Screen enclosed swimming pools are very popular in certain areas of the country. Here in Central Florida, most inground pools are screened in.
What about above-ground pools? Can they be screened in? Does anyone screen in an above-ground swimming pool? The answer is yes and yes.
THE OPTION OF SCREENING IN AN ABOVE GROUND POOL
During the 37 years of installing and repairing above grounds, I have seen just a handful that has been screened-in. There are a couple of reasons why this isn’t a popular option. For this type of pool versus having one for an inground, which is quite common.
A screened-in swimming pool means that it is completely caged in by a screen structure. This means there are screened sides and a screened doom covering well above the pool area. This enclosure will have at least one (you guessed it) screen door and is usually attached to the back of the home’s roofline.
In-ground swimming pools are typically closer and more symmetrical to the home. Because of this, inground pools are usually screen-enclosed on three sides and then the fourth side is actually the back of the house at the patio. This makes for a nice area of the backyard that has the pool and the patio area completely screened in and connected to the roofline of the house.
Above-ground pools are typically installed independently of the home structure and are usually out farther away from the back of the house. This makes it tougher, too expensive, or not possible to attach a screen enclosure to it and the back of the home.
Most above-ground pools that are screened-in then are enclosed by a four-sided free-standing structure.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SCREEN ENCLOSURE AND A SCREEN PORCH
Screened-in structures are great for areas that have a lot of flying and biting bugs. It’s nice to be able to enjoy being outside and not get eatin’ by mosquitoes or bugged by flies.
Patios and porches can be made “bug-free” by screening just the sides of the area and having a solid roof system of some kind. This can be done in all areas and climates as a solid roof can handle snow build-up.
To make your pool area a bug-free zone requires a screen “enclosure”. This means that the top of the structure is made of a framed-in screening just like the sides. You need the top to be screen instead of a solid roof system because a swimming pool should be open to the sun. I mean, it doesn’t have to be, but traditionally, people like their pool to be exposed to the warm sun and sky.
In my three and a half decades of being in the pool business, I have never seen a swimming pool of any type with a solid roof built over it. I have seen and built pools indoors, but not solid covered outdoor.
This is the difference between a screened porch and a screen enclosure. Swimming pools have screen enclosures only.
TWO BIG REASONS WHY SCREEN ENCLOSURES AREN’T VERY COMMON WITH ABOVE GROUND POOLS
Screen enclosures are very expensive! Depending on the size you get and your situation, you can expect to pay between 10k and 20k (as of late 2021). If getting an inground concrete pool, this may be more of a consideration as you are already paying more than 40k (usually a lot more) for the pool itself.
It’s much harder to justify adding ten plus thousand to a pool project when the pool itself is less than 5k. Adding a screen enclosure more than doubling the price of the pool project severely deters most from getting one.
2. Colder Climate
Areas of the country that get a lot of snow cannot get a traditional screen enclosure with a screen roof. The roof cannot handle the weight of the snow.
Some areas get some snow but can still have an enclosure. Dallas, Texas is a good example of this. Most won’t get a screen cage for their pool in Dallas for climate reasons, but some do. I’m sure they have to re-enforce the cage to accommodate the snow weight.
Areas north of places like Dallas or areas getting too much snow cannot have a screen-enclosed pool.
SCREEN ENCLOSURES ARE MOST LIKELY NOT A DO-IT-YOURSELF PROJECT
For the most part, screen enclosures are custom designed and engineered for each pool situation. This may not be the case when a home builder is building the same model home with the same shaped pool positioned in the same way in the yard.
Enclosing an above-ground pool will almost certainly be a custom structure as they are usually free-standing and custom-shaped. These enclosures almost always needs a concrete base around the entire perimeter of the structure. That’s a sizable added step to the project that has to be level and done right.
A screen enclosure has to withstand very high winds, so assembling it has to be done right, or it will come down in a storm. Not good.
As a fellow DIYer, I have renovated my kitchen, bathroom, tiled the entire house, built retaining walls, poured concrete flooring, and added walls and trusses. I wouldn’t consider installing my own screen enclosure for even one second. And I won’t install a garage door either (the spring terrifies me).
THE POSITIVES OF HAVING A SCREENED-IN POOL
No flying bugs
Being around your swimming pool and not worrying about getting bit by mosquitoes or stung by wasps is awesome! This is the biggest advantage to having your pool screened-in. You can sit in a chair and enjoy the water and outside without flying nature trying to eat you. Nice.
