Mar 22

Above Ground Pool Buyers Guide

March is a great time to start thinking about how you can make the most out of the summer heat this coming season, and what better way to enjoy this time of year than with a new swimming pool right in your backyard!

UPDATED 3/2016

above ground pool buyers guide ma

Above ground swimming pools offer a great alternative to the high cost of an in-ground pool project while still offering a fun and refreshing relief from the hot sun.

Shopping for the right above ground pool can be a daunting task with all the different sizes and options available, even I as a pool dealer get a little overwhelmed sometimes when giving a presentation due to the many different options and packages.

If your thinking about an above ground pool for 2016 I’d like to give you a few things to look for when when your out shopping.

1. Above ground pool sizes

The first thing you should do before you even start shopping for your above ground pool is break out the tape measure. There are many different sizes of above ground pools and it will help tremendously if you are only looking at prices and packages for 1 or 2 pool sizes.

measuring for an above ground pool– pic via

What you should do first is decide if your yard is better suited for a round pool or an oval shaped pool, as these are the two most shapes offered in the above ground market. If your yard has a lot of open unobstructed space. then I recommend a round above ground pool vs. an oval shape pool. The ovals are nice for narrower yards but their elongated design leaves you with less volume than the round pool and less swimming area. The biggest difference is PRICE. Oval pools are much more expensive to buy and install than round, so you actually get more for you money with a round pool.

The best way to measure for a round pool is to place a stake in the middle of your yard where you would like to put the pool and attach the tape measure to the stake. Doing this will allow you to walk off the radius of the round pool with the yard stake being the absolute center, giving you an idea of the what size diameter you are able to fit.

Once you know what will fit in your yard you need to know what sizes are actually available to you. Some manufacturers will make pools as small as 12’ round and as large as 33’ round but generally the above-ground pool sizes go as follows.

Round Sizes Oval Sizes
15’ round 12’ x 24’ oval
18’ round 15’ x 30’ oval
21’ round 18’ x 33’ oval
24’ round
27’ round
31’ round

As you can see there are quite a few pools to choose from so its good to know what size pool you are looking for before you set out to find the best deal.

2. Above-ground pool construction – What’s this pool made of?

Above-ground pools generally come in 3 types; Aluminum, steel, and resin plastic. When you’re out searching for the best pool to fit your budget and needs you are going to have to compare pools made of all three materials, and then compare pools made of like materials ( it’s a good thing we’re only looking at one size pool now isn’t it?)!

First you have aluminum wall above-ground pools, “the no rust solution”. It is indeed true that aluminum pools will not rust over time but they do corrode and oxidize. The extruded aluminum wall panels are softer and more flexible which is good for handling the movement of 10,000 gallons of water inside your pool.

The problem is when left to the mercy of the New England weather and moisture the aluminum does break down via oxidation and often times even faster than a standard steel wall will rust out. Higher end aluminum wall pools are coated to help prevent this but are generally much higher priced then their steel counterparts.

Some aluminum pools are extruded wall aluminum and made up of multiple panels riveted together and if one rivet is not sealed correctly it can be a real problem, this is extremely rare case but something that does happen with aluminum walls.

Steel wall above-ground pools

In order for steel wall pools to hold up to the environment and moisture and compete with aluminum wall pools they are dipped and coated in many protective layers.

steel above ground pools Distinction

What you want to look for in a steel wall above-ground pool is a hot dipped Zinc, galvanized steel wall. Your steel uprights and top rails should also have this coating to maximize its protection against corrosion. Also anything with a resin coat and epoxy coating on the inside wall to seal it from moisture behind the liner is also important. The better the steel pool the more protective coats it will have.

Steel is naturally rigid and tough as we all know, which makes for great structural integrity, but if you don’t go with a quality built steel wall pool you could end up replacing it a lot sooner than you would have hoped. Please make sure the steel pool you are looking at is adequately sealed for a long pool life.

The Resin plastic above-ground pool

could be your best bet for pool longevity.

The new guy on the block in the above-ground pool industry is the resin plastic pool. Resin plastic offers obvious benefits in regards to pool longevity but also comes with a few cons of its own.

A resin pool needs to have a good UV coating to hold up outdoors. If a resin pool does not have a proper UV coating (which is very rare nowadays) flaking, cracking, and compete failure could occur and jeopardize the pool integrity. Luckily pretty much any resin material that is made for outdoor use is properly coated and holds up very well to the elements. Another benefit to resin pools is the top rails do not get as hot to the touch as aluminum or steel top rails when your pool is baking in the sun on a summer day.

resin hybrid pool

The top pool manufacturers in the above ground industry are adopting resin in some or all of their design. Most steel pools now come with resin top and bottom upright caps that go over the steel top rails and uprights to cut down on the amount of nuts and bolts needed in the design.

In my opinion the best above ground pool designs out there are the resin steel hybrids. These pools are built with a resin top rail, all resin caps, and a hot dipped galvanized steel wall and upright.

The other great part of these hybrids are their resin bottom track. The bottom tracking is what holds the pool wall at the base of the pool structure. The bottom rail is very important as it comes into contact with the most moisture, sits in the ground, and is the base of the entire pool. Building the bottom track with resin makes sure it will stand up to the environment and the moisture that builds up at the base of the pool.

