How to Install an Above Ground Pool (with Video)
Are you looking to add some cool pool fun to your backyard this summer? See how we DIYed our above ground pool installation. We’re showing you the process and what we learned along the way. We have wanted a new pool for a while now and wanted to test having an above ground pool before we committed to a permanent in-ground pool.
See our previous inflatable above ground pool setup here, and you’ll also like our tips for in-ground trampoline installation.
How we decided on what pool to buy for our backyard
When deciding which above ground pool was right for our backyard, we first looked out our yard area and measured out the space that we had available for a new pool.
Our previous inflatable pool setup was at the Jordan House, and this one is in our Birch House backyard (right next door!).
We knew from that smaller pool that we wanted to upgrade to a large pool for the whole family to swim and enjoy, plus room around it for a lounge area and pool deck.
Based on the area we had and the look we wanted, we decided that large 24″ diameter pool was the right pool for our above ground pool installation.
This post isn’t sponsored but does include affiliate links. Making a purchase through our links may pay us a small commission, at no extra cost to you, which helps keep the pool and the blog going. Learn more and read our full disclosure policy here.
OUR ABOVE GROUND POOL MODEL CHOICE
24′ Large Round Above Ground Pool Kit
SIZE: 24 ft diameter x 52 inch total side wall height
MATERIAL: steel wall with galvanized supports + resin coated top ledge
INCLUDED IN KIT: pool wall, A-frame ladder, pump & filter combo, pool liner, thru-wall skimmer, coving kit, premium liner pad
or these other buying options:
Where We Bought our Pool
We wanted a large round pool made from a very durable material, with enough depth to make it fun to adults to swim and float, too.
We chose the Marina 24′ x 52″ Round Above Ground Pool Package from Leslie’s Pool. They have since repackaged that kit which is a bit more expensive. Here is a 24′ above ground pool model that is even more affordable than what we paid and it comes with a good sand filter and pump.
We also upgraded to a larger sand filter instead of the filter that came with the pool kit, and we’ve been really happy with that upgrade. We were able to update the filter and pump at the time of purchase, I couldn’t find the exact one that we bought, but here is a 19 sand filter and pump that is very similar to the one we have now.
Pros & Cons of Our Above Ground Pool
We’ve had this pool installed for 2 full summer swimming seasons now. Here’s our review of the pool.
What We Like
- That it’s in OUR yard :).
- The whole family can all fit.
- Fits additional guests
- Love the 48″ depth of the water.
- It’s attractive.
- Easy to maintain.
- The high side keep the kids safe from entering without a ladder.
What We Don’t Like
- Playing too rough makes the sides wobble.
- Sides are not insulated to help maintain water temps.
- Having to make sure that the pool gate is locked to keep the little kids safe.
Buying Pool Accessories
Along with our 24′ pool, we bought a few accessories to help maintain the pool, make it safer and keep it clean.
Our Favorite Pool Add-Ons
Pool Cover: 24′ Round Silver Solar Pool Cover
A solar pool cover is a great addition to an above ground pool since it will both keep the leaves out *and* heat up the water temperature while laying on top of the water. (The pool kit came with the built-in skimmer for the filter, but our backyard is filled with beautiful mature trees — it’s always easier to keep the leaves out than get them out!)
Pool Cover: Deluxe 24′ Round Winter Pool Cover
It’s important to protect your investment in an above-ground pool by winterizing it well. This winter pool cover has been a great option for us.
aLSO Available At
Extra Ladder: Gray Economy Above Ground In-Pool Ladder
This above ground pool ladder makes it easy to get in and out of the pool to the deck. When we have parties it’s nice to have an extra ladder that we can add to allow more people in and out of the pool.
Pool Skimmer: Telescoping Pool Pole with Deluxe Leaf Rake Attachment
With a large pool, it’s much easier to keep clean with a long telescoping pool pole and a leaf rake attachment.
Pool Cleaners: Suction Side Pool Cleaner and Turbo Turtle Automatic Pool Cleaner
To keep the bottom and sides of the pool clean, we use both a suction side pool cleaner regularly with vinyl liner vacuum head as well as this turbo turtle swimming pool cleaner — the kids think it’s so fun!
aLSO Available At
Pool Fountain: Aqua Select Rainbow Waterfall
It’s both fun and relaxing to add a water feature to an above ground pool. We chose this water-powered rainbow waterfall fountain that lets us change the colors using LED lights.
