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Above-Ground Pool Buyer’s Guide

The Ultimate Above-Ground Pool Buyer's Guide

So, you’re ready to dive into the world of above-ground pools! Congratulations on making a choice that’s not only fun but also a great addition to your home. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about buying an above-ground pool. Let’s start by exploring the crucial aspects of size, shape, and space:

Size and Space: Finding the Perfect Fit

Pool Sizes: What Are Your Options?

Above-ground pools come in a range of sizes to suit different preferences and spaces. The available oval sizes include 12’x24’, 15’x30’ and 18’x33’ and available round sizes include 18’, 21’, 24’, 27’, 30’, and 33’ . Your choice should align with your available space and how you intend to use the pool.

Pool Shapes: Round or Oval?

When it comes to shapes, you have two primary options: round and oval. Round pools are versatile, offering a balance between space and purpose. They provide ample room for swimming, relaxation, and activities without feeling cramped.

On the other hand, oval pools are an excellent choice if you’re interested in activities like lap swimming or pool volleyball. However, they do require more space. The shape of your yard can also indicate what shape pool you get. If your backyard is more rectangle, an oval would be a good shape and if your yard is square, a round pool might be more ideal.

Round pools are considered the best value as a 27’ pool will hold about 5,000 more gallons than a 15×30 oval, and cost quite a bit less.

Why do Oval Pools Cost More?

This is an extremely popular question. If oval pools hold less gallons than a round, then it should cost less. Unfortunately, it costs more. There are 2 main reasons. First, oval pools require more support on the sides to hold the water in. For a round pool, the water evenly distributes. Oval pools come with a buttress system to hold the pool water on the sides. Second, oval pools take longer to install and require more skilled installation due to the buttress system.

How Much Space Do You Need?

Determining the right size of your above-ground pool also means considering the space needed for its installation. In addition to the pool’s size, you should account for an “over dig.” But what exactly is an over-dig? It’s the extra space required for pool construction. For example, if you opt for a 21-foot pool, you’ll need approximately 23.5 feet around it. You also need at least a six feet 1-inch clearance for equipment access.

Oval pools, due to their design with buttresses, require a larger over dig area. This usually means about three extra feet on each side. Buttresses are those steel-reinforced structures designed to provide additional support for the pool, ensuring its structural integrity. They play a critical role in keeping your pool safely grounded.

There are buttress free systems which take up less space on the sides and look aesthetically nice. You’ll find this option on nicer pools.

Sizes, Shapes, & Heights

Do Different Shapes Support Different Activities?

Wondering whether certain shapes are better for specific activities? Oval pools are often preferred by those who want to swim laps or engage in pool volleyball. However, it’s essential to note that the same activities can be enjoyed in a larger round pool. With a bigger round pool, you have more circumference to hang out and relax without constantly being in the “splash zone” if there are active swimmers around.

Popular Pool Sizes

While the perfect size ultimately depends on your needs, it’s worth noting that the 24-foot round pool is the most popular choice among pool enthusiasts. For oval pools, the 15×30-foot option takes the lead. These sizes strike a great balance between space and usability.

Pool Heights

Above ground pools come in 48”, 52” or 54” height. The waterline is generally 4 to 6” below the height of the overall pool. In the premium above ground market, 52” and 54” is your most popular. A 48” pool is generally purchased because the pool is less expensive. We recommend a 54” pool. With kids, they’re going to enjoy a deeper over the years. For adults, you can still stand comfortably for relaxation.

Understanding Pool Structures

When it comes to above-ground pools, understanding the pool structure is crucial in your buying decision. At Galaxy Home Recreation, we have created a G-Rating System to understand the differences amongst pool models. They can look very similar! Above-ground pools are categorized into different types based on the material used in their construction. Here’s a breakdown of the various pool structures:

G1: Steel Structure

Pool Material: Galvanized steel wall, frame, and components.

G2: Steel Structure +

Pool Material: Galvanized steel wall and components with stainless steel service panel.

G3: Aluminum Return Panel

Pool Material: Galvanized steel wall and components with aluminum service panel

G4: Aluminum Wall

Pool Material: Aluminum wall including service panel, steel components, with injection-molded resin top rail.

G5: 100% Resin Structure

Pool Material: All Aluminum wall and components and/or molded resin components.

