Best Sand Filter For Above Ground Pool: Reviews And Guide

Updated on July 14, 2021 by Brett

Your pool filter is the lifeblood of keeping your pool in great shape. So, it’s important to make an informed decision when buying the best sand filter for above ground pool.

To help you get the best results, I have researched and reviewed the best sand filter pump for above ground pool. 

best sand filter for above ground pool

To make sure you can buy with confidence I have outlined the pros and cons of Top 7 best sand pool filters below.

In addition, I will also give you some easy to follow advice so you can select the right size of filter pump for your above ground pool.

Best Above Ground Pool Sand Filter Pump: Comparison



Flow Rate


Latest Price

(Best Choice)

3,000 Gph

40 pounds

(Runners Up)

2640 Gph

73 pounds

1500 Gph

42 pounds

(Budget Pick)

2800 Gph

42 pounds

Best Sand Filter For Above Ground Pool Reviews In 2021

1. Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter: Best Above Ground Pool Filter

This sand filter by Intex ticks all the boxes to get great results for your above-ground pool. As the name suggests, the Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter works in 6 ways to get your pool crystal clear. The multi-function control valve allows you to backwash, filter, drain, rinse, recirculate and close the system.

I really like that this model has a pressure gauge so you can monitor water pressure when backwashing.

The Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter will suit a range of pool sizes, ranging from 5500 to 19600 gallons. With a pump flow rate of 3000 gallons per hour, pools on the smaller end of this scale can be done within just a couple of hours. Installation and setup are relatively simple and the manufacturer instructions are clear. The 25ft electrical cord will fit standard outlets.

My favorite feature with the Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter is the built-in timer. This feature makes this the perfect sand filter for those who don’t want to spend hours maintaining their pool. It can be set to run automatically, allowing you to return home to a clean pool without having to be too involved.

Maintaining this filter will also require limited intervention from the pool owner. Apart from occasionally emptying the filter bag, and replacing the sand every 5 years, the Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter is a real “set & forget” filtration system. With all these features, I would definitely class this model as one of the best above ground pool filter systems.

This sand filtration system has a 6-way valve making it easy to switch between various functions. With a 16″ tank and the pump running on 0.75 HP, you can expect quick, clean results from this quality unit. I highly recommend this unit for the first time pool owners.

Reasons to Buy:

  • Easy maintenance
  • Built-in timer
  • Large filter bag
  • Simple installation
  • Great water circulation and filtration


  • May be excessive for small pools

2. Intex Krystal Clear 1500 GPH Sand Filter Pump & Saltwater System: Best Sand Filter For Intex Pools

Like the previous model, this best above ground pool filter is made by Intex. I do like this model and would recommend it for smaller above ground pools ranging from 3000 – 8500 gallons. This unit also works great for a 24′ Round Above Ground Pool.

I think the Intex Krystal Clear 1500 provides excellent value for money. The 0.5hp motor is powerful considering the price point and will have a pool sparkling in just a few hours. 

If the low price makes you think of low quality, it’s not the case. The external casing is sturdy and well made, although I did find the hoses a little awkward to connect. Once set up though, this filter will require little maintenance. It comes with a 24-hour timer and provides amazing results, filtering 1500 gallons per hour.

The pump flow rate is 1600 GPH and uses 55lbs of natural sand to filter your pool water. If your pool is on the smaller end of the scale, I would certainly recommend that you give the Intex Krystal Clear 1500 a try. It is cost-effective and the best pool filter for this price point. The 2-year warranty should also help with buyer confidence.

Reasons to Buy:

  • Easy maintenance
  • Built-in timer
  • Simple installation
  • Low Cost
  • 2-year warranty


  • Awkward hose adapters

3. Sand Master Sand Filter System: Best Above Ground Pool Pump And Filter Combo

The Sand Master Filter System is another model that will suit smaller above ground pools. It’s capable of keeping pools with a capacity of up to 9600 gallons in excellent shape. This unit would be a great choice to replace the inferior pump that probably came with your pool.

