Retaining wall for above ground pool

by Melanie

My 24' round Muskin pool wall rusted out after 15 years of being partially buried into a hill. I took it all down, and am now building a retaining wall out of railroad ties (which varies between 3 feet tall on the top-of-the-hill side to 1 foot tall at the bottom-of-the-hill side) around the perimeter to hold the dirt back away from the pool wall.

I will next install a new smaller (21') pool in the center. This will leave about 6-10 inches of free space between the retaining wall and the new pool wall, which I plan to leave empty to allow drainage and air-drying of the outside of the pool wall, hopefully preventing future rusting. I will then expand the surrounding deck inward to accommodate the smaller diameter of the new pool. The retaining wall will be hidden under the deck and practically invisible.

I have several questions: 1) should I go with an aluminum wall this time to prevent rust? 2) Should I coat the outside of the pool wall with roofing tar? 3) Do the chemicals in railroad ties (creosote) harm either steel or aluminum pool walls? 4) Can you think of any other concerns or bits of advice for me?

Hi Melanie. It sounds like you are doing everything right. The older Muskin pools were pretty well known for their rust issues with many of them only lasting 5-7 years. I think it was more of a pool brand issue than one having to do with the set up. Had roofing tar been applied to the wall before the dirt was backfilled it might have lasted longer, but again, fifteen years for that pool was great.

For your new set up I would again go with a steel wall pool. In my experience they hold up much better than aluminum ones do. Aluminum walls may not rust but I have seen them corrode all the way thru in just a few years. A good quality steel wall should outlast anything else you can buy. With the way walls are coated on quality pools there should be no need to further coat it with roofing tar, especially since you will not be putting dirt back up against it.

I have never heard of railroad ties having any effect on pool parts. They have been used as lawn dividers for pool areas a lot in my area with no harm to pool walls or bottom rails.

My only other thought would be to make sure the pool has plenty of drainage around it. A pool with dirt backfilled against it will hold up better than a pool that is allowed to sit in several inches of water for long periods of time.

Hope this helps and I would love to see some photos as the project progresses.

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