Best Pool Ladders

Updated December 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

46 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
522 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best pool ladders

Last Updated December 2019

On a warm day, there’s nothing better than a relaxing dip in the pool. But depending on your style of pool, you may need some assistance getting in and out. Pool ladders feature slip-free surfaces on the steps, rungs, and railings to ensure you do so safely.

Pool ladders are ideal for both inground and aboveground pools. An aboveground pool especially needs a ladder due to its height off the ground (and it’s a far more cost-effective alternative to constructing a deck around it). Even if you have an inground pool with built-in steps, you’ll still likely want a pool ladder in the deep end or on the side. If you have children, you’ll be glad to know that some pool ladders are equipped with advanced safety features to prevent little ones from climbing in at any time. 

If you’re ready to go for a dip and invest in a new pool ladder, our buying guide shares all the details on style, safety, and things to look for before purchasing your pool ladder.

Hire an experienced, licensed lifeguard to chaperone your child’s pool party. They’re well-versed in pool safety and provide a professional level of supervision to identify potential hazards or safety risks.

Key considerations

Design styles

  • One-way: One-way ladders feature steps or rungs on only one side of the pool. For aboveground pools, a one-way ladder typically has steps or rungs climbing the outside. For an inground pool, the ladder is placed inside the pool itself. While one-way ladders appear to be a simpler construction, don’t let their small size fool you — these can be every bit as expensive, or even more costly, than larger A-frame models.
  • A-frames: Most commonly used for aboveground pools, A-frame pool ladders have steps or rungs going up toward the pool and downward into it. The A-frame style is also ideal if you have difficulty climbing a regular ladder, as there’s a more natural climbing progression that requires less effort.

Installation

Mounted styles take some work when it comes to installation. For starters, you’ll need to make accurate measurements, as they often require you to drill holes in order to permanently secure the ladder in place. While many pool ladders come with their own mounting kits, it’s not unusual to replace the original hardware with higher-quality pieces, or you may need to purchase additional hardware that may not be included.

Freestanding ladders are more often seen with aboveground pools. Due to their A-frame shape, they don’t always require mounting, as their weight is evenly distributed on both sides of the pool.

Weight capacity

With so many differences in pool ladder styles, it’s no surprise that weight capacities also vary. Lightweight one-way ladders typically support up to 225 pounds. A-frames styles and large plastic ladders support as much as 400 pounds. While pool ladders could serve as makeshift seating, it’s a good idea to use the ladders mostly to get in and out of the pool.

EXPERT TIP

When you’re winterizing your pool, depending on the style of your pool ladder, you may need to remove it to secure the covering. Store the ladder in your garage or basement to protect it from the elements off-season.


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Features

Materials

Pool ladders are made of either metal or commercial-grade plastic — or a combination of both.

If you want a metal pool ladder, aim for mid-range models to avoid shoddy craftsmanship.

Less expensive plastic ladders could also be somewhat flimsy, especially A-frame models that aren’t permanently fixed to the ground. High-quality plastic ladders, on the other hand, feature the kind of durable plastic often used on public park equipment or for industrial purposes.

Combination ladders are a happy medium for the average backyard pool. They’re ideal if you don’t want to break the bank and are built with a reasonable degree of sturdiness that makes them last for several seasons at least. The most common styles alternate metal and plastic between steps and railings for a balanced, reinforced frame.

Safety features

  • Nonslip surfaces: Rubberized steps and railings provide traction for a firm grip that won’t get slippery. Grooves, treads, and perforations on steps also cut down on slippery surfaces, as water has the chance to drain or run off the surface instead of pooling and making it slick.  
  • Ergonomic railings: Pool ladders have ergonomic railings to improve grip when getting in and out of the pool. Railings are often the right width for hands of all sizes to comfortably grab. Some railings, especially those in high-end pool ladders, include finger grips or grooves for an even better grip.
  • Safety barriers: If you have young children, then pool safety is paramount — which is why safety barriers on pool ladders are essential. These features drive the price up almost tenfold in some models, though some parents say it’s the best investment they’ve made. Some pool ladders have integrated full-length gates with childproof locks, making them tough to scale or open for young children. Other pool ladders feature roll guards; these roll over the steps to make climbing virtually impossible.
EXPERT TIP

If you think the ground around your pool ladder is too soft, you could pack it with dirt or cover the bottom with pebbles or sand to provide a dense, secure surface around it.


