Finding this article usually means that you have an above-ground swimming pool with an existing (usually wood) deck and are about to replace the pool with a new one.
If this is you, then you’ve come to the right article. Reading further will tell you about getting a replacement above-ground pool close to an existing deck and most importantly set your expectations for how close it with actually be able to get.
Almost one hundred percent of the time, you cannot install a replacement above-ground pool exactly where the old one was against the remaining deck. The three main factors that prevent this are all pool models have different frame shapes and dimensions, each model has a slightly different distance between uprights, and existing decks may be out of shape(round).
FIRST THING TO KNOW – “YOUR DECK WAS MOST LIKELY BUILT AFTERWARDS TO YOUR EXISTING POOL”
In almost one hundred percent of the situations, the pool was installed first, then the deck was built to the pool.
You may be wondering why this matters or why I’m bringing this up so soon in the article. Well, this is a very important fact when thinking that you can just replace your existing pool in the exact spot next to your deck.
“Above-ground pools aren’t Swiss watches”
If you don’t know the reference here, watches made in Switzerland have a reputation for being made well and highly precise. Above-ground pools are not precisely designed. At all!!
Because of this, above-ground pools can be installed out of shape and off-level. And many of them are.
Did a professional installer build your original pool or was it an uncle? This may matter as your deck was built to fit the pool. So, if the pool was out of round(shape), off-level or both, then the deck will be out of shape and off-level too.
Now, if your replacement pool is going to be installed by a professional like me, I’m going to want to make the new pool the correct shape(round or oval) and very level.
If your existing pool was out of shape and/or off-level, then when I install the new pool properly, it will not match well with the existing deck(which was made to fit an out-of-shape pool and off-level pool).
I’ve been installing above-ground pools for 36 years and during this span, I’ve replaced a lot of pools to existing decks. In my experience, most decks are misshaped for a new pool and off-level.
CONDITIONS THAT WILL AFFECT THE PLACEMENT OF A NEW ABOVE-GROUND POOL TO AN EXISTING DECK
ALL ABOVE-GROUND POOLS HAVE DIFFERENT SHAPED FRAMES AND ARE SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT SIZES
Think that if you buy the same size pool as your existing pool and it is from the same manufacturer that it will be the same exact size? Think again. Chances are it will not be.
For reasons unknown to me, pool makers cannot seem to make their pools the same exact size. I mean, you would think that they can make each and all of their 24’ round pool models at 24’, 0”, but they don’t.
Using a 24’ round size for example(most common size), one model’s actual size (for the wall minus the frame) will be 23’, 11” while another will be 24’, 1”
Sometimes even the same model just a couple of years older from the same manufacturer will be a different size. There’s just no guarantee.
And even if the wall dimensions are the same, your new pool’s frame will be a different shape and width.
Some wood decks are super custom-made by wrapping around each upright tightly. They look awesome but you can forget the new pool’s uprights fitting in those custom cuts.
THE DISTANCE BETWEEN UPRIGHTS IS ALWAYS SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT
All above-ground pools have uprights. Some really nice wood decks are made to tightly wrap around each upright on the deck side of the pool.
When replacing the old pool with a new one, odds are very good that only a couple of the new uprights will fit in the existing wood groove/slot that was made for the original pool.
This happens because the new uprights will be a slightly different distance between one another. So, if you fit one upright perfectly where the old one was, then the next one will be an inch or so closer or further than the next deck niche for fitting the next upright. Then the second one will be two inches closer or farther.
Each new upright will then be off more and more as you get from the first one that fit perfectly. This results in either cutting the deck to make the new pool fit OR moving the new pool out and away from the existing deck.
YOUR EXISTING DECK (WHICH WAS BUILT TO THE OLD POOL) MAY BE OUT OF SHAPE AND/OR OFF LEVEL
When you build a wood deck to an above-ground pool, you aren’t thinking about if the pool is out of shape or off-level. You are custom building it to the structure regardless.
Since many DIY above-ground pools are installed slightly out of round and off-level, it’s very common to have a deck that is off-level and out of shape for a properly shaped and level pool.
When I install a replacement pool to an existing deck, I will try to contour the new pool to the deck as best I can. But I want to do a proper install, so I can only make it so out of round.
This can force the new pool to be installed away from the existing deck.
WOOD DECK SUPPORTS ARE USUALLY BUILT RIGHT NEXT TO THE POOL
Wood decks are usually held up by 4”x4” posts. Usually, 2”x8” beams connect to those and then deck boards are screwed onto them.
The support posts are usually placed along the ends/edges of the deck for better support. And some of those support posts are set right next to where the pool meets the deck.
The supports being so close to the existing pool is no big deal as they aren’t in the way of the uprights. This is because the uprights were already there when the deck was built.
But they can get in the way of the uprights of the replacement pool!
This is especially true when replacing an oval pool. They have buttresses that need a lot of room and don’t have much play (cannot move).
IF SEMI-INGROUND, ROOM IS NEEDED TO INSTALL THE REPLACEMENT POOL
It’s not at all uncommon for a nice above-ground pool to be partially buried and then a deck built next to it. When it comes time to replace it, room will be needed to install the new pool.
