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Must Have Above Ground Pool Accessories

There’s nothing like taking a dip in your very own above ground swimming pool. But as any above ground swimming pool owner can tell you, there’s more to pool ownership than simply filling it with water and diving in.

Above Ground Accessories

Product Guide: Above Ground Pool Accessories

Pool ownership is also about choosing the right equipment to keep your pool surfaces spotless and your pool water healthy and sparkly clean. It’s also about choosing accessories that will protect your pool and ensure a safe experience for swimmers.

New to pool ownership? Not sure what you need for your above ground pool? In this guide, we’ll take a deep dive into the “must haves” accessories for every above ground pool owner.

In general, most above ground pool accessories fall into three basic categories:

  • Pool maintenance: This includes items like automatic pool cleaners/vacuums, skimmers, and other items that help keep your above ground pool free of dirt and debris.
  • Water circulation: To keep your water clean and healthy, you’ll need a system that includes items like a filter to remove impurities, a heater to maintain the proper temperature , and a skimmer to help remove debris.
  • Safety needs: Part of being a responsible pool owner is making sure that you have the equipment necessary to keep swimmers safe. Items like ladders and swimming pool covers will help ensure that your above ground pool is a safe, fun place.

Above ground pool ladder


Cost: $$-$$$

Why You Need It:

Safety and accessibility. Most above ground pools come with ladders, but you’ll get higher quality if you buy a separate one.


What To Look for:

Sturdy construction (think: rust proof stainless steel or UV-protected plastic); non-skid surfaces; handrails for added safety.

Automatic pool cleaners/vacuums for above ground pools


Cost: $$-$$$

Why You Need It:

A pool vacuum removes dirt and debris, which helps keep your water clean and your pool looking sparkly and inviting.


What To Look for:

If you want high-tech and easy to use, go robotic. For a more affordable option with solid performance, choose suction side or pressure side.

Above ground pool filter and pump system


Cost: $$$

Why You Need It:

Your pool’s filtration system eliminates contaminants and keeps your pool water fresh, clean, and clear.


What To Look for:

Most above ground pools come with sand filters, but you can upgrade to a low maintenance cartridge filter or a DE filter for superior filtration.

If you need to replace the pump, make sure that you choose one that’s made specifically for above ground pools.

Above ground pool heater


Cost: $$$

Why You Need It:

Keep your pool water toasty even when the temperatures drop.


What To Look for:

For a low-priced, easy to install option, opt for electric. If it’s (almost) always sunny where you live, go solar. If you want fast-acting heat, you can’t go wrong with natural gas.

Above ground pool lights


Cost: $-$$

Why You Need It:

Lights make your pool safer, and they can also add a fun pop of color.


What To Look for:

Magnetic LED lights are a great, easy choice for most pool owners. Halogen kits require more installation but are more permanent.

Above ground pool skimmer


Cost: $

Why You Need It:

This tool makes it quick and easy to remove debris (such as leaves) from your pool’s surface.


What To Look for:

Look for a skimmer with a durable aluminum frame.

Above ground pool liners


Cost: $$$

Why You Need It:

Most above ground pool liners have a 6 to 10 year lifespan, which means that you’ll eventually need a replacement.


What To Look for:

If you’re looking for the most durable option, choose a thicker liner. If price is a concern, a thinner liner will be more budget-friendly.

Above ground pool liner pad


Cost: $-$$

Why You Need It:

A liner pad provides extra cushioning and protection between your swimming pool liner and the ground.


What To Look for:

Look for a pool pad made from breathable, mold- and mildew-resistant foam.

Above ground pool cover


Cost: $$

Why You Need It:

A pool cover keeps out debris and contaminants. It also prevents people and animals from falling into your pool.


What To Look for:

Look for a sturdy, well-made cover. For cold weather, find one that can withstand snow, ice, and extreme temperatures. To keep your pool warm, consider a solar cover (also called a “solar blanket”).