While most sand filter pumps have a rigid external casing, this model has a flexible shell. It is corrosion proof, and I would imagine the soft sides would be resistant against minor bumps.

The 20GPM pump is powerful enough to maintain above ground pools of the recommended size. The 42lb sand capacity will keep the water clean and safe.

I found this sand filter pump a breeze to install and it comes will all the fittings and hoses required. It operates on 115V and comes with a 12-month warranty. 

If your pool is surrounded by lots of vegetation, you will need to make sure your pool is kept free from larger debris. This sand filter pump does not have a designated “trap” for larger leaves and twigs. While the skimmer should catch large debris, I feel it’s important to note.

I would recommend the Sand Master to those pool owners who like to take a more manually approach to pool cleaning. This is also a great pick for those who’re looking for a best above ground pool pump and filter combo.

Reasons to Buy:

  • Efficient for smaller pools
  • Low runn
    ing costs
  • Filters 1200 GPH
  • Quiet operation
  • Great water circulation and filtration


  • No large leaf catcher/bag

4. Best Choice Products Pro 2400GPH 13″ Sand Filter

With so many sand filter pumps on the market, it can be reassuring to know that this model has been independently tested. This model has meet safety standards that has been CSA certified.

If you have had trouble with sand pool filter quality in the past, these certifications might be encouraging to you. If your above ground pool is less than 10000 gallons, the best choice pro sand filter system might be worth taking a look at.

This sand filter pump will provide excellent results, efficient filtration and sparkling water. This product features an accessible valve control, to easily change between four functions.

It’s suitable for above ground pools with a maximum capacity of 10,000 gallons. The 13″ tank is made from thermoplastic, which will resist corrosion and bode well in extreme weather conditions. You will need approx. 42 pounds of sand for this to operate efficiently.

To set up this sand filter you will need pool plumbing knowledge and some understanding of filters operate and connect. Adaptors and hoses do not come standard with this model and will need to be purchased separately. Some users have reported setup being complicated, and perhaps not suited to inexperienced pool owners.

I would recommend this model for pool owners that have intermediate pool plumbing knowledge, and those who enjoy a more manual approach to pool cleaning.

Reasons to Buy:

  • Independently tested
  • CSA Certified
  • For pools up to 10,000
  • Included strainer basket
  • Great water circulation and filtration


  • Does not include hoses and adaptors

5. Hayward W3S210T93S Pro Series Sand Filter System,21-Inch, 1.5 HP

Hayward is a name that has become synonymous with quality pool equipment. With over 80 years in the industry, they know a thing or two about pool maintenance.

The Hayward W3S210T93S Pro Series comes with everything you need to get your new sand filter setup and running in next to no time. Instructions are detai
led and this unit comes with all plumbing components. This is also one of the best sand filter for above ground pool.

The 7-position valve means that you can easily control the unit with the push of a lever. With more features, this Hayward model (and the one to follow!) does have the price tags to match. But with most products, the bigger and more efficient, the more it will generally cost.

I would recommend this sand filter pump to those whose pool filter may be exposed to a variety of weather conditions. You can literally feel how sturdy the base of this pump is, and I can imagine it would be durable enough to last through multiple seasons and many years. 

This will also suit pool owners who don’t mind investing a little more money for quality products that should last longer than less expensive models.

Reasons to Buy:

  • Vari-Flo Valve
  • Easy setup
  • Durable casing and base
  • Great water circulation and filtration


  • Will not suit all budgets

6. Hayward VL40T32 VL Series 30 GPM Sand Filter System

This model from Hayward is a great choice for above ground pools, including soft-sided models. It combines a reliable work ethic with the experience you’d expect from Hayward. The system is easy to assemble and come with everything you need to get it installed and operational. 

The pump is 1.5 HP making it effective for pools up 25,000 gallons. The filter itself is made from high-quality materials to resist corrosion. Like the model above, the VL40T32 features the Vari-Flow control valve, which makes switching between functions incredibly simple.

