Live it up in the sunshine with our pick of the best swimming pools for your garden
Hop in, cool off and soak up some sunshine in your own personal swimming pool. Once a luxury reserved for the uber-rich, thanks to modern modular frame and sturdy inflatable designs, now anyone with a level patch garden can enjoy the benefit of owning a private above-ground pool.
From smaller inflatable models, ideal for children and families, right the way up to large party-ready pools, there’s a swimming pool out there to suit just about every taste and budget. To help you find the absolute best swimming pool for your garden we’ve put together a concise buying guide below, followed by our pick of the best swimming pools on the market today.
Best swimming pools: At a glance
- Best budget metal frame swimming pool: Intex Rectangular Swimming Pool | £107
- Best swimming pool for easy setup: Intex Easy Set Swimming Pool | £29
- Best large round swimming pool: Bestway 15ft Steel Pro MAX Pool | £358
- Best large rectangular pool: Bestway 18ft Power Steel Above Ground Pool | £952
- Best extra-large swimming pool: Intex 32ft Ultra XTR | £2,200
How to choose the best swimming pool for you
Where can I put a swimming pool?
Unlike below-ground pools, above-ground inflatable and frame swimming pools don’t require extensive groundwork before installation. As long as you have a decent patch of garden with convenient access to water, you’re good to go.
You’ll want to make sure that the area you choose is nice and level, otherwise, your pool won’t fill evenly and you may put undue strain on one side. It’s also worth checking that the ground you choose to place the pool on is sturdy enough to support it. While not as important for smaller pools, it’s worth taking into account that one litre of water weighs a kilogram, so larger pools that require several thousands of litres to fill need will need some solid ground beneath them.
For rough ground, we’d recommend picking up an extra groundsheet if one isn’t already included. This will protect the base of the pool from anything that may pierce or damage it.
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Frame swimming pools vs inflatable swimming pools
Shop around and you’ll find yourself presented with the option of selecting between metal frame and inflatable pools. There are numerous high-quality options for both types, and both can be packed down when not in use.
Inflatable pools tend to be quicker to set up and dismantle as well as being easier to store. They do, however, require an air pump to inflate and can require topping up as the temperature changes. Inflatable swimming pools also tend to be shallower than their framed counterparts, and their thick, air-filled walls will take up more garden real estate.
Frame pools are generally sturdier, and you can find them in larger sizes and depths. The downside is that frame pools take more effort to put together and pack away and will take up more room while stored. They also tend to be more expensive.
The choice is ultimately yours, but for smaller and shallower pools for kids and families, we’d recommend an inflatable pool, whereas for larger fixtures for adults a frame pool is a smarter choice.
Do I need a pump filter for my swimming pool?
Whether or not you opt for a pool with a pump filter will depend on how large the pool is and how long you plan on keeping it filled. Smaller paddling pools that are only filled for occasional use will likely fare fine without a filter as you can simply empty, clean and refill the pool when necessary. However, bigger pools that require large quantities of water will almost certainly benefit from the addition of a pump filter. A quality pump will allow you to get up to a full season out of a single pool of water.
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What about chlorine?
Swimming pools can take a significant amount of water to fill, with even mid-sized pools requiring thousands of litres. As such, you’re unlikely to want to fill and refill it more than is necessary. Along with having a filter for larger debris and contaminants, you’ll likely want to consider some form of chlorination if you intend on keeping the same water for extended periods of time. You can pick up a chlorine dispenser, along with some chlorine tablets, for very little, and it will ensure your swimming pool remains clean and the water stays clear right through the summer season.
Can I heat my swimming pool?
While outdoor pools are designed to warm naturally in the summer sun, heaters are available to give them a helping hand. The type of heater you need will depend on the size of the pool, and most are designed to be used in conjunction with the pool’s pump. As an alternative to mains-powered heaters, solar mats are also available and are designed to gently warm the water as it passes through the filter.
What extras should I look out for?
Extras bundled with swimming pools vary greatly from model to model. Aside from pump filters, in the case of inflatable swimming pools, it’s also worth looking out for air pumps. Some inflatable swimming pools come bundled with an air pump, but if your chosen pool doesn’t, we strongly recommend you pick one up separately. Manual hand or foot pumps are typically the most affordable, but you’ll really want an electric air pump for even moderately sized inflatable pools.
A durable cover is also a prudent investment. A quality cover will keep your pool protected, keeping stray debris, pets and children away from the water when it’s not in use. As a bonus, most pool covers are dark grey or black so they also help heat the water before you get in.