Pool Speaker: Underwater Wireless Bluetooth Speaker with Disco Lights
It’s not a party until there are disco lights, so we make every pool night a pool party with this waterproof bluetooth speaker with lights.
aLSO Available At
How Much Did Your Above Ground Pool Cost to Buy and Install?
Our total pool area cost about $8985.
- We ended up spending around $5000 for the pool and accessories — $4935 if you want to be more specific.
- We also paid a group of helpers to get it installed and that was around $1200.
- Then we installed a deck for about $1400 and finally about $1070 for landscaping.
What Was The Cost Of Installation?
We are Remodelaholics, so we did our own DIY installation for this above ground pool!
But as Remodelaholics, we also know the value of good helpers to make a project go faster, so we hired a few people to assist in our pool installation.
We spent 16 hours (about 48 man hours) prepping the pool site, plus $150 in equipment rental for the sod cutter for one day. My friend Sam (from the in-ground trampoline install) let me borrow his skid steer, which would typically cost $500 per day.
The above ground pool installation itself, took about 6 hours total, with 4 helpers (a total of 24 man hours).
The total labor costs were $1200 plus $150 for the equipment rental = $1350 installation cost.
A professional installation quote can range from about $1500 to $3000 (or more, depending on the type of pool and landscaping wanted) so our do it yourself install saved us a bundle!
Is it hard to install an above ground pool?
As you can see in the video, our above ground pool installation was several days of hard work in the hot sun! So while it’s not easy, it’s not incredibly complex to install an above ground pool either.
If you have landscaping experience (to prep and level the pool area) then the actual installation and pool setup is the easier part of the whole process.
Pool Area Total Cost
There’s more to an above ground pool budget than just the pool and install costs.
When you’re figuring a budget to get a pool in your backyard, you’ll also need to include an additional accessories you want for the pool, landscaping around the pool, and the cost of building a pool deck like we did.
Below is the overview of our above ground pool install costs (what we spent on the pool, accessories, installation, deck, and landscaping) — about $9400 total.
Above Ground Pool + Install Cost Breakdown
TOTAL : $8985
Here’s the full breakdown of our above ground pool install costs.
These were our prices at the time of install in 2020; current prices will vary depending on the season and your location.
Itemized Above Ground Pool Costs
- 24′ Round Pool Kit: $4035
- Installation Supplies: $230
- 15K gallons of water: $20
- 2 cubic yards sand: $60
- 100 sq ft weed barrier: $150
- Equipment Rental: $150
- Sod Cutter: $150/day
- Labor Cost: $1200
- Deck and Hardware: $1400
Total spent on the pool + installation: $8985
- Additional Pool Accessories: $900
- Winter Pool Cover: $50
- Automatic Pool Cleaner: $250
- Deluxe Liner Protection: $180
- Second Ladder: $220
- Deck Ladder: $200
- Landscaping: $1070
- Trapezoid Block $750
- Concrete $150
- Edging $80
- Gravel $60
- Bark Mulch $30
How Long Did It Take For The Complete Install?
We did all the work for the complete pool installation over a few weeks’ time. This included site prep, pool installation, landscaping and a pool deck. Here is the breakdown of time spent to install it all:
- 16 hours – Site Prep
- 8 Hours – Pool Installation
- 24 Hours – Landscaping
- 16 Hours – Pool Deck
- 54 Hours – Total Man Hours
Is it worth having an above ground pool?
For us, the answer is YES — it’s definitely worth it for us to have an above ground pool.
The up front investment costs have been worth it for the hours and hours of fun we’ve had with our family, extended family, and friends. With 2 little kids at home, it’s been great to have a fun destination for our older girls right in the backyard, where the little girls can join in around their nap and eating schedules.
One big consideration for us is that our outdoor pool season here in Utah is fairly short (mid-May to September), especially since this pool is unheated. So we love the pool and someday we’d love to upgrade to a heated pool we can use for a longer period during the year.
Above Ground Pool Installation Video
Deciding The Right Location
As we mentioned before, we had a spot where we wanted the pool based on our yard layout.
When selecting a spot to set up an above ground pool, it’s important to consider:
- the slope of the ground: flatter and more level is easier to prep
- the surrounding area: what trees, fence, structures, or other obstructions are around the pool area — don’t forget to check water lines, power lines, etc by calling 811 before you dig.
- site accessibility: be sure you have access to water to fill the pool!
