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Cheap Above Ground Pools

Updated on February 14, 2013

Thinking of an Above Ground Pool?

Having your own backyard swimming pool can be great fun, good exercise, and a satisfying way to keep the kids or grandkids happy for hours. Here you'll find tips and information about the cheap aboveground pools, ones that you can put up and take down easily every year--unless you live in a warm climate where you can use them year round.

I'm writing here about two types of pools: the more inexpensive plastic models--things that look like they evolved from wading pools--and the metal frame ones that do cost a bit more but are sturdier. All are made by a company called Intex. There are other companies, but Intex sure seemed to me to be the market leader, so I stuck with it in my research. I did sit on hold interminably on their customer service line when I had some questions. (Never did talk to them; my patience gave out first. I am not known for my patience.)

You might have thought that your own pool would cost several hundred dollars at least, but not necessarily! Yet they can be fun and very refreshing in the heat.

Let's start with a list of questions to help you in deciding whether to get a pool and if so, what kind. Then we'll compare the two kinds of pools and look at examples of each type. I've found instructional videos on how to set the pools up, and the page ends with maintenance tips and some miscellany. There are a couple of places where you can write your thoughts.

Image source: Amazon.com

In a Nutshell...

Intex above ground pools can provide both kids and adults with a lot of fun. You can cool off nicely in them.

Most people are happy with them... but as these pools are very inexpensive, sometimes they do leak or develop other problems. (Leaks can often be patched.)

Read on for details!

Five Questions to To Help You Decide - Would an Above Ground Pool Meet Your Needs?

  1. What can you afford? Only you can judge this. On this page you can get an idea of prices for different sizes and types of pools. You will also need to allow something for maintenance costs, but it need not be much, as I describe near the end of the page.
  2. Do you have a level spot to set up one of these pools? They really need to be level, on dirt or concrete. You could put them on lawn if you didn't mind the grass dying.

    If your location is even a slight slope, the manufacturer says you'll need to make it level. It also needs to be smooth, without sharp rocks or other things that could destroy the pool over time.

  3. What size pool do you want? They begin at 8 feet in diameter and go up to 18 or even 24 feet. You may want to measure the location in your yard and see what size pool would give you enough space around it. Also consider how many people at a time are likely to use it. This is a good time to be sure the spot would be close enough to a GFCI electric outlet and to your hose.
  4. Would you rather get a cheaper plastic pool that is super easy to set up, or would you want a metal frame pool with a sturdy plastic liner? It is said to have a pretty easy setup too. If you're not sure, read on for more about the differences.
  5. Are you willing to do the maintenance while your pool is up? You'll need to run the filter, keep leaves and debris out of the pool, maybe use a cover on it, and also do a chlorine or other process to keep the water clean and clear. This shouldn't take too long once you figure out a system that works for you.

Plastic Pools vs. Metal Frame Pools

Plastic Pools

  • They are cheaper.
  • Most people are happy with them, but some people find that they break too easily. (You can patch many of the leaks.) You may want to read some of the customer reviews at Amazon to get a sense of what people think of them. I have selected pools to list on this page that people are generally pleased with.
  • Setup time is minimal, could be just a few minutes.
  • They can be filled to 80% of their height, so a 30 inch high pool could be filled with 2 feet of water.
  • Once a pool is filled with water, it may be shallower than its dimensions out-of-the-box. Actually, the 30 inch pools seem to end up a good height for preschoolers and still fun for the rest of us.
  • I found a link to the user manuals for the Intex Easy Set above ground pools. If you are into a lot of research, as I tend to be, you can download any of these. That page also has quite a few how-to videos, in .wmv format. Also, see further down here for a couple of how-to videos I found on YouTube.
  • Must be taken down over the winter--they can't stand freezing--unless you live in a very warm area where it doesn't freeze.
  • People report durability of many different times... the longest I've read of someone using one is seven years. There are also reports of a few days or weeks. One or two years is quite common, and people who get that much time out of them seem generally content.

Metal Frame Pools

  • These can be filled to 90% of their height and they come in some heights that are taller than the plastic Easy Set pools.
  • Many people move up to the Intex metal frame pools after having had one or more Intex Easy Set pools.
  • Setup time is longer than for the plastic pools, but still pretty easy.
  • Here is a link to the webpage for the Intex metal frame pool PDF manuals. -- and there are .wmv format videos there too.
  • Like the plastic pools, the metal frame ones must be taken down over the winter--they can't stand freezing--unless you live in a very warm area where it doesn't freeze.
  • The larger ones are not nearly as cheap as the plastic pools or the smaller metal frame ones, but they are still bargains compared to permanent pools.

