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The Benefits of Above-Ground Pools

All above ground pools are not created equal. They range in quality from quite flimsy to almost indestructible. When choosing a pool for purchase, PcPools strongly suggests that you compare the actual specifications of the component materials used to construct the above ground swimming pool—as well as the design of the components and ease of installation—before making a decision. Keep in mind that better-quality component materials will only be found in higher-priced pools.
PcPools’ Above Ground Pools provide the ultimate in quality and affordability, backed by the best warranties around!

The Benefits of Above-Ground Pools
An above-ground pool lets a family spend time together without leaving home.

The outstanding benefits associated with above-ground pools are 1) easy installation and maintenance, and 2) less-expensive price. These two factors alone make an above-ground pool beat an in-ground pool for consumers seeking a relaxing yet surprisingly affordable backyard luxury.

Anyone on a tight budget can afford an above-ground pool thanks to easy installation. Installation of an above-ground pool takes substantially less effort that an in-ground pool. An above-ground swimming pool can be expertly installed by a service provider, or the homeowner can easily do the job in a matter of hours. Just about anyone can do it. All that's required is to select a spot on your property, prepare the ground, and put it all together. 

When it comes to maintenance, an above-ground pool is easier to deal with due to the simple fact that it sits above ground. In fact, an in-ground pool attracts far more debris from surrounding sources. For example, during lawn maintenance, grass clippings can easily get into an in-ground pool without precaution. With an above ground pool, the height means you don't have to worry about grass clippings.

In-ground pool owners also cite problems with keeping animals out—including dogs, cats, squirrels, skunks and rodents, and frogs. An above-ground pool obviously is harder for critters like these to access.

No swimming pool is safe. However, above ground pools can be are harder to access than in-ground pools. It is more likely for something to fall into an in-ground pool due to the pool's close proximity to the ground. But entering an above-ground pool requires climbing a ladder, which can be quite a tough obstacle to navigate. If used correctly an above ground pool can be a more secure option.
What to know when considering an above-ground swimming pool
Considerations before you buy. 
A luxurious soak in a swimming pool can be very relaxing. Homeowners with small or large backyards and small or large budgets can enjoy all that an above-ground pool has to offer.

The truth is above-ground swimming pools have several important advantages over in-ground pools. The most obvious is price: Above-ground pools are available at a fraction of the cost of in-ground pools.

Above ground pool are significantly less expensive than in-ground pools, which can rack up plenty of expenses and end up being a major home addition. A good-quality above-ground pool—including pump and filtration system—is available for under $2,000, as compared to the $30,000 starting point for the typical residential in-ground pool considering installation, pool deck and minimal landscaping.

Another advantage of an above-ground pool is the short installation time compared to, say, an in-ground pool constructed of "gunite"—a concrete type mixture. A gunite contractor likely will take about two to three weeks—depending on conditions—to complete an in-ground pool. Add to that the installation of an in-ground vinyl pool liner, which likely will require a week or two. Conversely, above-ground pool kits usually can be assembled in a couple of days—sometimes less than the time it takes to fill them.

Above-ground pools come in many different sizes and shapes, yet are limited to three basic shapes: round, rectangular, and oval. The ovals aren't true ovals, but simply rectangles with rounded ends. Round pools typically range from 10 feet to 33 feet in diameter, and rectangles and ovals range from 12 x 24 feet to about 18 x 44 feet. Typical above ground pool depths are 48 or 52 inches deep. Above-ground pools require a level surface and access to electricity and water. In a small yard, be mindful of installation instructions for any pool under consideration. That's because most oval and rectangular pools require an extra three feet of clearance on each long side to accommodate the supports. For example, a pool that is 18 feet wide actually requires an area measuring 24 feet wide.

Many communities require a building permit for any pool deeper than 24 inches, or more than 500 square feet in surface area, or that has a water circulating system. Check with the local building department and ask about the code requirements and zoning laws—and especially whether setback requirements apply to pools. A setback requirement may mean that there must be 10 feet or so between the pool and the property line. If such space is not available, a variance may be required.

Also, some pools cannot be placed under overhead power lines, or over buried power lines or septic systems. Most building codes also call for a 48-inch-high fence to surround a pool. For above-ground models, the pool walls serve as a suitable barrier. But a fence with a self-closing and latching gate should enclose any permanent ladder leading to the pool.