Above Ground Pool Ladder

Most above-ground swimming pools do come with ladders, but trust us when we say that it’s worth it to upgrade. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Quality upgrade. Ladders that come with above-ground pools are fine for what they are – but they’re a bit on the basic side, and materials-wise, they’re not typically constructed with longevity in mind. You’ll get a much higher quality ladder if you purchase one separately.
  • Safety upgrade. If you’re looking for beyond-the-basics safety features, you can find a lot of thoughtful extras (think handrails, slip-resistant steps) by purchasing a separate ladder for your above ground pool.
  • Style upgrade. Who says your above ground swimming pool ladder has to be boring? There are many ladders out there that combine function and form. You can choose a ladder that mimics the look of gracefully curved stairs, or opt for something in sleek stainless for a modern, minimalist aesthetic.

Regardless of the type of ladder you choose for your above ground swimming pool, you should look for high-quality construction and durable materials. For example, stainless steel or UV-protected polyethylene plastic will last longer and stand up to the elements better than other types of materials. Make sure you choose a ladder with handrails (this safety feature is especially important for older folks or anyone who might have difficulty getting in and out of the pool). And, unless you know your pool’s exact measurements, look for an adjustable ladder for a guaranteed fit.

Protect Your Pool With a Ladder Pad

Even high-quality ladders can be rough on the bottom of your swimming pool. A ladder pad will protect your pool’s lining from holes, tears, or punctures. These inexpensive additions are available in a variety of sizes and provide an extra layer of cushioning between your pool ladder and your pool liner.

Above Ground Pool Ladder

Above Ground Automatic Pool Cleaner/Vacuum

A good pool vacuum makes short work of dirt, algae, and debris, and helps streamline your pool maintenance routine. Considering an automatic pool cleaner for your above ground pool? You’ve got three options to choose from, each with its own pros and cons:

  • Robotic Vacuums. When it comes to ease of operation, these high-tech vacuums score high points with above ground pool owners. Robotic vacuums are often referred to as “plug and play” because you simply plug them into a power source, drop them in the pool, and let them do their thing. All you have to do is empty the filter cartridge. One thing worth noting, though: Robotic pool cleaners aren’t known for their climbing capabilities, so you’ll need to scrub your pool walls the old-fashioned way.
  • Suction-Side Cleaners. Suction side pool cleaners are powered by the suction from your above ground pool filter. These vacuums pull leaves and debris directly into the filter, which means there’s no messing around with debris baskets or filtration cartridges. Fans of suction-side vacuums also like the fact that they can usually climb pool walls without an issue. One drawback to consider? Suction side vacuums can force your pool pump to work harder, which can and drive up energy costs.
  • Pressure Side Cleaners. Pressure side vacuums also connect to your pool filter. These pool cleaners are powered by the pressure of clean water being pushed out of the filter and into the pool. Pressure side pool cleaners are usually a reliable and budget-friendly option – although, like their suction-side counterparts they have trouble with walls.

Above Ground Pool Filter and Pump System

This is probably the most important accessory you’ll need for your above ground pool. This is the system that keeps water circulating, and helps keep your pool free of harmful bacteria.

Most above ground swimming pools are sold with sand filters, and with good reason: Sand filters have been around the longest, they do a good job at filtering out particles, and they’re a low-maintenance, budget-friendly option.

That said, if you want to explore alternatives to sand, there are some good options out there: Cartridge filters cost a little more than sand filters, but they offer improved filtration capabilities. Diatomaceous Earth (DE) filters are the most expensive pool filters out there, but many pool owners feel that the superior filtration is worth the cost.

Need to Replace Your Pool Pump?

What happens if your above ground swimming pool pump suddenly stops working? The good news is, you don’t have to buy a whole new filtration system – all you need is a new pump. Simply look for a pump that has the same horsepower, and you should be good to go. Just be sure to buy a pump that’s made for an above ground swimming pool. In-ground pools have very different setups, and an in-ground filter won’t work in an above ground pool.

