How Much Does an Above-Ground Pool Cost?

Install an attractive above-ground pool at a fraction of the cost you might expect. Plan for around $820 to $5,356 for above-ground pool cost, or an average of $2,966.

By Brie Greenhalgh | Updated Jul 12, 2022 3:17 PM

Above-Ground Pool Cost

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  • Typical Range: $820 to $5,356
  • National Average: $2,966

Enjoying an afternoon lounging (or splashing) in the pool is the perfect way to enjoy those lazy summer days. But skip one of those cheap plastic pools and upgrade your summer plans with a budget-friendly above-ground pool. According to HomeAdvisor, an above-ground pool comes at a great price when compared to the alternative inground pool. You can expect to pay between $820 and $5,356 for above-ground pool cost (or an average of $2,966). Much of that cost is made up of labor and materials, but there are other factors to consider as well. Don’t wait to cannonball into your backyard pool—keep reading to find out all about above-ground pool costs.

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Factors in Calculating Above-Ground Pool Cost

Above-Ground Pool Cost

Photo: istockphoto.com

When it comes to pools being built above ground, you can expect similar factors as when considering inground pool cost. As with any building project, the size and shape will be a major consideration, as will the materials, brand, labor, and your home’s location.

Size and Shape

From rectangle above-ground pools to oval above-ground pools, the size and shape of your future pool will significantly affect the total price before installation. For instance, materials for a 12-foot by 24-foot rectangle pool cost between $1,200 and $2,800, but a 33-foot by 18-foot oval pool costs between $1,800 and $3,530. Round above-ground pools tend to start a little cheaper at $820 to $2,100 for a 15-foot pool.

Type

Once you’ve decided on the shape of your pool, you’ll need to choose the type of pool you prefer: hard-sided, metal frame, or inflatable. A hard-sided pool might be made of steel, aluminum, or resin, but the size and shape available are often limited. Metal frame pools are a popular option that is easy to install with a frame and liner, but they aren’t compatible with saltwater generators. Inflatable pools are easy to set up for a low cost, but they must be taken down and stored carefully at the end of the season.

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Material

Common above-ground pool materials include steel, resin, and aluminum; inflatable pools are also available. Steel frames are one of the cheapest options at $800 to $3,000. However, they are prone to rust over time, so resin is a more attractive choice. Aluminum is the most expensive option at $1,000 to $4,500, and it holds up to extreme temperatures. And while inflatables are the cheapest at $200 to $500 and the fastest to set up, they aren’t as durable as any of the other options.

Brand

Big-box retailers or pool installation companies sell many DIY pool kits. Popular name brands include Intex, Wilkes, Trevi, Doughboy, and Kayak. The latter two are the more expensive brands ($3,000 to $12,000), while Intex and Wilkes are on the cheaper end ($200 to $4,000). Some of these higher-cost above-ground pools come with materials for a deck to make the pool even more appealing and enjoyable.

Liner

If you opt for a metal or hard-sided above-ground pool, you’ll also need a liner that’s usually made from vinyl. The most common type of liner is an overlap, which costs $100 to $400. But there are also beaded ($150 to $500), unibead ($150 to $500), and expandable ($200 to $700) liners available. It’s best to search for “above-ground pool installers near me” and ask a local rep which combination of frame and liner is best for you.

Labor

Labor makes up a fair portion of your above-ground pool cost: $1,000 to $3,000. This is just a base price, so if you plan any extra customization or a larger pool, the price will increase.

Geographic Location

In many cases, your geographic location will significantly affect the price of your new above-ground pool. Materials and labor vary from one city to the next, and there’s always a higher cost in more urban areas where pools are popular. This is especially true if you live in an area with significant residential construction, as demand will drive prices higher. Look for “above-ground pool installation near me” to get a quote from a local company.

Permits

Typically, an inflatable pool won’t require a permit since it’s not a permanent structure. However, your local municipality might have regulations about other types of above-ground pools, so it’s best to check before purchasing and scheduling an installation.

