Sand Base for an Above Ground Pool

by Amy
(Beloit, WI)

I need advice. In the past, I have had Intex above ground pools, the type you put sand under. This year, my husband's boss gave us an 18' metal above ground pool.

We need to get rid of the sand, but no one seems to want free sand. We were just going to move it, but after looking closer, we realized this is an enormous amount of sand, and to try and get to the bottom of it is quite a task. There is about 4 to 6" of sand in the enclosed area and it is enclosed with landscape timbers.

The actual opening is 18' 9" wide. My question is, is there any other option besides digging all of this sand out? We don't have a lot of money to play with after buying the new liner, coping strips, coving and wall foam...Do we have any other options?? It is very sturdy, we built it ourselves and we used re bar to secure the timbers into the ground as well as attaching the timbers to each other and adding wood skirting pieces around the outside.

We were thinking about using styrofoam also.

I greatly appreciate your advice, Thank you in advance. Have a great Memorial Day weekend!!

sand for above ground pool

Hi Amy.

Sand is used under steel wall above ground pools also, so there is no reason to get rid of it. Your main concern is getting the bottom rail and footplates on firm ground. This could be done several different ways. I would set 1 1/2"

x 8" x 16" patio pavers around the perimeter of the pool. This would make a solid base for the bottom rails and footplates. The footplates should definitely be on blocks and the rest is optional. In between the footplates you could remove some sand and fill back in with dirt or crushed granite.

I would use the blocks all the way around because you mentioned using preformed pool cove. This type of coving works best when the rail is on a solid foundation like blocks, concrete or tile. If I were using pool cove in this manor I would just use your existing sand base and not use any styrafoam over it. Once the cove were in place the sand could be spread out, going about half way up the cove, and possibly even dipping a little in the center. You have so much sand it would not hurt any to toss out the top layer and get into the really clean sand underneath. Wet the sand with a hose before working with it and it smooths out much easier.

If you are using styrafoam the sand would need to be leveled off very flat, just covering the bottom rails by an inch or so. The foam gets laid out, cut, fitted and taped. The cove is then installed over the foam. Since the bottom rail will be covered you need the cove that has the tape on the back, not the plastic that inserts into the bottom rail. For most installations the plastic backing is preferred, but not on top of foam.

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Apr 20, 2010
installing the styrofoam base
by: Kandace

Hi, First of all I love your site, you give a lot of great advice and have lots of great answers! Now to my question....

Do you cut the styrofoam to fit the perimeter of the base of the pool or do you use the styrofoam as part of the base and install the pool on top of it? We are installing a 27'round above ground pool and will be using coving as well as crusher dust under the foam. Do have any suggestions as to the best way to prep the base or can it be compacted, leveled, foam laid on top and then cut to the inside perimeter of the pool? Also we would like to know how many 4'x8' styrofoam sheets we will need for a pool this size.

One more thing, when using coving how do you install it when foam is being used under the liner?

Thanks so much for your time.


Hi Kandace. I would use the Styrofoam inside the pool as opposed to setting the pool on the foam. Lay out your track and level it, install your wall and all the pool framework and then install the foam. The foam should be cut to fit as close to the wall as possible and any little holes can be filled in with the small left over pieces. The best cove to use is the tape backed because it will be installed above the bottom track. Tape backed cove can be stuck to the wall at any location where the snap in cove needs to be snapped directly into the bottom track.

You can easily use some grid paper and work out the best layout for the foam, this will give you a good idea of how much you need to buy. I start by laying out as many full pieces as possible, taping them together as I go. Then I start the tedious part of fitting in all the small pieces. When all the foam is down you can then install the cove on top of that, using plenty of duct tape to hold it all in place.

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