The Best Above-Ground Swimming Pools
Cheap Swimming Pools
Keeping young children entertained is easy with a plastic or inflatable kiddie pool. But if you want the whole family to stay cool during the hot summer months, you’ll need a backyard pool. An in-ground pool is one option, but be prepared to dig deep into your wallet (they run about $30,000 or more) and consider the many potential drawbacks of a backyard pool. Above-ground pools are far less expensive and many are easy to assemble. We identified several cheap pools that should offer at least a couple of seasons, if not several years, of warm-weather family fun. Even better, you don’t need to go to a specialty retailer; you can find many decent above-ground pools at Walmart, Target, or Amazon. Our full buying guide includes expert tips on what to consider when buying a backyard pool, regardless of retailer or price.
Prices and availability are subject to change.
Our Top Pick
Intex Ultra XTR 24' x 52" Frame Pool Set Review
When it comes to cheap swimming pools, Intex is the brand to beat. This 24-foot-by-52-inch round steel-frame pool is one of the most popular models and gets better user feedback than most others in its class. With a generous 12,481-gallon water capacity, it’s spacious enough to comfortably accommodate multiple adults as well as kids, with room left for floats and toys. It’s also comparatively sturdy, with quality components like an extra-strong galvanized steel frame as well as a heavy-duty three-ply pool liner.
The included sand filter pump can help save money on maintenance, as there’s no need to pay for frequent filter cartridge changes, and the kit is pretty close to complete with a ladder, ground cloth, and cover. The only missing accessory is a skimmer — easy enough to order online. Another plus: The snap-together assembly requires no tools and is relatively quick. The manufacturer claims it’s ready for water in 60 minutes, and many users say that’s about right (as long as you have multiple hands to help with installation).
While a majority of reviewers suggest this pool should stand the test of time, there is some grumbling here and there about pools that arrived damaged or soon developed leaks. Still, with a best-in-class two-year warranty on the frame, liner, and filter pump, there’s more than enough to recommend taking the plunge with an Intex Ultra XTR.
Intex 32' x 16' x 52" Ultra XTR Frame Rectangular Pool Set Review
This rectangular pool is a little more expensive than similar pools available at big-box stores, but users say Intex Ultra XTR metal-frame pools, including the Intex 26373EH, are worth the extra outlay. Kits come with just about everything needed for setup, including a comparatively powerful, high-quality sand filter pump, ladder, pool cover, and ground cloth. Putting the pool together is relatively easy, according to reviews, thanks to the simple snap-together system, but the 90-minute estimate to getting it water-ready is probably a bit optimistic. Assembly is at least a two-person job, especially given the pool’s large size, and watching a few YouTube videos to supplement included instructions might help.
Still, most owners say the most difficult part of the installation process is ensuring there’s a firm surface large enough to accommodate the pool and getting that area leveled. Once it’s up and running, this Intex pool earns plenty of raves and can host a full party’s worth of swimmers along with floats. It also lends itself nicely to deck structures, which certainly ups the aesthetic appeal. The pool comes with a two-year warranty on the liner, frame, and filter pump. Intex also sells 18- and 24-foot versions of this rectangular pool, as well as frame pools that come outfitted with saltwater systems.
Bestway Steel Pro 157" x 83" x 32" Rectangular Frame Pool Review
There’s not much to this Bestway Steel Pro metal-frame pool. It’s on the small side for a rectangular pool, at just 13 feet by 7 feet by 32 inches; the construction quality is iffy; and this model lacks some key accessories, such as a filter and ladder. For the most part, however, owners don’t care: The relatively low price is a big selling point for parents who just want a cheap pool for a little summertime fun with the kids.
The fact that it’s incredibly fast and easy to set up and take down for storage between seasons is another plus; we saw reviews that claimed the pool was ready to go in as little as 30 minutes. Although this Bestway pool may not be as durable as pricier models, reviewers say it's adequate for little swimmers just getting their feet wet and grown-up shoppers who understand what they’re buying. In fact, overall ratings for this Bestway model are much better than typical for pools of this type. The Steel Pro 56512E-BW comes with a six-month warranty.
Bestway Steel Pro Max 10' x 30" Frame Pool Set Review
If your budget is tight, and you’re fine with a smaller pool for just the kids and/or an adult or two, this 10-foot-by-30-inch round pool from Bestway is very much worth considering. Don’t expect years of service from this small metal-frame pool, but the construction quality is good enough to last through a couple of summers, according to reviews. It’s easy to set up, and includes a filter, but some other important accessories — most notably a ladder and pool cover — are not included.
While the pool’s size is a minus for some, others say it’s perfect for their backyards and their needs. A drain valve with garden hose attachment also makes breakdown and storage through the winter months simple and a bit less messy. It might make sense to stock up on filter cartridges, which some owners say can be hard to find. There’s a one-year warranty on the filter pump and 90 days on the liner and accessories.
Intex 8' x 30" Easy Set Pool Set With Filter Pump Review
Don’t expect more than a season or two of service from this Intex Easy Set pool, but for buyers who consider that an acceptable lifespan, this inflatable pool is the best value among pools of its type. As the name suggests, setup is fast: Simply inflate the top ring and it’s ready to go. The manufacturer estimates around 10 minutes to get it water-ready, and owner feedback suggests that’s about right. Just be sure that the ground below the pool is absolutely level, or you may be in for a collapse. Also be on the lookout for split seams and leaks, a relatively frequent problem according to the reviews we read.
While this pool set does come with a cartridge filter pump to keep the water clean — pretty impressive given this pool’s rock-bottom price — you don’t get a lot of swim space for this kind of money. The Intex Easy Set 28111EH can serve as a small pool for kids (6 years and up) or a splash pool for adults, and sometimes that’s all you’re looking for on a hot summer day. Larger versions are also available.
Intex 88" x 85" x 30" Swim Center Family Lounge Inflatable Pool
A neat take on the traditional blow-up kiddie pool, this Intex Swim Center Family Lounge is a standout option. It’s larger than some pools suitable for kids as young as 3, so children of many ages should have sufficient room to frolic. Even better, for adult supervision — or just lounging around without the kids — there’s a built-in bench seat with backrest, along with cup holders to cradle beverages of choice. Like all blow-up pools, this one doesn’t promise more than a season or two of usage at best, and we did see some reports of pools that were defective right out of the box. Still, most owners are pleased. Intex backs its 57190EP with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.
Summer Waves Elite 15' x 48" Metal-Frame Pool Review
If you’re just looking for a little summer fun for your family and don’t want to invest a lot of money in a lot of pool, this metal-frame Summer Waves pool is a more-than-decent choice. It’s smaller and a little less well-made than our top pick for an above-ground pool, but the Summer Waves brand (manufactured by Polygroup) is the most popular name in cheap pools next to Intex. For a decidedly low price, buyers get a package that includes an A-frame ladder with safety barrier, pool cover, and maintenance kit complete with vacuum hose and head. The unique cartridge filtration system with integrated surface skimmer also helps keep the pool clean and debris-free.
Although some owners complain of flimsy construction and underpowered filtration, and there are reports of faulty pumps and failing liners, overall user feedback indicates that those who opt for the Summer Waves NB2030 are generally pleased. The short 90-day warranty doesn’t provide much coverage, but reviewers say if you follow the instructions and make sure the pool is set up on level, firm ground, things should go swimmingly.
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