The one drawback to resin bottom tracks come during the installation when you are trying to form the pool and get the wall in place. The resin will bend and flex unlike a steel bottom track and can make it a little tougher to form the circle. The resin manufacturers know this though and have given installers the ability to pin the bottom track into the ground to keep it from moving during installation. This is why it is important to find a reputable installer that will make sure to get this right

Most steel wall pools are installed with paver patio blocks under each of the upgrights and laser leveled. With the flexible nature of a resin pool , you need to place another block between each upright to keep the middle of the bottom track from flexing once the pool is full. It is a little extra work to install a resin, and some installers might charge a little bit more, however the longevity is definitely worth it.

One thing to keep in mind is that resin materials are not cheap and usually the resin steel hybrids will be on the upper end of the above ground price range.

Solid Core Above Ground / Semi-inground Pools

Another above ground pool option growing in popularity is the semi-inground sandwich wall pools like the Radiant. These pools are made up of multiple 2″ thick insulated wall panels rather than a 1/8″ rolled steel wall like the ones above. These solid structurally insulated walls give these pools the strength and longevity of an inground pool without the hefty price tag.

radiant solid wall above ground pool MA

Radiant Solid Wall Above Ground

In the picture of the Radiant pool above you will notice there are NO uprights or top rails. That is because the walls are connected together via channel strips. This gives the pool a perfect circular shape and more structural integrity. But even better is you can backfill these pools, which allows you to build them into a slope, or just sink them into the ground as much as you want to create the pool area that works for you. With a regular steel rolled wall pool, if you back fill it the wall is not rated for that kind or weight, and therefore you will void the warranty.

Here at Precision Pool in Amesbury, MA we have brought on this style pool to fill the gap between regular above ground pools and ingrounds. We are able to offer a complete partially sunken installation of a 24′ rnd solid panel pool, with an inground style self cleaning bottom drain, electric heat pump, in-ground style vermiculite base, and full sized energy efficient pump and filter for only $14,999!

While that is much more expensive than a traditional rolled wall above ground pool, It is built like an in-ground 3X that price!

If you are in Massachusetts or New Hampshire check out our NEW Optimum Eternity Wall Pool Here

solid struction above ground pool MA
round and oval above ground pools MA

Above Ground Pool Structure

Whether you are looking at aluminum, steel, or resin one thing to compare is the width and girth of the pool’s top rails and uprights. The top rail can range from 6” to 8” and the uprights from 5″ to 7″. The wider the supports on the pool the stronger the pool will be no matter the material, so that is an important part of your pool research.

laser level above ground pool uprights

getting the install right with a laser level

One more thing I want to mention about above ground pool construction is the pool installation. No matter what type of above ground pool you are buying proper instllation will be the number one determining factor on the longevity of the pool. Having a sturdy level base is extremely important! make sure to ask you pool installer what he uses to level the pool. Shooting the pool uprights with a laser level is the best way to ensure a proper level installation.

Oh, and please do not use stone dust or gravel for your pool bottom, your pool liner will thank you! A packed sand base will work great and if your installer insists on stone dust make sure you purchase and install a pool pad when you buy the pool to make sure no pieces of stone pop through the liner.

3. Above Ground Pool Packages – What am I getting for my money

Unless you are replacing an existing above-ground pool you will be buying a complete pool package which includes your pool pump and filter, skimmer, liner, maintenance equipment, ladder ect. Many dealers will offer tiered packages, there will be the standard package that comes with every pool and then maybe something like a silver, gold, and platinum level package offering you different upgrades and extras.

When you are comparing pool prices it is important to look at what comes with the pool in order to determine the true value that the dealer is offering you.

Now going over all the different types of above ground pool equipment is probably a topic for a whole other blog post but let me gve you a rough idea of what to look for when comparing packages.

Most dealers standard above pool package will offer you;

  • a 1hp pump with a small sand filter
  • over-lap plain blue pool liner,
  • standard a-frame ladder
  • pool cleaning kit.

An example of an upgraded or premium above-ground pool package would be;

  • a 1hp pump with a cartrdge or DE filtration system
  • ez-bead hung liner with a choice of multilple patterns
  • automatic pool vac
  • a drop-in wedding cake step or straight stair

wedding cake step upgrad

Other upgrade options you could see included in pool packages are; automatic chlorine feeders, LED pool lights, pool bottom padding, winter covers and solar covers, drop in steps, and automatic pool cleaner.

As you can see above ground pool packages can vary greatly so its a good idea to shop around and compare the offers and value from a few different above ground pool dealers. With the research and time needed to find and compare different pool packages we always recommend starting your search early in the spring.

March is here and spring is right around the corner, now is the best time to find the above-ground pool for your backyard.

We have started booking pools already and I know the installers are booking up for early installs, make sure you get on the list with your pool dealer/installer soon.

If your in the North Shore MA or Southern NH area and are looking for a new above ground pool make sure to check out our Above Ground Pool packages and contact us for more information.

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