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Price

Pool ladders cost between $75 and $1,000. At the low end of the range, between $75 and $200, are ladders that are mostly made of metal. They have average-quality mounting, so if you’re looking for a more secure attachment, you’ll have to move up the price range. Mid-range models, priced between $200 and $300, include ladders made of durable commercial-grade plastic with advanced nonslip features and other unique pool-safety elements. If you’re looking at the top of the price range, between $300 and $1,000, you’ll find pool club-quality ladders or models that feature integrated gate systems. These deliver the best in quality and safety and could require expert assembly due to their advanced designs. 

Tips

  • Buy a white ladder for easy visibility. They’re ideal if you want extra reassurance that you’re making a safe descent into the water.
  • Teach pets to stay off the pool ladder. While some pets might be drawn to your pool, teach them to stay off the ladder so they don’t injure themselves. Steps and ladders are designed for humans, and it’s easy for pets to slip or fall through the rungs.
  • Assemble your pool ladder with a buddy. Though pool ladders are easy enough for one person to put together, the job goes much faster with assistance.
  • Take measurements before buying. To choose a ladder that fits your pool perfectly, take your time getting precise measurements. You don’t want to discover it won’t fit after you’ve taken the time to assemble it.
  • Tighten hardware regularly. As pool ladders sustain heavy wear, they should always have their hardware tightened and checked seasonally as part of your pool maintenance. 
EXPERT TIP

To clean off your pool ladder, simply spray it down with a hose to dislodge any grass clippings, leaves, or dirt. You could filter out the debris manually or use a pool vacuum cleaner.


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Other products we considered

If you have an aboveground pool and need steps to descend into your pool, the XtremePowerUS 32” Safety Step Pool Ladder is a smart investment. This model features nonslip steps as well as nonslip railings, so it’s one of the safest ladders available. Its durable frame is able to hold up to 400 pounds, so swimmers of all sizes can safely use it. Thanks to a smart, ventilated design, this ladder allows water and chemicals to freely flow through it instead of accumulating in nooks and crannies. Installation is also simple with the provided mounting kit.

For the ultimate in pool ladder safety, the Confer Double Staircase Aboveground Entry System with Gate is a worthwhile expenditure if you don’t have a separate gate around the pool. The outer gate has a self-closing and self-latching safety mechanism. It almost grazes the ground and has vertical slats, making it difficult for young children to climb over or crawl beneath it. This ladder is also made of high-quality, commercial-grade plastic with no metal parts. Instead, it has rounded edges, slip-free stairs, and easy-to-grip railings for an overall safe experience. As a heavyweight and durable pool ladder, this model stays put and won’t wobble or shake either.

Some parents prefer pool ladders with narrow steps so that railings are closer together for children to hold onto as they get in and out of the pool.

FAQ

Q. Do I have to have a pool ladder for my aboveground pool?
A.
In short, yes. It’s difficult — as well as dangerous — to get in and out of an aboveground pool without steps or a ladder. Some municipalities could inspect your pool or ask for proof of pool-ladder installation if permits are required. It’s a good idea to speak to your town’s permit office before installing an above ground pool to determine pool ladder requirements, so you can get your purchase right the first time.
 

Q. Will a pool ladder damage my pool or pool liner?
A.
Many of the models we looked at were designed with rounded edges and smooth corners to prevent rips or tears to pool liners. You can also avoid accidental tears by making sure your pool ladder is properly secured and won’t rub or chafe the liner when people use it. For additional protection to your pool liner, there are pool ladder mats available. They affix to your liner and provide a cushioned surface that reduces the likelihood of tears.

The team that worked on this review
  • Angela
    Angela
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Michael
    Michael
    Writer
  • Sian
    Sian
    Writer

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