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How to Install an Above Ground Pool in 16 Steps

how to install above ground pool

When it comes to installing a pool, there aren’t many DIY options. If you want something more permanent than an inflatable pool, consider installing an above-ground pool kit. With a bit of construction know-how and a helping hand, you could have your pool up and running in just one weekend. This guide will show you how to install an above-ground pool on your own in just a day.

Prepare to Install Above Ground Pool

Above-ground pools don’t need as much prep as inground ones, but planning is still key. Start by getting an above-ground pool kit, either online or at a big-box store. Make sure it includes everything you need, like a filter and pump. Your kit will come with detailed instructions. Before you start, consider these points.

Select Pool Location

You can pick from various shapes and sizes for above-ground pools, but choose one that fits your space well. Find a spot with stable ground, away from powerlines, trees, and other structures. Leave enough space around the pool for easy access and cleaning. Lastly, ensure there’s a nearby plug for the filter and pump.

Get a Permit

You might need a building permit to install an above-ground pool on your property, depending on local laws. Before starting, reach out to your city or homeowner’s association to check the requirements.

Call Your Utility Company

You cannot install a pool over utility lines, whether they’re overhead or shallow underground. Contact your utility company to mark the lines before you start to avoid any accidents.

Be Sure to Have Electricity

Don’t try DIY electrical work near water, especially with a pool pump. Hire an electrician to make sure your pool is powered safely.


1. Mark the Pool Area Using the Center Point

Mark out your pool area using string and stakes. Choose a flat, level spot at least six feet from any slope for your above-ground pool. Place a stake at the center of the pool area. Tie a string to the stake, making it half the pool’s diameter plus three inches. Use the string to spray paint the pool’s outline on the ground, where you’ll lay the bottom track.

2. Remove Debris

Once you’ve mapped out the pool area, clear away all debris. Get rid of any plants or roots that could grow through the pool liner. Take out grass or sod that might make the pool bottom unstable. Also, check for sharp rocks and twigs that could damage the pool.

3. Level the Area

If the bottom pool track doesn’t line up, it could make your pool collapse. Check the area with a leveler taped to two-by-four boards longer than the pool’s diameter. If it’s not level, adjust the yard. Instead of digging, you can level the yard.

4. Install the Bottom Wall Rim

After leveling the ground, install the bottom ring. This ring supports the pool walls and goes around the entire pool. Assemble the kit components, which typically include plates, stabilizers, and bottom rails. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions: space out the plates, slide in the bottom rail, and attach stabilizers accordingly.

5. Add Patio Blocks as a Support

Install patio blocks under each plate. This will help keep the pool stable over time. First, dig out a space for each block. Then, make sure the track sits flush with the block and the ground.

6. Pour Sand Inside the Ring

The sand is crucial because it protects the liner and provides support. To start, put down a layer of two to four inches of playground sand or mason sand inside the bottom ring. This is where you’ll put the pool lining.

7. Attach the Pool Walls

You’ll need extra help to set up the pool walls since they come in a roll of metal. One person should start by holding the roll at the center of the pool. Make sure to align it so that the square cutout is for the skimmer and the round cutout is for the return, where you’ll install your pool accessories. Another person can carefully unroll the metal and place the walls in the tracks. 

Attach the top track as you go to prevent the walls from collapsing. Use landscape stakes to temporarily support the walls while installing them. Keep going until the entire roll is in position along the bottom ring.

8. Secure the Seam

After the wall is in place, there will be a seam running along the length of the pool wall. You might need to adjust the wall by moving the bottom plates or shimmying the walls together if they don’t match up. It might be tricky, but with some effort, the walls should fit together. Install the bolts, then use duct tape to tape the seam.

9. Install Wall Supports and Top Cap

Install wall supports. Each metal plate should have one wall support. Make sure the patio block supporting is firmly in place and won’t move; otherwise, your pool may be unstable. If everything looks good, install the top cap on the pool wall.

