When it comes to pools there are generally 3 options: In-ground, on-ground, and above ground.
In-ground pools can be expensive to install, and maintenance costs aren’t cheap either! Not to mention, installing a pool at your home is a sunk cost if you decide to move later on…
On-ground pools aren’t as expensive but require a certain kind of yard and deck to install, and they suffer most of the same headaches as in-ground pools.
Above ground pools are an affordable, easily maintained, and portable option for the homeowner that must have a pool.
Nowadays, above ground pools have continued to decrease in price, and increase in quality!
With a few brands leading the charge, there are so many options in the above ground pool market, so keep reading to find which pool makes the most sense for your backyard needs!
The 6 Best Above Ground Swimming Pools for 2020
|Product||Depth||Comes With||Water Capacity|
|24 Inches||N/A||608 Gallons|
|30 Inches||Filter Pump|
|33 Inches||SFX600 Filter Pump||1600 Gallons|
|30 Inches||Filter Pump|
|48 Inches||Filter Pump|
|52 Inches||Sand Filter Pump|
Bestway Steel Pro Above Ground Swimming Pool
About the Bestway Steel Pro
The first above ground pool we’ll look at is a great option for those looking for options for small children, or a smaller backyard.
Bestway is one of the top above ground pool companies out there, and their Steel Pro series is considered a top above ground pool option.
The Bestway Steel Pro Rectangular Frame comes in a 102-inch long, 67-inch wide, 24-inch depth configuration.
While it isn’t that big, it is big enough to have a bunch of children, or a few adults, comfortably.
The pool holds a little over 600 gallons of water, and is supported by a corrosion resistant steel frame, and durable tritech material.
The pool is incredibly simple to assemble, even given its poor instruction manual, and all the necessary tools are included in the box.
The pool also has a built-in flow control valve which allows you to attach a garden hose to fill the pool, or simply drain it.
For a cheaper option, this is a relatively sturdy and reliable pool.
This pool is great option to escape the heat, and the shallow depth of the pool also makes this a great swimming trainer pool for children.
The frame is sturdy enough, the material is lightweight and durable enough for light use.
A good tip we found was to place concrete blocks (or something sturdy) below the metal posts, so as to keep them from sinking into the dirt.
The pool does not come with a pump so make sure to buy the correct corresponding Bestway Pool Pump!
Overall, given the price, we can definitely recommend the Bestway Steel Pro swimming pool, but for slightly more you can have a much better, and bigger, pool option!
Intex Prism Frame
About the Intex Prism Frame
Intex is, as of the time of writing, basically the premier above ground pool company in America. Their great products are simple to assemble, heavy-duty, and almost universally loved.
That being said, some Intex pools are made better than others.
The Intex Prism Frame Pool Set is a budget offering that provides tons (or should we say gallons) of value!
The Prism Frame comes in a 10-foot diameter, 30-inch depth option, although the water level will sit more closely around 2 feet.
This means it is another great option for those looking for a smaller pool!
The pool comes with a cartridge filter pump, a puncture-resistant 3-ply pool material, and an instructional DVD that gives you all the information you need to assemble and maintain the pool.
One of the great features of the Intex Prism pool is the introduction of Hydro Aeration technology, which is built into the cartridge filter pump!
The technology supposedly mixes air with water which improves water clarity, increases negative ions at the water’s surface, and improves circulation and filtration.
The Intex prism frame has an enhanced powder-coated metal frame that increases both the sturdiness of the pool, as well as the visual appeal!
We really liked the Intex Prism Frame Pool. It is a great looking pool, for starters.
Often, the more budget above ground pools either look or feel quite cheap. That isn’t an issue here.
When you consider the inclusion of a filter pump, an instructional DVD, and the solid build of the Intex Prism Frame Pool, it quickly becomes an attractive option to anyone looking for an above ground poo
For us, the great price point, build, and what’s included was enough to justify us naming this pool the “Best Budget Pick” on our list!
Check out the video below to learn more about the Intex Prism Frame:
Summer Waves Dark Wicker Above Ground Pool
About the Summer Waves Pool
Things are about to get bigger and better on our list of above ground swimming pools.
Introducing the Summer Waves Dark Wicker Above Ground Pool.
