plenty of space for the whole family
  • Can customize the liner type/setup


  • Must purchase the liner separately
  • Need to prepare the ground properly before installation
  • Requires some muscle to assemble

Recap: The Best Above Ground Swimming Pools

Our Research Criteria

Here are the top four considerations that went into our research process and weighted scores for each pool.


There are a lot of different types of above ground pools out there with varying durability levels. Basic inflatable pools are your weakest options, following by resin, then steel and aluminum. Ideally, for an inflatable or resin pool, we would like to see some sort of reinforcing structure like a steel frame around it. Durability accounted for 40% of our score for each pool.


I cover more about price and budget below. The cost of each above ground pool accounted for 25% of our overall score.


Ease of installation is 25% of our score for each pool. These bulky structures can be a bit complicated to set up (especially ones with a large frame), so good instructions and simple but sturdy materials are really important to minimize frustration.


Additional features like ladders, maintenance equipment, and pool covers accounted for 10% of our overall score for each pool. You can buy all of these equipment and supplies separately, but it’s nice to have them come all at once. Especially for brands like Intex that have a bit of a unique setup. I cover more on maintenance needs below.

What Else to Consider

What else should you look for when selecting an above ground pool? Consider these criteria.

Research Local Regulations

In many areas (cities, municipalities, and especially homeowner’s associations), above ground pools must meet the same safety requirements as inground pools, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission explains.

From safety fencing mandates to how close your pool can be to your property limits, swimming pool rules can vary widely. In short, your local legislation might affect your ability to buy and install the pool you want.

Know Your Space

Of course, you won’t want to choose a round pool if you only have a narrow strip of lawn to place it on. But other yard features can affect where and how you’ll be able to set up your above ground pool.

For example, you won’t want to place your pool on concrete, as that can damage the bottom. At the same time, you won’t want to set up a chlorinated pool right beside your garden area, since the chlorine can kill plants.

Further, a heavier-duty pool – such as a steel frame option – requires a bit more prep work. You’ll want to prepare your yard to accommodate the pool without killing grass, flooding your lawn, or winding up with a lopsided installation.

Note Capacity and Measurements

Capacity is a key purchase consideration because you want everyone to be able to fit in for summer fun. But measurements alone don’t always tell you what you need to know. For example, a pool that measures ten feet in diameter may look large enough to handle a few adults.

But depending on what water activities you plan to partake in – such as anything other than floating – you might need more space. The same applies if you’re looking for a pool for kids; leaving space for swimming, floating, and splashing is vital for everyone’s enjoyment.

Understand Maintenance Needs

Small pools, such as wading sets for children, often don’t require maintenance. After all, you can dump the pool at the end of playtime. But any pool that takes more than a few gallons of water will require ongoing care to prevent the growth of algae.

Consider the size of the pool, water filtration and chemical treatment requirements, and any tools that will facilitate the maintenance of your backyard pool. With most setups, the accessories you need will include things like:

  • A pump and filters to remove debris and circulate the water
  • Chemicals such as chlorine tabs to curb bacteria/algae growth (or salt for saltwater systems, which generate their own chlorine)
  • Shock treatment, in case algae takes over before you can fight back
  • Test strips to measure the pH, chlorine content, and other chemical makeup of the water
  • A net (AKA a skimmer) to scoop out insects, leaves, and other stuff that winds up in the pool
  • A cover, depending on how long you plan to keep the pool operational

Accessories like lighting, pool alarms for optimal safety, and access ladders can also enhance your summer experience. And, saltwater pools require special equipment, such as a chlorine generator, that are necessary additions to your shopping cart.

Budget and Cost

Though it’s easy to pick a cheap pool and feel good about saving on your summer budget, consider more than just the up-front purchase price. If you choose a low-cost pool, odds are it will require replacing next season. Therefore, a “cheap” pool becomes expensive when it only lasts one summer.

Also factor in the equipment you’ll need for your pool, plus the amount of water and even electricity it will require to keep it full, filtered, and properly treated. For more information in typical prices, read our full guide on above ground pool costs.

Still need more help? Shoot us a note, always happy to help. You can also read my conversation with Laura Daily at The Washington Post here where I provide some additional commentary on criteria to consider.

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