10. Prepare the Sand for the Pool Liner

Level the sand before putting down your liner. Begin by using a rake, starting from the middle of your pool and working outward. Gently wet the sand and compact it to create a solid foundation.

Next, create a cove on the inside of the bottom rail where it meets the pool wall. You can use angled foam, also known as a foam cove, or sand. Compact the sand using a hand tamper, being careful not to scratch your walls. This will help reduce stress on your liner as you fill up your pool.

11. Check Your Measurements

Double-check your measurements before installing the liner, as this will be one of the final steps. Ensure that the pool has the correct size and shape, and that the area under the pool is at the proper depth. Make sure everything is level and adjust as needed.

12. Installing the Pool Liner

Some liners are attached to the wall using a separate track, while others use plastic coping strips on top of the pool wall. Check with your pool liner manufacturer for specific installation instructions.

Begin by spreading out the liner in the middle of your pool. Smooth out wrinkles and air bubbles gently, being careful not to tear the liner. Use a vacuum to remove any remaining air bubbles. It might be helpful to have a second person to assist you, as the liner can be quite heavy.

13. Fill the Pool Halfway with Water

After the liner has been installed, fill the pool with water halfway. This will help settle the liner, and you’ll be able to spot any remaining wrinkles. You can use city or well water from your own hose, or you can arrange for a water delivery truck from a pool service company.

14. Install the Filter, Pump and Return

First, prepare a spot for the pump and filter. You’ll need a pump and filter bed. Use a stack of cinderblocks to cover the cutouts. Make sure the ground is flat so the blocks will be secure.

Installation methods can vary depending on the manufacturer. Some pool filters have sand in the body, while others don’t. Check the instructions provided by the manufacturer to learn how to install your filter, skimmer, and return.

15. Install the Top Rail

Install the top rails and top plates on your support posts. Your pool should now be completely stable. You can now add steps or ladders, just make sure they don’t touch the top rail. Putting pressure on the top rail could cause the pool wall to collapse.

16. Fill Your Pool and Check Your Work

Checking your work is the final step in pool construction. Fill the pool halfway up to where the skimmer’s mouth is. Turn on your pool to check for leaks. If you find a leak, troubleshoot the issue. You may not always need to replace the hose. If you can’t figure out the problem, call a service to repair your pool. You can add cleaning chemicals to your pool if it’s not faulty.


DIY Above Ground Swimming Pool Installation vs. Hiring a Professional

Installing an above-ground pool yourself can range from $1,000 to $15,000, depending on the pool kit you choose. A basic kit measuring 10 feet wide can be bought for just $150. Professional labor typically adds $800 to $3,200 to the cost.

However, it’s crucial to understand that saving money with a DIY approach doesn’t mean it’s always the best choice. Pool installation can be challenging if you’re not experienced, and a collapsed pool can be dangerous. Flooding your backyard could also cause serious injury to someone.

Most homeowners opt to hire an above-ground pool installer, especially if decking and fencing are needed, which are often required by law.


Can I install my own above-ground pool?

Even if you need some help, homeowners who are handy can install their above-ground pool themselves. If the ground is level and you’re using an above-ground pool kit, it’s a straightforward process. However, it’s still a challenging DIY. If you’re not confident about your abilities, it’s best to hire a swimming pool installer near you.

How do you prepare the soil for an above-ground pool?

Leveling is the most important step in preparing a surface for an above-ground pool. If your above-ground pool isn’t resting on a level surface, it could collapse. Remove any grass or debris that may puncture the liner, such as rocks, roots, twigs, and vegetation.

What should I do before installing an above-ground pool?

Some homeowners install their pools on concrete, patio pavers, or foam tiles. As long as the ground isn’t grass or sod, leveled dirt will work. You’ll still need to use sand to protect your pool liner. Some pool installers also use a foam pool pad for added protection.

Is it necessary to place sand beneath an above-ground pool?

You can install your above-ground pool on any level surface, but you will need sand to protect the liner. Rocks, plants, and twigs, for example, can damage your liner. Sand will help level out the pool. You can also use foam coves or angled foam for additional support.

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