Yes, it’s true, the cool house on the block always has a pool. But we don’t blame you if you don’t want to spend all your time and money installing and maintaining one. A slightly easier and less expensive way to make your backyard the official destination of summer is with an above ground pool. The typical above-ground pool cost is a fraction of what you’d spend on an inground one.
An above ground pool has rigid sides with supports and sits on top of the ground rather than down in it like a vinyl or fiberglass pool. They come as deep as four feet—so no diving, please—and as big as 12-by-24 feet, so they can hold a few friends but not a big party. And yes, technically, hot tubs are just small above ground pools with more powerful heaters, but here we’re talking about large, cannonball-worthy swimming pools.
Sounds great, right? The only caveat is above ground pools aren’t always the most luxurious or aesthetically pleasing. However, with the right make and model and smart landscaping decisions, you avoid digging out your entire backyard and spending a fortune and still get a pool that enhances your property and makes you mom or dad of the year.
Is an above ground pool worth it? Well, it depends. Read on to find out exactly what a typical above ground cost estimate entails. We’ll break it down in detail, share budget busters to look out for, and explain the different types of above ground pools so you can make the biggest decisions of the summer with confidence.
What Type of Above Ground Pool Is Right for You?
There are three main styles of above ground pools, and you can snag one for as little as $40 if you’re willing to blow it up yourself. If you want something more permanent, choose a steel frame or resin option.
Steel Frame Pool
The most common and most durable type of above ground pool is a steel-frame above ground pool. They’re sturdy but so lightweight you can even install one on a raised deck or floor. Since the steel is thin, it can be easily bent and manipulated into different shapes. Steel-frame pools will run you between $500 and $3,000 on averageaccording to Home Guide.
Like fiberglass pools, resin pools are crafted in one piece. They’re more resistant to rust, corrosion, and oxidation than steel frames above ground pools, they resist warping and dents, and they stay cool to the touch (steel naturally heats up in the sun). More expensive than metal, resin pools cost between $1,800 and $5,000 on average, including installation.
Inflatable pools are the cheapest of the above ground options. Professional installation is not required, and they’re easy to store out of season. The problem is that inflatable pools are rarely very deep, and disposing of the water can flood your backyard as there is no pump or tank attached. Inflatable swimming pools can range from $40 to $500 depending on their size and depth.
Above Ground Pool Cost Breakdown
If you’re considering hiring a professional inground pool installation company or landscape architecture firm to handle your project, be sure to check whether their estimate for the project includes the first four of these five indoor pool cost factors.
As with any other large renovation project, you must obtain a building permit from your municipality to put in a pool, even an above ground one. The only exception is an inflatable, temporary pool that you can blow up and fill yourself. The permit for an above ground pool can cost from $25 to a few thousand dollarsdepending on the size and complexity of your pool installation.
It’s also smart to have an engineering firm do a land survey of your property if you don’t already have one. This is especially important if you plan to install a larger above ground pool and a pool deck. An accurate survey will help you determine the optimal location, size, and shape of your new above ground swimming pool and the required pool fence, including the necessary distance from your property lines. It’s a good idea to consult the survey anytime you want to add something permanent to your backyard.
Unlike most inground pools, installation isn’t always included in the cost of an above ground pool frame. While many models are fairly straightforward to set up and install yourself, it’s always best to call in professionals when you’re dealing with something that needs to be structurally sound. Professional installation for an above ground pool costs $1,000 to $3,000 on average.
Great pool landscaping might be even more critical to an above ground pool than an in ground one, so it makes sense that it’s the most expensive part of the whole project. HomeAdvisor puts the average high-end cost at $45,000. For above ground pools, this usually covers raised decking or other more significant landscaping elements to cover the side panels of the pool. The low end is only $100 on average, according to HomeGuide.
Maintenance and Repairs
Just as inground pools can be prone to cracks and seal ruptures, above ground pools can have problems. They can warp or even collapse, flooding your yard, taking our landscaping, and potentially even affecting your neighbors. You can’t just shrug off above ground pool maintenance. A typical above ground pool costs $3,000 to $5,000 a year to maintain, according to HomeGuide. That includes normal maintenance as well as repairs, water and electricity to run your pool.
Is It Worth It To Install an Above Ground Pool?
Ultimately, we think an addition or renovation’s benefit should be based on the enjoyment you and your family get from it. A stellar summer is pretty priceless. However, above ground pools can benefit your home’s value. According to real estate company Home Light, a higher-end above ground pool can add value to your home, especially if you live in a place that’s hot year-round (think Texas, Arizona, or Florida) and it’s at least partially built into the ground or surrounded by a nice deck. typically, a pool can increase the value of your home by as much as 7%., per the National Association of Realtors’ 2023 Remodeling Impact Report: Outdoor Features. However, unlike an inground pool that’s permanent, an above ground pool is technically removable and won’t be included in your home’s appraisal unless it’s written that the structure will stay on the property if you sell your home.
Kate McGregor is House Beautiful’s SEO Editor. She has covered everything from curated decor round-ups and shopping guides, to glimpses into the homes of inspiring creatives, to publications such as ELLE Decor, Domino, and Architectural Digest’s Clever.