Brands You Can Trust

Selecting the right brand for your above-ground pool is pivotal to ensure longevity and performance. There are several brands in the market, but when it comes to durability and innovation, we highly recommend the following Wilbar brands: Sharkline, Backyard Leisure, and Vogue. There are other known premium brands such as Doughboy, Carvin and Trevi.

What Sets Wilbar Apart?

Wilbar is a leading brand that owns an impressive 60% of the world’s market share in premium above-ground pools. What makes Wilbar stand out from the rest is its unwavering commitment to quality and innovation. Let’s dive into some of the key reasons why Wilbar pools are superior to others:

Solid Resin Rails

Wilbar pools feature injection molded resin rails that are significantly stronger and more durable than the traditional thin steel material found in many other pools. These resin rails can withstand various types of pressure and weight, ensuring the structural integrity of your pool.

Aluminum Walls

Unlike steel pools that are susceptible to rust, Wilbar pools offer higher-end aluminum walls pool models. These aluminum walls are not only rust-resistant but also provide enhanced structural strength. Say goodbye to worrying about rust corroding your pool over time.

Buttress-Free Systems

Wilbar offers buttress-free systems for their oval pools. These systems take up less yard space and require less over-dig, making them a practical choice for those with limited space. They’re not only space-efficient but also aesthetically pleasing.

Other Brands

Doughboy is known as the oldest ground pool manufacturer. They also make an expandable liner deep end pool. Over the years, the above ground pool industry has made many innovations such as aluminum walls and solid resin rails. Doughboy’s pools are still made out of steel rails and steel walls. Expandable liners do provide a deeper pool, but it stretches the liner out, requiring more frequent replacement. The deep end hole is also out just dirt and sand, which become uneven over time. You can also buy a 54” pool flat bottom pool if you want a pool that’s deeper, but doesn’t hurt the pool over time. Lastly, Doughboy requires liners and other after-market parts to be purchased from them to maintain the warranty, which means you have to pay a lot more.

Durability: How Long Do Above-Ground Pools Last?

The good news is that a well-maintained above-ground pool can last for decades. These pools have been known to provide years of enjoyment for families, ensuring your investment stands the test of time.

Liners: Protecting the Heart of Your Pool

Liner Quality Matters

Pool liners play a crucial role in maintaining the integrity and aesthetics of your pool. They come in different grades, similar to pool models. The difference lies in whether they are made from recycled or virgin materials. A higher-end, virgin-grade liner, made from fresh materials, provides more durability and longevity.

Also, the installation method of the liner plays a critical role the longevity of the liner. Traditional, less expensive pools, use an overlap system. Premium pools use a beaded / multi-bead system. The overlap liner hangs over the pool, providing an unsightly look. It also puts more stress on the liner since it’s hanging over and its harder to replace especially under / around a deck. The beaded liner clips into the top of the pool and provides a cleaner look without any stress on the liner. It’s much easier to replace over time as well.

Liner Lifespan

While a quality liner can have a warranty of 20 years or more, its actual lifespan may vary. Factors such as exposure to sunlight, pool use, chemicals, and wear and tear can affect the liner’s lifespan. Typically, you can expect a well-maintained liner to last between 7 to 10 years.

Elevate Your Pool Experience with Accessories

To make the most of your above-ground pool experience, consider investing in the right accessories. Some common accessories include:


If you have a deck surrounding your pool, you’ll need a ladder system that can attach to it. For those seeking the widest steps, a 36-inch step ladder is a popular choice. This ensures easy and safe entry and exit from your pool. You’ll also want a locking-ladder if you have young kids, and want to control when they use the pool.


Fountains not only enhance the visual appeal of your pool but also help keep the water cool and provide a soothing sound. They add an element of tranquility to your pool area.

Pool Toys

Enhance your pool’s fun factor with floaties, lounge chairs, and various pool toys. Whether you’re relaxing in the sun or playing with the family, these accessories can make your pool time more enjoyable.

Pool Maintenance Essentials

Maintaining your above-ground pool is essential for ensuring its longevity and keeping the water clean and safe. Here are some key maintenance considerations:

Pool Filters and Pump Systems

You have the option of sand systems and filter systems. Sand systems use sand to purify and clean the water, while filter systems rely on cartridges. Cartridge systems are more efficient, offering better filtration and easier maintenance. High-quality pools often feature cartridge systems due to their effectiveness.

