How Long Does an Above Ground Pool Last? All Types Considered

Swimming is excellent for fitness and is fun, making it the perfect mix of exercise and pleasure. For the longest time, it used to be the privilege of beachfront living and a select few with access to swimming club memberships. Above ground pools have democratized the process, and you too can get your own affordable swimming pool, but for how long?

An above ground pool lasts 5 to 10 years with proper care. Its longevity can be extended past a decade if you use sturdier materials, take precautions to avoid water damage, replace liners in a timely manner, and keep your swimming pool from flooding and direct exposure to sunlight.

In this article, you’ll learn about how long all types of above ground pools last, including steel pools, aluminum pools, wooden varieties, and inflatable ones. More importantly, you’ll learn how to take care of each one with some commentary on whether certain types would be right for you.

How Long Does a Steel Pool Last Above Ground?

Steel can be the right choice for your above ground pool because of its material strength, relatively lower cost, and rust resistance, but if you have had steel items in your home for a significant period, you’ll know that they do rust eventually. So how long can you expect your steel pool to last?

A steel pool can last above ground for ten years, and its liners will need to be replaced 2 to 3 times during this period. Some pool manufacturers galvanize their steel with higher quality coats, making their steel pools last twice as long. Ideally, you should have a warranty with such pools.

To make sure your pool lasts a long time, you should abide by the following best practices:

  • Add sequestrant to your pool, so the water is unlikely to cause rusting.
  • Make sure your pool liner covers the steel adequately. There’s a difference between the rate of rusting from water getting splashed onto the exterior instead of the water sitting in contact with a portion of the interior.
  • Keep your pool out of areas where rainwater can fall into your pool because rainwater can cause your pool to flood, and the water can puddle around the unprotected exterior of your pool walls.
  • Don’t overfill your pool in general. It may be tempting to fill it to the brim, but you must consider the water displacement when you or your friends enter the pool.

How Long Does an Aluminum Pool Last Above Ground?

Aluminum pools are more expensive than steel and usually don’t rust, making them the better choice for your above ground pool. But not rusting is not the same as remaining functional, which is why you have to consider whether these pools last any longer than steel.

Aluminum pools last above ground for 12 years, with some reaching the 15-year-mark. You’ll need to replace the liners two times and regularly check the water’s chemical balance in your pool. The longevity provided by aluminum pools isn’t cost-effective when you factor in the installation costs.

To make sure your aluminum pool lasts above ground, you should follow the best practices of maintaining a steel pool and also consider the following.

  • Aluminum doesn’t rust, but it corrodes and stains. While pure water doesn’t have adverse effects on aluminum pool walls, the water you use in your pool will not be lab-conditions H2O.
  • You’ll have to make sure your pool’s aluminum material doesn’t form a layer of Aluminum Oxide which looks like a stain and is more challenging to remove than rust.
  • For the most part, a clear coat applied by the manufacturer will handle this. Still, you’ll need to make sure that the surface of aluminum sheets isn’t scratched.
  • You’ll also have to check the chemical balance of your pool water frequently. I recommend AquaChek TruTest, a digital reader that allows you to read pH, Free Chlorine, and Bromine levels.

How Long Does a Wood Pool Last Above Ground?

Wood pools are made with thicker walls and can give an impression of longevity, but before you commit to paying for one, you must understand how long you can expect yours to last before the frame needs to be replaced.

A wood pool will last 7 to 10 years above ground on average, and you’ll need to replace the liner at least once. Special consideration in the manufacturing process can add another five years, but these pools have a low barrier to entry, making them an easy target for subpar manufacturers.

No level of maintenance can extend the lifespan of your pool if you make the wrong purchase. Untreated wood can mold and rot in a few months. And for an untrained eye, it is pretty difficult to notice if the wood has been sealed or not. Here are some steps you can take to make sure your wood pool purchase is worth the money you spend on it.

  • Buy from a brand that has been in the market for over ten years. While this might not guarantee high quality, it ensures that you’re purchasing from someone whose reputation is more valuable than the money they would get out of selling you a subpar pool building kit.
  • Self-seal the wood anyway. If you buy the product online, you can add a wood-sealer to your cart and apply it to the panels with a brush before using them in your pool.
  • Purchase the pool building kit in person. This is one of the safest ways to purchase a wooden kit because you’ll be able to check the weight of the panels, notice whether the wood is porous or sealed, and not be worried about the differences between picture and package.

