Swimming Pool Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Swimming Pool for You

Swimming pools are great fun for all the family, but they’re quite a commitment, so it’s important you know which types, size and budget will work best for you and your home. 

We’ve created this in-depth guide to make the process easy, so you can buy your swimming pool with confidence.


Types of Swimming PoolsPrice
How to Choose a Swimming PoolBest Swimming Pools
Size and ShapeSwimming Pool Safety
Installing Different Pool TypesPool Terminology
Treating Your Pool WaterSwimming Pool Accessories

Types of Swimming Pools 

Above Ground vs Inground Pools

You can divide swimming pools into two categories; above ground pools and inground pools. Both have a lot to offer but aren’t suitable for everyone. 

Above Ground Pools

Above ground pools are often easy to set up and come in kit form, which means you can assemble and dismantle the pool as you like. They come in a large variety of shapes and sizes, making them the perfect option for most households. 

Unless you live in a specific area, you don’t generally need planning permission to build an above-ground pool. However, you do need to ensure that there is at least 5 metres between your pool and your house and the land must be flattened and prepared before you set up. And unless you go for a paddling pool, you’ll need to maintain and filter your above ground pool.

Paddling pools

Bestway Fantastic Aquarium Play Centre

Bestway Fantastic Aquarium Play Centre – £39.95

It’s no secret that young kids love paddling pools. These pools can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and most of them are inflatable. Many different styles exist too, making them a hit for kids who have a favourite character that’s printed all over their paddling pool. They’re usually the safest option for young children, while older kids can enjoy fun accessories like inflatable slides.

Fast-set pools 

Bestway 15ft x 33in Fast Set Pool Set – £149.95

Fast set pools, also known as inflatable pools, are fairly large pools that are easy to set up. All you need to do is to blow up the top ring of the pool and then fill it with water. These pools are affordable, setting them up is quick and easy and they don’t require much upkeep. This makes them the perfect option for families who want to take a dunk to cool off on a hot day!

Steel frame pools

Bestway 12ft x 48in Steel Pro MAX Frame Pool Set – £399.95

Steel frame pools are more expensive than inflatables, but they’re much more hardwearing. They’re made up of a metal frame and a top ring which tends to be slotted into a specially devised pouch. The pools aren’t usually more than 1.3m in height, but the diameter can stretch up to a whopping 31 feet! This is great for families or groups of adults who want to enjoy a splash together.

Wooden pools

If you’re after something a little more appealing to the eye, a wooden pool is a great option for you. As well as being more aesthetically pleasing, wooden pools are often sturdier and more durable. For extra stability, they can be buried slightly into the ground. They’re commonly made from heat-treated pine or exotic wood. The most common shapes are hexagonal and octagonal.

Steel wall pools

Steel wall pools are made out of a steel structure; the pool walls are made from rust-resistant coated steel. These pools are often covered in wooden cladding and are entirely freestanding. They’re held up by steel braces and posts under the pool coping. Steel pools come in a range of designs and are usually delivered in a kit, so they can be assembled by the buyer at home.

Swim spas

Avenli Osaka Rigid Foam Wall Hot Tub – £999.95

If you’re just looking to sit back and relax, then a swim spa or hot tub may be a better option compared to a swimming pool. These come in a variety of designs and have different settings. They can be set up in most gardens and don’t require much maintenance. The pool water is always heated too, which makes this option something that can be enjoyed all year round.

Inground and Semi-inground Pools

Inground pools

As the name suggests, inground pools are built into the ground. They’re an attractive, durable and comfortable option. They come in a range of designs, materials and sizes. You can surround your inground pool with wooden decking or tiles for a smart finish.

However, they’re very expensive. On top of that, installation requires a lot of time, effort and money.  

If you’re after an infinity pool, then an inground pool is the only option you can consider. The three most popular types of inground pools are:

One-piece pools – Consisting of one large piece of material and usually made from polyester, one-piece pools are quick to install and strong. But the ground must be prepared with extreme care to ensure the shell of the pool doesn’t change shape once it’s been filled.

Concrete pools – A high-quality and durable structure that requires the most amount of work to install, concrete pools take time but they’re most likely to last the longest. Concrete pools are covered in pool liners and plaster to keep them watertight and can be designed to meet your specific needs.

Pool kits – Pool kits come with everything you need for inground pool installation. The prefab supporting steel walls make them a strong choice and they’re covered by a liner to keep them watertight. Cleaning and treating the pool is essential, especially over the summer. 

