Make a ‘splash’ on a budget with this upcycled idea.
Picture yourself poolside … or, better yet, floating in your own private pool.
For most of us, this is a dream that resides exclusively within the frame of a Slim Aarons photograph. This vision might feel out of reach because of your space or budget. But, with a little DIY stock tank pool magic, I made this dream a reality, delivering private pool luxury for under $1,000 in my Austin, Texas, backyard.
Stock tank pools, also known here, in the South, as “cowboy pools,” have been a hot commodity for the past several summers as we’ve all spent more time making the most of our backyards. Made of galvanized steel, stock tanks are used for watering cattle and are designed to keep water cool on hot days. This makes it a perfect candidate to beat the heat on a budget.
The enduring DIY stock tank pool trend involves upgrading a 6-, 8- or 10-foot-diameter by 2-foot-deep stock tank from your local farm supply store by retrofitting it with an aboveground pool pump to filter the water and chlorine to keep it clean.
Are you ready to take the “plunge”? Here’s what you need to know to create your own backyard oasis.
Scope Out Your Spot
You’ll need a flat, level surface that can support 700-plus gallons of water for a 6-, 8- or 10-foot-diameter pool that also has access to an exterior GFCI outlet for the pump. I surrounded my pool with pea gravel and used sand to level the area. Make sure your space is level by placing a level on a board the length of the stock tank pool.
Installing the Pump
Break out your power drill, attach a 2¾-inch hole saw with an arbor and drill two holes for the pump fittings, side by side and 6 to 12 inches apart. (Don’t forget to wear safety goggles when drilling and also clean up any sharp metal scraps.) If your hole saw is not precisely sized to your pump parts, you can add waterproof sealant to prevent leaking around your pump fittings after they have been installed.
Next, assemble the inlet and outlet fittings that are made for an aboveground pool. A few additional parts are required to supplement a standard pump kit, including an inlet strainer and an extra plunger valve.
On the outside of the pool, attach the plunger valves to your inlet/outlet, threading outside the nut; this will allow you to shut off the water flow when you need to change filters.
Finally, attach hoses to the plunger valves, connecting them back to the pump. This will keep the water moving in your pool and will help filter the water. Fill the pool gradually, checking that it’s level. Adjust the level with sand as needed.
Keep Calm and Clean On
Keeping your pool clean and algae-free is the final—and most important—step to stock tank pool success.
Consistency is key:
- Run your pump at least once every
- Add one to two chlorine tablets weekly.
- Use a pool skimmer for large debris.
- Test and adjust levels as needed.
These steps will keep your water clean and help prevent rusting. In addition, be sure to cover your pool to keep out larger debris; and always secure it for child safety.
Stock Tank in Style
Bring out your own style by customizing your stock tank pool with endless options. From custom-built seating surrounds to DIY hacks that heat your pool in the winter, you’ll be able make this budget-friendly luxury even more personal and worthwhile.
Stock Up Early
As temperatures rise, so does the demand for stock tank pools. Scoop your supplies early in the season!
- CountryLine 8×2-foot Galvanized Round Stock Tank, $599; tractorsupply.com
- INTEX Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump (1,500 gallons) for Aboveground Pools, $120; amazon.com
- Inlet Strainer Kit, $45; Shop.stocktankpool.net
- INTEX Aboveground Plunger Valves With Gaskets and Nuts, $60; amazon.com
- RANNB Bimetal Hole Saw Triangle Shank Hole Cutter Attachment (2¾ inches), $8.78; amazon.com
- HYDROTOOLS BY SWIMLINE Chlorine Dispenser, $10; amazon.com
- Clorox Pool & Spa Chlorinating Tablets, $40; lowes.com
- Clorox Pool & Spa Chlorine Test Strips, $12.98; lowes.com
- Evob Pool Skimmer Net, $15.97; amazon.com
About the Author
Megan Housekeeper shares her passion for vintage-inspired interior design on her social media accounts (@mid_centurymilennial) and blog, the Mid-century Millennial. She is currently renovating her 1970s ranch-style home and is designing a series of retro-styled rentals in Austin, Texas. Megan is a lifelong thrifter and an avid DIYer, so you can usually find her looking for treasure to upcycle.
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