Due to how prohibitively expensive inground pools are, many decide to purchase a much more affordable above-ground pool instead.
That said, above-ground pools are often seen as inferior to inground pools; many people picture a kiddie inflatable pool in their minds. A lot of them don’t realize that above-ground pools with a filtration system can be as big, if not bigger than inground pools, for a fraction of the cost.
Naturally, this epiphany will spark further comparison and a question that is often asked is: can above ground pools have different depths? Can you set it up so that there is a shallow end and deep end?
Yes, you can have an above-ground pool with a shallow end and deep end. However, the depth difference between the deep end and shallow end is not going to be as significant. Alternatively, you can also make your pool deeper than spec by digging a deeper hole in the center and then covering the pool with an expandable liner.
Keep reading on, and I will explain in more detail just how you can go about installing an above-ground pool with a shallow and deep end, and explain just how deep you can make an above-ground pool.
Digging a deeper end into your above-ground pool
Most above-ground pools nowadays have a uniform depth. The standard above-ground pool sidewall heights are 48”, 52”, and 54” tall. The actual waterline will be approximately 6” shorter than this.
Assuming you have not dug further underground, the default water height will be from ground level to about 6” shorter than the sidewall height.
However, there is no reason why you cannot dig a bit deeper if you want your pool to be deeper. If you plan on doing this, what you should do is leave a foot and a half ledge around the outer edge of the pool (three feet for an oval pool) so that the frame has some solid ground to stand on.
By leaving this ledge intact, the ledge will hold the pool cove as well as be the foundation for the bottom rails and footplates to stand on. This ledge is crucial and should not be compromised.
Additionally, dig so that there is a gradual slope from the shallow end towards the deepest section. If the slope is too steep, it makes it difficult to keep the sand underneath in place before installing the liner.
And of course, you will need an expandable liner to account for the fact that you have expanded the depth of your pool. Other than that, installing the rest of the pool is no different than usual.
Digging a deeper end for an oval pool
An oval pool is a bit trickier than a round pool because it has a metal frame.
Many oval pools use straps and braces that criss-cross through the center of the pool to lend the frame extra support. Oval pools designed this way require the straps to be installed, otherwise the walls will likely collapse and the warranty will be voided.
These straps get in the way of your plans to dig a deeper end, so are you out of luck? Thankfully, you can buy strapless oval pools but you will have to pay a bit more for it.
Furthermore, you should have at least three feet of ledge space around the edge of the pool for your oval pool. Other than that, the installation process remains the same.
How deep can the deep end be?
Based on the advice given above, you likely have figured out that the difference between the “deep” end of an above-ground pool and its shallow end is not as drastic as the difference between the deep and shallow end of a public swimming pool, for instance.
This is because the limitations of having a minimum ledge space around the outer edge of the pool, as well as a gradual slope from the shallow end to the deepest end makes it so smaller pools don’t have much space to work with.
The distance between the shallow end and deep end of an above-ground pool will likely be around a foot deeper, but can be as much as two feet or more if you have a really large above-ground pool and more space to work with.
The biggest limiting factors are the slope and pool liner. You cannot make the slope too steep, otherwise it is too difficult to pack sand underneath to provide a smooth surface for the liner to rest on. If you haven’t made considerations for the slope and liner, then your pool can easily have a wrinkly bottom, which makes standing on it uncomfortable, and cleaning more difficult.
Furthermore, the liner that comes included with the pool likely won’t be able to cover the pool anymore with the extra depth you have created. You may have to use an expandable liner instead.
Get some professional assistance
Even for a standard installation, many people mess up because they install their pool on uneven ground. If you want to dig a deep end in your pool, this will further complicate things.
If you mess up and don’t provide enough ledge space for the bottom track and uprights to be placed on, then the pool walls will easily collapse when the foundation gives out. If you don’t have a gradual enough slope, it can be hard for the pool liner to be smoothly placed over the ground.
And of course, if your pool is not level, then one side of the pool will be placed under more pressure than the other side, and over time it will lose its structural integrity and start bowing and eventually collapse.
It’s very easy to mess up these steps and end up with an uneven and awkward looking pool. As much as you want to say you built the pool yourself, if you have any doubts in your mind about the process, I recommend consulting a pool professional for help.
This will cost a lot more, but I guarantee that the cost of setting it up improperly will be greater. If you’re lucky, you can just take down your pool and try again. If you’re unlucky, then the pool could collapse or the liner could tear, and now you have a much more expensive problem to fix.