Semi-inground pools

Semi-inground pools are wooden swimming pools that are half inground and half above ground. They offer a selection of attractive features, which include coping, borders or a dec area. These pools can be adapted to meet your needs and the shape of your garden. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are ideal for people with land on a slope.

Above Ground PoolEasy to install and dismantle. Affordable. Low maintenance. They’re usually safer for young families. Easily damaged. Don’t add value to the home. Limited versatility. Can look cheap if you buy the wrong model. 
Inground PoolStrong and durable. Add value to your property. They’re versatile in shape and design. Features can be added/installed. Installation is long and expensive. High maintenance. Dangerous for young children. Not suitable for all land types.

How to Choose a Swimming Pool

Your Budget

Inground and above-ground pool prices vary drastically, especially if you add easy-set pools into the picture. 

However, the initial purchase of the pool is just the start of a long list of costs when you involve all of the variables, such as the installation process, prepping the land and maintaining and running the pool. 

Above ground pools aren’t as expensive as inground swimming pools. In most cases, you could get a top-of-the-line above ground pool for the price of a low-end inground pool and still have money left over. This is due to the extra costs associated with installing an inground pool, such as:

Excavation – digging the hole in the ground.

Steelwork, plumbing and electrical – installing the power and water lines.

Installing the shell – concrete, fibreglass or vinyl shell.

Additional features — Building the decking, finish, customer features and landscaping.

Professional installation (not usually necessary for above ground pools) – costs are high due to the lack of work for swimming pool builders in the UK.

Pool safety fence – may be required for above ground pools too.

More expensive building materials – such as steel-reinforced concrete and plaster.

Additional permits – like planning permission if you live in an area of outstanding natural beauty, a listed building, a conservation area, or a green belt. A green belt is a natural area that surrounds a large urban development where urbanisation is resisted. Check if your property is in a green belt. 

There are so many aspects to consider when it comes to installing an inground pool, so it’s easy to see why a professional will need to do it for you. As you can imagine, installing an above ground pool is much faster and easier compared to an inground pool. A kit will be provided to install an above ground pool and it can usually be done by the owner.

Space Availability

You will need to measure the area you’d like to install a pool before making your purchase. This will allow you to compare models on the market with your requirements. It’s essential to pick a pool that’s the right size when browsing the options that are available to you. 

Common pool sizes:

MeasurementSize and Shape
4 x 2 m Small, rectangle
3 x 3 m Small, square 
4 x 4 mMedium, square 
3 x 5 m Medium, rectangle
4 x 8 m Large, rectangle

Surrounding space

As well as the area for the pool, you’ll need to consider the space you’d like around it for socialising, sunbathing and for other customisable features. You’ll most likely be able to add more accessories to an inground pool compared to an above ground pool, like a diving board and an attached spa for example.

Type of Land

The land you plan to install your pool on will determine which type and style of pool is best for you. 

Owned vs rented land

If you don’t own the property or land that you plan to install a pool on, then an inground or semi-inground pool won’t be an option. As mentioned above, the space you have available will also be a large factor.

Sloped land

If you’re a homeowner and your garden is on a slope, then you can consider installing a semi-inground pool. With a semi-inground pool, half of the pool will be raised out of the ground, which means it can securely hold large amounts of water while being installed on a slope. 

If you have a large flat piece of land, then anything is possible! Wherever you choose to install a pool, you should avoid putting it in a shaded or wind-exposed area or under a tree.  

Now you know how to choose the right swimming pool for you, the next step is to look at and compare the different types of swimming pools available.

Size and Shape

The perfect size and shape for your pool will be determined by the space you have available and the pool you plan to install. While the type of pool you choose can limit the depth and length of your pool, you may be able to have more of a say when it comes to the shape.


Bestway 15ft x 13in Paradise Palms Fast Set Pool – £199.95 

Round pools are perfect for people who don’t want the pool to take up much space in the garden. They vary in diameter and depth, so you can find something suitable for all members of the family. The shape makes it easy to socialise with friends when sitting around the edge of the pool, and it makes it great for play-time too.


Bestway 20ft x 12ft x 48in Power Steel Oval Pool Set – £899.95

Oval pools create the perfect combination of a casual, hang-out style pool and a pool suitable for those who enjoy the occasional swim. This is because they’re both round and long, creating a nice middle ground for those who want to socialise and swim around in their pool. Surrounding an oval pool with a patio or decking can make them stand out.


