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What is an Above Ground Concrete Pool? Cost, Construction, Problems

What is an Above Ground Concrete Pool? Cost, Construction, Problems

Pool Design Guides  |  Concrete Pool Information

What do you think about when you hear the term “above ground pool”? Do you picture one of those blue inflatable pools or a round metal pool with a ladder?

While that’s what many above ground pools look like, there are actually tons of examples of inground pools (like concrete or fiberglass) installed above ground. In fact, we have seen  fiberglass pools installed above ground in the past. Why would someone want to bring their inground pool above ground?

There are a few good reasons for this. In this article, we’ll break down the rationale and explain how above ground concrete pools differ from inground concrete pools, how much they cost, maintenance concerns, designs, and more.


Can you build a concrete pool above ground?

Yes! The construction process is a little bit different, but you can most definitely build a concrete pool above ground. Let’s dive into why that might be a good idea.


Why build an above ground concrete pool?

There are two groups of people who choose to build an above ground concrete pool:

1. People who have to
2. People who want to

People who have to build an above ground concrete pool might do so because:

  • They have too much rock in the ground to build an inground pool
  • The water table is too high, or they have concerns about groundwater
  • The terrain on their property is extremely uneven or sloped

People who want to build an above ground concrete pool might do so because:

  • They like the look of above ground pools
  • They don’t want to deal with digging in the ground
  • They might be a little bit safer for homes with children

Note: you don’t absolutely have to build an above ground pool if your yard is sloped, and you can make your inground pool perfectly safe and secure if you have children. These are just some of the most common reasons people may choose to build their concrete pool above ground.


How much does an above ground concrete pool cost?

Here’s the bad news - your above ground concrete pool is going to cost more than an inground concrete pool. It isn’t easy to say exactly how much more, but if the price is a major factor for you and you have the option to do either one, an inground construction might be the better choice.

Like a semi inground pool, an above ground concrete pool needs retaining walls to sustain the pressure from the thousands of gallons of water. Retaining walls can get pricy ($7,000 to $20,000 each), so that’s where most of the added cost comes in.

The price can vary by wall height, material, and thickness, but in general, you can expect to pay an additional $28,000 to $80,000 to build your concrete pool above ground (base inground concrete pool prices start at around $50,000).


How to build a concrete pool above ground

The above ground concrete pool construction process is a little different from building an inground pool. Instead of digging a hole and laying a web of rebar, you would start by building the walls around your pool (this is where the cost of above ground concrete pool materials begins to increase). From there, you might build your pool as usual, often using the gunite process, but the exact process will vary by contractor.


Above ground concrete pool designs

Now for the fun part! There are quite a few options when it comes to above ground concrete pool designs. It’s even possible that above ground concrete pools are more versatile than inground concrete pools.

As a first step, you get to choose the shape and size of your pool. However, it’s important to note that there may be some depth and size limitations. Generally, above ground pools do not have a very deep end, and they are usually smaller in size overall.

Every square foot of wall that you need to build will cost you more money, so most people keep their above ground pools low and small.

As far as aesthetics and pool function are concerned, here are a few above ground concrete pool design ideas:

Infinity pool (vanishing edge)

Infinity pool / vanishing edge design


Wrap around deck

Wrap around deck on above ground concrete pool


Bar or entertainment space along walls

Above ground concrete pool with bar along pool wall


Integrated pool waterfalls and other water features

Pool wall with water feature


Glass wall on one or more sides

Glass walls around concrete pool


Above ground concrete pool maintenance

Above ground concrete pool maintenance is similar to inground concrete pool maintenance, but it can be a little trickier if you have to climb a ramp, ladder, or set of stairs to access it. Remember, concrete pools require:

  • Cleaning
  • Acid washing
  • Resurfacing
  • Regular repairs as necessary

You’ll also have to consider the upkeep of the walls around the outside of your pool. This means keeping them clean and free of grime, algae, spores, cracks, and other forms of damage that can compromise the structure of your pool.


Above ground concrete pool vs. semi inground concrete pool

Above ground pools are very similar to semi inground pools except for the fact that the entire depth of the pool is above ground and there are walls on all sides. For this reason, most above ground pools are on the shallow side, and they tend to be smaller.

Pro tip: If you don’t need to build all the way up, you might be able to get away with just a semi inground pool, depending on why you want or need to build your pool above ground. This can help you save on total costs.


Above ground concrete pool problems and concerns

Above ground concrete pools come with many of the same problems as inground concrete pools (like rough surfaces, scaling, etc.). However, some concerns specific to above ground pools may include:

  • There will be more to maintain due to the outer walls
  • You may have to pay more for a contractor who specializes in above ground concrete pools


DIY above ground concrete pool

Can you DIY a professional-looking above ground concrete pool?  Unless you’re a pool builder, don’t count on your above ground concrete pool being an easy DIY job.

You might want to build an above ground concrete pool with concrete blocks (like cinder blocks), but this would be more of a temporary pool project rather than something that will last years and years.


Above ground concrete pool pros and cons

To wrap up what we’ve introduced here and to help you decide if this type of pool is right for you, here are the pros and cons of above ground concrete pools:


  • Nice looking
  • Might be safer for children (depending on access points)
  • Versatile
  • No need to dig deep into the ground
  • Can be installed over rock or groundwater
  • You don’t have to worry about your pool popping up out of the ground


  • More expensive (materials and possibly contractor fees)
  • Harder to maintain
  • Generally smaller


Have any more questions about above ground or inground pools? Leave them for us in the comments, and we'll get back to you with an answer as soon as possible.

If you want to learn about fiberglass pools or inground pools in general, feel free to visit our learning center, view our pool model catalog, or download our free ebook below. You can also be put in touch with an independent installer to request pricing or discuss your pool options. Happy swimming!

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Editor's note (6/7/24): 
This article was originally written by Jason Hughes. Any opinions expressed are those of the author. Any prices referenced were based on information that was readily available at the time.

River Pools is a brand of inground fiberglass pools produced via the River Pools division of the manufacturing facility in Fortville, IN. While our expertise is in fiberglass pool manufacturing, we have a network of expertise relating to all things inground pools. Our own collective experience from over the years spans manufacturing, project design, installation, and pool service. We often tap into this knowledge base and share information freely with homeowners, just like you, who are considering having a swimming pool installed in your backyard.