Above Ground Pool Heater

Why let cooler temperatures keep you out of your above ground swimming pool? A pool heater will keep your water warm and inviting, (almost) all year round!

New to swimming pool heaters? Wondering which heater is right for your above-ground swimming pool? Here’s a quick guide to the types of heaters you can choose from:

  • Electric Heater. If you’re looking for a low priced option, consider an electric swimming pool heater. Electric heaters are easy to install (no need to call a pro), low-maintenance, and they work well in just about any climate. The two biggest drawbacks? Electric heaters can be slow to heat the water (say goodbye to impromptu swim sessions), and they can drive up your energy costs a bit.
  • Solar Heater. If you live in a warm, sunny climate, a solar heater might be just the thing. Solar heaters will cost a little more to purchase, but they make up for the higher initial cost with their ultra-cheap operating costs and long lifespan. Keep in mind that you need plenty of sunlight (a recommended 4 to 6 hours per day, on average) and lots of space for the equipment (solar panels take up a lot of space).
  • Gas Heater. A natural gas pool heater is wallet-friendly and it can heat your pool up more quickly than electric and solar heaters. You connect your gas pool heater directly to your existing gas line (you’ll need to call a professional to do the job safely), or you can use propane. One thing to consider before taking the plunge: Gas heaters tend to have shorter lifespans than other types of above ground pool heaters.

Know the Lingo

Swimming pool heaters are often measured in BTUs, which stands for “British Thermal Units.” In general, larger pools require a heater with a higher BTU. There’s a little more to it than that of course, other factors that can affect your heating needs include the location of your pool, the type of heater you choose (i.e. solar vs. electric vs. gas), and how much sun your pool gets each day.

Above Ground Pool with Handrail

Above Ground Pool Lights

Lights are the ideal finishing touch for any above ground pool. Swimming pool lights make your above ground pool safer for swimmers (especially if you plan to use your pool at night), and they can also add a festive touch with fun extras like color-changing lightshows.

Whether you prefer basic white bulbs or rainbow-hues, pool lights are also an easy upgrade for your above ground pool – especially if you choose LED lights. LED lights are popular with pool owners because they’re easy to install, they last a long time, and they’re more energy efficient than other types of pool lights. You can find magnetic LED light kits made specifically for above ground pools.

Of course, LED lights aren’t your only choice – and you don’t have to go the magnetic route if you’re looking for a more permanent swimming pool lighting solution. Most swimming pool retailers also sell halogen light kits that mount permanently to the walls of your above ground pool (just keep in mind that installing these lights involves cutting into your pool wall).

Above Ground Pool Skimmer

Skimmers are flat, shallow nets that attach to a telescopic pole for quick and easy removal of debris – such as leaves – from your above ground swimming pool. Skimming your pool regularly can help keep your water clean and clear between vacuuming sessions.

Pool skimmers are fairly inexpensive. Look for a skimmer made from aluminum, which will hold up better when exposed to the elements.

When choosing a skimmer or rake, look for one with an aluminum frame. Aluminum is sturdy and durable, and it won’t bend or crack when exposed to pool chemicals or extreme temperatures. If your main concern is removing leaves and larger debris, most standard nets will do the trick. Finer mesh is available for dealing with smaller jobs, like removing dirt or debris.

Don’t forget the telescopic pole!

A telescopic pole is a must-have accessory for your above swimming pool. In addition to using it with a skimmer net, you’ll also use it other maintenance tools, such as your pool brush and/or a manual vacuum head to remove dirt and algae from your pool walls and other places that your automatic cleaner can’t reach. Choose a telescopic pole made of sturdy aluminum or carbon fiber.