Bestway 18ft x 9ft x 48in Power Steel Rectangular Pool Set – £999.95 

Rectangular pools are a common and simple swimming pool shape. Just like oval pools, rectangular pools have length, which makes them a good option for people who love to swim laps in the pool. As well as being easy to swim in, rectangular pools are ideal for playing games, such as volleyball and basketball, making this shape fun and practical.

Hexagonal and Octagonal 

Hexagonal or octagonal pools often come in the form of wooden frame pools, swim spas or hot tubs. As well as looking great, a large number of sides in a small area make these pools perfect for relaxing with friends. In swim spas and hot tubs, you’ll have your own set of jets to sit back on. These tubs can also be square, which is suitable for small groups or couples.

Installing Different Pool Types

Different pools will require different installation methods and levels of maintenance. Any additional features your pool needs will vary between inground and above ground varieties.  

Fast Set Pools

Before you set up your pool, make sure it’s at least 5 metres away from your house. Fast set pools and quick and easy to set up:

– Unfold and lay out the pool on level ground. 

– Remove any rocks and add a layer of sand to smooth out the area.

– Put down a ground cloth or floor protector.  

– Inflate the ring. 

– Once it’s fully inflated, fill the pool with water. 

– Wait for the pool to be full before you connect your filtration pump and pipework.

– When the pool is in use, the filter pump shouldn’t be used. 

– Finally, add your accessories and dive in!

Frame Pools  

Whether it’s metal or wooden, frame pools are all set up similarly:

– Start by checking that you have all the parts listed in the manual. 

– Locate the spot where you plan to install your pool  

– Make sure it’s flat and clean, then lay down a ground cloth. 

– You don’t need any tools, just a standard garden hose and an outdoor electrical outlet for the filter pump. 

– Unroll the pool liner on top of the ground cloth making sure it’s the right side up. 

– Don’t drag the pool across the ground as it may result in leaks. 

– Set up the frame of the pool using the manual provided. 

– If you have a wooden or steel wall pool, you’ll have to set up the walls around the frame once it’s been built. 

– When the pool has been filled, turn on the filters. 

– Finally, add any additional accessories and jump in!

Paddling Pools

Paddling pools are the easiest pool to set up and maintain. All you need to do is inflate the pool. An air pump is recommended for all size pools but is even more important if you have a large paddling pool or inflatable. There is no filtration system in paddling pools so the water shouldn’t be treated. However, it’ll need to be emptied and changed manually. 

Inground Pools

Whether you go for a one-piece pool, concrete pool or pool kits, you’ll need professional help to install an inground swimming pool. This is because a large area will need to be dug out to install the pool and it will need to be levelled, watertight and well-supported. Unless you’re going for a one-piece pool, your inground pool will require a liner, which will last 5-20 years.

Treating Your Pool Water

Treating your water and cleaning your pool regularly is important if you want to enjoy your swimming pool safely. This applies to most pool types that have a filtration system.

Water Treatment 

If you own a swimming pool, you must treat the pool water. To do so correctly, you’ll need to analyse the condition of your pool water. 

You can analyse your pool water with water test kits. There is a range of options available, like digital testers and test strips. All you’ll need to do is carry out the water test and interpret the results. What you do next to treat the water will be determined by the results. 

Things to look out for include:

pH level – Should be between 7.2-7.6; pH 7 is classed as neutral on the acid/alkaline scale. 

Alkalinity – To reduce limescale. The recommended level for swimming pool water is 80-120 ppm.

Sanitiser level – To kill organic things. Chlorine concentration of at least 1 ppm in pools and at least 3 ppm in hot tubs/spas.

Stabiliser – To keep the chlorine active.  The ideal level of stabiliser is between 30 and 70 ppm.

Keeping Your Pool Water Clear

Nothing is worse than green or cloudy pool water. If the colour of your water has changed or you’re noticing green stains on your pool liner, the chances are your pH level is off balance and the water doesn’t contain enough disinfectant. 

To make your pool water clear, you should use an algaecide. Treating your pool water regularly will keep the water clean and clear. 

Shop all water treament products


There are so many different types of swimming pools, it can be hard to pinpoint a price. However, you can get a rough idea of the cost through statistics. 

Price Ranges and Installation Costs 

Swimming pool prices and installation costs vary greatly and rely on several factors including:

– Whether it’s inground or above ground

– The materials

– The features

– The size and depth, plus more

The price of the pool is usually less than the cost of installation unless you’re going for a small, budget-friendly option.

