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Getting Started

Planning for and purchasing your new pool

Over the last 20 years, we've learned a few things about pools and we've seen a few bad situations that could have been avoided.

We'd love to see everyone have a great experience with their new pool. We hope this information and advice is useful for you.

First things first

Where will you put your new pool?

You might already have a plan for where to put your new pool. But, if you haven't done your research yet, you might find that you'll have to put it someplace else – whether it's shifted a few feet or moved to a completely different part of the yard.

A wide open, sunny spot is the best placement for your new swimming pool.

What's Underground?

You'll want to stay away from septic systems, gas lines, power lines, water or sewer service, and any other utilities or underground surprises.

Before installation, you'll want to contact DigSafe and they will coordinate with utility companies to come out and mark the location of underground pipes and wires. If you don't have an idea of where those things are and think there's a possibility that they might be near your planned pool location, you'll want to contact them sooner rather than later.

Irrigation Systems

If you have irrigation lines in the area, you may want to have to have your landscaper/irrigation company move them. 

If you're not sure, but you're interested in having us install your pool, let me know and ask about options for dealing with your irrigation system.

What's Above Ground?

I always suggest putting the pool away from trees, in the sunniest part of the yard. This will help keep the pool cleaner and warmer!

Besides that, each year I get dozens of calls from people who've had a tree limb fall on their pool during a storm. Fortunately, storm damage is covered (in part) by many homeowners' insurance policies.

Flat vs. Sloped

Some people who contact me instinctively want to put the pool in the flattest part of the yard, even if it's less than ideal in other ways.

Although it might cost a little more to dig into a slope, it's usually better to invest an extra couple hundred dollars than to spend the next ten years with your pool in the wrong place.

If you're lucky, you'll have an area that is wide-open, sunny, AND flat!

Next up

What does your city/town have to say?

Now that you have thought about where you'd like to put your pool, it's time to start gathering information about your city or town's rules and requirements.

Every town has its own set of rules related to clearances, access, and safety. Some towns might let you place your pool within 5 feet of a property line, others might require 15 feet.

Some towns might require a fence around your pool area, others might be OK with just a fence around the top of the pool, and still others might not need a fence at all, as long as the ladder is properly safe and secure.


While you're there, you might want to grab the application for a building permit and ask the inspector for any advice he can offer about your pool installation.

You'll need a permit for the pool itself. You'll likely need a separate permit for electrical work related to the filter system and other equipment. Other work related to the pool project – a wood deck, for example – might also require its own permit.

Visit your local town hall

Note: We don't get the building permit for you. Learn more about what we do, and don't do, on the What to Expect page.

Looking at the options

Sizes and Shapes

Above ground pools are commonly available in a range of round and oval sizes.

Round Pools range from 12' to 33' diameter. Oval pools range from 12x18' to 21x43'

Round Pools

Round pools offer the most basic and economical type of construction. Most consist of a one-piece wall supported by a frame of top-rails, bottom-rails, and vertical "uprights" all the way around.

Round pools come in sizes from about 12-foot to about 33-foot diameter

Almost 50% of all the pools we install are 24-foot round.


Oval Pools

Oval pools are a bit more complex and therefore a bit more expensive, both for the pool and the installation.

With an oval pool, the straight sides are the weak point, and require extra support. Different manufacturers provide the needed support in different ways – braces, buttresses, straps, and more. Sometimes even buttresses that require concrete footings.

Looking at the options

Steel, Aluminum, or Resin?

These are the common materials used for above ground pools. Each has different pros and cons, and each fits different needs.


Pools made from steel are the most common. If you go bargain hunting, the cheapest pools you'll find will probably be made of steel. But there are also really good quality steel pools that can last 25 years, if you take care of them.

Pros: physical strength and durability; price
Cons: susceptible to rust; likely shorter maximum lifetime

Extruded Aluminum

Aluminum trades some physical strength for the benefit of better corrosion-resistance. An aluminum pool might fail someday, but rarely because it rots out.

In terms of strength – steel is denser and stronger. Stress that might cause a section of steel to flex or bend might cause aluminum to crack.

Even with those things in mind, if you know you want your pool to last more than 20 years, you'd be wise to strongly consider aluminum.

Pros: long lasting
Cons: more expensive


Pools that combine a resin frame with a steel or aluminum wall might be the perfect combination. The resin frame is impervious to corrosion and can also be pretty strong and durable.

Sometimes they will call a pool a hybrid if it has resin top rails (the parts most exposed to water from the pool), but has metal uprights.