It also is a good idea to choose a spot where rainwater will drain away from the pool. Go as close to the house as possible, which lends convenience to entertaining—or just plain relaxing.
Quick tip:
For more information on above-ground pools, contact the National Spa & Pool Institute
2111 Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria, VA 22314; 800-323-3996.
How to choose an above-ground pool
An above-ground pool is a relatively low-cost yet highly refreshing retreat that's just perfect for a private backyard. In addition to costing much less than an in-ground pool, an above-ground pool is faster and easier to install—even without the help of a professional. And depending on the size of the yard, there's always the flexible option of moving the above-ground pool.
Buying a new pool can be a confusing process. That's why PcPools breaks it all down for you in four simple steps. Browse each step for a good idea of all the types of pools and options on the market today, including what PcPools has to offer. Again, it is suggested that you review all four steps to ensure the proper consideration of all pool options available from PcPools today—and one just right for your family.

1) Choose the ideal spot, which should be open and relatively flat.
Once a potential location (or two) has been picked out, measure the spot to determine how much room there is. If a deck is a preferred addition to the above-ground pool, consider that as well in the measurements. Also, if the city or town requires safety fencing around pools, allow enough room to accommodate a fence.

In addition, consider how many people will be using the pool at the same time on a regular basis. Industry experts recommend at least 15 square feet of water surface for each swimmer. For instance, a pool that is 10 feet by 25 feet has 250 square feet of water surface, allowing about 16 swimmers.

2) Determine a pool-buying budget to pare down pool choices.
Hard-sided or hard walled pools—along with filters, ladder, and ground preparation materials—start at $300 and can range as high as $4,000, depending on pool size and quality. The average soft-sided pool costs around $3,000, but doesn't involve much ground preparation and can easily be installed without the help of a professional. Deck kits usually cost between $500 and $2,000, depending on the size and materials. Also, consider maintenance costs in your budget. The larger and fancier the swimming pool, the more it will cost to keep in good condition.

3) Decide on a hard-sided or soft-sided pool.
Although hard-sided pools usually are cheaper than soft-sided pools, some hard-sided pools require professional installation. This service may cost up to an additional $1,000 if a significant amount of ground leveling is needed. Keep in mind that soft-sided pools can be assembled, disassembled, and moved much easier than hard-sided pools. But if you don't plan to move soon and would like to keep your pool up year-round, a hard-sided above ground pool is the best option.

