Introduction: IBC Above Ground Plunge Pool

Picture of IBC Above Ground Plunge Pool

Building a small above ground pool/spa using a 1000L IBC and some pallets

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

You'll need the liner from a 1000L IBC (if you can't get one free I believe you can buy one pretty cheap around the place) and some 1150-1200mm wooden pallets (clean/new ones are better). I had cut mine down to the desired height prior to bringing them home....which was just below the second slat (around 800mm for the record) but not all pallets are the same so see what works for you :)

Really it depends on the size of the gaps in your pallets and what you can get your hands on but you will want some lengths of wood suitable for filling in those gaps when we get to "Finish cladding exterior"

You'll also need a good supply of timber screws at least 45mm long

Depending on how fussy you are, you may wish to purchase some dressed/finished timber for your top trim/ledge....otherwise you may be able to use some of the pallet offcuts.

I did the former (1200mm x 180mm x 12mm)

Step 2: More Materials

Picture of More Materials

You'll also want some pool or spa suction and provision jets and plenty of PVC pipe with fittings to suit your specific requirements (depending on pump placement etc)

In addition to these, you will need a pool pump. I have used a Bestway 1/4 hp unit with sand filter because I need adequate head pressure for the solar heating I will be installing on my roof at a later date :)

Something smaller would be ok if you aren't heating yours :)

Step 3: Recommended Tools

Circular saw
Hacksaw or cordless reciprocating saw.
Cordless drill/driver with phillips bit and a small drill bit for pilot drilling timber as well as holesaw attachments to suit whichever size jets you are using.

A heat gun is optional but highly recommended.

Step 4: Fitting Jets and Initial Pipework

Picture of Fitting Jets and Initial Pipework

Ensuring things are going to line up with the gaps in your pallets, cut your holes and install your jets. Make sure you tighten them up nicely. Follow the fitting instructions specific to your chosen kit.

Once the jets are in you can begin plumbing up your PVC pipework....being sure to use the appropriate PVC cement.

Step 5: Constructing the Frame and Fixing Down Edges of the Liner

Picture of Constructing the Frame and Fixing Down Edges of the Liner

Your IBC will be rectangular in shape so arrange your pallets as shown in the pics. The pallets should be almost exactly the same length as the long side of the IBC meaning that the pallets on the short sides will sit with just the right amount of overlap for you to fasten them together without having to shorten them or cut them in any other way.

Use your drill driver the screw the pallets together. Back side of of one pallet overlaps perfectly onto the end of another.

The gaps should be sufficient enough for the nosecone of your drill to get through

Once this is done you can cut the top off your IBC (if you hadn't already) and cut vertically down each of the corners down to the level of the top of the frame.

Using the heat gun, heat up the plastic, allowing it to be folded over and screwed down onto the frame.

If you look at the finished product, you will see why this gives a much more professional look.....

Step 6: Connecting Your Pump

Picture of Connecting Your Pump

Small pool pumps are, for the most part, fairly portable. So just find some flat, even ground for it where it is reasonably well protected.....ideally, close to an all-weather outdoor power outlet. Mine came in its own cradle so all I had to do it put it where I wanted it.

I recommend the flexible hose connections just because they give you a little bit of breathing room if you need to repostion or replace the pump.

I have fitted isolation valves so that if the pump needs to be replaced at any point, those can be shut off and no water need be lost from the tub.

If you do in fact wish to change the water, the IBC has a dispensing valve at its lowest point.....which is just perfect (shown)

I recommend leaving a cut-out in your pallet/ frame for easy access to this :)

Step 7: Capping It Off

Picture of Capping It Off

This bit is really as simple as cutting your wood to size and screwing it down so that you have an even amount of overhang all the way around the outside.

Avoid too much inner overhang if you don't want to encroach on the already small area.

Pallets aren't generally engineered to exacting standards so you may find yourself packing certain parts up with thin slivers of wood to get the capping nice and level.

I fixed mine down with 12G stainless hex drive screws. Not only because they look pimp, but also because its the one area where the screws are likely to get splashed with water.....and rust is U.G.L.Y

Step 8: Finish Cladding Exterior

Picture of Finish Cladding Exterior

Cut your lengths of "gap filling wood" to size and using more of your 50 million timber screws, fasten them into place.

