Pool Deep Ends - The Real Pool Guy

Above Ground Pool Deep Ends

I am often asked about an above ground swimming pool’s depth. Above grounds come in three main wall heights: 48”, 52”, and 54”. Some of the really inexpensive models are also available as a 42” height wall (which is much lower), but I’m not going to include them because they are really cheap and don’t last very long. Now for those of you who can’t read a tape, the 48” is the same as four feet; the 52” wall is four feet and four inches; and the 54” wall is four and a half feet tall. Already too much math? Sorry, but here’s more.

Now the above numbers are the height of the actual pool’s wall and NOT the real depth of the water. An above ground pool has a top structure and a skimmer and the water level is not meant to reach the very top of its structure. In general then, the water level will be about six inches below the top of the pool. So, the average water level is going to range from 3’,6” to 4’ deep. The next question that usually comes to mind is, “Is this pool deep enough for me and my family?” Some shorter people or people with small children will ask if this is too deep.

In most cases, a depth of about four feet would be fine for pool owners. Some people though want a pool that is deeper than that. Maybe they don’t want to be in control all the time by always being able to touch the bottom of the pool. Maybe they want to drift aimlessly around a seemingly bottomless abyss while they wonder about the dangers beneath their feet. OK, probably not, but some do want to have a deeper pool so that their bodies are better covered by water while they are standing in the pool. So to those wondering, you can have a deeper above ground pool. But how much deeper?

At this point it’s worth mentioning that all round shaped above ground pools are capable of having a deep end/center. Most ovals, though, are not capable of having a deep end/center. Most oval pool designs have metal straps that run under the pool’s bottom and therefore it will not allow you to dig your pool deeper. Just so that you know.

Related How-to Guide & Video: How To Install Above Ground Pool Liners

So How Deep Can You Go?

This depends on two things – what type of liner the pool has and how big the pool is. In most cases an above ground pool with a deep center is about one foot deeper in the middle. That’s the average and what I would recommend. Well, with the way above ground pool liners are these days, I’d safely say you can go about 10” deeper since liners are made with less material than they used to be. I would say go down about only a foot deeper for two reasons. One is you can still use a standard size liner and the other is you can shape the pool’s bottom better.expandable-liner

A vinyl pool liner can stretch. They are designed to be a little smaller than the pool so when you install them, they can expand to fit perfectly to something that may not be that perfect. It’s been my experience that a standard size liner can accommodate a pool bottom that has a gradual grade down to about one foot deeper in the center. If you go any deeper than that, the liner may be too tight. Now if just a foot deeper in the middle is just not enough, you can go deeper but you will need to get what is called an expandable liner.

Why Is It Called an Expandable Liner?

linerinstall2
You can call this the Gravity Method, AKA the Lazy Man

I don’t know why it is called an expandable liner. It’s confusing as most people think the term “expandable” means the liner is made from a different material that maybe expands more or better than a standard liner. It doesn’t and is made with the same material as any other liner. They’re not more special or any cooler. The only difference between an expandable liner and a standard liner is that the expandable has about 12 inches more side vinyl material. This extra material will allow you to go down an additional foot for your pool’s deep center. If you’re good at math then you’ve probably already figured out that with an expandable liner you can now have a two foot deep center for your pool. Keep in mind too that expandable liners only come as overlap types. There are no j-hook or beaded liners that are also expandable. If you want a nicer looking j-hook or beaded liner for a pool with a deep center that is deeper than one foot, you can get that. It’s going to cost you though, because that would be considered as a custom liner and they are pricey.

The size of a pool also plays a factor in how deep the center can be. You wouldn’t want to have a two-foot deep center in a round pool that is only 12′ in diameter as the area is too small so the grade to the center will be too great. This brings up the other major consideration – shaping.

Shaping a Deep Center for an Above Ground Pool

Standard above ground pool liners are designed for flat bottoms. They have a flat round bottom piece with no extra material to accommodate a shape other than flat. Like I mentioned earlier, they do stretch quite a bit so a hooper can be made and the liner will fit its contour with little issue. Though, a concern is wrinkles. If a deep center is

Example of Liner wrinkling.
An example of Liner wrinkling.

shaped properly, the liner’s bottom will have a few or no wrinkles at all. Though, the shape has to be more like a dish instead of an upside down pyramid. Sharp edges and deeper grades will most certainly produce wrinkles in the liner that will run perpendicular to the pool’s wall. It’s not the end of the world to have wrinkles, but they do make it harder to vacuum the pool, don’t look that good and you can feel them. Having some wrinkles shouldn’t affect the liner at all. Also, you should allow for some flatness on the bottom of the pool before the edge of the hopper for the deep center. This means having a smaller dish in the center of the pool instead of the pool’s bottom being shaped more like a giant satellite dish (like the ones from the eighties) from wall to wall.