4) Choose a swimming pool liner.
If you've decided on a hard-sided above ground pool, you will need to purchase an above ground pool liner to enhance the pool's appearance and comfort. Pool liners are available in various colors and styles, and range in thickness, typically between 15 mm and 30 mm. As a general rule, the thicker the pool liner, the more durable it is.
Quick tip:
PcPools® carries above-ground pools from the top manufacturers. As a premier resource for a complete line of rugged, good-looking pools designed for easy installation by the homeowner, all PcPools® pools offer the highest-quality construction and the strongest, most meaningful warranties on the market.
Look to PcPools® Above Ground Pools for years of family fun—guaranteed.
How to install an above-ground pool
Many new pool owners may want to save money by installing their own above-ground pool. Consumers up to the challenge should be advised that it's important to follow all the following steps presented here—beginning with ground preparation and ending with the proper finishing touches. PcPools Above Ground pools make installation easy with included comprehensive instruction manuals on all above ground pools, and instructional dvd's for some our pools.
Quick tip:
Make sure to read all the installation instructions and directions that come with the above-ground pool!
Installation supplies list:
  • Pool instructions from the above ground pool manufacturer
  • Patio bricks or pavers
  • Above ground pool kit complete with hardware and accessories.
Step 1: Level the ground
This step is very important in the final outcome. Ground that is uneven cannot be fixed once water is added. If the ground under the pool isn't level, the water might slosh out of the pool, and the pool walls could weaken and become prone to collapsing. Any self-installation process of an above-ground pool must properly ensure that the ground is as flat as possible before pool installation. Here’s how:
  • Inspect the yard and choose the flattest area available. Sites with a great deal of bumps will require much more work to level. Ensure that the site is a foot or two larger than the pool in each direction.
  • Remove grass, weeds and rocks from the site using a shovel or a sod cutter. Alternatively, use a Rototiller to remove grass. If you've got a few months to spare before pool installation, try laying dark plastic sheets over the area that the pool will occupy to slowly kill the grass with relatively little effort.
  • Attach a level to a long board. Lay the board on the site to see how close to level it is. Alternatively, for a round swimming pool, pound a stake into the center of the site and use a string and a level to ensure the ground is level.
  • Dig out any high spots in the site. If the ground is not close to level, it's best to remove dirt to make a level area (as opposed to adding it). That way, the soil under the pool will be firm and solid.
  • Dump sand onto the site once it is level. Many garden and landscaping supply companies will deliver sand by the truckload. A 2-inch to 6-inch layer of sand is recommended.
  • Use a rake to spread the sand over the site evenly.
  • Compact the sand using a lawn roller, which can be rented from a home and garden center. Check how level the ground is by again using a board and level.
  • Place a tarp or swimming pool protector over the sand. Perform a final check to ensure the area is level.
Quick tip:
If you will be using a protective pad, it should be laid at this time. Blue Wave® Gorilla Pad is one product that can add years of life to a pool and its liner. This special high-density woven fabric acts as a barrier to grass, rocks, and other sharp and invasive objects. Gorilla Pad is super tough, but also adds a layer of cushioning that will eliminate footprints from forming. It is cut to size and seamed for the pool.
Step 2: Assemble the track to support the outside walls (following the manufacter's directions)
Pool Cove can be installed prior to the next step, as it will protect the liner and simplify liner installation (see more at Frequently Asked Questions). Cove reduces corrosion, and unlike sand or dirt, cove cannot be washed out and will not hold moisture against metal components. "Original Cove" is made from high-density foam (2.3 lbs/ft 3), and will not change shape or indent—making pool cleaning easier. Wall foam is another accessory that can extend the life of the liner and pool. Wall foam will hold heat in the pool while providing a smooth surface on the wall to protect the liner from damage due to punctures or trapped moisture.
Step 3: Insert the vinyl liner into the pool wall
Allow the pool liner to warm in the sunlight for the greatest amount of give. Next, smooth the pool liner and attach it to the sides of the pool. This step will depend on the type of pool liner that is chosen.
Step 4: Fill the pool with water
Next, hook up the pump and filter system, and begin water maintenance.
Step 5: Consider finishing the pool with your own personal touch
Why not try some landscaping plants, or a pool fence? Here's how to get started:
  • Make a landscape plan. It is essential to begin with a plan on paper. It does not have to be fancy or in-depth; rather, let this document serve as a reference point for making lists for materials to be purchased. The illustration also will come in handy when consulting with a nursery or home store regarding plant choices.
  • Set a budget and stick to it. It's very easy to spend a lot of money on landscaping materials in no time at all. Keep in mind the ultimate goal, remember that plants will grow, and consider the overall goals for installing the landscaping.
  • Consider the objective of the landscaping project. If the goal is to visually reduce the height of the above-ground pool, consider using taller plantings or trees. If color is the goal, choose annual or perennial flowers most appropriate for the area.
  • Match and blend new landscaping with existing landscaping. A new pool will look much better if the landscaping complements existing beds and plants. Matching the size of new plants to older growth plantings can be expensive as larger plants typically cost much more. Many plant and tree varieties may grow fairly quickly. Trimming and maintaining older plantings will allow newer plants the opportunity to catch up in size.
  • Follow recommended methods for installing plant beds, and planting flowers, shrubs and trees. Make sure to dig holes for plantings at least 3/4 the depth of the root ball, water thoroughly and fill all air pockets with soil. Plants should be spaced so that there is room between each planting for growth. They should not be too close to the pool structure itself.
  • Install plantings around the bottom of an above-ground pool. During this step, it is critical to keep in mind the location of pumps and filter units. Set plants a sufficient distance from these units so that plants may have room to grow and still allow access for work and filter maintenance. Also keep in mind that taller upright plantings and trees should be located several feet from the base of the pool structure to allow upright growth and spread of limbs.
  • Consider the type of trees to be planted. Keep in mind that many—if not most—trees will drop their leaves at some point during the year. This always results in additional pool maintenance and cleaning.

