Your Guide to Installing an Above-Ground Pool

Looking to avoid long waits and start swimming in your above-ground pool this summer? If you have the skills and know-how, you can install it yourself.
Written by Kathryn Mae Kurlychek
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Looking to avoid long waits and start swimming in your above-ground pool this summer? If you have the DIY skills and know-how, save time and money by installing an above-ground pool yourself. 
In the hot summer months, an above-ground pool can be more than just a place to simply cool off: it becomes an oasis of relaxation and enjoyment, a gateway to connecting with friends and family, a staple of childhood memories. 
Don’t let the high costs and long waits associated with professional pool installation hold you back from having the summer of your dreams.
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, has the tips and tricks to help you install your above-ground pool right here. In this article, we’ll cover the ins and outs of DIY pool installation plus how you can keep your pool safe.
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Picking your pool

Before you can even begin installing your above-ground pool, you’ll need to purchase one—and the type you choose will impact your installation process!
There are three common types of above-ground pools:
  • Inflatable pools: Available at places like Walmart, Target, and Sam’s Club, inflatable pools range in size from kiddie to family-sized and are the easiest to set up and use. All you need to do is pick a level spot in your yard, pump it up with air, fill it with water, and maybe plug it in. 
  • Temporary pools: There are seasonal above-ground pool options available for those just looking to cool off during the hottest months. A temporary pool will require less technical know-how to install, and can easily be DIY’ed with just a couple of power tools and a level backyard. 
  • Permanent above-ground pools: If you’re hoping to enjoy your pool for years to come, installing a permanent above-ground pool is your best option. However, it’s also the most difficult to do yourself—you’ll need more tools, extensive site prep, and mechanical knowledge (along with a few friends) to install a permanent above-ground pool yourself.

Pros of DIY pool installation

Installing a permanent above-ground pool is an involved process—but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done! 
On top of avoiding excessive wait times for pool installers to come out and set it up for you (pool companies tend to book out months in advance), you’ll also save thousands of dollars by setting it up yourself. 
The average above-ground pool installation typically ranges between $1,000 and $3,000, although it can get even pricier depending on the size and shape of your pool. 

Planning your space

Think you’re ready to tackle your above-ground pool installation on your own? Before busting out the toolbox, you’ll need to do a little planning first.  

Location, location, location

Start by scoping out a spot for your pool. You’ll want to choose an unobstructed, relatively flat area of your yard for the best results—and preferably one that gets full or partial sun throughout the day. 
Avoid areas that slope downwards. If you have a particularly hilly backyard, try to find a spot that’s further than six feet from any sudden slopes. 
You’ll also want to avoid nearby utility lines, whether they’re overhead or buried underground. Setting up your pool in a place where you can access said utility lines, along with your septic tank or septic tank drain field, can spell trouble down the line. 

Don’t forget about the equipment

If you’re new to above-ground pools, it’s easy to forget they’re not just big round tubs full of water—there’s actually a lot of equipment that you’ll have to find space for, too. Professional pool installers recommend you base your pool equipment within four feet of the pool’s outer wall. 
In some states, you may encounter special conditions or by-laws associated with pool installation, so it’s important to check local regulations to be sure. 
Unless you’re an experienced technician, when it comes to installing pool pumps and breakers you may want to turn to a professional electrician for the best results—even if you do every other piece of the installation by yourself. 

Prepping your space

Once you’ve chosen your prime pool location and made space for the equipment, you’ll want to prep the spot you intend on installing your pool
For a safe and sturdy pool base, the entire area should be cleared of all grass and made level within at least 1 inch. Renting a sod cutter is an easy way to get rid of the grass—but leveling the area will be a little trickier. 
When it comes to leveling the area, there are generally two ways you can go about it: you can dig down or you can build up. It may be helpful to turn to a professional for a second opinion—but when in doubt, we’d recommend digging down for a more stable pool base. 
Installing your pool on compacted dirt that hasn’t had time to settle (as is the case when you “build up”) could result in drainage or wash-out issues down the line. 

Stone dust

Once your pool’s intended area is level and free of grass, you’re ready for the first official installation step: stone dust. You’ll use stone dust as your pool’s foundation, since it’s easy to pack down and works to cement the pool base to the ground below. 
Break out your pool’s specific instructions for the details on how much to lay down and where to put it—in most cases, you’ll want about two inches around the perimeter of your pool area where the pool’s wall will sit. 

