Leveling Ground For An Above Ground Pool

by Frank Kluder
(Fortville, IN)

How do I level for a 15 foot round by 42 inch deep above ground on clay dirt? We used to have Intex 12' by 36" and there was a 3 inch difference from side to side. The ground under that was pretty solid.

By expanding the area another 2 feet it looks to be a 3 to 4 inch difference. My question is, I know that I have to move dirt, but how do I determine that it is finally level?

Hi Frank. There are three common methods for leveling the ground under an above ground pool. One of them is using an 8' 2x4 and a carpenters level. There are a few variations of this but here are the basics. You drive a stake into the center of the pool. This point should also be the point you have chosen for ground level. Leave the stake a couple of inches out of the ground. The distance from the ground to the top of the stake should be measured. A piece of 2x4 should be attached to one end of the long board near the end at a right angle. The attached board should be the same distance below the 2x4 as the center stake is out of the ground.

You then want to tape a carpenter level to the top side of the 2x4. With the level on top and the added piece pointing down set the empty end of the 2x4 on the center stake. Anywhere the raised end of the 2x4 falls will be close to the radius of your pool. At every spot the level on top should read level.

Another common method is a clear plastic tube filled with water, or a water level. This one is a little more complicated, but if used correctly, can be very adequate. I know there are diagrams for the assembly of this type of leveling device online, you would just need to do a quick search.

There is only one method I have every used, and I strongly recommend it. It's called a transit. I started out with a rather basic one, and over the years went through several of them. I than advanced to a laser level and never looked back. Setting up the laser on a tripod, and turning it on, took the place of the man standing behind the scope of a transit looking at the numbers on a stick.

laser level
Now I could crank the laser up and walk around the pool area holding the number stick, checking the level as often as needed, without additional help.

Once the ground is all within an inch I lay out the bottom rails. I use the laser again at every bottom connector, getting them all perfectly level.

I would strongly recommend renting a transit, or laser level, for a weekend. They don't cost that much and are by far the best way to level the ground for an above ground pool.

This page show a laser being used to level the pool footplates.

Above Ground Swimming Pool Installation

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Aug 14, 2012
Above Ground Rectangle Pool
by: Frank

Two years ago you and your site were very helpful in helping me level the ground for a 12 foot round pool, now we are looking to expand to a 12 by 20 Rectangle pool. Could you give me a few names of the best type of makers for this type, can't find many on the web. Indianapolis, IN area.

Hi Frank. I don't know of any rectangle pools I would recommend. But if you are looking for a 12' x 20' oval above ground pool I would suggest looking into Doughboy pools. They sell that size pool and they are the best quality on the market.

Jun 03, 2014
Oval pool levelling question
by: Anonymous

Could you use to your circular method? Complete one level circle at the lower elevation, then level between the center or your first round to where the center of your second round will be. Perform the second round leveling and then crosscheck multiple parallels running from one "side" through the middle to the other "side". Or is there a better method for leveling for an oval pool?

Hi I use a laser level and level it all at the same time, but it sounds like what you are describing would work also.

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