Plastic Pools

Some of these have additional shipping charges, and some don't, so take a look at that if you are comparing prices at Amazon.

Also, all of these that I selected do come with a filter pump. If you click through to Amazon and then end up looking a variety of pools, be sure to check whether a pool comes with the filter pump or not. The ones that don't might catch your eye because they are cheaper, but it seems that essentially they are meant as replacements.

INTEX 15' x 48" Easy Set Pool Set w/ Pump, Ladder, Kits
INTEX 15' x 48" Easy Set Pool Set w/ Pump, Ladder, Kits

This is a complete kit with quite a few add-ons, including the filter pump.

 

A Word about Setting Up the Plastic Pools

Intex pools don't come with an air pump to blow up the ring. You--or friends or neighbors--may have a pump for an airbed or raft, or a bicycle pump. You might need duct tape to connect. The PDF advises you to use a manual pump, as an electric one could fill the ring too fast and perhaps damage it.

Metal Frame Pools

This Listing Says 12 Feet Wide, but Other Choices are on the Page

This pool comes in 4 sizes, with prices varying: 12 feet across and 30 inches tall, 15 feet across with 42 inches tall, 15 feet across with 48 inches tall, and 24 feet across with 52 inches tall. The larger ones do cost a good bit more. By clicking on the link below, you'll get to the Amazon page where you can see them all.

It's worth remembering that the larger the pool, the more water it will require.

The manufacturer's information says you could set this up in half an hour. Readers say it does typically take them a bit longer than that, but that it is still pretty easy.

A Couple of Instructional Videos from YouTube

I watched quite a few videos to find good ones. These two are particularly clear on how to set up your pool. The first one, at ten minutes long, goes into plenty of detail. It is about Intex plastic pools and the second one is about the metal frame ones. I couldn't tell if these were made by the manufacturer and uploaded by a retailer, but that's my guess.

On eBay

These Listings Will Vary and Could Show Either Type of Pool

This is an automatic data feed from eBay, where I picked the term "Intex pool" as the search term. You could click through on any listing and do a new search on "Intex easy set" or "Intex metal frame" or something of the sort, and you would see more listings for precisely what interests you.

Do check carefully to see if any pool that catches your eye comes with a filter pump.

Also, given that wear and tear on these pools can lead to leaks, I would not myself buy a used one. It's my guess that most of these pools are brand new.

It could save you some money to compare anything you find at eBay with my Amazon listings, including shipping charges--if any--for both places.

Maintaining An Above Ground Pool

You will work out a method that works for you over time.

I've been insisting that you need a filter pump. How long you will need to run it each day will depend on the size of the pump and the size of the pool, and probably also on how dirty your water tends to get. There is a chart of suggested times in the PDF instruction manual that I linked to in the Plastic Pools section near the top of this page.

You will need to change the filter cartridges from time to time. So the first item on the list below is a 6-pack of them at an economical price. You can hose these out, with pretty good pressure from your hose, and reuse them.

Next, chlorinating the pool or using some sort of chlorine substitute is necessary to keep the pool water clear and clean. I've listed several products here. The first is a kit of pool chemicals and test strips.

Listed after that is a floating chlorine dispenser and just after it, chlorine tabs from the same company. This looks like a good and economical combination to me.

The last item, with a considerably higher price tag, is something Intex makes, a salt system for purifying water. It is still chlorination but milder evidently. They say this is mainly for the larger pools but I came across a long and thoughtful review by a reader who has a very small pool. At the time I was there, it was rated the most helpful review of this 8 foot Intex pool. Even if the review doesn't stay in that top position, I'm sure you can find it by browsing a bit on that page.

Keeping a cover on your pool will help to keep leaves and debris out of it.

There are other tools you can use to keep your pool clean, like specially made vacuums, but this will get you started.

Kem-Tek Pool Floating Tablet Dispenser
Kem-Tek Pool Floating Tablet Dispenser

This is meant to hold the tabs listed next.

 
Kem-Tek 099 3-Inch Chlorinating Tablets for Pool and Spa, 3-Pound
Kem-Tek 099 3-Inch Chlorinating Tablets for Pool and Spa, 3-Pound

You just keep an eye on how these are holding up in the dispenser and add more per the directions.

 

If I Were Buying One Today...