Summer Waves is a brand specializing in outdoor summer toys and apparel.
Their Dark Wicker pool measures 12 feet in diameter and 33 inches deep and can hold up to 1900 gallons of water.
The pool is made of a durable triple-layer liner that is puncture resistant and can stand up to summer elements.
The dark wicker pattern is a welcome departure from the ugly stale colors of most above ground pools. The pool pairs especially well with wicker lawn chairs and patio sets!
Additionally, the pool with its 12-foot diameter allows for a more spacious swim no matter which age the swimmers are!
The Summer Waves pool comes with a SFX600 filter pump which attaches to the sidewall of the pool. No more tripping over hoses!
The frame is a rust-resistant galvanizes steel that snaps together in minutes and is built to last.
The Summer Waves Dark Wicker above ground pool is actually a great value above ground pool, but there are a few issues.
For one, the pool can be tricky to find in stock online. And when it is available, prices seem to vary drastically from supplier to supplier.
At a price point around $300, we would recommend this pool.
However, prices can vary between $300-$500, and the dark wicker pattern is less available than the beige weave wicker exterior option.
This is a great pool, with few actual flaws, but given the lack of price reliability, we cannot give it our “Best Value Pick”.
If you happen to order the Summer Waves Dark Wicker pool, make sure the ground underneath your pool is level, and we’d recommend laying down a tarp underneath the pool for added security.
Bestway Steel Pro Frame Pool Set
About the Bestway Steel Pro
We’ve already looked at a Bestway Steel Pro Pool on this list, and once again Bestway offers some of the best value of any above ground pool.
The prior Bestway was a rectangular frame pool, but this Steel Pro is a 12-foot diameter, 30-inch depth circular option.
At an absolutely incredible price, this Bestway pool gives you a similar size to the prior Summer Waves Dark Wicker option, at a fraction of the price point.
The pool is super easy to assemble, and the package includes a 330-gallon filter pump and filter cartridge allowing you to get your pool filled the same day as assembly!
The pool also comes with a heavy-duty repair patch, and an instructional DVD. No matter which obstacles you come across, Bestway has given you the tools to keep your pool operational.
There is a flow-control valve for easy draining, and the pool is quite durable and should last you many summers if you take proper care of it.
The steel frame snaps together very intuitively, and Bestway has once again offered a great product.
The Bestway Steel Pro above ground pools are reliable, sturdy, and best of all, available at a great price point.
The one downside we see with the Bestway Steel Pro is the ugly (in our opinion) blue tarp-like design.
The prior Summer Waves or Intex pools definitely has the Bestway beat when it comes to looks, but in pretty much every other category we prefer the Bestway!
This 12-feet by 30-inch pool can be had for as low as $130.
It’s hard to argue with a value offering like that, and we are comfortable calling the Bestway Steel Pro 12’ 30” above ground pool the “Best Value Pick” of any above ground pool.
Don’t believe us? Watch the video below to see a review and installation of this great (and affordable) pool:
Intex 18-Foot Easy Set Pool
About the Intex Easy Set
If you’re tired of the complex assembly of some other above-ground pool sets an inflatable Intex Easy Set Pool may be the pool for you.
This pool is a huge increase in size from any prior pool we’ve looked at, without a drastic change in price.
For under $200 you could have an 18-foot in diameter, 48-inch deep pool, big enough for the whole family!
This pool is advertised as super-easy to assemble, taking less than 30 minutes to get ready to fill with water!
And it takes a whole lot of water – nearly 5500 gallons!
All you’ll need is a flat patch of ground, to spread out the pool, and to inflate the upper ring…
That’s quite a departure from assembling metal support frames, and it can really come in handy on those sweltering days when you simply must get yourself out of the heat and into a pool.
The pool also has Intex’s Hydro Aeration technology which we discussed in their Prism Pool option earlier.
The laminated PVC sidewalls are quite tough, and the pool comes with a ladder to help getting in and out – an absolute must with an inflatable pool.
Additional accessories include a ground cover to lay under and protect the underside of the pool, a pool cover, a filter pump, and an instructional DVD.
Also, Intex has equipped this pool with a ground fault interrupter, an added safety feature that shuts off the pump if electrical current is exposed to the water.