The wood I am using was "whatever I could get my hands on" and so it turned out to be thicker than the slats of the pallet. I quite like the effect. I think it adds some dimension.

Step 9: Fill and Enjoy!

Picture of Fill and Enjoy!

Once you have the water level above your suction jets, it is safe to switch the pump on.

You will need to decide what water treatment strategy you are going to take. Personally I am using chlorine tablets in a floater (not shown) because its the easiest by far with really no fuss.

The challenge I set myself here was to keep cost down without compromising the quality of the end product.

I am in the fortunate position of being able to get my hands on a lot of these materials for free.

The pump was my only cash outlay at $100 for a good second hand unit.

If you had to fork out for every single part, then this is probably a $500 project (assuming you already have tools)

This is my first ever instructable so I hope I have done an alright job.

Thanks for reading!


TanyaZ2 (author)2017-07-08

But what is an IBC???

buck2217 (author)TanyaZ22017-07-16

International Bulk Container, 100lire plastic container used for oil, chemicals, water, cleaning fluids etc, I get them (used 0 for about $40 -$60in NZ

ScottB13 (author)2016-08-05

I have decided that I am going to do corogated sheet metal around the outside of mine. I like the look!

therealorson (author)ScottB132016-08-06

That will look awesome :) You're still using pallets for the frame though?

ScottB13 (author)therealorson2016-08-08

Yes, I'm going to frame with pallets, then I am going to go over the pallets with corrugated sheet metal for the finish. I think this would look better instead of trying to fill in the open spaces with odd sized pieces of wood. I'll frame the edges too to keep people from being cut by he metal. I think it will look nice.

ScottB13 (author)2016-08-05

gathering and shopping for Parts now. Got an IBC for $20 !!

ScottB231 (author)2016-08-03

Two thumbs up here! I'm going to show it to my friends with a cabin up in the mountains!

therealorson (author)ScottB2312016-08-03

Awesome man! You could do a heated one using a copper coil :)

ctgypsy (author)2016-08-02

I really like this idea, but would like to see how to amend this particular project to make a SWIMMING pool, not a jacuzzi or hot tub pool. I'm guessing after reading your steps that I'd follow the same procedure except for adding jets to the pool? Could you also take TWO of these pool inserts, remove one side on both of them, and somehow put them together to make a double-sized pool (assuming there's a way to affix the seam so it won't leak? Could you also adapt a regular pool liner to the inside of this pool? (the bottom of the pool liner you used looked a little skeevy to me, I'd rather have a liner in it.) Thanks!

ScottB231 (author)ctgypsy2016-08-03

IBCs, I believe, are made of HDPE. In my experience welding HDPE only works where flexing is negligible. The welds are more brittle than the surrounding material and crack over time. On the other hand, EDPM pond liner is very adaptable to different shapes, but one would need to fully support the sides for the static hydraulic load and the live load (people).

therealorson (author)ctgypsy2016-08-02

Fundamentally, this actually functions exactly like a pool. It runs at colder temperatures with only solar heating to warm it up. It is chlorinated with pool chlorine and it runs a pool pump with sand filter. :)

Your idea about using two of them would be do-able but you would REALLY need to reinforce the long sides of the frame. You could probably plastic weld the pods together but then, as you said, you'd most likely need to line it.

With regard to the liner looking "skeevy" (lol), that photo was taken before the whole thing was scrubbed and sanitized. You could eat your dinner off it after I was finished :)

joseph1853 (author)2016-08-02

Or depending on were you live look on craigslist find a jakoozy tub for free, grab a couple friends with a flat bed trailer and truck and go get it.. But will still probably have to buy a pump as there usually giving them away because there pump died and they don't want to mess with it..

Desjen (author)joseph18532016-08-02

That is such a great idea I see them on Craigslist all the time and never thought to use them like this perfect perfect perfect thank you so much

therealorson (author)Desjen2016-08-02

Awesome! No worries :)

If you go ahead and do it, make sure you post yours on here :)

Desjen (author)therealorson2016-08-03

Will do. However it may take me the rest of the summer LOL I'm very new to Woodworking and building but I love it

joseph1853 (author)Desjen2016-08-02

Your welcome. Glad I could help.

NakanoYamato (author)2016-08-02

You just gave me THE thing I was looking for to do with my new (small) backyard!

