How to Fit a Ladder to Your Above-Ground Pool—The Right Way

I’m happy to see you here—it means that you’ve taken the leap of most pool owners and got an above-ground pool. It’s no mistake that this is a super-common pool type: above ground pools have a ton of perks, and one major benefit is their easy installation. What other pool can you essentially put up anywhere?

But as you and I both know, that’s not where the installing ends. Just like your pool needs to be stable enough to not come crashing down at a moment’s notice, your pool ladders also need to be reliably set up to avoid any seriously unwanted tumbling. In this article, I’ll explain proper anchoring and adjustment for the three most common ladder types: the A frame flip up, the stainless steel ladder, and the easy step pool ladder—and I’ll make sure it’s easy to do each one right.

Uh Yes, You Need An Above-Ground Ladder

Ever tried swimming in an above-ground pool without a ladder (or two)? It might’ve been possible to climb out of your pool, but you probably felt how strong you needed to be to make it out—and if it wasn’t a struggle, my guess is that you really work out. Good for you, but don’t rule out the fact that after a particularly long swim, it’s going to be harder and harder to lift yourself out of that heavy water. 

What an above-ground ladder really comes down to is safety. All swimmers, including those who are younger and older, 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. How strong swimmers are or how they feel that day should never affect their ability to safely get out of the pool, but without ladders, you’d be leaving safety up to chance. That’s a no go. Have at least two ladders in your pool for easy access, and based on your pool’s size, you might want even more.

Ladders are just one part of a safe pool—an effective pump is another. Above-ground pumps are notorious for not starting up due to electrical issues. Try the Copper Force Above Ground Pool Pump, which has a start capacitor and runs cool. According to customer Doug Paar, “The pump is very quiet and has good pressure. I would recommend.”

How to fit a ladder to your above ground pool

Before We Begin, Make Sure You Love Your Ladder

Before we really get going, make sure that you have the right above-ground pool ladder for you. Remember, if you have a deck you’re going to need to drill into it for whatever ladder you do have. And believe it or not, finding the perfect ladder goes beyond just size, sturdiness, lightness, and durability. Some are designed specifically for pools with decks, and they all come in different materials to suit your needs for stability and cleanliness, which is a major concern for any part of your pool that comes in direct contact with your water. I’m guessing you’re already pretty comfortable with scrubbing your pool walls, right? Now that you have the right ladder, let’s get straight to making sure it’s set up right. 

how to fit a ladder to your above ground pool

A Frame Flip Up

This model’s a favorite for above-ground pools without a deck, probably because it has an adjustable height that covers most standard pools, is made from maintenance-free resin, and can be raised to prevent any accidental swimmers from entering your pool unattended. It just doesn’t get any more convenient and safe than that.

How to Adjust the A Frame Flip Up Ladder

While a ladder with height flexibility is always the most convenient option—especially if you couldn’t find your measuring tape the day you ordered it—you’ll eventually need to adjust it to fit your pool’s size. 

For the A frame flip up ladder, it all comes down to four little parts at the bottom of the ladder: “extension boots,” which look like hard sleeves and slip over the ends of the assembled ladder’s legs. If your pool is 52” tall, these will need to each be all the way on. If you have a 54” pool, you can back them off one hole. And if you have a 48” pool, you won’t need to use these extension boots at all. Ta da!

How to Anchor the A Frame Flip Up Ladder

The A frame flip ladder lends its sturdiness to one secret ingredient, which you’ll have to add yourself: sand. With the ladder flipped over and the base at the bottom of the legs removed, use a large funnel to fill each leg with sand. And I’m talking serious sand. You’ll use close to twenty pounds for each leg. But think about it: that’s 40 pounds of sturdy weight. I’ll take it. 

how to fit a ladder to your above ground pool

The Stainless Steel In-Pool Ladder 

This ladder type is a go-to for pool owners who have a deck and love the super sleek look. Many models have a flexibility for pool height, feature steps with extra deep treads that won’t fade or crack, and conform to the shape of your pool floor, for natural sturdiness. And since it does matter: they’re also usually easy to clean.

Looking for an above-ground pump that works fast? Try the Maxi Force Single Speed 2HP Energy Efficient Pump. It has an efficient design to cut energy costs, easy installation, and a scale of horsepower options.

How to Adjust the Stainless Steel In-Pool Ladder

I’m happy to report that the standard design of the stainless-steel in-pool ladder naturally accommodates pools from 48” to 52” tall. The only adjusting you’ll need to do happens when you anchor it to your deck, so let’s get a move on to this next step.

How to Anchor the Stainless Steel In-Pool Ladder 

Two birds, one stone. Once your ladder is fully assembled, place it in the desired position on your deck and make sure the base step rests flat against the pool floor. You’ll probably see that the top rails are too long—don’t worry, these next steps will fix that right up. Mark the location of the handrails on the deck with a pencil. Then using a 1.5” hole saw, drill one hole for each hand rail through the deck’s surface. This will ensure that those too-long rails will fit securely into your deck, and the rest of the ladder won’t budge. Then secure the hand rails to the deck using deck flanges, which probably came with your ladder. Tighten the screws in the flanges, and you’re done. What was probably less than half an hour of work is going to give you years and years of secure swimming.

how to fit a ladder to your above ground pool

 The Easy Pool Step Ladder

For pool owners with a deck and a heightened concern for safety, these wide, reinforced, and slip-resistant steps with double handrails are a slam dunk. Since they’re perforated to allow chemical circulation and prevent algae, they also make maintenance even easier.

How to Adjust the Easy Pool Step Ladder

Although this ladder does accommodate pools from 48 to 54” tall, you don’t have to do any adjusting to make it fit yours—that is, as long as it’s in that range. Similar to the stainless steel model, the anchoring process will make sure your ladder is fitted perfectly to your pool.

Don’t forget that you’ll need to scrub your pool walls, however maintenance-free your ladder. Try the patented 360-Degree Bristles Blue Torrent Pool Brush, developed by long-term pool professionals. As customer Scott Hinds notes, “Definitely the best pool brush I have ever owned. Far superior to other brushes.”

How to Anchor the Easy Pool Step Ladder 

First, you’ll want to fill the ladder with about forty pounds of sand. First, place the step in the pool in the desired position. Then, move it left and right to ensure that the air escapes and water enters the steps and rises. Then, place funnel in the opening of the side panel on the top step that is now inside the pool. Pour twenty pounds into each side of the step. 

You’ll also want to secure this ladder to your deck. This ladder comes with mounting brackets, so slide one over each of the long handrail posts, and adjust the mounting bracket’s height so that they’re even with your deck. Then, attach the mounting brackets by screwing into the deck through two of the three holes on each bracket. Once it’s secure, your ladder shouldn’t budge when you shake it. 

how to fit a ladder to your above ground pool

There, Isn’t That Better?

Now that your ladder is adjusted and anchored to fit your pool perfectly, give it a bit of a shake to make sure it really is going to stay in place. In fact, you might even need to really test it out—and hey, why not go on a swim while you’re at it? After all that measuring and drilling, you deserve a quick (or long) dip to celebrate your new future of safe swimming. Enjoy.


Related articles:

Sand in Your Pool? Here’s Why—And How to Fix It

Chlorinate Your Pool in Three Easy Steps

The Safest Way to Store Your Above Ground Pool For Winter

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