Because salt water is more corrosive, a resin pool is a great choice for people considering a salt water chlorine generator for sanitation.

Pros: combines strength and corrosion resistance
Cons: costs more than steel; costs more than some aluminum options.

Looking at the options

Construction and Quality

Your pool might last 1 to 30+ years, depending on the quality of the pool you choose, the installation, and how you take care of it.

Most people get 5-8 years of use from their pool, and many times that's all that was expected. Some people get a pool mostly for their growing children, who tend to start to lose interest in their teens. Some people want a pool, but know they're not in their forever home, expecting to move a few years down the road.

Whatever your situation, you'll want to choose a pool that meets your needs.

Quality vs. Price

Whether you buy a cheap, "bargain" pool, or a top-of-the-line piece of art, the installation price is going to be the same.

Sometimes pools can last a surprisingly long time. But, often, lower quality pools end up lasting a surprisingly short time. And then homeowners are left staring at a rusting hulk with an expensive deck and beautiful landscaping all around it.

The price of the pool is only one part of the overall investment. Do your research,  know your needs, seek advice, and err on the side of something a little better than you might need.

Unless you know 100% that you will be done with the pool in a short time, spend a little extra for something a little better. 

Bigger is Better

All else being equal, wider frame pieces make a stronger pool. Generally, an 8-inch wide top-rail is stronger than a 6-inch wide top-rail.

Don't just rely on published specifications – try to see a samples of pools. Some pools are obviously cheap and you can tell by the way the frame will flex and twist when you touch it. Some more expensive pools will feel really solid.

Two-Piece Walls

While most above ground pool walls are a single piece, shipped in a roll like paper towels, some manufacturers offer two piece wall options. They found that rust or corrosion often starts at the holes for the through-wall skimmer and return. By making this small section a separate piece, it is more easily replaceable, and can extend the life of your pool.

More is More

Some pools use more frame sections and some less. For example, common 24' round pools use 16 top-rails and uprights. Some better quality 24' round pools use 18 top-rails and uprights.

A common 24' round pool will have about top rails. A premium 24' round pool might have more like 18 top rails, meaning each one is shorter, more rigid, and the pool is stronger.

More top-rails means each one is shorter and more rigid. More uprights means there is less space between each.

Doughboy Oval Pools

Doughboy has a unique way of constructing their oval pools. Most oval pools use a combination of buttresses along the sides and metal straps under the pool to support the long side walls.

Doughboy doesn't use straps. Instead, they require concrete footings at each buttress. Because of this, there is an additional installation cost of $125 per buttress. So, a Doughboy pool with 8 buttresses (4 on each side) will require 8 concrete footings and an additional $1,000 installation charge.

Not as simple as you might think

Replacing a Previously Existing Pool

If you're replacing an existing pool, please contact us to talk about your plan before you buy your new pool (seriously, please!). Replacing an existing pool can be more complex than a new installation, especially if you have a deck.

It's a bit more work

Sometimes people think our job will be easier when we're replacing an existing pool, and they wonder if the installation price will be lower.

Unfortunately, that's not the case.

Even if the new pool is the same size and going in the same location, replacing a pool is almost always more work than a new installation.

If you have a deck, it will definitely be more work, and a minimum $100 additional charge.

Notes about replacing a previous pool

We still need to get bobcat into pool area.

The sand that is there is junk and needs to be removed, especially if you're trying to match pool up to an existing deck. If no existing deck we'll add new sand on top of old sand. Either way, armor pad very strongly recommended.

Floor pad, armor pad, gorilla pad, rhino shield, etc are ALWAYS a good idea. Wall foam is good idea to keep water warmer longer. It insulates. If buying wall foam, dont forget the glue adhesive (Gladon brand) 2-3 cans per pool needed. We can recommend a store.

Matching a Deck: Shape

If you have a deck that was built to fit your old pool, you might find you need to make some adjustments for a new pool.

As we mentioned before, some pools have different number of top rails, even at the same size. If your old 24' pool had 16 top rails and the new one has 18, they aren't going to fit the same.

Also, some newer pools have curved top rails, which also would require adjusting a deck. 

The alterations to the deck, and the additional cost for installation, will depend on the deck –

  • A small rectangular deck sitting flush with one top rail is the easiest possibility.
  • A deck that wraps all the way around the pool will obviously be much more complicated. 

Matching a Deck: Height

There might be minor variations in height from one older pool to another new model.

Beyond that, most older pools were 48" tall, while many newer pools are available in 52" and 54" heights.

The additional cost for matching height will depend on the situation.