Above-Ground Pool Cost

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Additional Costs and Considerations

Beyond the basic cost factors for above-ground pools, there are other features to consider. Some of them are intended to enhance the overall design or the pool use experience.

Site Preparation

Unless you’re planning to install an inflatable pool, you’ll need to do some site preparation. While some might consider installing an above-ground pool on top of a deck, this isn’t recommended since the weight of the water could cause the structure to collapse. Installing on the ground is best, which means that the ground beneath the pool needs to be level and free from debris and vegetation. If a lot of dirt or landscaping needs to be removed, heavy equipment might be needed. The soil will also need to be packed down and layered with a base like sand—or a contractor can install a concrete slab for an average of $6 per square foot.

Filters, Pumps, and Heating Systems

In most cases, the filters and pumps will come with an above-ground pool kit, but pool heaters are always an added cost. Fortunately, above-ground pool heaters cost less than those for inground pools; expect to pay between $300 and $2,000. It’s also worth noting that many of the filters and pumps included in DIY kits will not last more than a couple of years, but they are a good way to get started. Buying one of the best above-ground pool filters usually costs between $40 and $770 and will last longer than the starter models.

Deck Installation

Many homeowners like the idea of building a deck around their above-ground swimming pools; it creates additional space to enjoy the pool area. A pool deck usually costs $300 to $3,000, but this can vary based on the size of the pool and the deck materials.

Fence Installation

Installing a pool fence is usually associated with an inground pool where it’s easier to fall into a pool accidentally. Still, there are benefits to installing a pool fence around an above-ground pool too—even if only to keep the kids out while you’re gone. On average, pool fences cost $1,500 to $10,000.

Customizations

If you choose not to install a deck, you’ll probably need a way to get into your above-ground pool, which means you’ll need to choose steps or a ladder. These typically cost $20 to $700. But if you opt for a slide as the more exciting way to get into the pool, expect to pay more. You might also want to add custom water features like a waterfall or fountains ($30 to $130) or decorative lighting ($30 to $120) for evening pool parties. And if you choose a pool compatible with a saltwater generator, you can get one installed for $1,400 to $2,000.

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Maintenance

As with any pool, keeping it clean is necessary to enjoy it. Pool maintenance for above-ground pools is no less essential than it is for an inground pool, and you can either do it yourself or hire a pool service company. With a cost of around $115 per month, above-ground pool maintenance is a little cheaper than inground pool maintenance. This generally includes cleaning the filters, skimming the water, and balancing chemicals, but it might be trickier to reach into an above-ground pool to clean it. That’s partly why building a deck around the pool is popular.

Types of Above-Ground Pools

The type of above-ground pool you choose will affect your total cost since some materials are more costly than others. Here are the types of pools you can choose from as you look at above-ground pools for sale. These costs are for materials only and do not include installation.

Inflatable

An inflatable pool isn’t just your average kiddie pool. With side walls reaching up to 48 inches high, inflatable pools can be constructed for adults and kids to enjoy together. They are typically round and can measure up to 18 feet in diameter. Inflatable pools are the best DIY option since there is no need for a contractor to build the pool. Hook up the air compressor, fill up the pool as needed, and deflate and store it for winter. You’ll probably pay between $200 and $500 for these pools, but larger 18-foot pools could cost up to $900.

Steel

Metal frames are a popular choice when you’re considering above-ground pool ideas on a budget. They are cost-effective and fairly easy for a pool installer to set up. A liner is stretched over the frame and the pool stays in place year-round. Granted, the metal frame is prone to rusting over time, and it will corrode quickly if a saltwater generator is installed. Nevertheless, a metal frame pool is more durable and longer lasting than an inflatable pool. Expect to pay around $800 to $3,000.

