DIY Stock Tank Pool Ideas — Mid Modern Mama (2024)

Writer-and-Mama bopping around the world, taking pictures, making stuff, and dragging a 1950's Atomic Ranch into the 21st century

Tips & Ideas for a DIY Pool in your Backyard

DIY Stock Tank Pool Ideas — Mid Modern Mama (1)

We are a swimming family. Bambino started swimming lessons when he was three months old. When we lived in Los Angeles, we had a swimming pool in our yard which we used every single day. But here in Colorado the expense of an in-ground pool seems wasteful. It just isn’t hot enough long enough to justify the expense. I’ve been reading about stock tank pools for years. We had flirted with the idea of building one in the past, but the COVID-19 pandemic tipped us over the edge. And now I can’t believe we didn’t do it sooner! Building your own stock tank pool is sooooo easy!

I have read everything out there about how to build your pool and how to keep it safe, and there are several stock tankers who have great wisdom and years of experience with their pools. I’ve collected the best of the best here for you.

And here’s what I love about stock tank pools: using the same basic materials, every single one looks different! Some are glamorous. Others are rustic. Some are very simple. Others have elaborate decks and decor. But fundamentally they are all the same — a simple, watering-tank-turned-swimming-pool! I’ve included some of my favorites, but check out #stocktankpools on Instagram for a huge variety of approaches to stock tank pools.

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What is a stock tank pool?

Stock tanks are just what the name implies — a large tank, metal or plastic — used for holding drinking water for stock on a farm or ranch. But they also make great pools! They are sturdy, designed for holding water, and they are designed to last a long time. Most of the time people who make a stock tank pool use it above ground, but some people excavate their yards and bury them. Personally, I think burying it makes maintenance more difficult, so ours is above ground.

Stock tanks come in a range of sizes and shapes. We ended up with a round tank that is 7’ in diameter. But they come smaller, larger, and in oblong shapes, too. For reference, our tank easily holds two adults and a child with room to play. Our tank is 2’ deep — that’s pretty standard — and we can sit comfortably with our heads out of the water. But the water is absolutely deep enough for fun play!

Depending on where you live, ordering the stock tank might be the biggest challenge. Check your local ranch supply or garden supply center. We found ours at Jax, but they are available at lots of national and local stores. Ask if the store will deliver for you, too. Ours did which made the whole process even easier!

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What do you need to make a stock tank pool?

The list isn’t long:

  • a stock tank

  • a drill

  • a hole saw bit (size depends on the size of the tubes with your filter pump kit)

  • a filter pump kit

Depending on the filter pump kit that you buy, you may need a few fittings to connect the filter to the pool wall. Each kit’s contents seem to be slightly different. As of this writing, too, filter pumps are somewhat hard to find. If you can’t find one online, check with your local pool and spa supply store.

Once you have built your pool, you’ll need to keep it clean. More on that below.

How do you make a stock tank pool?

Fundamentally, you can just fill the tank with water and swim. But that’s not a good long-term solution. Draining the pool isn’t easy and wastes a lot of water. But if you add a pump and some pool chemicals, you have a longer-lasting solution — somewhere between a hot tub and a spool. Don’t let this process intimidate you, either. All you need to do this is a good drill with a hole saw bit and some good instructions.

We found this video to be the most helpful. It’s a great introduction to the process, and he shows exactly what you need to do to make the stock tank pool functional.

Stock Tank Pool Tips

A few things we have learned along the way:

  • Choose a level spot — or level the area with sand. Our pool is on an existing concrete pad which evidently once held a hot tub.

  • We placed two pieces of rigid insulation under the pool. This gives the bottom an ever-so-slight cushion, but it also helps to keep the water warmer.

  • Be careful not to use pool toys and floats that are too large. This is a safety hazard! I have a list of some of our favorite pool toys here.

  • Pay the money for a GOOD hole saw bit. A cheap bit won’t cut through the pool’s side.

  • Treat your water right away. Don’t wait.

  • Get a cover! It will keep the pool warmer and cleaner, too.

