DIY Above Ground Swimming Pool Installation Ideas

DIY Above Ground Swimming Pool Installation Ideas

A swimming pool in your garden is much easier to install than you might expect. A new above-ground swimming pool is both reasonably-priced and simple to fix.

Unlike the inflatable pools which are often not particularly hygienic as well as being prone to leaking, these are much stronger and have all the benefits of a permanent swimming pool without the need for planning permission. They also cost a fraction of the price.

Obviously your new above-ground swimming pool will come with instructions which you should follow but here is a brief summary of the steps you will need to follow.

Setting out

Dry assemble the bottom layer of the timber frame in-situ so that you can see any access problems and whether new paths need building or services diverting.


Even if the pool is going to be entirely above ground, you will still need to remove the topsoil for the base. Mark out a rectangular area at least 60cm bigger than the swimming pool and remove all topsoil (typically at least 15cm).

Concrete base

You will find this easier if you do it in two stages. First, lay a thin (5cm) layer of blinding concrete over the excavated surface – this will give you a clean and level floor to work on. Then set in position the steel uprights that provide the ‘ribs’ of the swimming pool’.

Lay strong reinforcing mesh 5cm above the blinding concrete and, if the ground is poor, another layer of mesh 5cm from the finished top surface of the concrete. Pour in at least 15cm and possibly as much as 30cm of structural grade premixed concrete thoroughly vibrating it to remove all of the trapped air.

Timber superstructure

When the concrete has cured (about 2 days), start assembling the wooden frame being careful to follow the manufacturer’s instruction regarding jointing.

Pipework – Phase 1

Fit the skimmer unit and cut holes in the wall of the timber frame to accommodate the drain, pump inlet and any lights. Use a proper hole-cutting saw and be careful not to cut too oversized a hole.


Thoroughly sweep and vacuum clean the floor of the swimming pool since any detritus left behind is a potential hole in your liner. When the floor is clean, spray it with adhesive and cut and fit the sub-liner. This provides a cushion effect to the floor and walls and also protects the main liner from damage.

Pipework – Phase 2

Fit the gaskets and frames for the pump inlet, the drain and the lights cutting through the sub-liner where necessary to expose those holes. Be careful not to over-cut.

Main Liner

Expose the liner to sunshine for an hour beforehand in order for it to warm up and become pliable. Starting with one corner of the timber frame, snap the liner to the swimming pool wall gently stretching and smoothing it as you do so. Leave the last 10 cm open, insert a hose from a powerful vacuum cleaner and seal up. Suck out as much air as you can from between the liner and the sub-liner. Anyone who enters the pool from here on must do so in socks or go barefoot.

Pipework – Phase 3

Fill the swimming pool to a depth of about 15cm to stretch the liner into its final place. Operate the vacuum for the last time, remove it and seal up the final part of the liner top. Get into the pool and install the final pieces of pump inlet, drain and lights being careful to keep the electrics of the latter free of the water.

Electrical Work

You will need an electrician to fit a circuit-breaker for you and to put in a power supply. It is a good idea if they also fit a timer control and a spare socket (you may wish to invest in an automatic pool cleaner). They can also wire in the lights – you may want to get an extra switch fitted for these.

Also Read: Above Ground Pool Maintenance Tips

Pipework – Phase 4

Carefully assemble the pump and filter unit filling the latter with clean, fine sand. Install all in-flow and out-flow pipework to the pump being careful to make sure the joints are watertight. Fill swimming pool to half-way up the skimmer unit. Prime pump, operate backwash and set pump timer.

Chemical Dosing

Using a pH and chlorine testing kit (available from any swimming pool accessories stockist), add acid or alkali to bring your swimming pool to a pH of typically 7.4 and a chlorine level of about 3ppm. Add algicide once a week and test and top up if necessary the water, the acid or alkali and the chlorine at the same time. If you use solar heating rings, you will save on evaporation of water and chemicals as well as extending your swimming season.


Fit steps and ladders as appropriate.


Drain down the water to a low level and cover over the winter, operating the pump occasionally to prevent stagnation of the water. Treat timber with teak oil annually to keep it free of rot and looking good.

Now you’re ready to enjoy your above-ground swimming pool.

Upgrading Your Above Ground Pool

Whether you want to upgrade your existing above-ground pool due to normal wear and tear from the elements or get a bigger and better one it’s important to properly remove any existing structures you aren’t able to reuse. Disassembly and disposal can be a challenge because your local waste management company likely won’t collect the oversized pieces. Luckily, most local junk removal companies can demolish and haul away the existing above ground pool leaving you with a space reading for a new installation.

About Author

Clive West is a retired civil engineer married to his wife, Damaris. They live in Central Italy where they are rebuilding and modernising a farmhouse demolished by the recent earthquake. They have just installed two above ground swimming pools – one with a jet-spray unit for all-year-round use. You can find out more about building a swimming pool and choosing an automatic pool cleaner on their websites.

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