Having a pool installed in your backyard by your hot tub enclosure can give you a fun way to beat the heat and relax after a long day. Pools are very common in hot climates, but they can also be a nice addition in seasonal climates as well, and this leads many people to wonder about the general above ground pool cost to install and maintain it. If you’re not ready to excavate your yard for an inground pool, starting off with an above ground pool is a solid choice. Not only do you get to experience what it’s like to have a pool of you own, but you can also get a feel for the maintenance that goes with it.
Generally speaking, your above ground pool cost will be less than an in-ground option, and they’re usually much less invasive to install. This can save you time, but it can also help to protect your landscaping. They come in several shapes and sizes, and you can choose one with or without a deck attached to it. There is less flexibility with customization with these pools, but they can be well worth it if you’re brand new to pool ownership and you’re not sure what to expect.
On average, your above ground pool cost will run between $10,000 to $12,000 for a professional installation. Most people find themselves spending around $11,000 to build a 12-foot by 24-foot above ground pool with a wooden deck built around it. If you want to buy a kit and install your pool yourself, they can range from $750 up to $4,400. This can be a DIY project to help save on your above ground pool cost, but you have to know what you’re doing to install it correctly. You’ll pay more for leveling, hookups, installation, and any extras you want like a pool deck or slide.
If you’re curious as to what your above ground pool cost will be to install and maintain it, this is for you. We’re going to outline everything you need to know in this comprehensive guide, and you can use it to tailor the price of your specific project. This will allow you to create a working budget while getting the pool you want to create a relaxing oasis in your yard.
Installing an above ground pool can be a great way to give yourself an space to sit back and relax in the summer, and it creates a natural gathering place in your yard when you entertain your family and friends. Subj above ground pool by Marci / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
How Pool Type Impacts Your Above Ground Pool Cost
What type of pool do you want to install? Unlike an inground pool, you’ll have slightly fewer options available, but you can make up for it with the lower above ground pool costs. There are many shapes and types to choose from, and each decision will impact their cost. They include:
If you choose a hard-sided pool, your pool will have either steel or aluminum sides that come with a resin coating covering them. This is a very durable choice for hard use, but you have very limited shape and size options available. You can get a 48-inch up to 54-inch heights with them, and they’ll increase your above ground pool installation costs by $2,000 to $7,000.
Inflatable above-ground pools are a slightly newer design to the market. You’ll use an air compressor to blow up the pool. These tend to be slightly smaller options with a more rounded shape. You shouldn’t leave them out all year-round in seasonal climates because colder temperatures can damage them. Instead, you’re supposed to deflate them and store them at the end of this season. This model will boost your above ground pool cost budget by $200 to $1,000.
Maybe you want a low-impact way to exercise. If so, a lap pool is a good fit. This is a very long and deep pool that you can use to swim laps. You can get fully inground, fully above ground, or semi-above ground models with this pool, and they’re more narrow shaped. You’ll have to go custom with a fully above ground pick, and they usually have a metal frame. Your above ground pool cost will go up to between $7,000 and $10,000 with this model.
The metal frame pool is the classic one you think of when you picture an above-ground pool. They come with a metal frame kit that is relatively quick and easy to put together yourself. You’ll then stretch a liner over your assembled frame to complete the setup process. They’re not as long-lasting or as durable anss full hard-sided pools, but they’re nice to have set up for a few seasons. You’ll pay between $500 and $3,000 for this pool, and they’re usually slightly smaller.
This is one of the most common shapes for an above-ground pool you can get. Oval designs give you more space to move in than a round pool, and they don’t have any corners or sharp angles to worry about. They’re usually metal-framed or hard-sided, and they can have decks or not. This can cause your above ground pool cost to fluctuate, and you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $4,000.
This pool type isn’t as common as some on the list, but it’s a nice way to get a slightly larger pool that you can swim laps in. If you choose to have an endless above-ground pool you’ll get one with a rectangular shape. These are typically metal framed or hard-sided designs, and most of them will have a deck built around them. The above ground pool cost for a rectangular version fluctuates between $2,000 and $7,000.
If you’re short on space in your yard, a round pool is a decent choice. Round shapes come with the most options available for what materials they use, and they can be inflatable, metal framed, or hard-sided. This gives you more options in how you erect your pool. Additionally, it’s easier to DIY the setup process with a smaller round pool, and this can easily save you money. Your above ground pool cost for this option starts at $500 and goes up to $4,000.
A semi-above design will blend above ground with inground pools. This allows you to get more depth than you would with a traditional above-ground pool, but you won’t have to dig out your yard as much with an inground pool. When you look at them from the outside, they have the appearance of a traditional above-ground pool until you get in and realize they’re significantly deeper.
There are several types of above ground pools available, and many people who pick this type still want to have all of the amenities that are available with a traditional inground pool. Common options include a heater, lights, and a deck. This can add to your above ground pool costs and make them go up very quickly, especially if you want more than one amenity.
Your above ground pool costs will fluctuate depending on the type of pool you get. Some are more expensive than others, especially if this is the first time you’re going to put a pool in your yard because there is more work involved to get the site ready.