  • Enjoy your pool!

Painting a Stock Tank Pool

don’t do it.

There are some fabulous pictures on Pinterest of stock tank pools that have been painted pink or black or blue. They look super-cute! BUT… evidently almost everyone who paints their stock tank pool lives to regret it. Most paint isn’t designed to be submerged for long periods of time. Some paints will leech chemicals into the water. Others will simply peel off — within weeks. If your pool is galvanized, it isn’t intended to be painted. The finish on galvanized metal doesn’t take paint well. These people painted their pool and now regret it. And here’s another regretful painter’s story.

So to paint a stock tank well is a LOT of work. And it still may not stick long-term.

There are several stock tankers who recommend lining a pool with a vinyl pool liner. We investigated this, but we couldn’t find the right size pool liner. So if we have problems in the future, this may be a next step, but at this point I don’t see that as being necessary.

Having read all kinds of accounts about painting pools, it became very clear that painting a stock tank pool is a BAD idea.

However, if you want to paint the exterior like @barleyflowers did, that is less risky, perhaps. And Stock Tank Pools has a good guide to doing it well. But as cute as those paint jobs tend to be… I’m still not sure it would be worth the work and expense. We decided to skip the paint in the end, and I don’t regret it at all!

DIY Stock Tank Pool Ideas — Mid Modern Mama (14)

How do you keep a stock tank pool clean?

We have opted for chlorine for our pool, but you can use salt water or bromide — all will work. If you are going to keep your pool full for more than a day or two, however, you will want to treat the water. I consulted our local spa store, and they put together a great kit of pool chemicals to get us started. I have a whole list of what we use and how we keep the pool clean. You’ll find it here:

DIY Stock Tank Pool Ideas — Mid Modern Mama (15)

DIY Stock Tank Pool Ideas — Mid Modern Mama (16)

Other Pool Necessities

We purchased a few other items to help keep the pool sparkling clean and comfortable.

  • My Sutro Water Monitor: to keep our water clean and balanced, we opted to My Sutro Water Monitor. This replaces a lot of the testing and calculations required to keep the water in your pool safe. We are delighted with our My Sutro so far, and have more information about it here.

  • Pool brush: to keep the pool clean, it should be scrubbed once or twice per week. A good pool brush will do the trick. No need to get a long handle. Just do the brushing while you are in the pool.

  • Pool Skimmer: skim your pool each day to keep larger debris out of the filter and out of the water. Again, we didn’t even get a handle — just use the skimmer and skim the water before you get in.

  • Hot Tub Blanket: so this is basically a big sheet of heavy-duty bubble wrap, but it serves three purposes. First, once it is cut to fit, it will help to keep out debris making keeping your pool clean even easier. But it also helps keep the water warmer — important here in Colorado where we have cool spells and colder nights — and it keeps the water from evaporating as quickly which helps the water chemistry stay consistent.

  • Pool Noodles: The edges of the pool can get hot from the sun, but pool noodles help to protect little hands from getting burned. Just cut the pool noodle length-wise and slip it over the pool’s edge. We have done this, but we found we don’t always need them. They do cushion the edges, though, which is nicer against the back of your neck as you relax.

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How do you keep a stock tank pool safe?

Drowning is the #1 cause of unintentional death for children ages 1-4 in the US.

An average of 356 children ages 0-14 die due to drowning each year — 77% of which involve children younger than age 5.

ALL pools pose a drowning risk to children and animals — even if they don’t live at your home. If you are putting a pool — temporary or permanent — in your yard, please make sure you take all safety precautions and educate yourself on your local swimming pool regulations and laws. A fence around your pool with self-locking closures is especially important if you have small children in your home — or children who visit regularly. And ALWAYS designate a pool watcher.

For more on pool safety precautions and to take the Pool Safely Pledge, check out poolsafely.gov.

Good luck as you build your own stock tank pool! I hope you and your family enjoy many, many days of joyful swimming this summer!

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DIY Stock Tank Pool Ideas — Mid Modern Mama (2024)

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