"> 48″ vs 52″ vs 54″ Tall Above Ground Pools – Above Ground Pools Know it All

48″ vs 52″ vs 54″ Tall Above Ground Pools

The vast majority of above-ground swimming pools come in three different heights. This article will go over the pool height options and hopefully help you decide which one is good for you.

Above-ground pools come 48 inches, 52 inches, or 54 inches tall. The least expensive models will be 48 inches tall, while most upgraded models come in 54 inches tall. Overall, most above-ground pools are in the middle at 52 inches tall.


Back in the 1980s when I started installing pools, there were all only 48 inches tall pools. In the 1990s, Wilbar came out with the 52-inch tall pool and started making their upgraded models that height.

Soon after that, they started making 54-inch wall pools. The thinking must’ve been taller is better as they gained in popularity

At some point in the late 1990s/early 2000s, they made a 56-inch wall above ground pool. This was short-lived though and I only saw them for a few years before they disappeared.

So, the industry settled on making pools three heights maxing out at 54 inches tall.

NOTE: There are still pools available that are only 36” tall. These are extremely inexpensive and not common enough to cover in this article.

Why there are three height options for AG pools has more to do with sales than anything else.

For decades, only the 48” tall pool was available, so when the 52” came out, it was a big success as swimmers got four more inches of water depth.

Then the 54” became available and was somewhat more successful but not as impactful as the 52 had been as there was only a two-inch difference this time.

As an installer at the time, when I started seeing the 56-inch tall pool, I thought “How tall are they gonna make these pools”. The 56” tall pool didn’t appeal to as many people though and I think there might have been some issues with it (I remember at least one 56” model having engineering issues)

After manufacturers and retailers found out that the 56-inch tall above-ground pool was probably too tall, they settled on the three height options of 48”, 52”, and 54”.

Above Groound Pool Height

Swimming Depth

Model Choices

Liner Choices

48-inch tall

42-inch depth



52-inch tall

46-inch depth



54-inch tall

48-inch(4ft) depth




1 Less overall cost

The above-ground pool manufacturers will offer their stripped-down and less expensive models at 48” tall. This makes getting a 48” tall pool considerably cheaper over the taller ones.

The cost to make and ship these shorter pools adds to the retail cost being lower too.

2 Less swimmer depth

Many with small children want their kids to be able to touch(or soon touch) the bottom of the pool. This is where having a 48” pool comes into play.

Above-ground pools have skimmers that attach to the wall of the pool, so they aren’t designed to be filled all the way up. The water depth for most AG pools is about six inches less than the pool’s height.

This means that a 48” pool will have a water depth of 42 inches. When considering that a 54” pool will have 48 inches (four feet) of swim depth, this is considerably shallower.

3 Pool not as tall in the yard

It has become very common to partially sink above-ground pools so they aren’t as high in the yard. For some though, setting the pool in the ground a little isn’t an option.

For those who cannot go in the ground and don’t want as tall a pool sticking up in their yard, they go with the shorter 48” walled pool.


1 More model options

They make more 52” tall AG pools than any other height, so that means there are more to choose from.

2 Slightly cheaper than a 54” pool

There isn’t too much of a price difference between 52” and 54” pools of the same model or specs, but if height doesn’t at all matter to the pool buyer, then might as well save a couple of hundred bucks.

3 More liner options and availability

Since there are more 52” tall above-ground pools made than the other heights, then more liners have to be made for them.

This usually means more liner pattern options when buying the pool and more are available when the time comes to change the liner.


1 They want the biggest and tallest pool they can get

You know how it goes in America. “Bigger is better”. In this case for some, “taller is better”.

In reality, the two-inch height difference isn’t very noticeable both visibly and in water depth, but if getting as big as you can is who you are, then go 54-inch.

2 They want the nicest model

As a general rule, the nicest and most expensive above-ground pools will come in 54-inch tall. So, if you are wanting to mac out and be the baller, then you’ll be choosing a 54” model.

3 They simply want the deepest above-ground available

There is nothing wrong with wanting the deepest pool that you can get. If this is you, keep in mind that you can dish out or make a deep center or end in your pool.


A You can partially bury an above-ground pool

If you don’t like that your pool will be sitting high in your yard, keep in mind that you can bury it some. 

And I don’t mean going semi-inground. You can sink a pool any amount like six inches, a foot, or more.

Going in the ground just a little won’t be a pain in any way. There won’t be too much dirt to deal with, it won’t rust prematurely in the ground, and you won’t have to worry about it caving in during a liner change (like you do at 2ft or deeper).

So, just because the model you like is the taller one doesn’t mean you have to deal with it being too tall in your yard.

B You can dish out the pool’s bottom or make a deep center/end

Traditional above-ground pools (except for strapped ovals) don’t have to have flat bottoms. You can dish them out towards the center to give you a few more inches of swim depth.

A standard liner will stretch quite a bit with no issues at all.

C The actual water level of an above-ground pool is typically about six inches less than the height of the pool

AG pools can be filled to the very top if you want, but usually, you want them to be filled to about the middle of the skimmer opening. So….

48” wall = 42” water
52”wall = 46” water
54” wall = 48” water


Dan writes with the knowledge of having 35 years (and counting) in the above ground pool industry.

2 thoughts on “48″ vs 52″ vs 54″ Tall Above Ground Pools

    1. I don’t know which models you are talking about specifically as any retailer can name any model anything they want.

      Overall though, I’m a bigger fan of Wilbar than Doughboy. You are probably saving some money not choosing a Doughboy too. They can be grossly overpriced for what you get.

Leave a Reply

Recent Posts