If your pool is between 20000 – 25000, this would be a great sand filter for you to choose from. You can expect great performance and easy operation.

Reasons to Buy:

  • Combined pump and filtration system
  • Sturdy base
  • Solid construction
  • Fast and effective
  • Vari-Flow control


  • Will not suit all budgets

7. Hayward Sand Master Sand Filter Tank W/Valve (19 Inch Tank)

This unit is also one of the best sand filter for above ground pool. Unlike the two Hayward models above, this is sold as a standalone sand filter with a 19” tank. This would be a great option if you have a compatible pump that is still working well, and it’s just the filter that you need to replace.

This model will make light work of filtering pools and requires very little interaction from pool owners. Hayward claims that the SandMaster series is setting the new standard in sand filtration technology

If your above ground pool is on the larger end of the scale, I would recommend this model as it’s capable of filtering pools up to 30,000 gallons.

The control valve easily allows you to change between 8 functions. Backwashing is completed efficiently and perfectly balanced.

Reasons to Buy:

  • Sturdy, corrosion-proof construction

  • Easy installation and maintenance
  • Efficient flow rate
  • Effective filtration


  • Pump required, sold separately

8. Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter: Best Sand Pump for Above Ground Pool

If you’re looking for the best sand pool filter for a large above ground pool (up to 19000 gallons) then this one would be the best option to consider. The filter pump is very powerful that can significantly improve your pool water circulation and filtration system.

It’s very easy to assemble this filter pump and you don’t need to have any attachments for that. However, we noticed the user manual is poorly written but follow able.

The best things about this filter is that, you can use this unit with other popular above ground pools brands like, Coleman or Best way. However, you must need to buy connector hoses to use it with non-Intex pool.

The intex provides 2 connector hoses of 1.5” with this product. So, if your pool has 1.25” hoses and fittings, then you’ll need to buy an adapter.

The pump flow rate is also above average, which is ideal for medium to large above ground pools. The inclusion of the digital timer feature is very rare in pool pump. In addition, it also includes a strainer basket which is really useful to prolong the filters lifespan.

Overall, this is great sand filter pump which is easy to use and operate.

Reasons to Buy:

  • Easy to set and use
  • The machine runs quietly and is very effective
  • Timer settings works really well
  • Can be used with pools from other brands


  • The manual is poorly written
  • The pump need to backwashed once every week

What is an Above Ground Pool Filter?

A pool filter is one of the key components of a swimming pool. Without a proper pool filtration system, you’ll be unable to keep the water clean and safe for swimming.

An above ground pool filter works efficiently (along with a pump) to keep the water free of dirt and debris. The pump pulls the water from the pool skimmer and catches the large particles. Next, the water flow through the filter which removes the smaller particles before it returns to the pool.

However, the filter has to be compatible with the pool pump to work properly.

The 3 Major Types of Above Ground Pool Filter System:

Sand Filters:

The best sand filter pumps are popular due to their low maintenance and ease of use; but how do they work?

Sand filters work by drawing water into their canister where the sand is housed. As the water is circulated through, the sand traps debris and returns the clean water back to the pool. 

You might be wondering how sand can possibly trap debris? If you examine a grain of sand under a microscope, you’ll see that it is rough rather than smooth. It’s in these tiny ridges that microscopic debris and particles are trapped.

Over time, the natural process of water corrosion smooths the sand particles and they become less effective. When this occurs, your sand will need to be replaced.

The sand you’ll need is specific to pool filters and not just any old sand. Pool filters use 20# silica sand. These grains should be between 45-55 millimeters. 

Most reputable pool supply stores will label appropriate sand as “filter” or “pool” sand. Quality sand pool filters for above ground pools are capable of running with little intervention or maintenance from pool owners.

The sand in the filter will need to be replaced every 5 years approx. and the filter basket will need to be emptied when full. With good maintenance and care, you can expect to get 5-7 years from a quality sand filter pump.