Resin

Resin pools are included in the larger category of hard-sided pools. These are constructed with metal walls and plastic parts on the tracks and rails. The walls are then coated with resin in place of a vinyl liner. The advantages are that resin won’t get hot to the touch, can handle a saltwater generator, and is cheaper than aluminum. However, the resin will crack or chip over time due to UV exposure—though not as quickly as metal will rust from splashing water. Resin pools typically cost $1,000 to $3,000.

Aluminum

Aluminum is considered the high-end frame option for above-ground pools with an average cost of $1,000 to $4,500. The biggest advantage is that aluminum resists rusting, corrosion, and peeling, and that means these pools will last the longest of all. You’ll need to have a vinyl liner installed, and there is some risk of getting holes in the liner as the aluminum oxidizes, but liners need replacing every so often anyway. Aluminum is also lightweight and holds up well in extreme temperatures.

Above-Ground Pool Cost

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Benefits of Installing an Above-Ground Pool

If a backyard pool is on your mind at all, you can feel confident that an above-ground pool is a solid choice for enjoying pool time without blowing the budget. Above-ground pools have a lot of great benefits for homeowners and their properties.

Recreation, Relaxation, and Exercise

Pools are well known to be a source of relaxation for adults who want an afternoon of peace and quiet. To be fair, it might not be as quiet if there are kids splashing about, but the kids can also enjoy the extra recreation. If you enjoy swimming laps in a pool, you can ask a local pool installer about above-ground lap pools. Pools can also be highly therapeutic for anyone getting back into exercise or doing physical therapy after an injury. And since above-ground pools tend to be shallower than in-ground pools, it’s easier to float or stand as needed.

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Aesthetics

Excluding inflatable pools, adding an above-ground pool is a great way to enhance your overall backyard experience. Pools are appealing features, especially if a deck is added to mimic an inground pool. As a bonus, a deck provides more space for dipping your toes in the pool if you’d prefer to avoid a full soak.

In addition, above-ground pools are quick to install (so the yard doesn’t have to be torn up for weeks), and they’re more affordable than inground pools. And don’t forget that you’re not stuck with only round pools; you can choose a style that matches your design preference.

Above-Ground Pool Cost

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Above-Ground Pool Installation: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional

The easiest pool to install is obviously the inflatable pool. There’s no need to tear up the grass as long as you shift the pool’s position occasionally, and it’s easy to blow it up with an air compressor. That being said, one of the most challenging parts of above-ground pool installations is often getting the ground fully prepped and leveled. Even if you feel confident about installing the easier metal-frame-and-liner pool, improperly preparing the ground can leave you with an uneven surface that can cause issues down the road.

Hiring a pro to install an above-ground pool is a wise option since they will have all the necessary equipment and know-how to get the ground fully prepared. They’re acquainted with any quirks of getting the frame, tracks, unique nails, and liner installed properly, too. For instance, most liners will need to have the wrinkles vacuumed out of them to prevent mold from growing in the shadowed area. It’s surprising how much time it actually takes to prepare the ground and get a pool set up, especially if you’re working on your own. And in the end, there isn’t a whole lot of money saved since your time is also valuable.

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How to Save Money on Above-Ground Pool Cost

The good news is that choosing an above-ground pool is already a wise decision since they are notably cheaper than concrete pools. But in many cases, it’s still a significant expense that’s worth finding ways to save money.

  • Decide on the right size and shape for your needs and budget rather than opting for the largest pool available.
  • Opt for a resin pool since it is cheaper than aluminum but more durable than a metal pool.
  • If budget is a major concern, opt for the inflatable pool. But remember that it must be deflated at the end of the season, and it has a shorter lifespan overall.
  • Consider doing all the leveling if you have experience doing that kind of work.
  • Ask your installer about the different types of liners available for the frame you choose.
  • If weather permits, consider building an above-ground pool later in the season when demand is lower.
  • Get the pool installed now and add the custom features later.
  • Call multiple installers to get the best quote.
  • Ask about seasonal or upcoming discounts, as well as discounts for seniors, military, and first responders.

