This summertime, you might consider putting up a giant inflatable pool where fire pits allow barbecues during the cold winter months.
An above ground pool is an inexpensive way to add some summer fun time for the family. It also requires far less maintenance than in-ground pools.
However, you still have to consider safety, especially for kids, and one essential safety feature of any swimming pool is the steps. Since adding store-bought options can cost you an arm or a leg, you can avoid high costs by assembling DIY above ground pool steps.
Considerations for Building Pool Steps
Before building the steps for your above ground pool, take note of the following considerations.
Decide whether to build ladder-type steps or stairs and on which side of the pool to build them. If you choose stairs, bear in mind that they take up so much space, but they provide the safest steps for a slippery swimming session.
On the other hand, ladders are space-saving, but they can be very slippery depending on your chosen materials. You can combine ladders and stairs and choose which side of the pool to use either.
For example, if your above ground pool almost fills up your backyard, you might want to use a ladder outside paired with stairs pool-side.
The height of your pool equates to the number of steps you might need to incorporate in your ladder or stairs. Be mindful of comfortable anthropometrics, especially for smaller children who will need closely spaced steps.
Steps that do not meet standard spacing requirements can be the cause of avoidable accidents. On another note, unlike ladders, stairs occupy space further as the brim of your above ground pool gets higher.
DIY Above Ground Pool Steps
Purchasable above-ground pool steps incorporate materials such as wood, aluminum, stainless steel, and plastics. Among these materials, wood and plastics are the cheapest and easiest to work with, and we shall use them in our two DIY options.
DIY PVC Pipe Pool Ladder
For our first option of DIY pool steps, we will essentially use PVC pipes and fittings. Here is a comprehensive list of tools and materials you will need and the procedures you can follow:
- Paper and pencil
- Felt-tip marker
- Tape measure
- 2” diameter PVC pipes schedule 40 or higher
- Assorted 2” diameter PVC fittings, including straight tees, wyes, and elbows
- Ratchet-type PVC pipe cutter
- Heat gun
- PVC solvent cement
- Lots of super glue
- Several sheets of 120-grit wet-and-dry sandpaper
Step #1: Sketch
Begin by making a rough sketch of the ladder you want to assemble. For this part, we recommend designing an A-frame ladder, which can support movements on both sides of the pool.
Use a minimum step pipe length of 15 inches and a maximum vertical member height of 14 inches. Assign a straight tee to each coplanar T-joint, and use four elbows for the apex of the A-frame.
Don’t forget the members joining wye fittings on either side of the ladder, as these will serve as the lateral braces for the A-frame.
Since you can only put lateral braces near the apex, you should make them as sturdy as possible. Better yet, double them if you can, which means you will need eight wye fittings.
The base of the ladder should also be stable. Each of the two legs on either side of the A-frame should have a tee junction so that you can add long members extending on each side.
Step #2: Count, Measure, and Cut All the Members
At this point, you should be able to quantify the number of pipes and fittings you need. Use a ratchet-type PVC pipe cutter to reduce the pipes to the required lengths. Finding the pieces for assembly later will be easier if you label each one with a marker.
Step #3: Pre-Assemble
Pre-assemble your ladder but do not add in the PVC solvent just yet. Assess how it will look and feel once everything is in place.
Check if you need to deform some of the lateral pipes. If you’re unsure which ones to check, they are the pipes connecting the elbows at the apex and the wyes on the cross-bracing.
Use your heat gun to soften and bend the lateral braces to perfection, and wait for them to harden and dry. Avoid doing this excessively, as it diminishes the structural strength of the pipe, rendering the lateral members ineffective.
Step #4: Assemble
Assemble your ladder with PVC cement. By now, you should have already labeled every piece, or you should have a clear idea of what goes where.
Disassemble everything and reassemble starting from the bottom of each side of the ladder going up. As you reassemble, add generous amounts of PVC cement around each connection.
Hold each connection together for at least 30 seconds before setting it aside to dry. The PVC cement will take at least two hours to cure fully.
Step #5. Add Non-Skid Features
Since PVC pipes can be really slippery when wet, you can use 120-grit wet-and-dry sandpaper as non-skid attachments to each of the steps.
Cut sandpaper into two-inch wide strips and as many as the number of steps you have on your ladder. Be sure that the ladder is completely dry before affixing the sandpaper strips with super glue.
DIY Pallet Pool Steps
Pool steps repurposed from old wooden pallets are an excellent pairing for wooden outdoor furniture, and they look nice in almost any setting. Here’s what you’ll need with a guide you could use:
- Pencil and paper
- Tape measure
- Speed square
- Power drill
- Jigsaw or hand saw
- Several wooden pallets
- Marine-grade plywood
- Wood screws
- Waterproofing sealant
Step #1: Plan
As with most DIY projects, making rough blueprints for a design can be very helpful.
Take initial measurements of your above-ground pool, be mindful of space considerations, and draw a simple sketch. Your sketch will be your basis for drawing out a template for the marine-grade plywood.
Step #2: Estimate
Estimate the number of pallets you’ll need based on the measurements and the number of steps.
Each comfortable riser on a step requires the height of two standard wooden pallets, but you’ll be cutting pieces for the steps on the upper levels. Most above ground pools will need at least six whole pallets for a comfortable set of stairs.
Step #3: Stack and Cut
Stack two pallets against the pool wall for the first riser. For the next riser, you’ll be cutting approximately ten inches from the length of two more pallets using a jigsaw or a hand saw.
Keep stacking and cutting a pair of pallets for each riser until you reach the brim of the pool.
Step #4: Secure
Once you’re satisfied with the risers and runners on your steps, secure the pallets together with a power drill and some wood screws.
Step #5: Waterproof the Surfaces
Most wooden pallets are made from untreated softwoods, which means your pool steps won’t last as long as PVC or metal steps. To make it last longer, you might want to cover the risers, runners, and sides with marine-grade plywood.
Cut the plywood to size and affix them to the pallets with some screws. Finally, seal all the plywood surfaces with a waterproofing sealant.
With these ideas for DIY above ground pool steps, you won’t have to spend much. You can also expect to have a safer environment around your swimming pool.
You might also want to check your garage or tool shed for unused materials in storage instead of getting everything from the store. These projects are good bonding opportunities with the family, even if you have to do them before getting into the pool.