Price for Different Sizes and Depths
You may have more limited options with an above ground pool than with an inground pool, but you still get several different choices you can customize for the depth and size of the pool. You’ll typically choose from three depths of 48-inches, 52-inches, or 54-inches. Not every type of pool offers all three of these depths. Generally speaking, the larger your pool is, the deeper it will go. You could also get a pool that is shaped to be deeper in the center and more shallow along the edges. However, your pool’s shape will determine if this is possible or not.
Your above ground pool costs factor in the material, depth, and size of the pool. This is why there is such a big cost range depending on the depths and sizes. We’ve picked out some of the most popular options below, and it includes the costs of materials or the kit. They following estimates don’t include decking or labor:
- 15-feet round & 48-inches deep – $800 to $1,500
- 18-feet round & 52-inches deep – $1,000 to $2,500
- 24-feet round & 52-inches deep – $2,000 to $2,500
- 12-feet by 24-feet & 52-inches deep – $2,000 to $5,000
- 24-feet round & 54-inches deep – $2,500 to $4,000
- 16-feet by 32-feet & 54-inches deep – $3,500 to $6,000
- 33-feet round & 54-inches deep – $4,000 to $7,000
If you don’t intend to install your pool yourself, labor will factor into your above ground pool costs because you’ll have to hire a company to come in and set it up for you. Most above ground options use an interlocking design to form the basic pool shape. This interlocking design makes the installation process much easier and simpler when you compare it to inground pools. You will have to level the land to accommodate the pool if necessary, and this can increase your above ground pool costs.
You’ll pay for material delivery before the company constructs the frame. They’ll typically interlock the panels in a hard-sided pool, or they’ll put the frame together for a metal-framed pool before stretching the liner across it. If you have any raised garden beds in the space, you’ll want to move them.
The company will then install any lights, filters, or pumps for your pool. If you want a deck, now is the time the company will build it. If you haven’t had a pool in this area before, you’ll have to run electricity through a small ground trench, and this can increase your above ground pool costs because it involves bringing in an electrician.
The entire installation process usually takes two days, and it’s not uncommon to have the company you bought the kit from come out and install it. For labor, most companies will charge between $2,000 and $5,000. The type of pool and the pool’s size will factor in. Other costs that will increase your above ground pool cost are whether or not they have to level the area and whether or not you want a deck. Costs to consider include:
- Assembly – $3,000
- Cover – $200
- Deck – $1,200
- Filter – $1,000
- Frame – $3,000
- Heater – $2,000
- Land Clearing – $2,000
- Lighting – $300
- Liner – $200
- Pump – $2,100
- Steps or Ladders – $200
If you get a kit and choose to DIY, your above ground pool cost will be lower because it won’t include labor costs. However, you should only do this if you’re confident in what you’re doing so you don’t accidentally damage the pool. IMG_4421 by Chris Grazioli / CC BY 2.0
Additional Cost Factors to Consider
It’s not as simple as figuring out one part of your above ground pool costs. Instead, you have to think of all of the small factors that will cause your prices to fluctuate. While some of these things are optional depending on your pool type, you may want to include:
Filter System and Pump
Your above ground pool will need a filtration system and a pump to keep it clear and clean, just like any pool. They keep your pool water circulating 24 hours a day. Most filtration systems and pumps for these pools are the same ones you’d put on an inground pool.
However, you do want to size them to fit your specific pool to ensure they work adequately. W pump will increase your above ground pool cost by $2,100 on average, and the filter will cost around $1,000. A lot of kits for above ground pools already have the filter and pump system included in the cost.
Ladder and Steps
How do you plan to get in and out of your pool? An above ground pool requires some type of stairs or a ladder to get in and out. This is true even if your pool has a deck around it. A lot of kits will come with a basic set of stairs or a ladder included in the original costs, but they can be difficult to use or unstable.
If you want to buy your own, they can increase your above ground pool cost by $100 to $500. Steps start around $500 while ladders are on the lower end at around $100 each. You could also choose to have one set outside the pool and one inside to make access easier, and this can increase your costs.
Some hard-sided and metal-framed pools require you to have a pool liner inside. There are four basic types of pool liners available, and they generally get categorized by how your company will install them. Each one can impact your above ground pool cost in a different way, and they include:
- Beaded – Beaded-style liners are very popular, and they liner only goes in the pool’s interior without going up over the top ledge. There is a channel just under the top lip of the pool that these liners adhere to, and this makes the installation process more complex. They have more restricted sizes, and they’ll cost between $150 and $500.
- Expandable – These are very durable and tough liners that can outlast other types. They come made to fit the pool by stretching over the frame, and this allows a single liner to fit a lot of different pool shapes and sizes. In turn, this removes the worry that you won’t get a good fit. This liner will increase your above ground pool cost more than other types, and they run between $200 and $700.
- Overlap – Overlap-style liners are easy to install and inexpensive. They’ll slip over your pool’s edge, and you’ll have an edging channel that slides over them to hold them firmly in place. Depending on the size, they can increase your above ground pool cost by $100 to $400.
