Greater Orlando and some surrounding counties make up the second largest swimming pool market in the country. This area is known for its huge amount of pools of all types especially the inground concrete types. It’s interesting to note that for every concrete swimming pool you see there are two above grounds. That’s right. Two above ground pools for every one concrete inground. There are several types, makes, and sizes of above grounds available for purchase both locally here in Central Florida and on the internet and the choices can make your head spin a little. Here is a list of pools and options that I recommend.
The different types of above ground pools.
There are round and oval above grounds that have steel, aluminum, and wood walls. Above ground pools also come with steel, aluminum, and resin/plastic top rails and or uprights, and sometimes have resin bottom and top tracks. Finally there are a few options with the pools that make them different. I’ll give a brief description of each.
Round pools. The most common above ground pool out there is shaped round and has a lot of advantages. A pool structure above the ground holds a great deal of water weight and a round shape is good for that cause the weight and pressure of the heavy water is held evenly around. Also, a round pool has a simple design so it’s easier to install and more forgiving to build mistakes. As a result, round above grounds are cheaper to buy and less expensive to have installed. The only real disadvantage to a round pool is that it doesn’t look as much like a traditional inground swimming pool.
Oval pools Oval shaped above ground pools are a lot more entailed in thier design than the round ones. They have long straight sides which means the water weight must be supported by a buttress system. This means two things to you. One, the buttresses stick out on the straight sides of the pool as part of the structure and two, you most likely do NOT want to attempt a self install. Also, the most common buttress design has steel straps that run slightly under the pool connecting each opposing buttress so this makes it difficult to have any kind of a nice deep end dug out.(It is possible to have a cheesy little hopper dug out on the radius ends of the pool before the straps begin but its usually not worth the cost/effort)
There is also a strapless buttress design made famous by Doughboy and it’s really not a bad design but they are often more money and most even seasoned installers won’t have much experience with the structure. The advantages to have an oval pool is the more traditional shape of it, its better for volleyball, and you can think you’re gonna do laps in it to get in shape.
Both pool shapes are equally good for putting partially in the ground and for building decks around them.
Steel, aluminum, and wood pools. I prefer steel wall pools over aluminum here in Central Florida for three main reasons. One, aluminum walls corrode just as easily as the steel ones. Two, aluminum pools cost more. And three, aluminum pools are not a good idea to install partially in the ground cause the walls are “flimsier” and cave in easier when the pool is drained. In thirty-five years, I’ve only installed a couple of wood above ground pools and I must say they look really nice. It’s humid in Central Florida though and I don’t think the wood can take the extreme heat and moisture. Plus, wood pools are extremely expensive.
Resin top rails. Resin parts on above ground pools are now very common and are a huge selling point for “upgraded pool models”. They cost more than their steel counterparts so the big question is “Are they worth the extra bucks”? My answer is “yes” but probably only for the top rails and top caps. Resin/plastic top rails and/or top connectors started showing up about twenty-five ago and the big question then was “Will they hold up against our relenting Florida summers?”.
After many years now of observation, the answer is “yes they can”. The even more expensive models have resin uprights and some even have resin top and bottom tracks and connectors. The price really starts to climb though so its uncertain to me whether those plastic parts are worth it. Overall I’d say the resin is better but its all about how much money do you want to spend on your above ground pool.
Upgraded liner. Getting a thicker liner is a good idea mainly cause they’ve been lasting two or three times longer lately than the thinner solid blue ones. I say lately cause some years back, they would all last about the same. Not anymore. A thicker printed liner also looks better.
Stainless steel Service panel The service panel is a fairly good idea cause most of the time the pool’s wall will rust out at the skimmer and/or return openings. If the pool wall rusts out in these spots and you have a service panel, than you can simply remove the old rusty panel and replace it with a new one and avoid having to replace the entire wall. Some models have this panel made of stainless steel and they are great cause the stainless won’t corrode. Lately, some service panels are being made of aluminum as a cost cutter and my opinion is if the service panel isn’t made of stainless steel, then don’t go out of your way to make sure your pool has one.
PLACES TO BUY AN ABOVE GROUND SWIMMING POOL
During this update(2021), there aren’t many local options in Central Florida for buying an above ground pool.
Pinch-A-Penny pool stores – Not all Pinch-A-Pennys sell above ground pools and very few have display models, but they sell a couple of model of Wilbar pools now and they are good. The big advantage to getting a pool a Pinch is that they usually come with a great pump and filter package made by established manufacturers, so when you need a part down the road, you can get it easily.
Leslies pool stores – Leslies is a giant retail chain from out west so their stores have a slightly different feel to them. The pools they sell are usually simple in design and go together pretty nicely. When you buy a pool from Leslies you generally have to wait for it to come in a little longer than most retailers. Leslies also currently sells Wil-bar made pools
Wal-Mart – Huge discount retailers like Walmart sell mainly pools made by a company called Intex. These pools are priced to sell in the $300 to $800 range and boy do you get what you pay for.
Soft-sided pools made by Intex/Colman are very cheap and go up easy(after you get the ground level that is). They generally last only one or two summers and the pump and filter that comes with it is severely undersized. I have replaced many Intex pools with better quality more traditional above-grounds for people who realize that they want a pool for more than just a year or two.
Internet pool sites – Buying a pool off the internet is a “double edged” sword. You can certainly get the best deal on a really good quality above-ground pool there, but you can also pay too much for a crappy one too.
Each site is different in what they offer in their pool “package”, so its often that people think they got a great deal only to find out much later that the package didn’t come with a filter, or a ladder, or a liner, or a printed liner and so on. Do lots of homework before buying on the internet and you will get a good deal. I recommend a couple of internet pools. Please call me at 407.299.0124 or check back later for a new recommended pool page.