Above ground pools come in many different sizes, are made out of different materials, and everyone seems to have a different preference on what should go in your backyard, so what should you buy? At Bonnie and Clyde’s we do not believe you should buy the most expensive pool you can. We believe you should buy the right pool for your needs. Here’s what to look for:
Pool walls usually come in 48, 52 or 54 inches high. When above ground pools first started being manufactured almost all pools used 48” walls. You typically fill a pool 4 inches from the top and have sand on the bottom so those pools actually held 3’6” of water. Many people wished they were deeper so the manufacturers started making 52 inch tall pools so that they would hold nearly 4 feet of water at 3’ 10”. Now the most popular pools are 54” tall and they can actually hold 4’ of water. Two inches may not seem like a big difference but you will certainly notice it while you are swimming.
The walls are the most important component of the pool because the wall is what supports the weight of the water. Pool walls are made from either galvanized steel or aluminum. Both provide plenty of strength; however aluminum walls give a lifetime of rust proof protection. The steel walls are available with standard enamel painted galvanized steel or for added protection, the manufacture resin coats these walls to further seal out moisture and corrosive materials.
Skimmer Service Panel
Many steel wall pools will also come with an aluminum service panel to provide rust proofing at the point where your plumbing comes through the wall of the pool. This can be important, because a leak here can cause rust on a plain steel wall pool.
The top ledges of your pool compose the top ring of the pool. They are important because they are the part you see the most while you are in the pool, with the exception of the liner. They are also the only part of the pool horizontally exposed to the sun and water. Generally, they are made from either galvanized steel, resin coated steel, or resin. Resin is considered the better material because it simply can never rust and stays cooler to the touch. Steel ledges are a great alternative because they are strong and economical. They have many layers of protection to prevent rust and corrosion.
The ledges of pools also come in a variety of widths that are usually somewhere between 1 inch and 12 inches. At Bonnie and Clyde’s we feel that anything less than 6 inches is not going to last and anything over 8 inches isn’t worth the extra money. We have 6”, 7” and 8 inch ledges to choose from.
The uprights are the vertical braces on the side of the pool. These braces are used to support the top ledge of the pool. These braces are typically made from galvanized steel or resin coated galvanized steel. As the Top ledges get wider, these uprights must get bigger as well to support them. As with the pool walls and ledges, the resin coating gives the steel superior corrosion resistance.
The ledge cover is used to cover the joints of the top ledges. They cover all the screws and plates used to assemble the pools and provide protection from any sharp edges. These are available in steel or resin, however all the pools at Bonnie and Clyde’s come with resin covers for the greatest protection against sharp edges.
The stabilizer rails are used at the top of the pool to make the wall rigid. They also hold the liner onto the top of the pool by squeezing the coping strips on overlap liners or the v-bead of the unibead liners. Some companies use non interlocking rails which allow movement in the wall and therefore less stability. All of the pools from Bonnie and Clyde’s use interlocking rails for a complete stabilizer ring all the way around the pool. These rails come in galvanized steel or aluminum.
The foot cover is a decorative piece that makes the pool more aesthetically pleasing. It provides a finishing touch at the bottom of the upright on more expensive pools.
Oval Brace System
Round pools have equal water pressure all around the pool. That is why they do not require any additional braces to support them. Oval pools are quite different. On an oval pool, the narrow sides of the pool have more pressure than the curved ends. Therefore, these pools require additional bracing on the sides to maintain their shape. These braces are available in two types. The most common and easiest to install is the Buttress oval. (sometimes called K-brace) This system uses braces that extend approximately 33” from the base of the wall and have a second brace that reaches to about the middle of the upright. It is important to consider these braces when choosing the position of the pool in your yard so that you can accommodate them. The other type of bracing system is called Braceless, compact, or Yardmore. These systems use pressure plates under the pool and heavy gauge steel beams to support the lateral pressure of the pool. Since the plates are under the pool, these braces only extend approximately 10” away from the base of the pool. Because of this, they do not extend past the 15-18” landscape perimeter around the pool saving space in the yard and making it easier to mow around.
Example Oval Brace System
Example of Braceless/Yardmore Oval Pool
Pools come in both round and oval shapes, in a variety of sizes in each shape. Round pools will give you much more swim area for the dollar. Oval pools require extra bracing, which makes them a little more expensive and a little harder to install. Keep in mind that most cities have regulations on how close to your property line and to your house you can build a pool. They will also direct you on how close to a power line you can build. Generally, you want to be five feet from a property line, five feet from on underground power line and ten feet from an overhead power line. Since pool prices don’t increase very much per size, be sure to go as big as you are comfortable with.