Building a Stock Tank Pool for a few Hundred Bucks

Sometime last year, this happened to me in the heat of a scorching June afternoon. My wife had planted the seed of a concept - a thing called a "stock tank pool."

She had casually mentioned how cute they were and how it would be cool if we had one. At around 3 PM, the witching hour for ADHD distraction, I flopped onto my office couch deep dove into the #stocktank feed on Instagram.

Before long, as the Type A, tightly wound, and overly organized person that I am, I made a google doc spec'ing out exactly how we would build a stock tank pool, how much it would cost, and how I could deliver on time and on budget.

If you're not familiar, a stock tank pool is effectively a giant galvanized steel tank (usually in 6 or 8-foot diameters), although there are many different versions. Just google stock tank. Some can be made into raised planter beds, and others into pools. Stock tanks rose to popularity two or three years ago. In-ground pools are expensive to build and maintain, barring entry for most. Above ground or inflatable pools are less expensive, but can be easily damaged, take time and money to maintain, and look pretty tacky unless well done with landscaping and a patio or deck.

Stock Tanks, however, are cheap, easy to get started, easy to move or stow in winter, and highly customizable. They are also virtually indestructible, and the galvanization gives you at least a few years to figure out what to do about painting it (see below for a fun lesson that).

I learned how it could be as simple as putting the tank down on a flat surface and filling it with water. I learned that you could be super fancy by buying a $200 Intex pump and a drill bit and a little bit of caulk to create a more-than-adequate filtered pool. And I learned you could get an outdoor water heater if you really want to take your stock tank to the next level and heat it during the fall and spring.

The progress of our stock tank pool. We started with a pool, a filter, and plopped it on our patio. Then the next phase was to move it out to the yard and try to decorate it. Then we realized that professional landscapers exist, and we had them drop it down to 1 ft above ground level.

I also learned that you couldn't paint galvanized steel. Galvanization is when steel is coated with zinc and an oleophilic membrane to prevent water from corroding the steel. You can paint de-galvanized steel, though. Acid and sanding, or letting nature take its course, are two ways to achieve such de-galvanization.
For husbands aspiring to convince their wives of DIY projects, I can attest that a formal, organized, and clear google document is a great way to get approval.

After I build the project plan, there was nothing left to do but to order parts and execute.
I don't own a truck, so I had a guy on the app TAKL pick up my order from Tractor Supply Co and deliver it to my house. From there, it was just following various guides online and not being afraid.

The pool last summer did us well from June through September. This year, during the COVID pandemic, it's been a life-saver. When we had some landscaping done in the winter, we had the crew dig and leveled a pit about 1 foot, so the stock tank has a resting place, but isn't ground-level. I'm sure our dogs would find a way to hurt themselves on the pool if that was the case.

For anyone looking for a bit of relief from the heat, I hope my guidebook & story helps. You can buy it for a cup of coffee here: