How to install an above-ground pool?

How to install an above-ground pool?

Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff

Guide written by:

Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff

128 guides

Above-ground pools can be wooden or metal, and can take a few hours to set up. Laying a groundsheet, setting up the frame and putting in the liner are the essential steps to take. The filtration pump also has to be connected, following a few guidelines.

Important features

  • Checking your equipment
  • Setting up the pool
  • Installing the liner
  • Filling the pool
  • Adding accessories
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An above-ground pool - what could be simpler?


Having a pool to enjoy in the comfort of your own garden through the summer months is about as good as it gets! Above-ground pools are a stylish, affordable option! Simple in design and usually sold in kit form with everything you need to set it up, this type of pool is a great alternative to the buried type: no masonry work, no digging, quick and easy to set up and put away again, minimal maintenance and great value for money!

Most above-ground pools follow the same general blueprint: a rail running around the inside of the pool holds a liner, which pushes itself against the rigid frame under the action of the water contained in it.

The know-how

Installing an above-ground pool doesn't require any specialist skills. As long as you've got two hands and the patience to read through the product manual, you can have it up and running in the space of a few hours. There are just two conditions: a flat, even patch of ground and a few essential tools!

Installation steps

1. Preparing the ground and checking your equipment

2. Pool installation

3. Installing the liner

4. Filling the pool

5. Adding extra accessories (pump, ladder, etc.)

Tools and equipment


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The tools you'll need depend on the model of pool you've chosen. If it's got a metal frame, installation will be quicker and you won't need as much equipment; if it's wooden, you'll need a few more bits and bobs and a bit more time. Here are the essentials:

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How to set up your pool?

1. Preparing the ground and checking your equipment

Checking equipment

Check that your pool kit contains all the necessary components. Carefully remove these from their packaging and sort them out: screws, valves, liner etc. Check all components are in good condition.

Preparing the ground


Your pool should be set up on a level, stable, clear patch of ground, if possible away from any trees and in a sunny, open part of the garden. Check the lie of the land with your rule and spirit level and correct with sand if necessary. Spread out your groundsheet, ensuring that no protruding objects (branches, stones etc.) are left on or underneath it.

If the ground is quite uneven, you might want to dig a trench and refill and level it with sand. Preparing the ground thoroughly before you start is the best way to make your pool installation last. The best thing, especially with larger or higher-end pools, is to lay a concrete foundation slab. A £4000 solid wood model, for instance, would totally justify the extra effort! A £300 metal pool can make do with just a groundsheet.

With the ground prepared, get yourself ready: put the elements of the pool frame on one side and the liner and everything else on the other. Make sure you've got a hosepipe to hand as well.

2. Installation


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Referring to the manual, start assembling the pool frame. Whether it's wooden or metal, make sure the base is nice and level and all the dimensions are correct.

Once you have the base assembled, move on to the rest of the frame.

Check out where the inlet and outlet to the filtration system have to go, as well as the skimmer and pool ladder. Regarding the skimmer, for best results have it facing the prevailing wind.

3. Installing the liner


This is an important step since it's where you make you pool watertight. Once you've got the rails in place (following the manual), grip the liner at the top edge while ensuring that it stays as taut as possible at the bottom. The aim is to avoid any wrinkles or folds, so it can be a good idea to leave it out in the sun for a couple of hours before you start. When you're ready, step into the pool in bare feet.

4. Filling and filtration system


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On the outside, connect the various elements of the filtration system according to the instructions given in the manual: inlet, outlet and skimmer; but don't connect it to the power just yet. Now you can begin filling your pool in stages:

  • To finish stretching out the liner, start by filling to just 2-3cm and then smooth out the base and sides
  • Carry on up to 5cm below the lowest filtration outlet. With the outlet in place, cut the liner from the inside
  • Repeat as above for the other outlets and skimmer
  • Finish filling two-thirds up to the level of the skimmer
  • Connect the filtration system and you're nearly ready to go!

5. Adding extra accessories

Installing the pump


The pool pump is connected to the pool basin in a closed circuit and filters the water taken in by the skimmer before releasing it back into the basin via the outlet valves. It's quite easy to install, just make sure you pay attention to the manual and the following guidelines:

  • A pump should never be allowed to run on empty: flush any remaining air out of the relevant pipes (often there's a special valve for this).
  • The pump should always be shut off and disconnected whenever the pool is in use.
  • Always set up the filtration system at least 3.5m from the pool (or in a watertight container if this isn't possible).

Setting up the ladder


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Referring to the instructions, put up your pool ladder.

Most pool ladders come in two parts: a part that stays in place under the water and a removable part on the outside of the pool. Don't forget to remove your ladder when the pool is not in use (or is left unattended).

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Learn more about outdoor DIY projects...

To find out more about outdoor DIY projects, follow our editors' advice and check out their other guides:


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Guide written by:

Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff, 128 guides

Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff

Electrician by trade, I first worked in industrial estates where I installed, wired and fixed a large number of electrical installations. After this, I managed a team of electricians for this type of work. 10 years or so ago, I turned to building and construction. From the modest family home, to gyms and theatres; I have been able to coordinate, audit and organise all sorts of construction sites. for 4 years now, I am restaoring and bulding an extrension to a bungalow in the heart of the welsh countyside. My experience in manual work and my knowledge means I am proud to be of service. Terraces, interior design, roofing, plumbing, electricty, anything goes! We have, my wife, daughter and I, built almost everything we have from scratch! So to answer all of your questions, and to orientate and advise you on coosing your tools? Easy!

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