If you’re in the market for a swimming pool, there are several types of pools to choose from. There’s the spa pool, infinity pool, lap pool, saltwater pool and so on. In general, however, there are two basic types of pools: inground and above ground pools.
Earlier swimming pools were all technically inground pools, so they were quite popular back then. Pools above ground are relatively newer — although these were, in fact, introduced way back in the 1920s. Not so new, really. However, why are there even above ground pools? What needs do they address that traditional inground pools cannot?
To answer these questions and more, here’s everything you need to know about above ground swimming pools.
A product of people’s dreams
Traditionally, swimming pools were always built inground. In the 1920s and 1930s, the demand for swimming pools grew, but these remained largely dreams of families who couldn’t afford the expense of building an inground pool. In fact, that time, one had to be a celebrity or millionaire to own a swimming pool.
By the late 1920s and early- 930s, pool manufacturers began experimenting with different materials to make portable above ground pools. They came up with crudely designed heavy canvas tanks which were propped up using steel struts or wooden barrels.
Later on, in the 1940s, manufacturers started using liners made of treated synthetic fabric and Masonite, aluminium and steel framing. However, as there was no water circulation technology available, pool water had to be drained and manually refilled as needed to keep it fresh.
Further industry innovations in the mid-1950s to the 1960s led to the use of galvanised steel or extruded aluminium posts and pools with epoxy-coated steel walls and vinyl liners. These featured a 2-inch-wide (about 5 centimetres) top rail that provided structural support.
Water circulation systems were also introduced around this time, as well as automatic in-wall skimmers and heavy-duty sand and gravel filters. The 1960s also saw the introduction of 48-inch (about 122 centimetres) walls, as well as circular and oval pool shapes.
More developments in above ground pool manufacturing and technology emerged through the years. Today, the many designs, size and colour pool options and accessories available for above ground pools are a far cry from their counterparts in the 1920s. However, just like before, above ground pools remain to be an affordable alternative to more expensive inground pools.
Benefits of above ground pools
Aside from being an affordable option for those who want to have a quality swimming pool on a limited budget, an above ground pool provides other important benefits:
- Different layouts and models: Depending on the pool manufacturer, above ground pools come in different shapes, sizes and materials. Some companies allow you to choose the colour, exterior finish and accessories. You can also choose to build a deck around it, and add extra features like slides, waterfalls, fountains, etc. If you go for Compass Pools-made fibreglass pools, for example, you will find their customisation options quite appealing. These include attaching a spa to the pool or a custom-length Fastlane lap pool. You can also add a wader or pond, or get a stunning Sunpod feature.
- Quick and easy installation: If you opt for an above ground swimming pool, you can depend on quick delivery and fast installation. Since an above ground pool comes ready-made, there’s no need to wait for months before you can start using it. Standalone fibreglass pools, for example, are ready to install right after delivery. Although standard above ground pools are generally composed of a steel wall panel and supports, manufacturers can reinforce the structure by adding more fibreglass and supports that enable the shell to be installed above ground. The only additional work that comes with above ground pool installation would be when the ground it is to be placed on is not yet ready (e.g. when there’s foliage in the area that needs to be cleared first or if your yard needs to be graded prior to the installation). Also, if you want to add decking, it’ll take just a few more days before it’s fully functional.
- Safety features: Pools set above ground are generally safer than inground pools because the chance of accidental falls is minimised. Even if you have steps that make your above ground pool accessible, the fence and gate that come with the decking are additional safety features.
- Low maintenance: The size and construction of above ground pools in Victoria or wherever you are located make them relatively easier to clean and maintain. They require less water, less chemicals to kill bacteria, less energy to pump and heat the water and less expenses on upkeep in general.
- DIY options: Those with the skills and equipment and who don’t mind getting their hands dirty and busy have the option to purchase above ground pool self-installation kits. Whether it’s for small above ground pools or bigger ones, these kits are complete so they have everything you need to build your pool in your own time.
Types of above ground pools
There are three general types of above ground pools based on the material used: resin or fibreglass, hybrid and steel.
- Resin or fibreglass pools are made from resin materials which do not rust or corrode and are resistant to warping and denting, so they are extremely durable, low-maintenance and compatible with saltwater systems.