While sand filters are a cost-effective and low maintenance option for above ground pools, they are not capable of filtering extremely small particles from the water.

Cartridge Filters:

Cartridge filters work by pushing water through a cartridge. The cartridge is usually made from woven fibers of polypropylene and other durable materials. When the water is pushed through the filter it traps dirt, particles and sometimes chemicals in its fibers before returning the filtered water back to the pool.

If your above ground pool has a cartridge filtration system you will not need to backwash. The cartridge component of the filtration system is just replaced when it becomes dirty and clogged.

Depending on the model, changing the cartridge should be relatively simple; unscrew the housing where the cartridge is held, remove the old cartridge and replace with a new one. With good maintenance and care, you can expect to get 2-3 years from a quality cartridge filter.

Diatomaceous Earth Filters (DE):

DE filters are considered the most effective and efficient pool filter you can buy, but they are not without some negatives. DE filters require a lot more ongoing maintenance than cartridge and sand filters. But in return for your hard work, DE filters are the most effective, able to filter bacteria as small as 5 microns. 

DE Filters will require ongoing backwashing. They will also need the addition of DE powder, which coats the grid-like filter and keep the system running effectively. These “grids” will need to be replaced every 2-3 years based on usage.

Annually, DE filters require a deep clean to keep them in great shape. While this process is relatively easy, it can be time-consuming and labor-intensive.

How to Select the right Size Of filter For above ground pool

Without an effective pool filter, your pool will become cloudy and eventually, dangerous to swim in. The chemicals kill the nasties, but it’s your filter that will remove microscopic bacteria, dirt, dust, and debris.

Choosing the right sand pool filter is often a combination of your pool size and pump size. Sometimes a sand pool filter will be sold with a pump as a set. Otherwise, you can purchase both components separately. That being said, the pump you have must be compatible with, and capable of running your sand filter effectively. 

To gain an understanding of what’s required for your pool, calculating two important figures with getting you started on the right path.

1. Calculate the number of gallons of water in your pool:

If you still have the original manual or instructions for your pool, this will be easy information to find. You could also find these details by contacting your pool manufacturer online or searching for the product information on the website.

Alternatively, some quick math makes it easy to calculate your pool’s size. These calculations don’t need to be perfectly exact.

The formula to calculate the gallons of water depends on the shape of your above ground pool.

  • For a rectangular or square Pool: The formula for calculating the total ga
    llons = Length x Width x Depth x 7.5
  • For a circular or oval-shaped pool: The formula for calculating the total gallons = Diameter x Diameter x Depth x 7.5

N.B: One cubic foot of water contains 7.5 gallons

So, now that you’ve got the number of gallons of water in your above pool it’s time to determine the flow rate.

2. Calculate the Flow Rate:

Flow rate refers to how much water can be pumped through your filter each minute. Take the maximum volume your pool can hold, and divide it by 8 (suppose, you will run the pump for 8 hours per day to filter all the water.)

For example a 30,000 gallon pool, divided by 8 = 3750 GPH. Converts Gallon Per Hours to Gallon Per Minutes. 3750 GPH/60 = 62.5 GPM

This will equate to a flow rate of 63 GPM (gallons per minute), give or take a few liters. Therefore, you need a sand filter that is higher than 63 GPM for the best result.

In the table below is a guide of recommended pump size for pool water capacity. 

Pool Gallonage vs Pump size

Pool Gallonage

Pump Size

10,000 – 15,000

3/4 – 1 HP

20,000 – 25,000

1.5 HP

30,000 – 35,000

2.0 HP

40,000 – 45,000

2.5 HP

Sand filter Vs Cartridge: Which Type Of Pool Filter Is Best?

Let’s have a look at the comparison of two popular best pool filter system. This will also help you to take a 20smart buying decision.

  • Sand Filters are generally less expensive than cartridge filters.
  • Both sand filters and cartridge filters require approx. the same amount of time spent on ongoing maintenance.
  • Cartridge filters don’t require backwashing, sand filters do.
  • Sand filters last approx. 5-7 years, where Cartridge filters last approx. 2-3 years.