Sometimes, cartridge systems can have the wrong connotation to soft-side pools like Intex, which use a very small filter and equipment system. Premium above ground pools used larger cartridge filter systems more similar to an inground pool. Usually, the filters will be 150 to 200 square feet. This will help with the following compared to sand:

  • Reducing your microns from 10 – 20 versus 20 –40
  • No sand blowing back into the pool from the filter system
  • Easy to maintain, replace and winterize. Sand weighs 200 to 400 pounds.

Pool Cleaners

A good pool vacuum is essential for keeping your pool clean. You can choose between manual, automatic, and robotic cleaners. Robotic cleaners are the most efficient and user-friendly option, providing thorough cleaning with minimal effort.

Sanitization Systems

Sanitization Systems for above-ground pools play a critical role in maintaining the cleanliness and safety of the pool water. Properly sanitized water ensures that swimmers are protected from harmful bacteria and pathogens, and the water remains clear and inviting. There are several different types of sanitization systems available, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Here’s an elaboration on these various sanitization systems:

Saltwater Systems

Pros: Saltwater systems use a salt cell to produce chlorine from salt, reducing the need for manual chlorine addition. They provide a consistent, steady release of chlorine, which can lead to softer-feeling water and reduce skin and eye irritation. Saltwater pools often require less maintenance.

Cons: The initial cost of installing a saltwater system can be relatively high. Over time, there may be expenses for maintaining the salt cell and monitoring salt levels. Saltwater pools will rust or oxidize the metal pool over time. And, lastly, you still have chlorine in the pool.

Copper Ionization Systems

Pros: Copper ionization systems use copper electrodes to release ions into the water, which are effective at killing bacteria and algae. They reduce the need for traditional chemical sanitizers.

Cons: While effective at controlling some contaminants, copper ionization systems may not completely eliminate the need for supplemental sanitizers like chlorine or bromine. They can also be expensive to install and maintain.

Inline Chlorinators

Pros: Inline chlorinators automatically dispense chlorine tablets or sticks into the pool water. They are relatively low-maintenance and ensure a consistent release of chlorine.

Cons: The cost of chlorine tablets can add up over time, and requires monitoring to adjust the chlorinator to maintain the correct chlorine levels.

Liquid Systems

Pros: Liquid chlorine or bleach is an affordable and effective way to sanitize pool water. It’s readily available and easy to use, making it a popular choice for many pool owners.

Cons: Liquid chlorine may require frequent dosing, especially in hot weather when chlorine can evaporate more quickly. It can also be a bit harsh on pool equipment and may cause pH fluctuations that require additional chemical adjustments.

Traditional Chlorine Tabs

Pros: Chlorine tabs, also known as trichlor tabs, are a common and convenient way to sanitize pools. They are slow-dissolving and can be placed in a floating dispenser or a skimmer basket.

Cons: Over-reliance on chlorine tabs can lead to stabilizer buildup (cyanuric acid), which may require water dilution or replacement. These tabs may also lead to pH imbalances over time.

Liquid Copper Systems

Pros: Liquid copper systems utilize copper-based sanitization, which is effective at controlling bacteria and algae. They offer an alternative to traditional chlorine-based sanitizers and may reduce the need for other chemical sanitizers.

Cons: Like other copper-based systems, may not completely eliminate the need for supplemental sanitizers. Installation and maintenance costs can vary.

When choosing a sanitization system for your above-ground pool, it's essential to consider your specific needs and preferences:


Consider the level of maintenance you’re willing to commit to. Some systems require less hands-on attention than others.


Different systems have varying initial setup costs and ongoing expenses. Factor in your budget.

Water Quality

Think about your desired water quality. Some systems may provide softer-feeling water, while others may result in more traditional pool water.

Environmental Impact

Consider the environmental impact of your choice, as some systems may be more eco-friendly than others.

Ultimately, the right sanitization system for your above-ground pool will depend on your individual circumstances and priorities

It’s a good idea to consult with a pool professional for guidance in making the best choice for your specific pool and its users.

Warranties: Protecting Your Investment

When purchasing an above-ground pool, it’s essential to understand the warranty. A good warranty ensures your peace of mind and the longevity of your investment. Here are some key warranty considerations:

Warranty Length

Longer warranties are generally better. Typically, pool structures and liners can have warranties of up to 25 years, while equipment warranties often extend up to three years. When it comes to choosing your pool, a longer warranty indicates the manufacturer’s confidence in the product’s quality and durability.