Type of Swimming PoolLocationAverage Cost 
Small above-ground kitAbove ground£119.95-£999.95
Large above-ground kit Above ground£1000-£3000
Small pool and linerInground£20,000
Mid-size concrete pool c/w mosaic tilesInground£30,000
Large concrete pool c/w mosaic tiles Inground£40,000
Mid-size fibreglass poolInground£30,000
Large fibreglass poolInground£45,000
Mid-size overflow poolInground£25,000
Large overflow pool Inground£40,000
Mid-sized stainless steel poolInground£40,000
Large stainless steel poolInground£60,000

*C/W = complete with*

If the type of pool you’re after isn’t listed above, a good rule to go by is that the average costs in the UK range from £1,000/m² upward for an inground pool. This will depend on the quality of the finishes, the spec of the pool, and its depth. The area you live in can also influence the cost of your pool. 

Best Swimming Pools

If you have a specific reason for buying a swimming pool or you’d like to know more about what would suit your current situation, here are the best swimming pools for the following. 

Best Swimming Pools for Toddlers 

Bestway Sea Life Play Centre

Bestway Sea Life Play Centre 

RRP: £49.95

Paddling pools are perfect for toddlers. This Sea Life Play Centre is shallow and fun to look at and play in. If you want to teach your toddler to be comfortable around water, then an above-ground swimming pool like this would be better suited as they’re safe and it’s easy to supervise their activity. Toddlers can’t access these pools when you’re not around as they can be deflated and stored away. 

Best Swimming Pools for Parties

Bestway 18ft x 52in Power Steel Frame Pool Set 

RRP: £799.95

Resistant swimming pools like the Bestway 18ft x 52in Power Steel Frame Pool Set are the best kinds of swimming pools for parties. The large size and round shape make this pool perfect for hosting large parties and socialising with the crowd. Expand the party by getting a hot tub too so your guests can retire to the bubbles when the sun goes down.

Best Swimming Pools on a Budget 

Bestway 10ft Fast Set Pool inc Filter Pump 

RRP: £79.95

This Bestway 10ft Fast Set Pool is a great option for those on a budget. This above ground pool also comes with a filter pump to keep the pool water clean. Fast set pools are great for those on a budget and they’re easy to set up by the owner. 

Biggest Above Ground Swimming Pools 

Bestway 31ft 4 x 16ft x 52in Power Steel Rectangular Pool Set

RRP: £1695.95

The Bestway 31ft 4 x 16ft x 52in Power Steel Rectangular Pool Set is the biggest and most secure above ground swimming pool, thanks to its sturdy, durable steel frame. The exterior of different sizes and designs can vary in patterns to look more aesthetically pleasing in your garden. 

Swimming Pool Safety

A swimming pool is a fun and exciting addition to any home, but it can be dangerous without the right knowledge, so you should consider the following safety precautions.

Ensuring Child Safety

Even if you decide to install a shallow paddling pool, you should: 

– Always supervise children when they’re using the pool.

– Consider giving your child a buoyancy aid or flotation device for deeper pools

– Or keep one in an easy-to-reach spot at the side of the pool. 

– Children under 5 years old should always be within arm’s reach when in the pool.

– Consider building a gate or fence around the pool, and keep it locked so little ones can’t access the area when they’re not outside to swim. 

– The gate should swing back to a closed position after it’s opened 

– The gaps in the fence shouldn’t be big enough for a child to slip through. 

– The fence should also be too high to climb.

Read our full pool safety guide

Safely Storing Pool Chemicals

If you use pool chemicals to maintain your pool, they should be stored in a secure place and out of reach of children. 

You should wear personal protective equipment (PPE), like gloves, goggles, a mask and overalls, when using the pool chemicals. This will protect your eyes and skin from irritation or chemical burns.

Grates and Covers

PVC pool grates provide a safe and aesthetically pleasing finish to your pool. They offer friction around the pool and unrestricted water flow. Covers can be used to keep the pool clean and in good condition. Both grates and covers should be attached securely to the pool. 

First Aid Procedures

You should ensure that you and your family members are aware of First Aid Procedures. To keep it fresh in everyone’s minds, you could prominently display a resuscitation sign in the pool area that can be used in an emergency. 