With the above tips, you’ll be able to get higher quality wood material for your above ground swimming pool. Here is how you can make sure your wood pool lasts as long as possible:

  • Reseal exterior every few months. Suppose your pool is in conditions where its sealing can get tampered with by a corrosive environment or repeated contact. In that case, it is advisable to get a can of wood sealer and apply it to your pool’s exterior.
  • Protect is safe from corrosion. Wood can mold if it comes in contact with water, so you must make sure the seal doesn’t get eroded because of scratching. If you have pets, make sure they can’t access the pool unsupervised.
  • Ensure the pool walls don’t get wet from the outside. Make sure the pool is not getting flooded or wet from the outside due to sprinklers, damp surroundings, or rain.
  • Keep it away from earth. You should not put your wooden pool on grass or soil. While it might look aesthetically cohesive, it is not suitable for the wood panels. Soil can have chemicals that erode the wood’s protective layer and result in molding.

How Long Does a Resin Pool Last Above Ground?

Metal and wood are generally susceptible to water damage, making them a risky choice for an above ground pool. This might make one wonder whether options like resin pool building kits are more reliable.

A resin pool will last a minimum of 7 years, and with proper maintenance, can outlast steel pools (well over ten years). It doesn’t rust or oxidize when exposed to water, and there’s no danger of molding. Still, the material itself is susceptible to cracking and bucking under harsh weather.

Resin pools usually outlast their metal counterparts and are cheaper to build and maintain. Unfortunately, not everyone reading this is in the right position to purchase one. Whether you should get a resin pool depends on a set of circumstances out of your control. Depending on the region you live in, its average climate, weather changes, and temperatures, you may or may not be able to have a long-lasting resin pool.

You should build a resin pool if:

  • Your place doesn’t get a lot of harsh sunlight. Unless your above ground pool is in a warehouse or a shed, it will receive plenty of sun. Since UV rays can lead to fading and erode your resin pool in a span of a few years, you should not build such a pool in a region where people get sunburned being outside for a few hours.
  • You don’t live in an icy region. Your pool’s integrity might be compromised by extreme cold. If you build a resin pool in a place where you need mitts to step out at any point in the year, you should not be surprised to see a few cracks appear on the resin.

Resin pools are unique in the range of longevity they seem to have. A resin pool can last over 14 years in some areas, while some pools only make it past their 7th year. While much of it has to do with temperature and sunlight, there are a few things you can do to give your resin pool its best shot at longevity.

  • Have a shade. Covering your resin pool with a top-light canopy can be an excellent way to protect it from UV rays. It can also be effective in protecting your pool from overflowing, which isn’t good for the ground surrounding your pool walls.
  • Reinforce the resin if cracked. While you can’t really push a resin pool’s longevity in a cold region, you can reinforce accidental cracks with suitable material to make sure it does open further.
  • Drain the pool during winter. If you’re adamant about building a resin pool in a place where winters are frigid, the least you should do is keep the pool empty during the colder winter months. Water expands a little too much for the resin walls to hold, and since the material is already prone to cracking, the additional pressure doesn’t do any good.

How Long Does an Inflatable Pool Last Above Water?

Among the cheapest options for an above ground pool is the inflatable one. While it might not be as resilient as even resin pools, it does have the price advantage that makes replacing the pool less painful. But how long should you mentally prepare to retain your pool before you have to throw it out?

An inflatable pool lasts two years if used consistently or five years if used seasonally. It can even last ten years, provided you bring it out once in a blue moon. Since these pools are easier to acquire and “assemble,” people don’t mind their short lifespan.

To maintain your pool’s longevity, you simply have to keep it away from sunlight and make sure there aren’t any sharp objects around it. Inflatable pools can vary from kiddie pools made from thin sheets to surprisingly resilient thick-sheet variety. 

It is advisable to assume fragility anyway. The main question you must ask isn’t how you should protect an inflatable pool but whether you should get one in the first place. Here are a few reasons why you may want to invest in an inflatable pool.

  • You live in a rented space where the Landlord won’t allow you to build a semi-permanent pool.
  • Your HOA or municipality might have issues with other types of pools.
  • You want a pool for a camping trip or a vacation cabin.
  • You’re just “dipping your toes” in the above-the-ground pool space and want to start with the lowest cost option.

The above reasons are valid. Anyone interested in a short-term solution that is part jacuzzi and part glorified bathtub can get an inflatable pool and experience above-ground swimming within 24 hours. Most people usually swap these pools for resin or steel variety in a few years.

Final Thoughts

Above ground pools are an affordable way to give your family access to inexpensive swimming. These pools come in various sizes, ranging from ones you can simply dip into ones you can swim a lap in. Their size and material dictate their fragility, and you should make sure you not only buy the type of kit that fits your region and living space but also one you can take care of.

Jed Arnold

Jed spent every year from the ages of 15 - 22 as a Lifeguard (Red Cross) and ages of 17 - 22 as a Certified Pool Operator (CPO). Between working for over a dozen facilities and owning a pool, he carries over a decade of pool experience.

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