Above Ground Pool Liner

Above ground swimming pool owners should expect to replace their pool liner every 6 to 10 years. How do you know when it’s time to start shopping around for a new one? Here are a few signs that your vinyl liner is living on borrowed time:

  • Your pool liner has rips, tears, or other visible sign of damage
  • Your pool liner is extremely wrinkled or warped
  • Your pool liner has become stiff or brittle
  • Your pool liner is faded and/or discolored

If you’ve owned your swimming pool for less than a decade, it’s likely that you’re completely new to the world of replacement above ground swimming pool liners. Our suggestion? Start by talking to an above ground pool professional. They can help you narrow down your choices and determine which option is right for you, your pool, and your budget.

In most cases, your choice of above ground swimming pool liner will come down to a few factors:

  • Thickness. In general, a thicker liner will be durable, last longer, and less prone to tears and rips than a thinner one. On the flip side, though, a thicker liner will also cost more than a thinner one.
  • Attachment type. There’s the budget-friendly “overlap” style, which is securely held in place with strips of coping. It’s easier on the wallet, but a little harder to install evenly. If you’ve got more wiggle room in consider a “beaded” liner, which attaches to a rail around the perimeter of your pool. Beaded liners cost a little more, but they’re easier to install.
  • Design and color. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the traditional “swimming pool blue.” At the same time, though, today’s above ground swimming pool liners are available in a variety of colors and textures. You can find liners that mimic the look of traditional swimming pool tile, or opt for whimsical designs featuring dolphins and tropical fish. If you can dream it up, you can probably find it.

No Dogs Allowed!

Some dogs are crazy about water – but if you’ve got a vinyl-lined above ground swimming pool, you might want to think twice about letting Fido take a dip. Your dog’s toenails can easily snag, tear, or even puncture your new vinyl swimming pool liner – no matter how thick, strong, and sturdy it is.

Above Ground Pool Liner Pad

A pool liner pad is an absolute must if you want to extend the life of your swimming pool liner. Pool liner pads are typically made of thick foam, and they are placed between your swimming pool liner and the ground, providing an extra layer of protection.

As far as features, pool liner pads are pretty straightforward: They’re made of breathable, mildew-resistant foam, and most of them are tough enough to protect your pool liner from rocks, roots, and other common sources of damage.

In general, liner pads for above-ground pools aren’t terribly expensive: There are plenty of budget-friendly options out there that will do the job just fine. If you want to spend a little more, you can upgrade to super-thick, ultra-durable pads (these upgraded options typically come with more comprehensive warranties, too).

Above Ground Pool Cover

A swimming pool cover is an absolute must for your above-ground pool. This important swimming pool accessory performs two critical duties:

  • Accident prevention. A swimming pool cover prevents unattended children or animals from falling into the pool.
  • Cleanliness. Swimming pool covers keep debris, dirt, and other items out of your swimming pool – and this means that your pool water is cleaner, and your pool’s surfaces require less vacuuming.

For basic safety, you should look for a pool cover made of heavy-duty coated polyethylene, with a winch-and-cable system for ensuring a tight fit. Most safety covers are available in a range of colors, so you can choose one that matches your pool finish or outdoor décor scheme.

If you live in a place where you need to close your above ground pool for the winter, you might want to choose a winter swimming pool cover. Winter covers are similar to safety covers, but they’re usually built a little tougher to withstand the weight of snow and ice.

Winter Is Coming: Get an Air Pillow

Even the sturdiest winter cover can give out under too much weight. Add a dome-shaped air pillow under your winter above ground pool cover for extra protection. The air pillow will prevent snow and ice from piling up in the center of your pool.

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly, energy-saving cover for your above-ground swimming pool, consider a solar cover (also known as a “solar blanket”). In addition to keeping your pool clean and safe, solar covers trap heat and prevent evaporation.

Final Thoughts on Above Ground Pool Accessories

When it comes to your above ground pools, the right accessories can help you ensure that you maximize your enjoyment – and extend the life of your pool.

Not sure which equipment is the best for your above ground swimming pool? Your local pool professional can help you choose the equipment that’s right for you and your above ground pool.


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