Permanently Remove Plastic Top Rails

by Aidan Mullen
(Kingston Springs, TN)

I am in the process of building a deck around an 18'x33' oval above ground pool. I'm OCD and REALLY want it to look good!

The guys who installed our pool last year did a really BAD job. The plastic pool rails around the edge were installed very arbitrarily and don't line up. I've tried to fix this, but it turns out it's the way they installed the pool wall and liner bead trough.

SO.... I want to cantilever the deck over the top rail. Looking very closely at the design and assembly, it doesn't look like the top rails actually have anything to do with the structure or stability of the pool walls. They look to be purely cosmetic.

I am NOT a professional pool installer however, so I am asking for some pro advice. I AM very technically inclined, so I've made my observations carefully. My question is: Can I safely remove the plastic top rails on this pool, and overlap my deck, leaving enough room to change the liner and install a winter cover when I finish the edges?

Hi Aidan

Your observations are correct, the top rails are not normally a structural component. That is especially true with the resin top rails. If the pool is off by just a touch, and too much pressure is put on one post, usually a transition from straight to round post, the resin top rail will pull out from the screws holding it in place. No pool damage is done when this happens, the pool just shifts enough to separate the rail from the top plate.

You should be able to completely remove all the top rails with no problems. Back in the old days the top rails were little more than the metal rods we have today. A properly installed round pool should stand just fine with nothing more that coping strips on top to hold the liner in place.

There was actually a cheap 12' round pool sold years ago that had a resin wall, no bottom rails and only coping on top. It had no uprights or top rails. It was really cheap and hard to install, but if done right they held water.

Your deck could always add a little support to the pool. Just add a 4 x 4 from your deck posts to the pool uprights, about half way up. This little bit of extra support would assure you that nothing would move.

The only other thing to consider are the metal rods under the top rails. On some pool models the rails hold the rods in place. On other pools the rods tuck into the upright top plates. Just make sure the rods are secure and will not pop off and puncture the liner.

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Replacing A Top Rail

by Steph

I need to replace a top rail on my pool. It was defective. I have water in the pool.

I have a beaded liner with a rail over it and a top ledge. Can I replace a rail without emptying the pool?

Hi Steph

Rails can be replaced with a pool full of water, but it is not always easy, and not always safe.

A perfectly round, and perfectly level, pool can stand just fine missing a few top rails.

The problem is the pool will spread just a little. When I do this it usually take two or three people pushing on the pool rails and uprights to allow me to line the screw holes up.

It is so much easier with a foot or so of water out of the pool. It does not take much to take some of the pressure off the top rails.

Comments for Replacing A Top Rail

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Nov 05, 2012
Top rail
by: Anonymous

When you push the top rail in with 2 or 3 people doesn't that mean there is more pressure on that part of the pool and won't the constant pressure on the top rail cause it to snap again?

I had a top rail snap on me and just like you said the pool spread some.( about 1 inch) and I am letting water out of the pool to make it easier, but will the new top rail snap like the other?


It sounds like you may have resin top rails. I have had problems with them before and it is possible it could break again in the same place.

One way to deal with the problem is to go around the entire pool making a slight adjustment in the spacing of each top rail.

This is very time consuming and may require making your own holes in the top plate, but it does work.

If you are using steel rails, they should easily hold if the shift was only an inch.

Jun 25, 2014
Broken Top Rail
by: Art

I have the same issue with my top rail; it is a resin rail (ledge).

See post here called "Broken Top Rail"


Jul 14, 2014
Replacing A Top Rail
by: Art

Hello, Steph of Canada), have you fixed your pool? if so can you state what you did and any photos..


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Replacing Metal Top Rails

by Doug

Doughboy Oval Pool

Doughboy Oval Pool

I have a 41x21 oval Doughboy not sure of the model but it was installed in either 88 or 89 it has wood grain sidewalls and yellowish metal rails and supports. I had the liner replaced in 2001 and it needs another new liner, my wife wants to have the metal top rails replaced with the plastic they use on the new models, can this even be done or is it a bad idea?

If not possible does the Doughboy dealer sell new metal rails that we can purchase? Can you tell what year or model the pool is?

Hi Doug

Doughboy has had so many different models that all looked about the same it's hard to tell what you have. A Doughboy dealer should be able to help identify it for you.

I think the resin rails would work, I don't see why not. Resin rails sit higher up than the metal ones do. There is about a half inch space between where they sit on the top cap and the top of the rail. This means you probably need to replace the decorative caps also.

One of my customers had a friend with an auto paint shop. He took all his Doughboy top rails and caps into his friend and had them sand blasted and professionally painted with high quality auto paint. They came back really nice. Just an idea.

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Wood Top Rail for an Above Ground Pool

by Dan
(Saint John, IN)

I'm trying to make my above ground pool blend into my deck as much as possible. Any thoughts on replacing the normal resin top rail with one made out of pressure treated lumber?

I was planning on removing the existing top rails and post caps and cutting a piece of pressure treated wood to match the curve of the pool (using either a 2x8 or larger). The new wood rail would be mostly supported by the deck structure with a little support from the existing pool posts. Have you ever seen this done?

Hi Dan

Most above ground pools have a strong enough support system to stand just fine without the top rails. The rods, posts and post caps are usually enough to hold the pool together just fine. The rods are an important part of the pool strength and as long as they are held firmly in place by the caps the pool should be fine. Pools with interlocking rods are especially strong and would be best for what you are doing.

You would just have to remove a few of the top rails and see how much strength you feel is being sacrificed, and if any, can you replace it with your homemade rails.

I have seen poorly built pools tear open the pre-drilled holes in resin top tails. There is very little material there to actually hold a pool together, and any well built pool will stand just fine without them.

My concern would be in removing the uprights and top caps. These are important as they hold the rods in place. If the rods are allowed to fall into the pool the liner could be damaged real easily. Think it through real good before you remove these.

A more common option for deck building is to build it over top of the rails. This way none of the pool structure is changed and the decking can be self supported so it never really touches the pool.

wood deck over pool top rail

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