While not essential for smaller swimming pools, a pool ladder can be a worthwhile addition for anything taller than a paddling pool. A ladder will make it easier to get in and out, especially for children. It also avoids putting unnecessary pressure on the pool walls when climbing in and out.
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The best swimming pools you can buy in 2023
1. Intex Rectangular Pool: Best budget frame swimming pool
Price when reviewed: £107 | Check price at Amazon
If you’re in the market for something bigger than a traditional paddling pool but don’t want to splash out on something too large or expensive, this frame pool from Intex may be just the ticket. While you won’t be swimming laps in it, its maximum water depth of around 60cm is ideal for supervised children to play in and for adults to sit in. Each corner is also fitted with a plastic seat for pool-side lounging.
It’s quick and easy to set up, and thanks to its metal-framed construction, should be durable enough to see you through several summer seasons. It ships without a filter pump, though, so you’ll likely want to pick up one of those separately.
Key specs – Construction: Metal frame; Capacity: 3,834l; Dimensions: 3 x 2 x 0.75m (WDH); Filter pump included: No
2. Intex Easy Set Swimming Pool: Best pool for easy setup
Price when reviewed: £29 | Check price at Amazon
Reasonably priced and easy to set up, Intex’s Easy Set pool is a great low-hassle option. Unlike most inflatable pools, the Easy Set only needs the top ring inflating.
As you fill the body of the pool with water the top ring floats up, lifting the walls with it. Once filled, the pool keeps its shape thanks to the pressure of the water against the walls. This makes setup quick and easy and reduces the amount of garden space taken up by the inflatable walls. Then, when you’re done, simply let the water out, deflate the ring and pack it away.
The pool gives you roughly the same amount of space as a decent-sized hot tub. At over 3m across and 0.76m deep there’s space to comfortably fit four adults, with enough depth to get a good soak while sitting down.
It’s worth noting that the pool ships without an air pump, so you’ll want to pick one up at the same time.
Key specs – Construction: Inflatable; Capacity: 3,854l; Dimensions: 3.1 x 3.1 x 0.8m (WDH); Filter pump included: No
3. Bestway 15ft Steel Pro MAX Pool: Best large round pool
Price when reviewed: £358 | Check price at Amazon
Bestway’s large Steel Pro Max Swimming Pool is perfect for accomodating larger groups and pool parties. At over 4.5m across it offers plenty of room for stretching out and floating around and, at over 1.2m deep, adults won’t feel like they’re paddling.
Thanks to its metal-framed design, assembly is straightforward – just remember to factor in how long it’ll take to fill! The pool comes bundled with a filter pump and ladder so you can get set up right away, although we’d also recommend picking up a cover for when it’s not in use.
Key specs – Construction: Metal frame; Capacity: 16,015l; Dimensions: 4.57 x 4.57 x 1.22m (WDH); Filter pump included: Yes
4. Bestway 18ft Power Steel Above Ground Pool: Best large rectangular pool
Price when reviewed: £952 | Check price at Amazon
Bestway’s 18ft Power Steel Above Ground Pool is a generously proportioned pool that’s ideal for pool parties. At over 5.5m across and with a depth of over 1.2m, it offers plenty of room for adults and supervised children to splash around.
A ladder, filter pump and chlorine dispenser are all included, allowing you to get up and running right away but you may also want to add a cover and groundsheet to keep it in tip-top condition.
It’s reasonably straightforward to assemble but as there are quite a few large pieces involved, we’d recommend having at least one other person on hand when setting it up.
Key specs – Construction: Metal frame; Capacity: 14,812l; Dimensions: 5.5 x 2.7 x 1.2m (WDH); Filter pump included: Yes
5. Intex 32ft Ultra XTR: Best extra large swimming pool
Price when reviewed: £2,200 | Check price at Amazon
Intex’s 32ft Ultra XTR above ground pool set allows you to enjoy all the benefits of a full-sized swimming pool without needing to dig up your garden.
Measuring an impressive 9.75m in length, 4.9m across and 1.3m deep, this is a “proper” pool by anyone’s definition and provides ample space for games, a bit of swimming, or just soaking up the summer sun.
The pool set includes a ladder, filter pump, a groundsheet and a full cover for when it’s not in use.
It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that setting up and packing away a pool of this size at the start and end of the season can be a considerable undertaking and not something you can accomplish on your own. You will also need ample storage space to house the pool when it’s not set up.
Key specs – Construction: Metal frame; Capacity: 54,368l; Dimensions: 9.75 x 4.9 x 1.3m (WDH); Filter pump included: Yes