Installing your above-ground pool

Now all that’s left to do is set it up and get swimming! This is where the meat of the installation process occurs, so be sure to take your time and double-check your pool’s instructions at each step to ensure you’re abiding by the manufacturer’s recommendations. 
When in doubt, take a break to contact your manufacturer or a professional pool company for further assistance. 
Before you can get started installing your pool, there are a few materials you’ll need to have on hand:
  • Tape measure
  • Sand (for the pool base)
  • Shovel
  • Carpenter’s level (optional)
  • Landscape stakes (optional)
  • Basic tools (wrench, utility knife, duct tape, etc.) 
Once you’ve got everything you need, follow these steps for installing your above-ground pool: 
  1. Complete the base. Start by running the bottom rim of the pool wall along the perimeter of the pool area. Once assembled, fill the inner ring with three to four inches of sand (you can use mason sand or simple playground sand) and level it using your shovel. 
  2. Attach the walls. Next, attach the pool walls to the base, then get back in with your shovel and angle the sand to sit against the sides of your pool wall for stability. A foam cove can do this work for you. 
  3. Attach the top rails. You may choose to attach the top rail to your pool at this time, or wait until after you’ve set up the liner—but anchoring your pool liner will be easier with the top rail already in place. 
  4. Install the pool liner. If you have a pool liner floor pad, now’s the time to lay it down! Then install the liner, starting with the bottom piece and working outward from the center of your pool. 
  5. Anchor the liner. To ensure the pool liner stays put, anchor it to the top rail of your pool. 
  6. Install your skimmer and return fittings. Let your pool fill up about halfway with water, then focus on setting up the skimmer and return fittings and connecting your pool filter to the pump. Look to your specific pool instructions for help.
  7. Install pool wall. With your skimmer, filter, and pump connected, you’re ready to start building the pool structure. Your pool will have certain specifications for connecting its wall and posts to the bottom track. In most cases, the wall and posts will fit within a groove that conforms to the track’s connectors. You’ll need to use a pin to hold each connector into place until it’s time to install the posts. 
  8. Roll out the pool wall. Slowly unroll the wall of the pool, laying it in place as you go (this step will require two people). Once the pool wall has been fitted and the connectors are locked into place, you can bolt the pool wall. 
  9. Install the posts. Now, install the posts on top of each connector, removing the pins as you go. If your pool came with a beaded liner, this is also the point at which you can install the bead track. 
  10. Fill with water and jump in! If you decided to hold off on installing the skimmer and other plumbing equipment, now’s the time to do so! Then all that’s left is to fill your pool the rest of the way and test the water for yourself! 
Pro Tip Consider having water for your pool delivered by truck for a significantly speedier fill-up than your garden hose. 

Does home insurance cover above-ground pools? 

In most cases, your home insurance policy should cover any damages or losses suffered by your above-ground pool—but as with every policy, it all comes down to the details. 
Most homeowners insurance policies will protect structures outside of your home, such as a pool, under normal circumstances. However, pool coverage can get tricky, since pools are often viewed as liabilities to insurance companies. 
Generally speaking, if your home is flooded by your pool or your pool suffers damage that doesn’t constitute one of your
covered perils
, it likely won’t be covered by your home insurance policy
Call your insurance agent and discuss the addition of a pool to your yard (and policy) for the safety of your home, yourself, and others. 

Finding affordable home insurance 

Adding a pool to your yard means you’ll likely want to add greater
liability insurance coverage
to your home insurance policy. Thankfully,
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Yes. The most important part of installing an above-ground pool yourself is properly leveling the pool area. Once you’ve cleared and leveled the space you intend to put your pull, setting it up is as easy as grabbing a few friends and following your pool’s instructions!
If you don’t want to dig down to level out your pool, there’s another way—and all it takes is a few 2-by-4 boards and a carpenter’s level
Start by screwing two 2-by-4s together side-by-side, until they’re just a couple of feet longer than the diameter of your pool. Then lay the boards on the area you intend to put your pool, put your carpenter’s level on top, and lift and lower one side of your boards until it shows as level. You can add compacted dirt as needed to level out the area.
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