Questions to Ask About Above-Ground Pool Cost

You’ll want to have all the information you can get before you decide which pool company to hire. This will help avoid miscommunication and unwanted surprises. Always be sure to ask if the company is licensed, bonded, and insured. You can also ask how long they have been in business to ensure you hire experienced professionals. Here are some additional questions to ask.

  • What kind of above-ground pools have you built before?
  • Do you have a portfolio and references?
  • Can I see a line-item estimate?
  • Do you offer financing?
  • Do you require a deposit up front?
  • What type of pool is best for my family to use?
  • For the dimensions I want, what are the differences in cost between each type of pool?
  • What kind of site preparation will be needed?
  • Will you send someone to my house to inspect the area before I hire you?
  • How many employees will build my pool?
  • How long will it take to build?
  • Do you subcontract any part of the project?
  • Will I need electricity for this type of pool?
  • How hard is it to clean an above-ground pool?
  • How much maintenance is required for each type of pool?
  • Do you have experience building a deck around the pool? If so, how much more will that cost?
  • How much will it cost to add a saltwater generator to this pool?
  • How many gallons of water will this pool hold?
  • Will I need to change the water often?
  • How often will I need to replace my liner?
  • How long will this pool last?
  • Will I need a pool cover?
  • Do I need to drain the water during the winter?
  • How much is a pool heater?
  • What kind of warranties or guarantees are offered with this type of pool?

FAQs

Above-ground pool costs aren’t overly complicated, but there are still a number of things to know before putting one in your backyard. In addition to the information above, we’ve included the answers to many frequently asked questions to help guide your decision.

Q. Can I install an above-ground pool myself?

Some types of above-ground pools are easier to install than others. This is especially true if the area where the pool will be placed is already level and needs minimal excavation. All sod and rocks must be removed at a minimum, but the ground must also be leveled, tamped, and often filled with a base of sand.

But building the pool itself is another matter to consider if you’re unfamiliar with putting together large projects. In most cases, it’s much easier and safer to let a pro handle the installation so there are no issues with leaks or improperly installed features.

Q. How much do inground vs. semi-inground vs. above-ground pool costs compare?

In-ground pools usually cost between $38,719 and $69,599, while semi-inground pools cost just $6,000 to $20,000. Above-ground pool costs are the cheapest with an average of $820 to $5,356.

Q. What brand of above-ground pool is best?

Everyone has different tastes; some may not like the idea of an inflatable pool, while others might really appreciate their value for a low cost. The best above-ground pool is the one that meets your needs, matches your budget, and brings family and friends together for an afternoon of fun.

Q. Can I turn my above-ground pool into a saltwater pool?

It depends. If you have a pool with a metal frame, it’s not recommended to turn it into a saltwater pool since the steel will deteriorate quickly. But if you have a hard-sided pool with a vinyl liner, it’s fairly easy to switch from chlorine to saltwater. Talk with a local pool maintenance company about what kind of saltwater generator will work best, and what type of filters and maintenance supplies you’ll need.

Q. Can I Install an above-ground pool on any surface?

It’s not recommended to build an above-ground pool on just any surface, with the one exception of an inflatable pool that can be moved around. Semipermanent or permanent pools need to have a stable, level base to avoid shifting over time and weakening the integrity of the structure. It’s best to install an above-ground pool on a tamped surface or even a concrete pad.

There are also commercial pads that you or an installer can purchase and cut to match your pool. You can also opt for solid foam, carpet padding, or flooring underlayment. Choose the option that provides the flat surface and comfort level you want under your pool.

Q. How long does it take to install an above-ground pool?

This depends on how much ground preparation is needed. Significant landscaping removal and leveling can take at least a day or more. From start to finish, it’s best to plan for 1 to 3 days of preparation and construction. In terms of installing just the pool itself, an average-size pool can be installed by a team of pros in 4 to 6 hours—much faster than any DIY installation!

Sources: Angi, HomeAdvisor, HomeGuide, Fixr

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