- Unibead – This is a replacement liner. You can easily use them with a beaded liner channel or an overlap channel. This makes them slightly more versatile. The size is the biggest factor in the cost, and you can expect to spend between $100 and $500.
Ongoing Maintenance Costs
Generally speaking, you usually get by with lower ongoing maintenance costs with above ground pools than you do with inground pools. However, they both need some ongoing maintenance to ensure the systems are working well and that your pool stays clear and clean. You’ll have to purchase and balance chemicals, clean out the filters and traps, and skim debris from the surface of the pool.
Because above ground pools are usually smaller models, a lot of people choose to do the maintenance portion themselves. However, if you have a bigger model, you may want to contract with a pool company and have them do your yearly opening and closing maintenance.
They can also do ongoing chemical balancing. To open your pool, it can add $225 to your above ground pool costs, and closing the pool will add another $250. If you choose to have them come out once or twice a month to check and balance your chemicals, it can cost between $50 and $100 a visit.
Improvement and Enhancement Costs
There are several steps you can take to enhance or improve your pool, but they’re optional. So, if you’re on a tighter budget with your above ground pool cost spreadsheet, you may opt out of these right away. You can always go back and add things later.
Most above ground pools will need a cover to help keep debris out and keep it clean when it’s not in use. You have several options available when it comes to your cover, including mesh or solid. Depending on the type, shape, and size of the cover, they can add between $100 and $300 to your above ground pool cost.
It’s not always necessary that you install a deck with your above ground pool, but they’re a nice way to finish the area. With a deck, you can easily sit on the edge of the pool, entertain more easily, and have an area to sit and keep an eye on your kids. The deck will be built to go around the top edge of the pool, and you can choose to have it go around the entire pool, one side, two sides, or three sides.
Generally speaking, you’ll build your pool deck like you would a house deck using a wooden frame with decking material. On average, it’s around $18.00 a square foot. So, if you had a 12-foot by 24-foot pool with a deck that encompassed it, you’d pay around $5,200. A smaller deck on one side would cost around $1,200. A two-sided deck would be $3,000 and a three-sided deck falls around $4,000 with basic decking materials, and you can easily paint it.
Depending on the type of pool filter or heater system you get, you may find yourself having to run electricity from your home out to the pool. The work usually involves digging up a small portion of your yard, and you’ll have to factor in an electrician to your above ground pool cost at $65 to $85 an hour.
You have to pass safety and building codes, so your pool will need to be fenced in with a locking gate. It doesn’t have to be a huge privacy fence, but it has to be durable and difficult to climb over. To encompass a 12-foot by 24-foot pool, a fence with a latching gate will cost around $1,100.
A heater is an optional feature to have, but it’s nice if you want to get into a pool with warm water at any time of the day or evening. It will make the pool more comfortable in cooler weather too, and this can extend your season. You’ll size the heater to your pool, and it costs between $1,800 and $2,400 for the heater itself and to install it.
Not all above ground pools can have lighting installed, so you may want to ask the company you work with. If you have a hard sided pool, you can add around $1,200 to your above ground pool cost and have them installed. You can also purchase floating lights for $300 to $500.
There are ongoing water costs associated with installing the pool and maintaining the correct water levels. For the initial fill, it can boost your water costs by $80.00 to $160, depending on the pool’s size. After this, you shouldn’t see a huge increase in your water bill to top off the water levels.
Water features like waterfalls and fountains are not as common in above ground pools as they are in inground pools because there is less space to adequately support them. However, if you have a deck around your pool, you can increase your above ground pool cost by around $1,000 to install a waterfall.
Where to Find Above Ground Pool Installation Experts Near You
When you start budgeting for your above ground pool costs, you’ll want to get expert quotes from four or five local companies. This will help you get more realistic numbers to work with, and you’ll see what you can and can’t afford. You can use the following as a great starting point to find local companies:
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s important that you know which questions to ask about your above ground pool before you call up contractors. This will help you get a clear estimate based on your unique factors. Above Ground Pool by Benny Lin / CC BY-NC 2.0
1. Do you need a permit?
Depending on the type of above ground pool you pick out, you could need a permit. Generally speaking, inflatable pools usually don’t fall under the permanent structure category, so they won’t need them. Contact with the local city or town hall to be sure.
2. Do you have to clear the land before you install the pool?
Many people forget to factor land clearing and leveling into their above ground pool costs. If the ground isn’t level, the company would have to bring in heavy equipment to clear and level the site before they build the pool. Depending on the amount of work needed, you could pay between $1,500 and $3,000.
3. How long do above ground pools last?
You want to get the most out of your investment since it can be pricey. However, the good news is that a well-maintained above ground pool can last between 3 and 15 years.
Your total above ground pool cost will depend on a range of factors, but you can get a good feeling for your project cost with this guide. We’ve outlined the biggest things you want to consider, and you can see which ones apply to your situation. Once you know this, you can call around to get estimates and see how well they match up to your above ground pool cost budget.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.