When the heat sets in, people instinctively look for the soothing cool of water. Sometimes, a bath is not enough and it’s not always that we live near a beach, nor does everyone always have the funds for an in-ground pool. In these instances, above-ground pools are the perfect alternative.
Above-ground vs. In-ground
- 1 Above-ground vs. In-ground
- 2 Buying Guide Step
- 3 Choose wisely!
Above-ground pools offer numerous benefits, not least among them is their practicality. Such pools are available for a considerably lower price than in-ground pools, and they come in kits that can be assembled and installed in a short span of time, usually just a few days.
Despite this, above-ground pools can also offer the same amenities that in-ground pools can offer. The best above-ground pool units have options such as decks and railings, sometimes as an add-on purchase. You can also install heating systems to extend your swim time. Above-ground pools are also perfect for kids, since you can install them with fences, gates and locks — they are safe so long as adults are on watch.
One of the two main disadvantages of above-ground pools is that they usually add no real estate value to the home. They are unsuitable for diving, since most of them are just 48-52 inches in depth. They also come in just round or oval shapes in various sizes. A redeeming point there is that a family may start with a small pool at first then move up to a larger one as the family grows. For example, a family with 6 members should be comfortable with no less than a pool 24-feet in diameter.
Buying Guide Step
Step 1. Plan your purchase.
This is the step that some people take for granted, and yet it is the most important. Simply put, the size of the pool you are buying should jive with the yard size. Knowing your preferred size also allows you to narrow down the price range considerably.
Decide if you want a round or oval-shaped pool — the former is best for those with a large unobstructed space while the latter is preferred for narrower yards (an elongated design allows for less volume/swimming area). Also, oval pools are often much more expensive (both the price and installation costs) than their round counterparts.
The best way to measure your required size is to attach a tape measure to a stake placed in the middle of the yard. The stake will be the center of the pool and with this, you can measure the radius you will need.
Step 2. Look at the materials.
If you want to get the best above-ground pool, you have to look at the materials they are made of. There are three common types — aluminum, steel and plastic. You will have to compare the prices of pools made from all of these materials, and of different brands made from the same material.
Take note that each material has a specific weakness. Aluminum, for example, is touted as the “no-rust” solution — despite this, aluminum still corrodes and oxidizes over time. In rough weather and moisture, it can break down faster than a similar structure made from steel. To counter this, high-end models are coated with an anti-oxidation layer. On the other hand, aluminum panels are flexible, allowing them to handle the water movement inside a larger pool better.
Steel above-ground pools are usually treated with different chemicals to increase their durability. You are looking for a zinc-dipped galvanized steel material. Even railings and uprights should have this protection. Treat the inside with a resin coat to seal it from the moisture. While steel is more structurally sound than any of the other materials, it can also break down fairly quickly when you go for a low-quality product.
Plastic resin, finally, can be your best choice if you are looking for longevity. You need to look for one with a good anti-UV coating to hold up against the rigors of nature. Resins are also good for temperature control since they do not let heat travel in the same way as aluminum and steel do. The only downside of a plastic pool is in the installation. The bottom track may flex since it is not as sturdy as steel or aluminum.
This will make it tougher to form the shape, and if the installer does not do a good job, the integrity of the entire pool may be compromised. The uprights are also harder to keep in shape because of the nature of the material; hence, some installers charge extra for resin pools.
If you are willing to shell out some extra for an above-ground pool, you can check out resin-steel hybrids that combine the strengths of the two substances while also eliminating the weakness of each.
Step 3. Check the package.
After the structure, you should also check on the things that come with the package you are buying. This is extremely important if this is your first installation. Sometimes, there are tiered packages offered by dealers and the “standard” one should at least contain the following:
- 1 horsepower pump
- A small sand filter
- Overlap pool liner
- A-frame ladder
- Pool cleaning kit
On the other hand, upgraded packages can have the following:
- 1 horse power pump
- Cartridge/DE filtration system
- EZ-bead liner (in multiple pattern choices)
- Automatic pool vacuum
- A straight stair or drop-in wedding-cake style step
Of course, you know you have an above-ground pool package when you are getting more of these items for less. Just make sure you are getting quality items in those packages. If you’d really like to go all-out, you can also look for packages with automatic chlorine feeders, pool-bottom padding, solar and winter covers, LED lights, etc.