  • Cartridge filters will capture smaller particles than sand filters.
  • Sand filters can have improved efficiency with the addition of additives.

Things to Consider before Buying a sand filter for above ground pool:

1. Flow Rate (Gallons Per Hour):

This specification is generally expressed as GPH. It refers to how many gallons the pump and filter can clean each hour. The GPH is important to note as you can use this information to estimate how long a cleaning cycle will take.

If efficiency is important to you, or you have a large pool (over 15,000 gallons) I’d suggest aiming for a sand filter than can manage at least 3000GPH. Sometimes these specifications can be expressed in Gallon Per Minute (GPM) and in that case, you’ll just need to do some multiplication.

2. Size Of The Sand Pool Filter:

It goes without saying that you’ll need to get the right size for your above ground pool. You wouldn’t chop down a tree with a butter knife, it makes sense to have the right tool for the job. Smaller pools can be kept in pristine condition with smaller, and less powerful filters. Larger pools will need larger sand filters. Check out the table below before making your decision.

Pool Gallonage vs Filter size

Pool Gallonage

Filter Size

10,000 – 15,000

3.0 Sq. Ft.

20,000 – 25,000

3.9 Sq. Ft.

30,000 – 35,000

4.9 Sq. Ft.

40,000 – 45,000

6.9 Sq. Ft.

For example, If you have a 10,000 gallons above ground pool, you’ll need a sand filter system that has at least 3 sq. Ft filtration capacity.

3. Longevity:

This is another key considerations when you’re shopping for the best above ground pool filter.

Sand filters usually last for about 5 years if it is cared and maintained properly.

The lifespan of a Cartridge filter is normally 1-2 years or 2000 operation hours. However, the lifespan will decrease if you use too much hair care products in water.

The DE filters are consists of few filter components called, grid. These grids are responsible for trapping dirt and debris. The grids need to be replaced within 8-10 years.

4. Maintenance:

If you live in a colder area you may need to unplug and drain your above ground pool for winterization. Therefore, you should buy a sand filter system that is easy to plug and use.

In addition, we also recommend to get a pool filter that has a built-in timer for a hassle free usability. The strainer basket should also be easy to cleanup.

5. Set A Budget:

How much you can spend on your sand filtration system will be a factor in which model you purchase. You may also like to look into the ongoing cost of sand, which will need to be replaced every 5-7 years depending on your usage. Sand filters will connect to your property’s power supply, so running costs should also be considered.

Larger sand filtration systems will likely use more power as they pump larger volumes of water, however, they may need to be run less frequently. Think about your usage, and how your specific environment impacts the amount of pool filtration required. 

Smaller sand filtration pumps may be cheaper in the initial stages, but if they are running more frequently they will likely need to be replaced sooner than those with a bigger capacity. The sand filter that you choose should be considered an investment in your pool’s health and also your time.


Q1: Can I use a sand filter with an intex pool?

Ans: The answer is yes, you can use a sand filter pump with your intex above ground pool. However, the filter must be compatible with your intex pool and pump system (if you already use a pump separately. )

Q2: How often should you change the sand in a sand filter?

Ans: Well, it depends on how often you runs the pool filter. Generally, you need to replace the sand on every 3-5 years to maintain a clean pool water.

Q3: What kind of sand do you use in a pool filter?

Ans: We highly recommend to use #20 silica sand to get the best filtration result. These silica is very efficient in trapping particulates from pool water.

Final Verdict:

With all things considered, I would recommend the Intex Krystal Clear Sand Filter. This model gets my vote because it ticks all the boxes for what I deem important. 

The Krystal Clear sand filter is reasonably priced, the initial setup is simple and the ongoing maintenance is easy. These elements combined with powerful, effective pool filtration is why this Intex unit comes out on top. For the best sand filter for above ground pools try the Intex Krystal Clear this summer. Happy swimming!