Intex really thought about everything, proving once again why they’re one of the best in the business.
This Intex Easy Set Pool is actually an incredible value offering, and for the size, probably the best bang for your buck of any above ground pool.
That being said, proceed with caution.
The inflatable pools are more prone to air leaks, and it is much more important that the ground the pool sits on is 100% flat.
However, there still seems to be a quality control issue with the included filter pump here as many reviewers give the product 1 star when the pump stopped working on them.
What’s worse, Intex’s customer support options aren’t reliable once you have opened and installed the product.
Overall, this is quite a great above ground pool – provided you don’t run into any of the above issues.
But we feel obliged to recommend this one as great, but unreliable.
Keep reading if you want a sure thing.
Intex 18-Foot Ultra Frame Pool
About the Intex Ultra Frame
Intex’s Easy Set Pool was a good value offering, but it suffered from poor quality control, and generally isn’t likely to last you more than one summer.
The same can’t be said of Intex’s 18-foot diameter, 52-inch deep Ultra Frame Pool.
The Ultra Frame is supported by durable steel frames, powder coated to resist rusting, and making the pool look amazing in any backyard.
The 18-foot Ultra Frame is pretty big, comfortably holding up to (or more than) eight people.
Assembly time is averaged around 60 minutes and no tools are required… everything is engineered to snap together.
However, the pool will need a while to fill up – holding a massive 6981 gallons!
The pool set includes everything seen above, most of which feature in almost every Intex pool, but we’re pretty happy with the inclusion of an improved Sand Filter Pump.
The pump is definitely the highest quality pump of any pool set we’ve looked at, and you can rely on it for crystal clear water.
If you want a full breakdown of the Ultra Frame Pool, Intex has a really great infographic that shows all the features and parts of the Ultra Frame pool, which we will include here:
The Intex Ultra Frame Pool is definitely expensive, and like any above ground pool it can raise its fair share of issues: leaks, a cheap pool cover, pump failures, etc.
But, Intex has included a full 2-year warranty on the Ultra Frame Pool Set, and its quality control on this model seems to surpass most other brands and pools in any price range.
This pool looks incredible, but it is also sturdy, weather resistant, and the biggest pool we reviewed.
Knowing all of this, the price is definitely justified.
It goes without saying, this is our “Best Overall Pick”.
We should also mention, the Intex Ultra Frame also comes in other sizes and configurations, and can even come equipped with a saltwater system, so be sure to check out those options on Amazon!
Choosing an above ground pool can be a paralyzing decision.
“What if it’s cheap and starts to leak?”
“What if I can’t figure out the instructions?”
“Does it come with a pump?”
“How do I keep the water clean?”
All these questions and more can be difficult to find answers to, and often these questions keep most people from ever purchasing an above ground pool.
But it doesn’t have to be that difficult.
Nowadays, most of the more complex pools come with instructional DVD’s and easy-to-understand instructions.
And if you go with the right brands and products, you should be able to (mostly) avoid quality control issues.
We narrowed in on six above-ground pools on this list, and while you can’t really go wrong with any, three stood out.
Firstly, the Intex 10-foot by 30-inch Prism Frame pool set was our “Best Budget Pick” thanks to its great price point, solid build, and size.
Next, we chose the Bestway 12-foot by 30-inch Frame pool set as our “Best Value Pick” because it offers the same build quality and price point as the Intex Prism Frame, but adds an extra 2-feet to the pool size…
Hard to argue with the value there!
And finally, the Intex 18-foot by 52-inch Ultra Frame pool set was our “Best Overall Pick”.
The Ultra Frame pool set is expensive, but it is also by far the largest pool on the list, and it is held together by a super durable steel frame and comes with the very best accessories and filter pump.
Any of these three options are pretty reliable in both build and function and might just be the pool to get you through any heat spell!
Don’t be afraid to get your feet wet, hopefully this list allows you to jump right in to your first above ground pool purchase!
Writer and Researcher
Sean is a Canadian University graduate with a degree in Communication Studies and Business Management. With over four years of experience in the field working with different newspapers and online magazines, mixed with his impeccable researching abilities, his talents are a perfect fit.