Deep centers for above grounds are pretty cool but not my favorite option and will make the job of installing the pool bigger. I charge an extra $250 for a standard one foot deep center on a 24’ round pool and never really want to do the job. They can make it slightly harder to maintain your pool too and if not shaped well, it will give an automatic cleaner some trouble. Though, when they are done well, pool owners seem to enjoy them so don’t mind my negativity. They’re just a pain to dig.

If you have any questions on your above ground pool then we would be happy to help, feel free to give us a call at 1-877-372-6038 or email us at upload@inyopools.com If you liked this article then make sure to sign up for Blog and get our Free 128 Page Pool Care Guide.


18 thoughts on “Above Ground Pool Deep Ends

  1. Thanks for this info. I would like to get an unground but not sure I want to spend that much. So I was thinking of getting a nice looking above ground with a deeper end or middle. The one I would like to get at Family Leisure in Indianapolis is a 54″H 43′ L 22’W and its shaped in a rectangle. Would this be possible to have a deeper end if they could it and by these dimensions? Thanks

      1. I have a question! We recently purchase a home with a 16×32 dough boy pool with a shallow end and deep and with walk around edge also. The pool guy doing our new liner is charging us $2500 just fornthe liner and telling us were gunna need a water truck to come in and fill the pool with a large volume of water because of the deep end instead of us just using a garden hose which we would prefer to do is he right or trying to make a buck off the water company referal or somthing?

  2. Hi! Great site! I bought a house exactly a year ago from today. I have a 30′ above ground pool (that has been terribly difficult to rid of algae). Everything went well when I looked at the house and during the inspection. Then things (pretty much everything!) started falling apart. Now today, funny enough, there is no water in my pool at all. I often wondered when walking around in the pool if there were animal tunnels under it because the bottom would change and small depressions would form. There was water, then all of a sudden it’s empty. Even the big blow up things to hold the cover up in the center seem to be gone and there’s no water around the pool. The cover, which is actually a 50′ by 50′ tarp is the only thing visible in there. I’m thinking tunnels or, gulp, sinkhole? Anyway, I spent thousands on a beautiful deck that surrounds the pool (the old one fell apart in April) and am hoping the deck doesn’t need to be taken down. Sorry for the long-winded intro here, but I want to give you enough information. Have you ever heard of this kind of thing before? Do you think it can be “fixed”? Could the algae problem somehow be related? Do you know of any way the ground can be reinforced so it doesn’t happen again? I’d like to have it deeper next time, do you think that would be feasible? Finally, do you have any suggestions, etc? I just have to laugh because, well, it kind of figures! Thank you very much and take care! 😊

    1. Hi. This sounds like you have moles under your pool. The algae problem is separate. Other than concrete, I don’t know what you can put down to prevent this. Please read my article on Moles and above ground pools. It may help.

  3. I have a 27ft above ground with a wall height of 52″. The middle is dug to about 5ft. Its a gradual slope to the center where we have a main drain. We need to replace the liner for the first time this year and I don’t know what size liner to buy. Would a 27ft liner work ?

  4. Hello, I would like a to install an oval or square above ground pool with a slope going from the center to the outside, is that possible?

    1. Yes. but you need an oval that doesn’t have straps. Doughboy makes models of ovals that don’t use straps. I’m not sure if you’ll find a rectangle pool without them though.

      1. I have a rectangle above ground pool 16x32x48 I would like to go 1’ deeper? Is it possible? My pool is strange it has metal beams around, it’s bolter on concrete. Ever hear of this?

  5. Hi Dan, this is very informative!
    I am looking to get an above-ground, rectangular pool to put in my garage during winter that is tall enough to install an endless pool system in. What is the minimum depth a swimmer can do breaststroke, and how much extra wall height do I need to prevent water from continually splashing out? It doesn’t need to be as long or wide as it needs to be tall I think, and something I can disassemble for removing from the garage as soon as it’s nice to swim outdoors.
    Thanks!

    1. I am not sure if what you want is for sale. If you have found something like this for sale though, ask the sellers your questions. If you are planning on engineering and building it yourself, my short answer is don’t do it. A guy like me could probably figure something like this out but a non-pool guy is gonna have a lot of wet and failing trial and error periods before you get what you’re thinking of. If ever.

  6. Hi Dan, We currently have an Ester Williams 27ft. 52in round pool that needs to be replaced. It came with the house and we love it, but it was damaged by a storm. It has about a 2ft lip around the side and then drops to a little over 6ft in the middle. I understand that we need an expandable liner, but are all pools created equal? What pool brands do you recommend?

  7. I have never understood why the 52″ pools cost so much more than the 48″. For instance, an 18’x52″ pool currently in our area at a big box store is $489.00 while the exact same brand pool in 18’x48″ $is 298.00. Same type of material, same cheap pump, and yes, it is an extra few inches, but just don’t see why such a huge price difference between 48″ and 52″ height pools of the same circumference.

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