PcPools carries above-ground pools from the top manufacturers. As a premier resource for a complete line of rugged, good-looking pools designed for easy installation by the homeowner, all PcPools pools offer the highest-quality construction and the strongest, most meaningful warranties on the market. Look to PcPools to guarantee you decades of fun for your whole family!
• Economical steel pool 48" or 52" deep
• 6" Toprail and 6" Verticals
• Includes Star Galvin® coating and 15-Year Warranty
• Available in round and oval sizes
• Mid-Grade steel pool, 52" deep
• 8" Toprail and 6 " Verticals
• Includes Star Galvin® coating and 30-Year Warranty
• Available in round and oval sizes
• Top-of-the-line Steel/Resin pool, 54" deep
• Beautiful 8" resin radius toprail
60-Year Warranty (with Lifetime Bottom Rail Warranty)
• Stainless steel service panel for superior corrosion protection
• Available in round and oval sizes
• Premium Resin pool, 54" deep
• 100% corrosion resistant construction
• Snap together, easy installation
60-Year Warranty
• Available in round and oval sizes
• Premium Aluminum pool, 54" deep
• 100% corrosion resistant construction
Lifetime Warranty
• Available in round and oval sizes
Above-Ground pools are available in a variety of sizes, in Round and Oval shapes.
Depths range from 48" to 54".
Round sizes from 12' to 36' round.
Oval sizes from 12'x24' to 21'x41'.

Frequently Asked Questions: Above-ground pools
1) Why should I go with an above-ground pool?
Many homeowners are turning to above-ground pools because they are built to last and offer a wide variety of wall and liner options. In fact, approximately 50% of the pools owned in the United States are above-ground. Homeowners also choose above-ground pools thanks to their relatively low cost as compared to in-ground pools.

Your lifestyle and entertainment plans are important to consider when thinking of the size and depth of the pool you will require. Yard space is another obvious consideration. How much do you have right now and how much would you like to have left over when the pool is assembled?

An above-ground pool offers a certain flexibility that an in-ground pool does not, while simultaneously offering many of the same technically sophisticated options such as lighting and water features. An above-ground pool is installation-friendly and low maintenance. And if the day comes that you are ready to recapture your backyard, an above-ground pool can easily be disassembled in a day's time.

2) What is the best way to buy an above-ground pool?
There is no best way, because it mostly depends on your preferences for shopping. If you are the kind of shopper who looks for ease above all else, then it is certainly possible and probably a good idea to purchase your pool online. Other people prefer to go a different route when buying something that could cost a few thousand dollars. These shoppers likely want to see what exactly it is they are purchasing. If you are one of these kinds of shoppers, it is probably best that you go to an actual pool store and see the pool yourself before a final purchase is made.

3) What kind of an above-ground pool should I buy?
Dependent on personal preferences, there are certain items that need to be considered before the pool is bought. First and foremost is to consider who will be using the pool. If the pool is primarily for the use of children, you may want to look into getting a pool that is a little more on the shallow side. But if you plan to entertain many adults in the pool this obviously would be an improper choice.

Also consider what kind of footprint the pool is going to leave and what kind of space is available. For example, if it is your desire to place the pool in the corner of your yard, it will fit much better if it were rectangular in shape. But if you want a more traditional size and shape similar to other above-ground pools, you may want to go with a pool that is more circular.

4) How long will it take to set up the above ground swimming pool?
Usually it is best to plan on spending a whole weekend if you are setting up a pool. If you have three people helping with assembly processes, it can take as little as one day, but it could take more if you are trying to assemble such a pool for the first time. The more people, the less the time it will take to set up an above-ground pool.

5) What is above-ground pool cove and why is it necessary?
A cove is needed to keep the weight of the water from causing the pool liner to balloon out under the bottom of the pool wall. Previously, pool cove had to be hand-formed with plenty of sand or dirt. Liner failures due to cove washout were all too common, and corrosion occurs rapidly where metal components at the bottom of the pool come in contact with moisture in the sand or dirt. Hand-formed coves also are uneven, making cleaning difficult.
Pool cove permanent
Liner rests tight against cove, creating a sealed barrier that keeps moisture from getting between the wall and liner.
Pool cove
Sand and dirt can be washed out, leaving a gap and causing excessive strain on the liner, which could result in liner failure.
A pool cove becomes part of the pool to seal the space between the wall and the liner, and to prevent liner strain. Made from chemically neutral foam, the cove will fight corrosion. It also is compatible with all vinyl liners, and eliminates the need for banking sand, otherwise used to create a sealed barrier between the wall and liner.
Round Pools
Oval Pools
Pool Size
12' x 24'
15' x 30'
18' x 33'
Coves Needed
Dimensions: Each cove piece measures 3"x 4"x 4'
6) How is pool water volume calculated?
Before you can determine the correct dosage of any chemical you're going to add, it's important to know how much water your pool holds.

