How to Make a Stock Tank Pool for Budget-Friendly Backyard Fun

Set up a stock tank pool with these tips on how to build and care for the affordable, versatile DIY pool that can be installed with just a few tools.

Your very own backyard pool is finally within reach. Stock tank pools offer a budget-friendly alternative to traditional pools, and they're filling up backyards around the country. A country-style twist on inflatable kiddie pools, they're made using large tanks originally intended to be water troughs for farm livestock. Usually made of galvanized metal, the tanks can be filled with water and hooked up with a filter pump to create an outdoor wading pool. The idea is to provide relief from the summer heat without having to invest in an in-ground pool, which requires professional help, and can cost thousands of dollars. If you're thinking about outfitting your backyard with a stock tank, our guide will walk you through all the essentials, including where to buy one and how to install and maintain it. Follow these guidelines and enjoy soaking in the sun all summer long.

Where to Buy Stock Tank Pools

Stock tank pools can be found at agriculture supply retailers like Tractor Supply Company, Fleet Farm, and Wilco. Look for one that's at least two feet deep, and large enough for more than one person. Small, oval-shaped pools can work for a single adult or a couple of young kids, but 6- to 8-foot round stock tanks are ideal for groups of two or more. The smallest options start at around $150, and larger sizes can cost up to about $800.

Buy It: CountyLine Extra Large Galvanized Round End Stock Tank ($600, Tractor Supply Company)

Most stock tanks are made of galvanized steel, but you can also find plastic stock tanks, which are typically more affordable and lightweight (but less durable). Because of the hard edges on galvanized versions, a plastic tank could be a safer choice for use with kids.

How to Set Up a Stock Tank Pool

Once you've purchased a stock tank, choosing the right location is the first step. The tub must be placed on a flat, level surface that's free from rocks, roots, and other obstructions. If it's necessary, you can use leveling sand and a tamper to even out the ground. If you choose to install your tank below the surface, the hole must have a completely flat bottom and straight sides before you lower the tank inside. Because of its heavy weight, placing a stock tank pool on a deck is not recommended.

Before filling it up, install a filter pump ($70, Target) to keep your pool clean and free from mosquitoes and algae. This typically requires drilling holes into the side of the tank for the pump's inlet and outlet, then feeding the hardware through. For a permanent, leak-proof seal, apply a waterproof silicone sealant around the holes. Use a hose to fill your pool with water, checking for leaks as you go. If you see leaks, apply a sealant and let it dry thoroughly before refilling or adding more water.

For added personalization, some homeowners surround their pools with a deck, landscaping rocks, or pavers. Spray paint is an easy way to update the exterior with a new color or metallic finish.

How to Filter and Clean a Stock Tank Pool

You can treat most stock tank pools as you would an above-ground pool. Regularly skim the surface with a pool net ($18, Target) to remove debris, and consider purchasing a pool vacuum to clean the bottom. A filter pump will keep the water moving to ward off bacteria or algae growth and prevent mosquitoes and other bugs from breeding. Get one that's specially made for above-ground pools and is suitable for your pool's size.

If you decide to add chemicals, such as chlorine and shock solution, check the levels often, using pool test strips ($15, Target), and beware of corrosion or rust. Before filling the tank, seal the interior with a rust-proof rubber coating, such as Flex Seal ($15, The Home Depot). Using a chlorine float instead of adding the chemical tablets directly into the water can also help prevent the metal from rusting.

If your pool requires a deeper cleaning, the smaller size makes it easy to drain and refill. When the pool is empty, use a pressure washer to clear away buildup from the sides and bottom. If needed, use a scrub brush and soapy water to clear away any remaining dirt and grime, then rinse clean.

To close your pool for the season, drain the water and flip the tank upside down, or cover it with a tarp. The tanks are designed for year-round use on farms, so they're safe to store outside through the winter. Otherwise, you can store it in a garage or shed until the next pool season kicks off.

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