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Above Ground Pools: Are they really that tacky?

If you’ve lived in a suburb for any significant part of your life, you are familiar with the above ground pool. During hot midwestern months, they shine like a raised plastic oasis in oppressive 90 degree weather. However, many kids who grew up begging their parents for a pool heard the same answer--No. Reasons varied, but a good portion of homeowners reject above ground pools because they believe it will always look tacky.

It’s true, inground pools are more versatile and can be better integrated into the surrounding landscape. But this doesn’t mean that an above ground pool has to look ugly. Gone are the days of plastic monoliths that rise from the center of a close cut lawn. And if you’re in a warm climate and are working with a limited budget, an above ground pool may still be worth looking into.

From glass inserts, to decking, to natural materials, style is not limited to inground installations. Here are a few ways you can bring the pool party to your backyard, without breaking the banks.


One of the most popular ways to style an above ground pool is with decking. This simple approach is an effective way to add both function and visual interest to your backyard. While inground pools benefit from attached hardscaping, above ground pools stand alone. Enclosing your above ground swimming pool in high quality decking will help conceal plastic edges, and give your family and friends somewhere to lounge.

Before choosing your pool deck, it’s important to consider both design and materials. Your new deck will be exposed to more moisture than a normal freestanding deck. Make sure that you are regularly cleaning and maintaining your wood. Seal each year to prevent rot and water damage.

Better yet, choose a composite. Composite decking is a high quality wood and synthetic blend that offers the aesthetic appeal of natural materials, with the low maintenance and longevity of synthetic decking. While it may cost a little more out of pocket, it will stand the test of time.


Along with decking comes the opportunity to incorporate poolside furniture. If you’re trying to elevate the look of an above ground pool, splashing out for some nicer outdoor furniture can help. Opting for clean, modern lines can help bring your less cutting edge swimming pool up to date.

From lounge chairs to patio sets, pick furniture that fits your needs. Not only can your pieces be stylish, but they have the added benefit of serving a purpose. Adding furniture allows your pool to become a multi use space, and a feature of your backyard. When you can’t hide your above ground pool, you may as well embrace it and make it work for you.

Don’t Forget The Edges

When building any structure to conceal your deck, don’t forget the details. While many above ground pools are held in decks, they fail to be completely concealed. This happens when designers or contractors miss key details such as edging.

Leaving the edges of your above ground pool exposed cheapens the overall look. One of the highlights of inground swimming pools is the way they flow seamlessly into the landscape. While you may not be able to completely achieve this with an above ground structure, you can come close.

As with so many aspects of outdoor design, attention to detail can make or break your project. Above ground pools are no exception.

Think Outside The Box

Sometimes it can be hard to think outside the box. While decking is a great way to elevate an above ground pool, it is far from unique. Those craving individuality in their space may have to get a little more creative. This may mean playing into the raised style of your pool, rather than trying to hide it.

Some designers have turned to creating glass panels in the side of above ground pools. This aquarium style effect provides unique visual interest without compromising function. Just as inground pools can benefit from nontraditional design, trying something different with an above ground pool can really pay off.

You can turn almost any backyard element into something cool with confidence and commitment. Playing into an above ground style will allow you to embrace it for what it is without compromising individuality.

It’s important to note that not all designers will be able to execute a more unique style. Finding a contractor that understands what you're looking for and is willing to work with you will result in a finished project you and your family love.

Optical Illusions

Much of preventing an above ground pool from looking too tacky is centered around a skillful optical illusion. In other words, homeowners create designs that trick the eye into thinking your above ground swimming pool is really fully integrated into your yard.

This can be done in a variety of ways. Houses with yards built on a slope can level out the yard by building their pool into the hill. Another way to trick the eye is to use the right materials.

While most choose to line their pool with wood, choosing natural materials can help to trick the eye. For example, choosing stone can help blend above ground pools into a rocky or nontraditional landscape. If built on a hill, stone steps can provide the look of inground hardscaping without disrupting the land.

There are many ways to go about making an above ground pool look at home in your space. No matter your terrain, picking the right materials and building carefully will help minimize the intrusive look of a stand alone pool.

Double Duty

As mentioned, a great way to elevate any design feature is to make it serve multiple purposes. If you are considering getting an above ground pool, think about complimenting it with a spa. Turn your deck into a full entertaining area. Bring in a great grill, or construct a beautiful patio to compliment the space.

The more utility you bring to your backyard, the more you’re bound to love it. While your pool may not be the star of the show, it’s functionality combined with other features will make it a winner.

Spend a Little More

Many who choose above ground pools are doing so to save money. And the savings are considerable. However, if you’re looking to retain a modern, elevated feel to your backyard space, it’s worth it not to be completely conservative about spending. Remember, installing any pool is an investment in your space. It’s likely you will be happier knowing that the money you do shell out is going towards an addition you will love for years to come.

Just by choosing not to break ground, you are saving enough money to reallocate some funds towards design and materials. Hiring a great company, bringing in a designer, or spending a little extra money on detailed work will give you a finished product you love.

Not to mention, the money you spend now is likely to pay off later. While the value a pool adds to your home varies by region, any aspect that is done well is better for resale than an addition done poorly. It’s unlikely a young couple will be too excited about the prospect of owning a poorly installed above ground pool. However, if their purchase includes a great pool with a deck, and space for seating, it may be an easy sell.

At the end of the day, above ground pools have a bad reputation for looking less than beautiful. However, with a little love, care, and thought, they don’t have to be terribly tacky. If you’re looking to save money overall, but are willing to invest where it counts, you can make an above ground pool work in your space for a fraction of the alternative.

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