Make all your measurements in feet. Example: use 12.5 instead of 12' 6".

1. Figure out the average depth of your pool. (deep end depth) feet + (shallow end depth) feet = _______ feet / 2 = (average depth) feet
2. Calculate your pool's capacity using one of the formulas below.
Pool Shape
» Rectangular or square:  (length) feet x (width) feet x (average depth) feet x 7.5 = (pool capacity) gallons 
» Oval:  (maximum length) feet x (maximum depth) feet x (average depth) feet x 5.9 = (pool capacity) gallons
» Circular:  (diameter) feet x (diameter) feet x (average depth) feet x 5.9 = (pool capacity) gallons
7) My above ground pool is discolored and scaly on the top of the rail. What is causing this?
This is a process called Cornification, and it happens when acidic water—i.e., water with a pH level that is too low—is splashed up to the top of the pool and is left to dry there. The acidic leftover of the water combined with strong sun begins to change the soft material into a scaly hard and discolored material. Left untended this can eventually lead to pool failure.

Try this:
1. If this process has already started, slice vacuum hoses long-ways down the center, and they will clamp along the top rail to protect it from the sun and water at all times.
2. Always monitor the pH level and keep it within acceptable ranges (7.2 - 7.6) so this problem will not occur.
3. Keep the pool covered after wiping down the top ledge.
8) Is it possible to stop an above ground pool from collapsing or at least limit the damage?
Use something more solid than an air pillow in extreme cold conditions, such as an inner tube or even a tire.  A heavy object like a log will keep the cover afloat, and it will more lightly compress when the water freezes. If the pool is frozen solid, then begin disassembling it piece by piece. If it is not frozen solid, wrap the pool with rope several times to hold everything together. Consult your warranty information and contact the dealer for help with manufacturer replacement parts. 
9) A sewer smell resulted after draining my above ground pool water. How can this be eradicated?
The smell may be coming from a heat-induced relationship between the pool bottom and the ground. Mix a gallon of warm water with 1/3 cup of bleach and wash the entire pool, including the bottom.
10) Small holes appear about a foot off the ground of my steel-walled pool, and it is leaking all over the pool at that height. I have a sand base. What happened?
When you originally put sand in the pool, likely the light pebbles floated up in the air and landed on the wall, and the wall was not wiped down. The sand pebbles over time pierced the liner from the pressure of water against the liner and water flowed out in small amounts. This rusted the steel wall right at the small-diameter holes. The pH level of the water likely tilted too low, causing acidic conditions and rusting. You will need a new liner, a new wall, and new bottom material (not sand).

Pool Construction & Finishing Glossary
Cobalt Bleeding: A condition occasionally present in older fiberglass pools and spas, resulting in dark black spots or blotches forming on underwater surfaces. Stain removal treatments may prove useless or temporary. The most practical remedy is to refinish the pool or spa.

Coping, pool: To maintain a pool's shape and to hold its liner in place, a tile or lip is installed around the edge of the pool. This edge is called coping (also known as edging).

Epoxy Based Refinishing: Refers to materials and processes used to refinish and seal a masonry pool. Such refinishing offers the advantage of strength and durability and reduced interaction between the masonry products in the walls and the pool water chemistry.

Exposed Aggregate Finish: A type of product used as the interior finish in some masonry pools—typically, a mixture of selected aggregates and Portland cement.  An acid etching is used to expose some of the aggregates, creating its textured, finished look.

Gorilla Pad: A 1/8-inch-thick geotextile pool floor pad that adds a layer of cushioning to eliminate footprints from forming on the pool floor. It is cut to size and seamed for your pool. No more cutting and taping as with foam. The padding virtually eliminates vinyl pool liner bottom leaks and inhibits weeds from causing holes in the pool liner.