I Would Go For The Intex 8 foot, 30 inch Model - With a Filter Pump

This is small and inexpensive, and would suit us. Usually my husband and I would use it by ourselves, and sometimes just one of us would use it. We aren't serious swimmers so we would use it just to cool off and do a little water aerobics. I might get a small raft to lounge on.

Once in a while, some close friends with their preschoolers come over, and they would use it too.

But we have recently been experimenting with letting our hot tub cool down to a refreshing temperature. It's all set up with filter and everything, so if we just don't run the heater much, we can easily get it to a pleasant temperature. At first we tried 80 degrees, and we did it on a very hot day, but brrr that was chilly! We warmed the hot tub up to 85 and that is refreshing. So we will leave it about like that for the summer. Of course, we had to give up hot soaks, but that's okay for now.

Our hot tub is in our greenhouse, away from mosquitos and other bugs. I won't get any Vitamin D from being in the sun in it, but I will likely use it after working in the garden. There's plenty of sun there.

If we do get an Intex pool, I will certainly report on that.

Kids and Pools

Be attentive... You know why. Put up some sort of fence or barrier if needed to limit access.

Just saying!

Please note that if you click through to Amazon.com from here and if you buy something, Squidoo and I may share a commission, at no cost to you. Clicking on some of the other links might also yield me some commission. I appreciate the income, as it enables me to spend time doing writing like this.

Your Thoughts are Welcome

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    • hartworks lm profile image
      Author

      hartworks lm 5 years ago

      @anonymous: I can't picture how the grass would survive under the pool, but maybe it would come back after you took the pool down. You might ask whoever takes care of the grass what they think.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thank you for the great information. I rent a duplex. Is there a way I can protect from killing the grass under the pool? I am a single female and not up for major construction etc in order to set up my pool. I plan to purchase the 8x30 plastic pool.

    • hartworks lm profile image
      Author

      hartworks lm 5 years ago

      @MelanieMurphyMyer: Hmm... this could ALMOST count as a kiddie pool!

    • MelanieMurphyMyer profile image

      MelanieMurphyMyer 5 years ago

      Very informative and well done! We aren't allowed above-ground pools in our neighborhood (except kiddie pools). I hope someday to have an in-ground pool...

    • hartworks lm profile image
      Author

      hartworks lm 5 years ago

      @belinda342: I didn't have any idea till I did the research for this!

    • belinda342 profile image

      belinda342 5 years ago

      I've been tempted to get an above ground swimming pool for years. I never knew they could be so inexpensive! Maybe next year I'll be relaxing in a pool of my own!

    • KayeSI profile image

      KayeSI 5 years ago

      A great lens on the above the ground swimming pools. Thanks for the information.

    • hartworks lm profile image
      Author

      hartworks lm 5 years ago

      @bechand: Thanks for the tip! These can hold quite a lot of water. Once full, you hsould be able to keep up with replacing the water lost to evaporation.

    • bechand profile image

      bechand 5 years ago

      we had one last year - but it was too hard to fill due to our well. So suggestion is to have a "fill a pool" come to fill if your on a well like us ... :O) Tons of great info here - we might try again some time :O)

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      It is a great idea to have it, it is portable, but I think the maintenance is a little harder... I can be wrong...

      Great lens

    • sharonbellis profile image

      Sharon Bellissimo 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      Great lens. I am seriously thinking of purchasing one this summer. I like the plastic intel pools, just have to decide on size.

    • Mami Design profile image

      Mami Design 5 years ago

      Tnx for this wide range of pools!

    • hartworks lm profile image
      Author

      hartworks lm 5 years ago

      @markadamdouglass: Well, we won't be getting it because the hot tub is working out great for cooling off!

    • markadamdouglass profile image

      markadamdouglass 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing all of your great research. I agree that your choice looks like a good one. i do not have anywhere to put one right now as I live in an apartment, but maybe one day

    • hartworks lm profile image
      Author

      hartworks lm 5 years ago

      @flycatcherrr: Thanks, flycatcher! Just got caught up in your greyhound lenses!

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      How good of you to do the research for the rest of us! :) The world needs more trained librarians, eh? Good job on this lens.

    • hartworks lm profile image
      Author

      hartworks lm 5 years ago

      @mbgphoto: Thank you! I'm finding that my research skills from having been a librarian combine well with my writing, here on Squidoo!

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 5 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Excellent...well written and organized.

    • hartworks lm profile image
      Author

      hartworks lm 5 years ago

      @microfarmproject: Thanks! I love digging out information!

    • microfarmproject profile image

      microfarmproject 5 years ago

      This is a very informative and handy lens. Thanks!