Above-Ground Pool Entry Systems
Are you looking to buy a new set of steps or a ladder for your above-ground swimming pool? I discuss pool-step and ladder options for those with and without a deck. I also offer insights to help you choose the safest and most convenient pool ladder/step that is best for your family, and pool type.
Above Ground Pool Shopping?
Best Way To get In and Out of an Above Ground Pool
When choosing the best way to access your swimming pool, you should consider safety first. Pool steps and ladders are the primary barriers to entry. Even a backyard with a fence only keeps out those without access to your backdoor.
Before you buy a set of steps, you should also be thinking about local building codes. Buy the wrong entry system, and you may not even be able to use it.
Read on so you don’t get stuck with steps or ladders that will; damage your pool liner, float out of position, promote algae growth, are hard to climb, or that you can’t use because of the law.
The Ultimate Guide to Buying and Caring for Above Ground Swimming Pools and Equipment. MGK Pools
Steps – Ladders Above-Ground Pool Options
Without a deck directly next to the pool, the only options are an A-frame system that goes up over the pool-wall. They make two kinds
- A-frame Steps
- A-frame Ladders
Both are a steep climb, but the steps offer a little better angle and deeper more substantial treads.
Pools with Decks
If you have a deck next to your above-ground pool you have the option of installing a staircase, aka a drop in steps.
Ladders can be a tough climb for people that are overweight, out of shape, or the elderly. Not to mention impossible for most pets. The easiest way to get in and out of a pool no matter what your condition or breed is with steps.
Steps provide a place to sit and relax in the pool water. Or a refuge for young kids.
Steps, on the other hand, take up valuable space in the pool. With smaller swimming pools, you may not want the steps jutting out into the swimming area.
While step systems are more comfortable to climb than ladders, many interrupt the circulation of the pool water.
You can see there is more to it than simply which looks best. There are advantages and disadvantages, either way, you look at it. After we look at one more option, I will list the most popular models and examine the pro’s and con’s
Deck To Pool Ladder Option
Lastly, with a deck, you also have the option of a candy cane style pool-to-deck-ladder like the one you see here. These are great for small above ground pools with a deck, as they do not take up much swimming area. They also enable the best circulation of the pool water.
These are lightweight and easy to remove for when it comes time to close the pool. This ladder is adjustable to different deck heights as you can merely cut more or less of the handrails to height.
Also, candy cane ladders are the least expensive option
Similar ones can be purchased from Amazon Click Here to Browse
Step Entry Systems For Above Ground Pools “Without” A Deck
Without a deck, you can still use steps, but I am not personally impressed with what’s available on the market for A-frame step systems. Without a pool deck, you will need an A-Frame entry system. There are A-Frame step systems like this one on the left, and A-Frame ladders. I much prefer the ladders.
This system on the left has the added value of a security gate for the section that stays on the outside of your swimming pool. In many states, a non-fenced backyard requires you to disable your entry system or provide a way to lock it up.
You may be required to install an alarm on your back door, and windows, even if the backyard is fenced. These are good suggestions for people with toddlers, and non-swimmers in the house, and roaming neighbors kids that could find themselves in over their heads.
The gate is a bit of a pain in you know what. If you have to use it, it is better if you have someone to hold it open while you climb the steps. This unit is available here on Amazon.
Worst Pool Ladder You Can Buy
No review would be complete without describing the worst pool ladder. This ladder is basically for Intex pools, and while their little blow-up pools are surprisingly durable for the money, their ladder is absolute trash.
How bad is it? Let me count the ways.
- Not sturdy
- It will puncture your liner with its pointy feet
- Too narrow
I wouldn’t give this ladder to an enemy. If you somehow end up with this piece of garbage, just throw it away.
Most Popular A-Frame Pool Ladders
Next, I will review the three most popular above-ground pool ladders, the best models most often purchased for above-ground swimming pools.
- Confer 7200
- Confer 7100
The Confer 7200 is the best A-frame ladder you can buy for an above ground swimming pool. It has the added benefit of a security roll guard which quickly and easily covers the ladder rungs when not in use.
You can see the base that goes into the pool is reasonably broad to prevent putting to much pressure on the liner.
I’ve seen this unit priced anywhere from $300 – 600.00 dollars. But can usually be purchased on Amazon for only $166.~ Click here
This ladder can only be converted for use with a deck if you are creative and own a saw. Then it is an excellent hybrid step.
Confer 7200 Security Features
There is another security gate that can be added to this system if your local building code requires even more security. I should say if your building inspectors are ridiculous because the roll guard security feature is all you need.
In the video below I narrate as my son Daniel Demonstrates the Security feature.
Confer 7100 Above Ground Pool Ladder
The Confer 7100 is a less expensive option than the more robust 7200 model. The outer step can be folded up and padlocked in security mode, but the treads in the pool are a bit narrow.
Still, an excellent economical A-frame ladder with the needed security feature.
Steps For Above Ground Pools
Here I list some of the most popular steps systems while also listing the pros and cons of the various models.
- Wedding-Cake Pool Steps
- Confer Curve Steps w/without add-on
- MGK Pools Steps
Pool Steps – Wedding Cake Design
- Wide area flat base distributes weight well
- Excellent area for relaxing in the water
- Handrail is sturdier than most
- No much to assemble
- Much Higher Cost – Usually over $400.00 in Amazon Click Here
- Float – Tough to keep in place
- Block good water circulation making them a breeding ground for algae
As a stand-alone step, they are slightly more attractive than my favorite drop-in pool-step, and with the curve add-on, they are downright fancy. Handrails look fanciers too. Steps can curve inwards or outwards.
- Look Fancier
- Vented sides for improved water circulation
- Feet create pressure points on liner
- Still floats after filling with stone
- Full Step with curve price usually $350.00 on Amazon Click Here
- Handrails not sturdy (same with most systems)
- Liner Guard mat required
- Not easy to assemble
MGK Above Ground Swimming Pool Steps
You may have noticed that this is my companies brand, and you may think I am biased, you would be right. Still, please read why I think this is the best step system you can buy.
- Price – Just $145.00 when you purchase a pool package from me
- Comes with a weighting system to prevent tilting or floating
- Wide sturdy & well-balanced
- Thick Anti-Slip Pet-Friendly Tread
- Extra vented side panels for even better water circulation
- Long rails distribute weight evenly on liner – Liner Guard mat not needed
- Simple to assemble
- Does not float
- Still, need to fill framing with some sand making unit heavier and harder to remove
- Handrails not sturdy (same with most systems)
- Square somewhat blocky appearance
The Duke / King Drop-in Steps For Above Ground Swimming Pools
I’ve realized I have been recommending this step for people looking for the best. The picture above is of the King by Merlin Industries. There is another smaller version called the Duke.
I don’t sell it with my pool packages as I ship more than I sell locally. But will probably make this available for local purchases in 2021. It’s just too costly to ship as it is one piece.
It is sturdier, allows for better water circulation, and has a better weight system to keep it from moving or floating in the pool than does the wedding cake type step.
Assembly & Installation Not Included
When figuring out the cost, keep in mind all these ladders and step entry systems require assembly (except wedding cake step). The A-Frame “step system” we mentioned is extra challenging to assemble. The easiest to put together is the wedding cake stairs, as they come mostly in one giant piece.
Many pool companies will assemble ladders, but won’t install them for insurance reasons. Even when you buy an entirely new pool kit, with assembly and installation of the pool included, you’re on your own to install the ladder. So be sure to ask when you contract a service company.
If you’ve had any experience with pool ladders and steps in the past, I am sure you will enjoy the ones outlined here more. Please ask questions in the comments, and I will answer them when I can.
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