Pool Base Options

by Pamala
(Shawnee, Oklahoma)

Is there anything besides sand I can put on the bottom of the pool? Styrofoam is too expensive and I can't get masonry sand. I have sand but it is fill sand, which is full of rocks and shells.

I thought of using the sand and using an alternative base to keep the rocks and shells from puncturing the liner. Any suggestions?

Hi Pamala.

You could go with a thin layer of sand. Smooth it out, wet it down and pack it down good. Over top of that you could use carpet foam, carpet felt, indoor/outdoor carpet, something along those lines that can be found in the remnants, cutoffs or discount racks of carpet stores.

Several bags of an insulation called Vermiculite also makes a nice inexpensive base. It is very soft and can be used over top of the sand, right out of the bag.

I have seen people use several layers of thick black plastic over the sand, this helps a little but I would want something thicker myself.

The commercial foam pads for pools might work but they are thin and somewhat expensive. You would have to do a good job of packing and tossing out the larger rocks in the sand.

I have seen peat moss used, but you spend so much time picking out the twigs, it is not a good choice in my opinion.

Those are a few ideas I have tried in the past, hope it helps.

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Jul 31, 2017
Triple screened peat moss
by: Anonymous

We use only peat moss. It's tripled screened meaning no twigs. It's more expensive than sand but a lot less laborious. Bottom remains soft.

Not sure if it's somewhere local that does the triple screening or not but it's available around here.

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Installing 18 ft. Round With No Sand

by Daniel
(Burgin, KY)

Thank you for taking the time to read and answer my question! I am a beginner pool installer, and I have been doing all the work myself.

Up to this point, I have tilled up the sod and removed it. I started from the lowest point and began to level using a shovel and a board (and level) with a length of the radius + 6 inches.

I don't have a transit, so I am a little worried about getting it all level. Next, I am going to spray the ground, once leveled, with weed killer/preventive and ant killer. Beyond this, I have purchased a Gorilla pad base, wall foam, and pool cove.

My question is: will the Gorilla pad be enough padding beneath the liner? My fence won't allow me to bring in any sand (unless I bring it in one wheelbarrow at a time!). Is it necessary to have sand above the Gorilla pad?

I guess, I am asking, do I need to just breakdown and remove part of the fence to bring in sand or another type of barrier to put above the Gorilla pad? Or, am I going to be okay without it?

Hi Daniel.

Gorilla pad, as well as all the other pool pads on the market are thin. What ever the ground looks like under the pad is what your liner will look like once the pad has been flattened by the weight of the water.

It is not usually possible to smooth dirt out enough to get by with just a pad over it. I would use enough sand to smooth the area out.

Practically all of the pools I built, thousands of them, had the sand delivered to the driveway. From there we moved it to the backyard one wheel barrow at a time.

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No Sand Bottom

by Tim
(somers point NJ)

I have a 24ft pool and I don't want to use sand on bottom. Could I use a pad and sand on walls to make cove? The ground is level.

Hi Tim.

You have many options for you above ground pool base. If you are just going to use a pool pad you may also want to use the preformed pool cove, it's a nice combination.

Above Ground Pool Preformed Pool Cove

When just using a pool pad be sure the ground under the pad is smooth. They work great on concrete. That's about as smooth as your ground should be before laying the pad down. The pad compresses and once the weight of the water is on it, every little bump, or rock, will show through the liner. These lumps and bumps will be felt by your feet and by your pool cleaner.

An option that might be better for you is using 4 x 8 sheets of Styrofoam. The foam can be from 1/2" up to 2", whatever you can get a good buy on. The foam sheets do a much better job of hiding ground imperfections and feel great on the feet.

Here are some good pages about pool bases.

Gorilla Pad, Happy Bottom and Foam

Styrofoam For Above Ground Pool

The Best Above Ground Pool Base

Base For Above Ground Pool

Foam Pool Base

Pool Floor Pads

Pool Underlay

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May 04, 2019
by: Anonymous

Can I use old carpet for my above ground pool on a grass surface?

Hi I would not use it on grass but I have used carpet under pool liners. You need firmly packed and level dirt for any above ground pool.

Apr 28, 2020
above-ground pool—underneath
by: Susan

Being novices, we simply put the above-ground pool on the vinyl base drape that it came with, right on top of the grass! It actually was okay! This year tho, gonna try masonry sand.

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Rotting Smell Under Intex Pool

by Shelley
(Blanchard OK)

What an awesome website you have and thank you so much for the answer to my question. Last year we bought a 18x42inch Intex pool, just something to cool off in. When I took it down at the end of the summer I was met with a smell that omg lasted for weeks.

I realize the grass underneath had rotted. Like others I had read we did not put sand down due to the instructions and also since I will be taking it down at the end of the summer and thereafter, I do not want to really alter my yard, plus a left over sand box after the pool comes down would be a hay day for my cats and my chickens, lol.

We do have a slight slope and we managed to level it by placing wood blocks and shims under the poles as it filled, no kids just floating, so I didn't worry about any danger.

So my question is, instead of sand, what can we put under the liner to protect it and to keep from having that nasty smell. And after reading some of your other answers I have purchased patio blocks to put under the poles. Also, what would you suggest for a more stable ladder that can handle 2 rickety 50 year olds. The ladders made for those pools are junk.

Thank you so much

Shelley Oklahoma

Hi Shelley

There are many things to use under a pool besides sand. I do understand your issues with leaving a sand pit over the winter months. You could just use the tarp that comes with the pool, some indoor outdoor carpet or 4 x 8 sheets of foam. If you leave the grass there I'm not sure the results would be any different.

I would remove the grass, level the dirt and then put something between the dirt and the pool.

This page Above Ground Pool Ladders should give you a good idea of what's available. There are a couple shown that might be just right for you. You want something sturdy enough to stand on it's own and still support you. Many of the cheaper ones rely on being mounted to a top rail in order to be stable. Some are stable on there own and they are probably the ones you will be looking for.

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