Gunite: A water, sand, and cement mixture that is "gunned" onto the formed shape of a pool interior under construction. After application, a trowel is used on the walls, and a layer of a "plaster" finish is applied over the Gunite. It is this "plaster" layer—most commonly a marble dust Marcite (see separate glossary listing) or an aggregate finish—that will actually contact the water and be visible.

Pool Ladder: A device used to enter or exit a pool.
  • A-Frame Ladder: Straddles a pool wall in an above-ground pool only. It has a safety feature that allows one side to lift and prevent access into the pool.
  • In-Pool:A "candy cane" shaped ladder that goes from deck to pool bottom, designed for both in-ground pools and above-ground pools with decks.
Laterals: Devices at the bottom of a pool filter that collect the filtered water and carry it up the tank to and back into the pool.

Leaching: A term used to describe the movement of slowly soluble constituents, present in masonry pool finishes, into the pool water. Overall water chemistry governs to what extent any leaching can occur. This normally affects the parameters of pH, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness.

Pool Liner (Vinyl): A vinyl membrane that acts as the container to hold the water in a pool.
  • Overlap Pool Liner: A liner that hangs over the pool wall and is held in place with a liner clip.
  • Beaded Pool Liner: A liner with a beaded top that snaps into a bead receiver located at the top of the pool wall just underneath the seat ledge.
  • J-Hook (Uni-Bead) Pool Liner: These pool liners have a J-shaped piece that forms a pocket on top of the liner, and hooks onto the pool wall corrugation. These liners are very versatile because use of the hook is optional if the liner needs to be overlapped beyond the pool edge for a proper fit.
Marcite: A finish for Gunite pools that consists of crushed marble and white Portand cement, which forms a watertight layer over the underlying gunite.

Mottling: A term used to describe dark blotches, spots, or stains that appear on some plastered pools. This condition may be caused by the "use and abuse" of calcium chloride in the plastering mixture. There is no solution, short of refinishing, if mottling occurs. Algae and metal stains are other possibilities.

Plaster: A type of finish that is applied over the concrete shell of an in-ground pool. Typically, it is a mixture of cement and aggregate used as an interior finish on concrete pools or spas.

Pool, above-ground: A home pool that is built on top of the ground, constructed of various materials including a vinyl liner to contain the water.

Pool, in-ground, fiberglass: A pool that is built into the ground, with fiberglass as the material of construction. This type of pool is not very flexible in terms of size and shape.

Pool, in-ground, Gunite: A pool built into the ground—usually level with the surface—and constructed with a concrete shell that is "gunned" on (hence the name gunite). The surface can be finished with plaster or aggregate materials. This type of pool is very flexible in terms of size and shape.

Pool, in-ground, vinyl: A pool that is built into the ground—usually level with the surface—and constructed from various structural materials such as aluminum, steel, polymer plastic, and wood. This type of pool has a vinyl liner, and is very flexible in terms of size and shape.

Pool, on-ground: A removable pool that is on the ground and also has an excavated area below the earth.

Pool, permanent: A pool that cannot be readily disassembled usually used to describe an in-ground pool.

Precipitation: The formation of an insoluble chemical compound, thereby causing it to drop out of solution. Changes in the water analysis parameters of pH, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness can cause precipitation. Not treating dissolved minerals, such as iron, can lead to precipitation, and resulting staining and discoloration problems. Precipitation of calcium can lead to cloudy/hazy pool or spa water or scale deposit problems on underwater surfaces.

Quartz: A commonly used ingredient in quartz-aggregate finishes. Quartz or silicon dioxide is more chemical-resistant and durable than the more traditional marble dust additives.

Top rail: The outer edge of an above-ground pool, normally specified in 6", 8" or 9" sizes

Underdrain: The lower collection system in a filter that directs filtered water back toward the pool. It also distributes pool water in reverse during backwashing (see Laterals).

Vinyl Pool Liners: Placed inside the formed shape of a pool, vinyl liners are made of a heavy-gauge vinyl. They are used to contain the water within the inner surfaces of the walls and bottom. Vinyl liners are chemically inert, and enable the use of various materials as pool walls. Available in a variety of colors and patterns, vinyl liners come in stock sizes and custom sizes.

Wading pool: A pool with a shallow depth.