Can I Build A Salt Water Pool Above Ground?

Can I Build A Salt Water Pool Above Ground?

You can certainly build a salt water pool above ground rather than building an inground salt water pool. It’s much lower in cost than an inground pool and nearly isn’t as permanent if you change your mind in a few years. It generally doesn’t take up as much room in your backyard either.

An above ground salt water pool might be a good option if the main users of the pool will be young children who are learning to swim or who just want a pool to splash around in. Larger above ground pools are available these days that are also suitable for older families and couples.

While you can choose an above ground pool that is inflatable and quickly set up, for the purpose of this post, we’ll stick with larger, high quality and more permanent above ground pool options that you would expect to set up and use for years.

Above Ground Salt Water Pool Systems

Here are some of the best known above ground salt water chlorinator systems available today:

Hayward’s Salt & Swim ABG salt chlorinator was designed for above ground pools up to 23,000 gallons in size, up to 30′ round and 18’X40′ oval pools. $600 retail price.

Solaxx Saltron Retro Saltwater Chlorine Generator for above ground pools up to 20,000 gallons, up to 27′ round and 18’X40′ oval pools. No plumbing required. $400 retail price.

Solaxx Saltron Retro Jet RJ Saltwater Chlorine Generator. Will work for any size above ground pool and is their best selling option for saltwater pools. No plumbing required. $600 retail price.

Solaxx Saltron Reliant Saltwater Chlorine Generator For Pools Up To 30,000 Gallons, any size. This system fits right into your existing piping and plumbing work. $700 retail price.

Above Ground Salt Water Pool Pros

Significantly Cheaper Than An Inground Pool

A reasonably priced round-shaped above ground pool model can cost $2,000 – $4,000 to start with for pools 12′ to 33′ in size. An oval model from 8′ x 12′ to 21′ x 43′ in size can run $2,500 – $6,000 so there is a wide range of sizes and prices. Inground salt water pools are easily $30,000 and up and that’s on the low end. A reasonably sized family usable pool could cost $30,000 – $80,000 depending on specifics.

With no hole to dig in your background as with an inground pool, no permits required (most likely) and smaller pump and chlorination systems, pretty much everything is cheaper with an above ground pool.

Many Volume Options

We just discussed pool size options but what about the water volume choices? While you may desire a 3′ deep starter pool that is 12′ round with 2,500 gallons you can also go all the way up to a 21’ x 41’ oval above ground pool with close to 23,000 gallons (!) of water that is 4.5′ deep on average. That’s bigger than my inground pool which is about 18,000 gallons.

Modern Amenities

Higher end above ground pools include stairs leading to a deck, ladders and other features that you might not expect. Even diving boards for some bigger and deeper models. Modern above ground pools can be set up and used for years when the quality is high.

Less Maintenance

Above ground pools tend to be smaller in size and because they sit above the ground, they aren’t collecting nearly as much debris like leaves, grass, soil, insects and even the occasional dead animal as with an inground pool. Add a pool cover and it’ll keep the pool cleaner than you might expect. Also, since it’s not built underneath the earth, you probably won’t require a heater as the water retains more of the heat than an inground pool does.

As our pool company told me: When you open a pool up in the spring and start heating the pool, the heater first heats the ground which is cold (and perhaps still frozen if you get snow), and after the ground has been heated, the pool water gets heated. You won’t experience this with an above ground pool since it’s just the water that needs to warm up, kind of like a pot on a stove.

Fits In Many Backyards

One of the other big benefits of an above ground pool is that even the larger ones are small when compared to an inground pool. They don’t take up very much space and with no digging, you can put it where you like, within reason. If you have an odd-shaped backyard or an area that isn’t being used currently, the pool can often be set up there.

DIY Option

Some modern above ground pools can be set up by the owner if you’re so inclined. Or you can pay to get it installed professionally too so you’re covered either way.


Above ground pools are safer than inground pools since they are built off the ground. Remove the ladder and it’s even more difficult for a child or animal to fall in.

An above ground swimming pool like this one is good for kids but has limitations for adults.
An above ground swimming pool like this one is good for kids but has limitations for adults.

Above Ground Salt Water Pool Cons

Limited Swimming Options

If you’re an adult looking to actually swim and do laps, you’ll need to look elsewhere. They’ll help you cool off but aren’t necessarily going to replace a larger inground pool for swimming laps.


If you live in a freezing zone area with harsh winters, the weather can damage and eventually destroy above ground pools due to their design. Snow, ice and hail can damage the outer walls and wall stabilizers along with the liner.

Pool Parties

Never heard of anyone having a pool party in an above ground pool, have you? Due to the limited size and depth, if you’re looking to have pool parties centered around pool usage, an above ground pool probably won’t cut it.


We’ll end this post with a joke from late comedian Mitch Hedberg regarding his opinion on above ground pools:

I saw a commercial for an above ground pool. It was 30 seconds long. Because that’s the maximum amount of time you can picture yourself having fun in an above ground pool. If it was 31 seconds, the actor would say “The water is only up to here? What do I do now? Throw the ball back to Jimmy? Or put some goggles on and look at his feet?

Mitch Hedberg, Just For Laughs Festival, 2002

Thinking more about an inground salt water pool? Check out some salt water pool options here.

Carl Mueller

I bought a home with a salt water pool in 2006 and soon realized the benefits over traditional chlorinated pools. On this website I'll discuss all the tips and tricks I've learned over the years. I'll also help you troubleshoot various problems with pools in general and ones specific to salt water pools that I've experienced personally!

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