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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

151 guides

A wooden or metal above ground pool only takes a few hours to assemble. Laying the pool mat, assembling the structure and installing the pool liner are the main steps, as well as connecting the pool pump. Read on to find out how to install an above ground pool.

Important features

  • Checking your equipment
  • Setting up the pool
  • Installing the liner
  • Filling the pool
  • Adding accessories
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Having a swim 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 swimming pool is a great alternative to inground pools:

  • no building work;
  • no digging;
  • quick and easy installation;
  • minimal maintenance;
  • great value for money!

Most above ground swimming 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.


  1. Preparing the ground and checking your equipment
  2. Assembling the pool
  3. Installing the pool liner
  4. Filling the swimming pool and installing the filter system
  5. Adding extra accessories (filter pump, ladder, etc.)
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Above ground pools

Checking equipment

  • Check that your swimming 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, debris 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 swimming pool installation last. The best thing, especially with larger or higher-end pools, is to lay a concrete foundation slab. A £4000 solid wooden pool, 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 garden hose to hand as well.
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Pool mats

Referring to the manual, start assembling the swimming 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.

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Pool ladders

This is an important step since it's where you make your swimming 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 swimming pool in bare feet.

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 swimming pool in stages:

  • To finish stretching out the liner, start by filling to just 2-3 cm and then smooth out the base and sides;
  • Carry on up to 5 cm 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!
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Pool liners

Installing the pool pump

The pool pump is connected to the swimming 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 pool pump should always be shut off and disconnected whenever the swimming 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

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;
  • a removable part on the outside of the swimming pool.

Don't forget to remove your ladder when the pool is not in use (or is left unattended).

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Pool equipment

Required skills

Installing a swimming pool above ground 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!

Time required

Approximately 4 hours depending on the size of the pool.

Number of people required

1 person or 2 people to make it easier

Tools and equipment

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

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Please note: this is a non-exhaustive list; be sure to match your personal protective equipment to the job at hand.
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Socket and spanner sets

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Guide written by:

Jeremy, Construction site supervisor, Cardiff, 151 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 restoring and building an extension to a bungalow in the heart of the Welsh countryside. My experience in manual work and my knowledge means I am proud to be of service. Terraces, interior design, roofing, plumbing, electrics, anything goes! My wife, daughter and I, built almost everything we have from scratch! So to answer all of your questions and advise you on choosing your tools? Easy!

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