This means that the hole the existing pool was in will now have to be dug bigger all the way around, including the side where the existing deck is.
Metal-walled above-ground pools have bottom tracks that are set first, then the wall goes in, then the frame is assembled around the wall. This takes room.
Above grounds can’t be assembled in a different place and then helicoptered up and dropped in a hole. They must be assembled in the hole. And that takes room to do.
When replacing a semi-inground pool next to an existing deck, the area under the deck would have to be dug out in order to make room to get the pool right up next to the deck.
Many times, this isn’t possible as you don’t want to dig earth away from where the deck is supported by its posts.
This can result in the new pool having to be installed sightly away from the existing deck.
WITH EXISTING CONCRETE OR PAVER DECKS, YOU HAVE TO BE CONCERNED WITH THE SUPPORT EARTH UNDERNEATH
Just like with wood deck supports, a solid concrete or paver deck needs its earth underneath to stay packed and in place. Otherwise, the deck may drop.
As stated above, a semi-inground pool install requires extra space. To get a replacement pool directly next to an existing deck would require digging some earth underneath the deck.
With concrete or paver decks, it’s very important to not dig too much of its support earth out. They will drop or crack or both. And that you don’t want.
This will definitely cause me and any other seasoned professional to decide to place the replacement pool further away from the existing deck.
ROOM IS NEEDED TO INSTALL THE TOP RAILS AND TOP CONNECTORS
Most wood decks are elevated next to an above-ground pool close to the top of it. The replacement pool needs to have room to install both its top rails and top connectors.
This is especially true for the top connectors as many of them slide in place from the outside of the pool. If the pool is directly next to the top of the deck, then there’s no room to slide the connectors in place and screw them together.
NOTE: Liners need to be replaced in above-ground pools. In most cases, the top of the pool has to come apart for the liner changeout. It’s always a good idea to keep this in mind when placing a deck next to the top of a pool OR when installing a pool next to an existing deck.
IF THERE IS AN EXISTING RETAINING WALL, IT MAY BE IN BAD SHAPE
Retaining walls built around above ground pools are commonly not built well and often at least partially fail. This may affect where the new pool can go OR the retaining wall may need some rebuilding.
IF THE EXISTING WOOD DECK FULLY SURROUNDS THE POOL, THEN EXPECT THE DECK WILL HAVE TO BE CUT TO FIT THE REPLACEMENT POOL
Most wood decks are attached to between a quarter to halfway around the pool. With that, a replacement pool can be installed a little away from the existing deck.
When an existing deck surrounds the pool, then the replacement essentially has to be installed in the deck opening. This means it cannot just be installed away from the deck when it can’t fit close.
In this case, 99 times out of 100, portions of the deck will have to be cut to make the new pool fit in the enclosed area. This is for some or all of the above reasons.
DON’T EXPECT THE REPLACEMENT POOL TO FIT WELL. PERIOD
Part of what makes me a good above-ground pool installer is setting realistic expectations. People all have different ideas of what is perfection, done well, done OK, and done poorly.
I am a perfectionist but 36 years of installing above-ground pools have worn me down to realizing and accepting this imperfect world. Like I said above “above-ground pools are not Swiss watches”
When most are faced with replacing their dead and decked above-ground pool, they assume that the new one can go exactly in the same spot.
Let me then lower your expectations so you can be happy with the results. It most likely will not fit right up next to your existing deck. In other words, “there will most likely be a gap between the new pool and the existing deck”.
TIPS FOR REPLACING AN ABOVE-GROUND POOL TO AN EXISTING DECK
1. If the new pool is taller, just make the new pool sit higher than the old one did
Metal-walled above grounds come in 48”, 52”, and 54” tall sizes. It’s very common for the old pool to be shorter than the new one as 48” is less common than it used to be and 54” is more common now.
Instead of trying to dig your pool site down to make the new taller pool fit at the same level, just have the new pool sit higher out of the ground. It won’t matter much being a little higher against the deck.
Also, since most existing decks are off-level, the new pool will look better sitting taller if it’s level and the deck isn’t.
2. Don’t try too hard to get the new pool to fit with the existing deck
As stated above, existing decks are often off-level and out of shape. It’s best to install the new pool properly by making it round(or oval) and very level using enough room to make that happen.
3. Sometimes, installing a little further away gives more room to transition the old deck to the new pool (fill the gaps)
Dare I say to not try to install the pool to the deck as close as humanly possible? Well, sometimes it’s best to make enough of a gap so you can add some new decking to make a nice-looking transition.
4. Use this opportunity to move the pump/filter and skimmer/return if you weren’t happy with their prior location.
With a new pool install, you can now move the pump and filter some or somewhere else.
Many times, people thought having the equipment under the deck was a good idea. Then they realize that crawling under the deck every time they have to clean the filler kinda sucks.
Consider putting your new skimmer/return openings elsewhere so you can move your pump and filter if you want.
5. Inspect your deck before installing the replacement pool
With the old pool out of the way, you can take a good look at the condition of your deck underneath. Check for any rotten wood (especially the supports) and replace it while you have room to do the job.