- If you’re going to need to use major equipment to ready the pool area, make sure that the machinery can fit and access the area safely
We had an existing play house structure and swing set that we didn’t want to have to move. You
With our yard space constraints, to get the size pool that we wanted, we did have to adjust the play structure and swing set so the pool could fit. We just removed the swing set portion to fit the pool.
Gather The Supplies
Gather Your Tools
Pool Installation Steps
Step 1: Draw The Layout In The Yard
After you’ve chosen your pool location, you use line spray paint to mark the area for the pool itself, and for the rest of the area if you’ll be removing sod and changing the landscaping like we did.
TIP: Before drawing the spray paint line, use a garden hose to visualize the size and shape, like we did with our Disney inspired character flower bed planter.
Step 2: Dig Out The Grass
How do you prepare the ground for an above ground pool? You’ll start by removing the grass and landscaping and leveling the area.
BEFORE YOU DIG: Be sure to call 811 to get the utility lines marked.
We rented a sod cutter to remove the grass more quickly. Take care with cutting the sod and you can easily roll it up and re-sell it!
Yes, this is some of the same sod we showed you how to lay a couple years ago! It was in great shape, so our pro sod install tips worked!
Since you want a really solid level base for the pool, you’ll remove high areas rather than adding to low areas, so the soil is already really compacted.
You’ll also need to remove any tree roots, stumps, or other things that will get in the way of leveling the area.
Step 3: Mark the Pool Outline
Measure and place a stake in the center of the pool area, then use a rope tied to the stake to mark off the diameter of the round pool *plus an extra 6 inches*.
Step 3: Set The Post Blocks
As with many DIY projects, the base preparation for a DIY pool install is key to a good finished product!
Most large pool installations recommend using pool blocks rather than installing directly on the ground. This gives added stability to the outdoor pool setup.
We used large 8″ x 16″ x 4″ cement blocks underneath each upright support of the pool.
First we installed and leveled each cement patio block, and *then* leveled the ground to match.
A laser level is a great tool for this job! With it, we were able to install all the post blocks within 1/8″ of level.
Step 4: Level the Ground
As mentioned before, you’ll remove the high ground to meet level with low ground to maintain the solid undisturbed soil underneath the pool.
We needed to remove about 8″ of soil to reach level grade. It took us a few tries to succeed at this excavation job!
- We wet the hard ground with a hose to see if we could dig it out by hand. We were able to dig out the perimeter around the blocks.
- Then we tried a tiller to loosen the soil to shovel it out. This was so slow, so we moved to the next step…
- A skid steer! I called up a friend and he let me borrow his skid steer. We finished the job leveling the pool ground in about an hour. (And it was fun!)
Since we were adding a planter bed on one side of the pool, I just moved the soil to that area.
Step 5: Prepare The Pool Base
What should I put down before installing an above ground pool?
Soil could damage the aluminum metal siding of the pool with prolonged contact. To protect our pool base and sides, we used layers of weed barrier to prevent direct contact with the soil and keep weeds outs.
Lay Out Base & Add Weed Barrier
Once the ground was leveled, we roughly laid out the base pieces of the pool. Each post has a base and a plastic channel that the metal side of the pool sits in.
Then we laid out a layer of weed barrier in the area where the pool will be.
Note that the pool kit does come with a round black weed barrier that will go in later.
Place the Sand Base
Before installing the sides, we brought in the sand for the pool base.
We won’t level it yet, though, so we just made a big sand pile in the center at this point, with enough sand to cover the area with ~1″ of sand. (Later I decided to bring in more sand to make the base of sand 2″ thick instead of the minimum of 1” recommended by the manufacturer.)
We then placed the base of the sides in the correct location in preparation for the setting up the sides of the pool.
Step 6: Set Up The Pool Walls
Pool Wall Install Tip #1: Have helpers for this step! Many hands make this step much easier, and it’s a critical step to a successful pool install.
Pool Wall Install Tip #2: Put up the pool sides on a day without wind. The large metal side will catch a slight breeze and make it stressful to install.
The metal pool wall comes as one long piece, rolled up for shipping.
I decided to locate the seam in the back, out of sight from the house (where the pump will be as well).
After unrolling the full pool wall to create the diameter, bolt the seam together.
While it was being bolted together, we set the posts in place with part of the post top to hold the pool wall up.
