How Much Does an Above Ground Pool Cost?

How Much Does an Above Ground Pool Cost?

There are a lot of different kinds of above ground pools. You can go to Wal-Mart or a similar store and get very cheap pools just about anytime. These have a number of downsides we’ll discuss. You can also go to a true pool and spa store and check out a variety of above ground pool types, mostly permanent installations. Some have pretty limited capabilities, some that with a little imagination can look like you had an inground pool installed for 1/3 of the price! Let’s go over some options and examples.

Intex pools are ones you can find at Wal-Mart and other big box stores. They will be inexpensive and temporary–you cannot leave them up over winter. They come with a pump and filter system, but you’ll want to replace those. It’s a small cartridge filter, and most people I’ve talked to who have had an Intex pool were replacing their filters weekly, which can get costly. The problem there is that they are small filters on a small pump, without enough room or power to ACTUALLY keep your pool clean. This means more money on chemicals and replacement filters. For the same price as what you likely paid for the pool, you can get a sand filter and pump that will be much better. You won’t have to replace the sand for years, and it’ll cut down on your chemical spending.

Intex pool cartridge filter sand

Personally, I find the Intex pools very unappealing visually. The bright blue color and the general shape seem very cartoon-like to me, but some people love it, which is great.  I would also be very concerned about owning this pool if I had a dog, or the neighbors had dogs, because it really doesn’t take much to tear the vinyl of the pool construction, and there is nothing to protect it. Keep that in mind–according to their website, Intex Pools only have a warranty on their pump (you have to have receipt and pay for shipping yourself), or 3 months on manufacturers defects on the pool.  Essentially–plan that you’ll be replacing everything at least yearly.  Most of the time, you cannot purchase replacement parts or repair parts anywhere, including where you purchased the pool.  They want you to buy a new one yearly.

Des Moines Iowa Pool Installation and sales

Whispering Winds pools by Lomart are a very different kind of above ground pool.  Lifetime warranty, steel sided liner pool that can be buried up to 2′ in the ground AND can have a deep end of up to 6′.  This is a permanent installation type of pool, so if you want to build a deck around it you can.  If you have a hill or slope in your backyard, we can dig into it and install the pool right in the hill in many cases.  These pools are very versatile and with a good installation crew, we can work to make your ideal pool happen!  I’ve seen them installed and decked in such a way that you’d swear it was an inground pool.  At a third of the price, mind you!

Whispering Winds Lomart Des Moines, Iowa install or delivery

SO!  Let’s talk cost vs price on these pools.  Let’s give it a 10 year time period.

Intex  – 15′ round (largest I could find)
Replace Yearly- Total:  $1150
Ladder- Replace 3x –   $195
Solar Cover- replace 5x- $579
Filters – 10 per year – $1000
Maintenance Equip (pole, net, etc) – $200
New Pumps –               $500
100 hrs YOUR time putting up and taking it down every year – $1500

Total basic cost over 10 years:  $5345.  Plus all the time and energy it takes you to be driving for new filters weekly, purchasing a new pool yearly, troubleshooting water issues caused by a too-small filter system,  vacuuming and attempting to keep the water clean on a pool that doesn’t have a skimmer, replacing the water when it’s gotten too bad and you don’t know what to do about it, etc, etc, etc….  Plus…you know….it’s funny looking.  It just is.  We can all admit it.  😀

Whispering Winds Pools 21′ round (we don’t do 15′)
Purchase ONCE – $4,973
Install – $2,300
Sand filter and pump system, solar cover, winter cover, maintenance kit, skimmer, hoses, heavy duty ladder and/or deck ladder, liner (patterns available), pool cover, and POOL SCHOOL included at no additional cost.  Also–typically–your first set of chemicals are included, as well as an education on how and when to use them!

Total Cost over 10 years:  $7,273.  AND it’s pretty.  AND you won’t have to install, re-install, tear it down, put it up, refill with water, drain all the water…etc.  There IS a difference in price, sure, just like choosing to get nicer jeans or shoes, or ones from Wal-Mart.  But that difference in price, over 10 years, adds up to about $16/month.  For $16 per month, I’m willing to have something I’m proud of.


It’s always up to you to decide what you want.  Personally, I would think about how you want your backyard to LOOK, since you’ll be looking at it a lot.  I would think about how much WORK you want to put into the pool – the nicer the pool (and filter system), the less work you’ll need to do.  I would figure out how much excess equipment you will need, and find out how much that would cost if not included in the price of the pool.  I would also think about whether you want to support the big box stores (who can’t support you with technical or or chemical assistance), or whether you’d like to shop local at a place with in-house technicians, their own installation crew, and a dedicated water care team.

If you’re thinking of purchasing a pool – What are some of YOUR concerns and questions?

If you already own a pool – What do you wish you had considered or learned before you purchased one?

Thanks for reading!

Jen Allen
Central Iowa Pool & Spa

Other Articles of Interest:
How Much Does an Inground Pool Cost?
How to Install an Above Ground Pool?
100 Reasons Your Pool Water Might be Cloudy
Our Pools and Information!



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