How to Choose the Best Above-Ground Pool Ladder for You

Above-ground pools rule. It’s no surprise that they’re the most common pool type: they’re less expensive than in-ground pool, can be installed in a flash, usually fit in the space that you have, and give you the ability to change your mind—plus, when you’re moving, you can take your pool with you. But an above-ground pool also comes with its unique set of decisions, and choosing the right pool ladder is no exception. Here, I’ll explain why above-ground pool ladders are different than the ones you’d find in an in-ground pool, why they’re necessary, and how to choose the best one—as well as my top three faves. Climb on in, and let’s go. 

What’s So Special About an Above-Ground Pool Ladder? 

Above-ground models require a ladder to both climb up, over the pool’s edge, and down into the pool—which is double the work of an in-ground pool, which just has a ladder going down into the water. Above-ground pools also don’t typically have ladders built in, which makes the search for a ladder interesting: you have full control over finding the ladder that fulfills the needs of both yourself and your pool—including taste.

Why Do I Need an Above-Ground Pool Ladder?

No disrespect, but—you wouldn’t be asking this question if you tried swimming without one (or two). Installing ladders in your above-ground pool is a major question of safety. While it might be possible to climb out of your pool without one, it definitely takes some serious muscle, which you might just not have after a long, rewarding swim. Younger and older swimmers alike should be able to get out of the pool when they need to with as little effort as possible—especially if they haven’t mastered that doggie paddle. That’s why I recommend you get at least two ladders. Your pool should be the place for fun, not danger. Do I even have to say it?

above ground pool ladders

How Do I Choose the Best Above-Ground Pool Ladder? 

Like I mentioned, you’re more likely to be choosing a ladder for an above-ground pool verses an in-ground—you’re here, aren’t you? And although it is an extra step to getting your pool set up, it’s actually a good thing. Chances are once you do find the right one, it’s going to give you a lot more joy than if simply came with your pool. But there are a few points to consider when choosing an above-ground ladder: size, sturdiness, weight, durability, look, deck-compatibility, and easy to clean. Sounds like a lot, I know—but I’ll break it down and show you exactly what to look for.

First of All, Get the Right Size—Duh!

Okay, this one is a major no-brainer: make sure that your ladder corresponds with the size of your pool. It won’t matter how sturdy it is if the bottom of your ladder doesn’t touch your pool floor, and if it’s too tall then it’s a waste of climbing effort and adds a precariousness nobody needs. Measure the depth of your pool and match that up to the height of your ladder, and you’ll be good to go.

Sturdiness is a Big Deal.

You might be wondering, “As long as I can get in and out, it’s fine, right?” You might not be the picky type, but if you don’t have a sturdy ladder, you’ll immediately want one. Nothing discourages a swim like a wobbly ladder on the verge of collapse. Well, that or a swarm of bees

Hey, Do You Lift? 

What you’re looking for is a delicate—but robust—balance. You want your ladder to be sturdy, but you also want it to be light. Remember, you’ll be pulling it out of hundreds of gallons of heavy water to clean it fairly routinely, and to close your pool for the season once a year. Make sure that you can, uh, do that.

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above ground pool ladders

Go Durable and Save.

It’s tempting to go for a cheaper ladder just because it’s more bang for your buck, but just like I believe in thinking long term when choosing a pool pump, you should consider the expenses both now and down the line. Get a durable ladder, and save yourself unnecessary replacements. I guarantee, the cost of multiple ladders—not to mention the hassle—will outweigh the cost of two durable models.

Looking Good!

Yeah, sizing, sturdiness, and durability are all essential factors to take seriously, but don’t forget: you’re going to be using—and looking—at this ladder from both the outside and inside of your pool. Get one that’s going to make you proud of your good aesthetic eye.

Got a Deck? 

So you have a deck, huh? They’re hard not to love—they look great and make your above-ground pool an even better hangout spot, even if it makes it a little less mobile. When you do have one that’s the same height as the pool itself, the only pool ladder you need is one that descends into the water—not one that climbs up to the pool and then down.

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above ground pool ladders

 Get that Scrub Going.

Most above-ground pool ladders are made of plastic resin, aluminum, and/or steel—and this matters. 

Plastic resin is great because it’s durable, light, and low-maintenance: just treat it with a plastic resin spray, and be on your way. 

Aluminum is just a bit more stable than resin, and you’ll only need to wash its exposed parts with diluted dish detergent—except for once every few months, when you should rub down the entire ladder with car wax. 

More weighty for your arms and your wallet, steel ladders are often stainless or galvanized, meaning that they have a zinc coating which prevents rust for up to fifty years. Just rub this super strong ladder with a mild cleaner that won’t damage the coating—usually your manufacturer will have a specific recommendation for your model. 

Drumroll, Please: The Three Best Ladders on the Market.

As a lifetime pool expert, these are the models that tend to cover all the bases mentioned above, and are super easy to assemble. In my experience, one will work perfectly for you—and you’ll have rave reviews to boot.

above ground pool ladder

The A-Frame Flip Up.

If you have an above-ground pool without a deck, this is the maintenance-free resin model for you. With an adjustable height that covers most standard above-ground pools, this ladder comes with extra-deep five inch treads, which will keep the steps slip-free. It’s easy to assemble, super affordable, and can be filled with sand to achieve primetime stabilization. Plus, you can raise the ladder above the pool wall to prevent any accidental swimmers—like unattended kids. Thumbs up on this one. 

above ground pool ladders

The Stainless Steel In-Pool Ladder.

If you have a deck and love the super sleek look, this stainless-steel number is for you. With a flexibility for pool height, this ladder also features steps that won’t fade or crack with extra-deep treads for secure footing. Plus, the base of the ladder will pivot to conform to the shape of your pool floor. And it’s naturally sturdy and easy to clean.

above ground pool ladders

The Easy Pool Step Ladder.

If you have a deck, this one is my top recommendation. This maintenance-polyethylene step is rugged for reinforced and slip-resistant steps, perforated to allow chemical circulation and prevent algae, and has a patented design for easy installation and removal. Plus, it ensures secure anchoring to any deck, has double handrails for a safe grip—and is backed by a three-year warranty. It’s a slam dunk.

above ground pool ladders

Look at That! You Just Found the Right Ladder.

Now that you’ve found the right above-ground ladder for you, that pool is looking even better than ever—for your eyes and your wallet. Assemble your ladders with a snap and you’re ready. I bet that feels just about as good as a cool, relaxing (and safe!) swim. Enjoy. Shop all above ground pool ladders here.


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