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These above-ground pools are perfect for cooling off during a heat wave

Which pool is best for you?

This summer, you may face another repercussion of the pandemic: your favorite swimming pool may not open. The ripple started when pools shut down two summers ago. It became worse when lifeguard certification programs shut down, leaving no new influx of lifeguards. Now there is a labor shortage that may force many pools to remain closed.

You can solve this dilemma by purchasing an a pool. If you buy a quality above-ground swimming pool, it can easily last for a decade or more.

Types of above-ground swimming pools

When shopping for an above-ground swimming pool, you have many options. The best way to narrow down your selection is to consider how you plan to use your pool and how permanent you want it to be. We’ve broken them into four categories: hard-sided pools, framed pools, inflatable pools and kiddie pools.

Hard-sided pools

If you are serious about having an above-ground swimming pool and you want to have it for a long time, the only way to go is a hard-sided pool. These models are so durable that they will last you for two or three decades with proper care. The downside is that this type of above-ground pool is also the most costly option.

Framed pools

A framed pool is a slight step down from a hard-sided pool. These models are made with a rugged frame that supports durable yet flexible material that holds the water. They are easier to set up than hard-sided pools and can be taken down and stored at the end of the season. It is also possible to leave a quality framed pool up all year round, but you must winterize it to avoid damage during the colder months.

Inflatable pools

An inflatable pool is the ultimate convenience. It is easy to put up, easy to take down and easy to store. An inflatable pool is also affordable, and you can get them in various shapes and sizes. The only downside to these gems is the expected life is only two to five seasons. However, this could be a plus if you only want a temporary pool.

Kiddie pools

If you have young kids or toddlers, a kiddie pool might be all you need to get. These tiny options are not meant to be kept for long. They are more use-as-needed pools that you can fill and empty as you wish. While some kiddie pools are just for wading, others come with activities, so your kids can slide and play games while staying cool. The best models also offer protection from the sun.

Best above-ground swimming pools 

Blue Wave Affinity Top Rail Resin Swimming Pool Package

This top-of-the-line 24-foot above-ground pool is designed to provide many years of joy. In fact, it has a 30-year limited warranty. It is corrosion resistant and features a steel wall with a pleasing pattern that makes it both a focal point and a fun point for your backyard.

Sold by Home Depot

Intex Ultra XTR Rectangular Pool

If you prefer a rectangular pool, this 24-foot by 12-foot model is a sizable option. It comes with everything you need, including ladder, filter, pump, ground cloth and more. The sand filter is easy to maintain and only requires new sand once every five years.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Bestway Deluxe Above-Ground Round Swimming Pool Set

This is a 14-foot steel-framed pool with a corrosion-resistant coating for durability. The seal and lock construction helps ensure no bending or leaking due to water pressure. It is easy to assemble and has a built-in chlorine dispenser to eliminate the need for a floating dispenser.

Sold by Amazon

Intex Easy Set Inflatable Pool

The innovative design of this Intex pool can have you ready to add water in just 30 minutes. To assemble, simply spread the pool out, inflate the top ring and fill. The laminated PVC sidewalls are extra-durable, and the drain plug connects to a garden hose so water can be directed away from your home when draining.

Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Intex Metal Frame Pool with Cartridge Filter Pump

This 15-foot round pool is 4 feet deep. It is made of laminated sidewalls supported by a metal frame. There are no tools required for assembly, and it can be ready for water in under an hour. For your convenience, the pool includes a DVD that outlines setup and maintenance.

Sold by Amazon

Summer Waves Outdoor Inflatable Deluxe Comfort Swimming Pool

Adults will love this four-person luxury pool. The 26-inch deep model has four built-in seats with pillow backrests and cup holders. To assemble, all you need to do is inflate and it's ready to go. There are no accessories (except a repair patch) included with this pool, which is reflected in its low price.

Sold by Amazon

Blueway H2OGO! My First Frame Pool

If you have kids, this small backyard pool is only 15 inches deep and five feet in diameter. It is an ideal size to get children comfortable in the water, and it is made of lightweight yet durable PVC, so it is both fade-resistant and tear-resistant. It features a tool-free assembly and can be ready for water in minutes.

Sold by Amazon

Intex Rainbow Ring Play Center

This inflatable option is more than a pool. It is an activity center for young children. It is less than 6 inches deep and features a wading pool, a slide, a ring toss game, a water sprayer and more.

Sold by Amazon and Kohl’s

Intex Mini Frame Pool

This mini frame pool is another option for younger swimmers. It is 4 feet wide by 4 feet long and 1 foot deep. The frame has foam-padded beams for protection and comfort, a drain plug and it comes with a repair kit to fix small, unintentional damage.

Sold by Amazon

Monobeach Portable Shade Pool for Infants

The ingenious design of this pop-up baby shade tent/pool makes it ideal for anywhere you go. It can be set up inside as a simple play tent or used as a tiny mini pool. The back flap opens up for additional fresh air so your baby doesn’t get too hot. When it is time to go, the tent and pool fold down flat for easy transport.

Sold by Amazon


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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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