Step 7: Add The Bottom Corner Coving
The corner pool cove at the bottom of the pool wall helps keep the bottom seam from getting pinched.
Before I leveled out the sand, I added the foam coving at the bottom corner of the pool.
The cove kit comes with the pool, and the coving has an adhesive on the back of it to stick to the side of the pool.
I also added a layer of tape at the top of the coping to keep sand from going behind it.
Step 8: Level The Sand
I used a big landscape rake to level out the large pile of sand to an even 2″ sand base under the pool. The extra 1″ of sand makes for a nice soft pool floor.
Then we went through with a 8” pounder and flattened it all down being careful not to create any holes in the sand.
Step 9: Install Additional Weed Barrier (Floor Pad)
Before installing the pool liner, add the round weed barrier from the pool kit. This extra weed barrier layer acts as a floor pad to go between the sand and the liner to protect the liner. This barrier comes in the kit.
Step 10: Install The Pool Liner
Place the pool liner in the center and carefully unfold it. Make sure to smooth out all the folds.
At the top side of the pool, the liner folds over about an inch and then is clamped in place with this purple trim between the posts.
POOL LINER INSTALL TIP #1: Add a couple of inches of water at this point to see where the liner needs adjusted. You want all the wrinkles out!
POOL LINER INSTALL TIP #2: Use a shop vac to suck the pool liner right to the sides to help remove any air pockets and smooth out the wrinkles. (The arrow below shows our helper holding the vacuum to suction the liner.)
Step 11: Fill Up The Pool!
Once we had the liner adjusted and looking great, we continued filling the pool using our garden hoses.
If our backyard had big enough access for a water truck, that could have been a lot faster, but we decided to see how long it would take to fill with just the garden hose. It took about 18 hours to fill about 15,000 gallons of water.
During that time, finish the install of the top trim, pool inlets and outlets, and the pool filter.
Step 12: Install the Top Rail
During the time the pool is filling, we added the finishing touches.
- We installed the rest of the top rail trim around the pool edge.
- Next we added the next layers of fiberglass trim.
- Then we screwed screwed the post caps in their final position. (This step was important to get the spacing just right and even between all the posts.)
Step 13: Install the Pool Inlets and Outlets
You want to be sure to install the water inlet and outlet parts from the kit *before* the water reaches the outlet hole!
Carefully cut out the holes in the liner to match the holes in the side of the pool. Then attach the parts on the outside and inside of the pool following the manufacturer instructions.
Step 14: Install the Pool Filter
Here is a 19-inch sand filter and pump that is very similar to the one we have now.
Landscaping Around The Pool
To landscape around the pool, we
- Installed a stone block garden edging (following this technique).
- Leveled the planter bed soil.
- Added weed barrier landscape fabric.
- Added a layer of bark mulch and gravel, plus a paver patio.
DIY Stone Block Garden Edging
We used the same easy DIY stone block wall technique as with our Disney inspired planter, and it makes the stone wall process SO much faster and easier!
Lay the blocks using construction adhesive. add sand/cement, wet it to set the cement, and your stone block wall is set exactly where you want it — no working with mortar or wet cement.
This looks great in our yard and also keeps our flood irrigation out of the pool area, as you can see.
Leveling the Area Around the Pool
We used the soil left over from leveling the ground beneath the pool for the landscape area around the pool. When leveling the landscape bed dirt, I graded the soil to direct water away from the pool and to the middle of the planter bed.
Pool Landscaping: Weed Barrier, Bark Mulch, and Gravel
Before we invested a lot into the landscaping around the pool, we laid down a basic weed barrier and bark mulch layer. We wanted to see how we use the area around the pool before we choose plants and shrubs.
We also divided the planter area using more blocks, so we have a section for planting and the section for the pool deck has gravel (and the pavers we added later).
Add a Pool Deck With A Locking Gate for Safety
We had initially planned on a large curved deck to go around a quarter of the edge of the pool.
When the time came to build the deck, we decided to start with a simpler 8′ x 8′ square pool deck instead, to see how we liked it. Then we can make adjustments if/when we decide to enlarge and upgrade the pool deck.
The pool deck features a locking gate on the stairs to keep our little kids safe, too.
As you can see in the final reveal in the video, we also added a paver patio leading to the stairs of the pool deck as well as a paver base for the second ladder and a paver walkway across the flower bed area, too.
Thanks for reading about out pool installation. I hope you found it helpful. If you have any questions or comments please comment below.