:) :) :)

You won't regret it

Steinzel (author)2016-08-02

I like this! Very nice! I think I can get an IBC for free just a couple miles from here. A place I used to work at.

therealorson (author)Steinzel2016-08-02

Do it man! :D

pwatkinson (author)2016-08-02

I used a similar method to make a raised pond.

therealorson (author)pwatkinson2016-08-02

Awesome! Did you post it on here at all?

Try2learn (author)2016-08-02

You all are absolutely Amazing! I mean that, really cool!!!

therealorson (author)Try2learn2016-08-02

Thank you! :)

andrew.mead.1253 (author)2016-08-02

Ok--I'll bite. What's a 1000 litre IBC? An inside barrel cart? An Ice brick cube?

IBC stands for intermediate bulk container.

MissBea (author)andrew.mead.12532016-08-02

Those are totes. They are used by companies to hold fuel, water, chemicals, etc. You see them a lot at construction sites. The ones we have are approximately 260 gallons (1000 L). Would fit one person comfortably and two would be snug.

intermediate bulk container -

ncmartinez (author)2016-04-27

Nice. I will have to consider doing this after I move into my next house.

Bloodbeard (author)2016-04-26

Great Instructable! Brilliant use of materials. I would have never thought of using an IBC in this way.

therealorson (author)Bloodbeard2016-04-26

Thanks! :) It was a fun project :)

Mark 42 (author)2016-04-26

What is an IBC?

extxcat (author)Mark 422016-04-26

"Immensely Big Container"

Bloodbeard (author)Mark 422016-04-26

It's a very common type of container for holding liquid (around 300 gallons). Used for industrial purposes. Corn syrup would be delivered in them to a candy factory, for example.

JohnM410 (author)2015-12-29

Thanks for getting back to me. I just want to mimic a cold plunge really. I would want to get in every morning. I just feel like having ice every morning would be a pain. Is the above plunge pool just a small pool basically? Not meant for cold plunging?

therealorson (author)JohnM4102015-12-29

Well, the terms "cold" and "plunge" are not mutually exclusive. I used "plunge" because of the size and style of the pool, not because it was kept at a particular temperature. I think in most temperate climates, the water is likely to be fairly cool most of the year anyway, but again, that boils down to environmental factors including whether or not the pool gets a lot of direct sun.

If you really want to chill it, then I could only suggest running some copper pipe around the inside of an old (working) refrigerator and pumping the water through that :)

JohnM410 (author)2015-12-28

How do you keep the plunge cold? Lets say I have water filled up, a pump and filter to keep it clean. What can I get to bring the water temp down to lets say 55 degrees?

Any help would be great!

therealorson (author)JohnM4102015-12-28

Hi John, I work in celcius, but I know enough to know that 55 is pretty cold. Assuming you want to use it as an ice bath sort of thing, other than adding on a complex water chiller system, I 'd say the best way would be to just throw in a few bags of ice. Obviously if it's kept out in the open, the temperature is subject to environmental factors, like any other body of water :)

One80Bits (author)2015-09-11

That's awesome!!! great work! what's an IBC?

therealorson (author)One80Bits2015-09-11

It's a bulk (1000 liter) storage pod for oil/chemicals etc. Usually you see them with a metal cage around them.

Loumelc (author)therealorson2015-12-16

Hi, yes I have found them and they have metal cages around so I'm wondering why not keep them in the cages and decorate the cages instead.. what do you think?

One80Bits (author)therealorson2015-09-11

ah haaaaaaa, perfect, thank you! excellent Instructable

TIMBER10 (author)2015-11-03

Lovely piece of work.

therealorson (author)TIMBER102015-11-04

Thanks! ? (author)2015-01-09


Thank you!!!

jordancoppinger (author)2015-01-05


Can you please give me a little guidance on the jets? where did you purchase a jet kit?


They are just regular swimming pool suction and provision jets. Any pool supply place should have them. If you want to get fancy, you could run spa jets with an air venturi to get that champagne bubble effect :)

linda.myers.9404 (author)2014-11-20

This looks like a fun project! Our 275 gallon (1041 liters) IBC totes are 48" x 40" x 40" tall, so with the sides cut as shown, 4 adults could sit on small stools and the water would be about chest deep.

Thanks! Sounds ideal. :-)

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