Pool Terminology

Cartridge filtersThese are cylinder-shaped filters that are fairly small considering their function. They filter your pool water but are best suited for smaller pools. They’re made from natural or synthetic materials and look like a reel of thread. They’re designed to fit in a compartment that’s specially created for them.
CopingThe border that surrounds your pool and the edge you’d sit on to dip your feet in the water.  
Diatomaceous earth filterThese are cylindrical filters that are filled with diatomaceous earth. They provide crystal clear water and filter down to three microns.
Electric pool heater Fitted with a thermostat and heating element that is used to control the water temperature of the pool.
Ground mats Designed to lay between your above ground pool and the ground. They protect the bottom of the pool from any abnormalities on the ground.
Heat exchanger Created to heat your pool and can connect to your home heating system through the boiler.
Heat pumpsA popular heating system that can be used to warm up your pool quickly.
LinersA compartment that makes up the inside of the pool. They’re generally formed by several strips of vinyl that’s been welded together to keep your pool watertight and are often coloured blue. The pool type will determine the thickness of the pool liner.
Pool brush A vacuum brush on wheels that are used to clean the water surface and the bottom of the pool. The brushes can be used to collect leaves, debris, insects, etc.
Pool pump and filterPool pumps make the pool water circulate. The process works by sucking water into the pump, sending it through the filtration system and sending it back out through the return inlets.
Pool robots  Robots that keep the pool clean. There are three main types; electric, hydraulic and solar-powered. 
Return inlets Openings that allow filtered water to return into the pool. They can vary in terms of size and pressure.  
Sand filters  The most popular type of filter. Consists of cylindrical filters that are filled with very fine sand. They’re designed to filter circulating water that’s released by the pool pump.
Skimmer socks Pre-filters that work best for above ground pools and pools that aren’t used often.  
SkimmersRectangular openings are installed in the pool wall. They’re designed to draw in dirt from the pool surface. The impurities end up in a special basket that gets emptied by hand.
Vacuum pointsSockets that are used to connect vacuum cleaners that have to be linked to the pool pump.

Swimming Pool Accessories

There are a wide variety of accessories that you can add to your swimming pool. As well as being fun and customisable, they can make maintenance much easier for you too.


Bestway Jumbo Giraffe Sprinkler

Bestway Jumbo Giraffe Sprinker – £39.95

Inflatables can range from kids’ water parks to loungers and toys. Whatever they may be, they’re fun, portable and affordable additions to any swimming pool. 


Bestway 20ft Round Pool Dome Cover – £199.95 

Pool covers are designed to save you money and hassle as they’re designed to keep leaves and debris away from the pool water. 


Bestway 42 inch Safety Pool Ladder – £59.95

Ladders are an important swimming pool accessory as they improve pool safety. If you want to keep your kids out of above ground pools when you’re not around, then you may be able to remove the ladder. You should only do this to pools they can’t climb into without a ladder. 

Lighting and Leisure 

Bestway Flowclear Solar Float Lamp – £18.95

Keeping your pool well-lit looks great while improving its safety. If you have an above ground pool, you can surround it with outdoor lighting or floating pool lights. Other pool accessories that can be used for leisure include cup holders, LED waterfalls, pool heaters, and snorkelling masks. 

Filters and Pumps 

Bestway Flowclear 330gal Filter Pump – £39.95

Pool filters and pumps are directly in charge of the quality of your pool water. They account for the primary mechanism in the effort to keep your pool water clean and pure. Water filters will need to be maintained and cleaned themselves. The information on how to do so will be provided with the filter and pump you buy and install. 

You can purchase additional equipment to keep your pool clean and tidy, including; pool vacuums, skimmers, robotic pool cleaners, sweepers and maintenance kits. 

Water Treatment and Chemicals

Blue Horizons Pool Starter Kit – £24.95

Keeping your pool water clean is an essential part of maintenance. Sanitiser can be used to keep your pool water clean and sanitary. There are several products you can choose from to disinfect the pool, including: 

– Chlorine

– Bromine


It’s also possible to use an electrolyser to disinfect your pool. This uses salt to create chlorine. It’s a more expensive option but in return, you’ll get cleaner pool water and the water will be more stable. 

Another chemical you’ll need to use is an algaecide.. The active oxygen or hydrogen peroxide will treat green water or clear it after the winter. You should treat your pool water regularly.

Testing your pool often will allow you to see what your pool water has too much of, what it’s lacking or if it’s just right. This will improve the quality and safety of the water you swim in. Other chemicals you should keep on hand include: 

Shock treatments – a stronger concentrate of swimming pool sanitiser. 

Limescale removers – to remove scale build-up in swimming pools. 

pH increaser or decreaser – to keep your pH at the ideal level which is 7.2-7.6.

Buy the best swimming pool for you

Now you know everything from choosing and budgeting for your swimming pool, to installing and maintaining it, you can now browse through our selection of pools and choose the right one for you and your garden. 

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