Dealer Support

The quality of your warranty is directly related to the dealer’s commitment to customer support. It’s crucial to choose a dealer with a long history in the business, a dedicated service team, and readily available replacement parts. When you buy from a reliable dealer, you can be confident that you’ll receive the support you need to keep your pool in great condition. At Galaxy we offer a worry-free 6-month warranty to all our customers and provide in-house service for your complete peace of mind.

Customer Support: Help When You Need It

Owning an above-ground pool comes with maintenance responsibilities, but with the right guidance and support, it can be a smooth and enjoyable experience. At Galaxy Home Recreation, we understand the importance of customer support and are committed to making your pool ownership experience as seamless as possible.

Ensuring Pool Safety

Safety is a top priority when it comes to enjoying your above-ground pool. Here are some key considerations:


Ladders play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of your pool. Many ladders come with locking mechanisms to prevent unauthorized access to the pool. By lifting the outside ladder and securing it, you can keep kids from getting into the pool unsupervised.


Pool alarms are another layer of safety. They can be installed to alert you if the pump is left running, helping you prevent accidents and maintain control over your pool’s operation.

Pool Depth

Above-ground pools typically have a flat depth ranging from 48 to 54 inches. It’s essential to emphasize that diving into these pools is strictly prohibited. Also, slides should not be added to above-ground pools, as it poses a safety risk and can void the warranty.

Preparing for Delivery and Installation

Before your above-ground pool can be installed, there are some essential considerations

Access Requirements

To ensure a smooth installation process, you need to provide at least six feet and one inch of clearance for the excavator to access the pool area. Please keep in mind that the installation process can result in major yard disruption, including ruts and holes where the excavator operates. You’ll need to call your local utility lines service like OKIE DIG, check location of septic tank, and cap sprinkler lines if you are worried about them getting cut.

Over Dig Area

The over dig area is an additional space required around the pool to accommodate its construction. This can range from two to three feet, depending on the specific pool model. Your yard will experience some temporary changes, including a pile of excess sand and dirt that’ll need to be discarded or re-used.


After the installation, you may need to do some landscaping to restore your yard’s appearance. This might involve addressing any excess sand and dirt, waiting for the grass to regrow, and potentially making some landscaping improvements.

Electrical Requirements

To keep your pool running smoothly, you’ll need a dedicated 110V, 20-amp electrical outlet by the pool. It’s essential to avoid using extension cords for this purpose. Do the electrical after pool installation to ensure correct length and burial.

Water Level

Maintaining the proper water level in your pool is critical. It’s the water that holds the pool together. Fully draining the pool can lead to structural issues and should be avoided.

Liner Stretch

Before using your pool, give the liner some time to stretch under sunlight for a few days. Do not use the pool during this period.  This will help prevent the appearance of divots and footprints in the pool, ensuring a smoother and more even surface.

Leveling the Ground: Who's Responsible?

The good news is that you don’t need to level the ground before we install your above-ground pool. We handle the grading and leveling process, providing up to six inches of grading for free. However, if your specific requirements go beyond that, there may be an additional charge. Remember, if you intend to bury the pool, it’s recommended not to exceed 18 inches in depth.

Safety Precautions

Ensuring that your pool installation is safe and sound involves a few precautions

Fence Opening

Make sure you have a fence opening removed to provide the required six feet and one-inch access for the excavator. This ensures a smooth installation process.

Utility Service Check

Before installation, it’s crucial to call your utility service, such as 811, Oklahoma’s one-call system for locating underground utilities. They can check for underground lines and ensure that your pool isn’t installed in a location that poses risks.

Permits and Regulations

Check for any local permits or regulations that might be necessary for your above-ground pool installation. You want to make sure you’re in compliance with all municipal and HOA rules.

Why Choose Galaxy

Choosing the perfect above-ground pool involves considering factors like size, shape, space, brands, durability, liners, accessories, maintenance, warranties, and safety features. By understanding these essential aspects and seeking the support of a trusted dealer, you can look forward to many years of poolside fun, relaxation, and memorable moments with friends and family.


At Galaxy Home Recreation, we’re here to provide expert guidance and support throughout your above-ground pool ownership journey. Our commitment to customer service, quality brands, and safety ensures that you’ll enjoy your pool with peace of mind.


Now that you’re armed with comprehensive knowledge about above-ground pools, you can confidently embark on your pool-buying adventure. Whether you’re looking for a space to swim laps, play with the family, or simply unwind, you’ll find the ideal above-ground pool to suit your needs. Get ready to dive into your own private oasis!