The pool will stay cleaner
I had a pool service business for sixteen years. At first, I would take on any pool account that came my way. This included more than a few trouble pools under a canopy of trees. They were a nightmare to keep clean and maintained.
After a couple of years, I got smarter and started being more selective with the pools I added to my route. Eventually, I only accepted screened-in pools to my route. This was because they were so much easier to maintain.
A pool that is screened-in will stay much cleaner as leaves, dirt, and debris cannot get through the screen and blow into the pool. This can make a huge difference if there are big trees nearby.
The pool area will stay cleaner
A screen enclosure also prevents debris from getting on the patio/deck, outdoor furniture, and anything that you have within the screened-in pool area. Everything will stay cleaner in a screen enclosure.
The pool area won’t be as hot
Everyone has hot summers. Some summers further north aren’t as long as the south, but they are still hot.
It doesn’t get as hot inside a screen enclosure. You may be surprised at first at this layer of screen keeping out that intense heat from direct sunlight. But it does.
And it’s nice to be out in the summer elements without it being so brutally hot.
The pool will use less chemicals
A screen enclosed pool stays cooler and has less debris falling and blowing into it. This equates to the pool needing and using less chlorine, which equates to costing you less to maintain it.
The screened-in pools on my former pool route would require as little as 50% fewer chemicals than a comparable non-screened neighboring pool. That’s a big saving.
The pool’s liner will last longer
Direct sunlight is super hard on things. Above ground pool liners will last longer if there’s always even a thin screen between it and the direct sun.
How much longer? Usually at least a couple of years.
Wood decking, outdoor furniture, and other outdoor items will last longer
Just like the pool’s liner, the other things within the protection of the screen enclosure will stay in better condition longer than if directly exposed to the elements.
NEGATIVES FOR HAVING A SCREENED-IN POOL
Pool water stays cold
This is easily the number one complaint from those with screened-in pools. Even if your pool is directly exposed to the sun all day, the screen will prevent the water from heating up. It will heat up some for sure, but not usually enough for most.
Some will say that they want the water to be cold and kids will swim at any temperature even if their lips are blue and they are shivering. After a summer or two though, people usually will want the water to be at least a little warmer.
You can’t get a good suntan
It’s common to see people with screened-in pools laying outside of the enclosure when they want to get some color in their skin. It may be nice to lie next to the pool that is screened in as there aren’t any bugs trying to bite you. But you won’t get much of a tan.
The pool area doesn’t have as much of an “outdoor” feel
Hanging out in a screened-in pool area feels sort of like you are outside, but not all the way.
Sure, the roof of the enclosure is tall and open and you will get wet if it rains, but it’s not quite the same as if you were just outside of it. Some like this about screens and some don’t.
The screens have to be cleaned
If your screen enclosure is wide open to the sky. And you don’t have any trees hanging over or by it, then it will stay fairly clean.
If you have a situation where leaves can fall on top of the cage though, they will build up and you will have to periodically blow them off.
Some more extreme situations require you to pressure clean the cage so you can blow the leaves off AND wash off any mildew and/or dirt on the frame and screens.
MANY WHO HAVE A SCREENED-IN POOL HAVE A POOL HEATER TO GO WITH IT
For me, this is a must for most people. Heating the pool water does solve the biggest ongoing issue for having a screen-enclosed pool – “the water is too cold to swim”.
Heating a swimming pool is expensive though, so now your pool project just went up thousands. And unless you get solar heating, the ongoing cost will rise considerably.
Choosing the right type of heater will help though, but the cost to heat pool water is a lot whether you pay more upfront or for later for usage.
WOULD I RECOMMEND A SCREEN ENCLOSURE FOR AN ABOVE-GROUND POOL?
95% of the time, I do not recommend a screen enclosure for a pool. This is mainly because of the super common complaints of the water being too cold that I have heard for the last 35 years.
For those who won’t be swimming much and really just want a pool area for the aesthetics and someplace in the yard to hang out in that stays clean and is “flying” bug-free, then if you have the extra money, it may be a good fit for you.
3 thoughts on “Screen Enclosures for Above Ground Pools”
Hi Dan, I am a native Florida’s child who is currently living in Georgia, and am well acquainted with screened-in pools. However, I do not want an in-ground pool and began searching to see if there were such structures for above ground. Thank you for sharing this information as well as the pros and cons. I believe that I have enough information to make an intelligent decision for me and my family!
You are very welcome.
Thanks for the tip about how the maintenance should also be considered when planning to get new pool screen enclosures. I’d like to start working on making my pool a lot safer because my kids use it a lot. An enclosure will surely be good to add to it.