- Steel pools are tough and made from a combination of different metals, such as heavy-coated zinc, aluminium or galvanised metal.
- Hybrid pools combine the best of steel and resin/fibreglass pools, so they’re guaranteed to be durable and last for many years.
Three types of above ground pools
However, there’s are another way of describing the types of above ground pools:
- Inflatable pools: For people who are renting, inflatable pools are the perfect alternative as these are portable and easy to set up and tear down. They don’t require a lot of space and are quite affordable. However, these aren’t built to last for years as they are usually made of plastic or liner material. Because of their limited size, they can only accommodate a few swimmers at a time.
- Traditional above ground pools: These types of pools are typically made of a steel or aluminium wall with resin or metal posts. They feature a pump and filter system, a vinyl liner and a top ledge for extra support. Aside from these, there are transportable instant fibreglass pools. These pools are customisable, durable and can be easily relocated. These are relatively easy to install, with some people opting to DIY them. With proper maintenance, these can last for about 15 to 20 years. However, these usually require a dedicated electrical connection for the pump and filter.
- Semi-inground or fully above ground pools: While these types of pools are similar to traditional above ground pools, some have insulated wall panels made to withstand ground forces pushing in on the walls. These pools come in different sizes and styles, including the so-called free-form style. These semi-inground or fully above ground pools can look as luxurious as inground pools. They are also quite durable and can last for years with proper maintenance. However, these are generally pricier than other above ground options and can be more difficult to move during house relocation.
Other above ground pool options
Today, there are already above ground pools made of concrete, which is known for its durability. These also offer the advantage of being fully customisable, especially if there are space limitations or restrictions due to the shape of the pool area. However, just like their inground counterparts, these can take longer to install as they need to be surfaced after construction. They are also susceptible to algal and bacterial growth due to their porous nature, making them high-maintenance.
In places where space is limited and land is expensive, another innovation in above ground pool technology is the use of shipping containers. To become pool-ready, shipping containers are thoroughly cleaned and made rust-proof before being lined with vinyl, steel or a shell made of fibreglass. These are easy to transport, but since they are shipping containers, the dimensions are more or less fixed, i.e. the same width and only two lengths to choose from: six or 12 metres. Also, the sharp corners and dimensions means you’ll need to exert extra effort to integrate them into your property landscape.
It might be worth considering a customised above ground pool made of fibreglass. Compass Pools has built a name for itself when it comes to building pools tailored for difficult or challenging sites, such as sloping or uneven ground. By making use of their Maxi Rib technology, which is a meticulous building process using specialised materials, you are assured of the quality, strength and longevity of each pool they make.
Customise your pool
After getting your above ground pool installed, you can build a deck around it to add some usable floor space and make your pool area safe and attractive. You can add external steps, a water management system, solar pool heating (or any heat source you want), safety mechanisms (e.g. locking gate) and custom pool lighting, too.
The landscaping can also enhance the way your above ground pool looks wherever it is situated in your backyard. By carefully curating your choices in terms of foliage (plants, trees and flowers), grilling or cooking equipment, patio furniture and accessories, you can make your above ground pool your backyard centrepiece.
It can function as part of your entertaining and dining area, or be a central element in your beautiful outdoor views. You can have a firepit added, as well as comfortable seating and other decorative features if the space permits.
If you want your above ground pool to look stylish and luxurious, and give off a hotel or resort-like feel, you can ask your pool designer or builder to render it infinity-style, with a disappearing edge. There’s really no limit to how creative you can get as long as the space and your budget allow for it.
A final word
Make sure to work with a professional pool designer and builder from the very start. They’ll know what the current guidelines are in terms of safety requirements and council approvals. Communicate your needs, ask questions and be ready to commit 100% to your project to ensure you’re happy with the end result.
But if you’re currently mulling over getting an above ground pool for your backyard — or any type of pool for that matter — please get in touch with us to get a free trial or a free quote. Depending on your requirements and the pool building site, we may recommend Little Pools prefabricated pool products or Compass Pools if you want very specific customisation options.
Gordon Ave Pools & Spas is an expert in building above ground pools in Geelong, Victoria and nearby areas.