Step 4. Check the wall patterns and liners
This is just a small matter, compared to the rest, but if you want to have the best above-ground pool then this is also something to consider. You can use several attractive patterns to add a stylish statement to your new amenity. Check if your package comes with them, or if you can order them for a small add-on cost.
Step 5. Mind the installation.
Usually, people just leave the installation to the certified installers. That’s good practice, but it will even be better if we all know something about the installation process. This is so you can observe if the installers are doing their jobs properly.
For above-ground pool installation, the ground must be perfectly level. The bottom of the pool should have a firm and solid foundation. There should be no rocks, sharp objects, or roots. Some installers level the area for up to 20 inches without charging extra. This is another thing to look for when planning the installation.
Patio blocks should serve as the foundation of all the uprights, and the bottom base of the pool should be sanded. The installers will then take care of bonding the pool wall, and installing the filter systems and assembling the ladders. Of course, they should clean up the site afterward.
Remember that the installation process does not usually include obtaining permits for such structures. The water is also obtained by the pool owner. Installers are not in charge of drainage, backfilling, or landscaping, and very rarely do they offer the removal of trees or stumps that get in the way of the installation. Any electrical work will need to be done separately. The ladder is also typically not installed in the pool, since this is done after building the safety gates and fences.
Step 6. Check the accessories.
There are some things you might consider upgrading when you have everything figured out. Whether they are necessary will usually depend on your location.
Heaters. They allow you to have a longer swimming season (when winter is just going out, and when it has just set in again). You can also set it to a water temperature you are comfortable with. Consider checking on heater upgrades if you are in an area that experiences dreadful cold longer than most others.
Cleaners. There are automatic cleaners to help you skimp out on the tough work. These items can vacuum everything – from invisible dust particles to large leaves. If you are in an urban area or if there are lots of plants nearby, consider upgrading this. They also greatly help in making maintenance easier.
Salt Systems. This is one thing many people overlook. Salt systems help reduce the cleaning and maintenance time for the pool, by ensuring that your water has a balanced pH level. This is also perfect for those with sensitive skin, as an alternative to chlorine. If you have young kids or if you wish to have a very low-maintenance pool, you should check on this.
Light systems. An above-ground pool installation (or at least the prettiest) have lights to offer both ambiance and safety. You can opt for standard LED lights or have them automated so they turn on when the sun sets. They also come in various colors and designs.
Covers. If there is one pool accessory you should not spare any expenses on, it should be this. A good quality cover greatly extends the longevity of your pool by protecting it from the elements. You can also save on water bills since you will need to replace the water less. Even your electric bills can relax a bit — good covers preserve the remaining heat in the water, hence reducing the load on the heater.
Decking. This is optional, but if your pool is made for recreation, you should check this out, too. A full decking is an added expense, but it gives the illusion of an in-ground pool when done correctly. The best above-ground pool installations have it, too, since it helps hide the pumps and other accessories. Choose your furniture wisely, as they should be waterproof. Any cushions should also stay out of the water’s way, preferably in a covered area.
Step 7. Read the warranty.
Now that you have everything you need, it is time to look forward into the future. What will you do when something goes wrong in the pool? This is where a good warranty comes in.
There are usually standard and extended types of warranties available. For an above-ground pool installation, try to go for the premium warranty coverage, which usually covers water, labor and almost everything up to the liners! Otherwise, you can go for the standard, which covers structural defects.
Check if your dealer offers defect reimbursements, and up to what price. This is like an insurance that gives you peace of mind, covering things like rusting and warping walls.
Like most investments, there are lots of things to consider when choosing the best above-ground pool installations. Make sure to take everything listed here into account, so you can get the best bang for your buck! Since there are so many dealers out there, you will always find the best option that suits your needs and budget.