Skip to main content

Should you build your own above-ground pool?

You’re dreaming of a pool — all that wonderful water and fun — and a place for your guests to relax. Pools are complex and can be challenging to build, but your solution could be an above-ground option. Let’s take a look at what goes into building an above-ground pool and whether this addition is right for your outdoor space. Here’s what you need to know.

Above-ground pool in backyard
Boris Mrdja/

Above-ground vs. in-ground pools

In-ground pools may be the outdoor idea, but they’re much more expensive and take longer to install. Repairs for an in-ground pool can be more extensive, as well, running into the thousands of dollars if you have an issue.

An above-ground pool is faster to install and makes repairs much simpler because you’re able to access the pool more easily when it’s not in-ground. Plus, the materials aren’t as expensive, and the installation is more straightforward.

Can I install an above-ground pool myself?

The short answer is yes! Many above-ground pools are designed to do just that. They provide all the materials you need to build and situate the pool, and they work whether you use a simple ladder or build a deck around them.
You’ll need to consider:

  • Your pool size — Above-ground pools come in a variety of sizes. Choosing the size will depend on your commitment to provide upkeep and the space you have.
  • Permits and zoning restrictions — Neighborhoods will most likely require a permit for pools over a certain size and have restrictions for where to place them.
  • Pool materials and framing — Above-ground pools have rigid sides or metal framing with soft sides. Your choice will be based on budget, size, and permit restrictions.
  • Terrain — You’ll need a flat surface to place your pool or you’ll need to spend more time and money creating one.

Once you’ve made your decision, chosen your location, and gotten the required permits, you can begin your installation.

Is it possible to build your own pool?

If the above-ground pool kits aren’t for you, there are other options. You can choose large canisters or cisterns to install instead of a traditional above-ground pool. Shipping containers and even dumpsters could all transform into a place to create some pool magic.

Natural pools comprised of liners, stone, and gravel are also possible. These natural pools use landscape tools, including aquatic plants to help ensure that your pool environment is clean and swimmable.

How much does it cost to build your above-ground pool?

The price range for an above-ground pool can cost as little as under $1,000 to several thousand dollars depending on your materials and preparations. If you already have the container and a level piece of ground, it may not be a huge budget requirement. If you’re using materials you must purchase and need to prep the space, this can add to your cost. If you don’t have the right outlet on your home, an electrician fee is also part of the installation cost.

Luckily, there are ways to make your own above-ground pool without breaking the bank, but you may have to get creative about your materials and be flexible in your placement. Do your research and consider all your options first.

What is the best material to put under an above-ground pool?

Above-ground pools require a base material to prolong the life of the pool and ensure safe installation. There are a few options you can choose:

  • Mason sand — This sand can be tamped down to create a hard, solid layer that prevents the pool from shifting or sagging. It’s easy to obtain and simple to lay.
  • Stone dust — Stone dust is another tough layer that prevents a pool from shifting or sagging, but it will require an underlayment to prevent small stone pieces from wearing away the pool floor over time.

Armor Guard or rolled foam are the two most common choices for underlayment whether you choose mason sand or stone dust. These additions will make the bottom more comfortable for your feet and help prevent injury if you hit the bottom a little too hard.

You’ll need literally tons of material to put under an above-ground pool, so this is a task for a truck. For example, a 12-foot-round pool will need one ton of either material to provide a suitable flooring to keep your pool safe over time.

You’ll also need a base material to help protect the bottom of your pool. Once the pool is on top of the mason sand or stone dust, use landscaping rocks to help deter moisture and create a rust-resistant layer that helps the exterior dry quickly.

Finishing your above-ground pool

Above-ground pool with beach ball

Deciding to build an above-ground pool yourself isn’t tough. Once you’ve done your research and gotten the correct materials, you’ll follow the instructions to create a safe and fun place for your family and guests to gather all summer long.

Take the time to level your pool and create a moisture barrier so that you can enjoy your pool as long as possible. Do your research and you’ll have a DIY above-ground swimming pool you can enjoy year after year.

Editors' Recommendations

Can you DIY your own outdoor solar lights? What you need to know
Home project tools

The idea of using sustainable power sources has become increasingly popular over the past few years. They’re seen as solutions to environmental issues like the pollution produced by industrial power plants. Plus, who doesn’t want to generate their own power, save money, and in some cases sell excess energy back to the local power plant?

That’s where DIY outdoor solar lights come into the picture. While you probably won’t generate enough power to sell energy back to a local power plant with this specific alternative to traditional electric lighting, you can still save money and help the environment in the long-term. In the article below, we’ll go over some of the benefits of using outdoor solar lights on your property and show you what to do when embarking on a DIY outdoor lamps project.

Read more
What you need to do to make sure your patio is ready for the fall
Adirondack rocking chair style

Summer is coming to an end, and gone are the days of sunbathing out on your patio. The air has chilled and the hours of sunlight have shortened. Now is the time to grab a hot tea, a mug of hot cocoa, or even a late afternoon cappuccino. The colors of leaves are changing and glorious golden foliage is appearing everywhere.

Yet, despite the cold, you don't really want to sit indoors sipping your hot beverage, do you? You don't want to experience the fall through the closed windows of your kitchen, bedroom, or living room. That's especially true when you could be out on your patio wrapped up in an afghan blanket and enjoying the crisp air.

Read more
What you need to know about making sure your greenhouse is ready for the fall
Two men working in a greenhouse

If you want to set up your greenhouse for success, you must prepare it for the changing seasons. Just as your house needs to be cleaned and maintained on a regular basis, so must your greenhouse. In fact, as summer begins to wane and fall starts to approach, scheduling an in-depth cleaning is imperative to create a healthy space for the new plants you’ll bring in.

Preparation for the fall goes hand in hand with a thorough cleaning. In fact, this is the perfect time for it because your greenhouse will probably have fewer plants in it than when the days grow colder. With that said, there are other things to keep in mind as you get your greenhouse ready for the fall. We’ve come up with a list of common-sense preparations we believe you’ll find helpful.

Read more