Many pool owners opt for above ground pools because they are super easy to install and are less of a long-term commitment compared to inground pools. You simply need to set up the walls and floor of the pool, secure it, and fill the pool with water.
However, one thing to keep in mind with above ground pools is that they need something stable placed under the pool. Your yard is not the most stable foundation and can quickly shift when it rains. If the yard shifts, your swimming pool is at risk of getting damaged or spilling over. You could potentially put many different things under your above ground pool to stabilize it. So in this article, I will go over some of the main options and discuss the pros and cons are of each one.
What You Can Put Under Your Above Ground Pool
A popular stabilizing option for above ground pools is poured concrete. They last a very long time and are completely flat and very durable. However, they can be pretty rough on softer materials and wear out the pool liner over time. So I recommend placing another layer in between the pool and the concrete.
- Can be made perfectly flat
- A permanent option
- Your pool will not move around because it is very stable
- Will wear down the pool’s liner over time
- A second material is needed between the liner and the concrete
- Can be costly to install concrete.
Sand is another material that can be used to stabilize your above ground pool. The weight of the pool will push down on the sand, making a relatively firm base. Unlike concrete pads, sand will wear away over time and become unreliable in heavy rain.
- A very cheap option
- Much easier to install than concrete
- Another layer is not needed because the sand will not wear out the pool liner
- Heavy rain can shift the sand and destabilize the pool
- Animals may burrow in the sand, causing hollow areas that can collapse under the pool’s weight
- Having sand in your yard can be messy
Pre-Cut Pool Pad
A pool pad is a material designed specifically to place under your above ground pool. They are generally used on a concrete slab. The pool pads can be cut to perfectly fit your pool’s base. Pre-cut pool pads are made of a super durable material and will not trap moisture.
- Made of tough material that can withstand harsh weather and chemicals
- The material will not trap water because it is breathable
- Will come pre-cut so it will be made to fit your pool perfectly
- Works perfectly with concrete slabs
- A very expensive option
- Only really compatible with concrete slabs
Using foam as a base for your above ground pool is another great option. The lightweight material provides a solid amount of support. Foam can usually be purchased at most hardware stores as interlocking tiles, so it is easy to install. I recommend using foam tiles on a concrete slab or another stable and flat surface.
- Won’t wear down the pool liner
- Very easy to install
- The thick foam won’t move around on flat surfaces and provides an excellent base for your pool
- Depending on the thickness and quality, it can be expensive
- Not easy to cut to size
- Material is not breathable, so water will get trapped between the pool and the foam
Carpet is an economical option that you can easily find for cheap or even free. Although it is not as protective as a pre-cut pool pad or foam tiles, it does protect against possible threats that could tear the liner. I generally recommend using two or three carpet layers because it is not very thick material.
- Very cheap option (can even be free)
- It is breathable so it will not trap water in between the pool and the carpet
- Easy to find because it is not a pool-specific option
- Provides decent protection against sharp objects
- Not as protective or stable as other options
- Does not have much cushion, so you will need to use more than one layer
- Difficult to cut to size
Nothing (Natural Ground)
Using the natural ground as the base for your above ground pool is possible, but not a great idea. Not having any base can be unstable, and the pool can shift and even spill over. If you opt to not use concrete or at least sand as a primary base for your above ground pool, I recommend at least using a pool pad or foam tiles and using the most stable area of the yard possible. Additionally, make sure that you kill the grass before placing the pool on the ground.
- Doesn’t cost anything to install
- Can be very stable for the short term if the yard is firm
- The natural ground will shift over time which can pose a dangerous situation with your pool
- Debris and other sharp objects on the ground can wear out the pool’s liner
- If it rains, puddles can form under your pool’s vinyl liner
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need to put something under my pool?
Above ground pools require a stable base because they are generally made of flimsy vinyl material. A flat, durable surface ensures that your pool will not tip over and spill vast amounts of water. The natural ground can shift over time, so even if you believe your swimming pool has a stable base, it may not be very stable in a few years.
What is the most durable thing to put under an above ground pool?
Each option has its pros and cons depending on what you care about most. But the most durable option would be a concrete slab with a pre-cut pool pad. This combination offers the most protection and stability, but keep in mind that it is not very cost-effective.
Need Some Maintenance Help?
We partner with HomeAdvisor to help you find the best swimming pool maintenance and cleaning services in your area. Compare quotes for free from fully vetted pool professionals.
Above ground pools are a great and cheaper alternative to installing an inground pool. They can be super easy to maintain as well. As long as your yard has a generally flat area, you should be able to install an above ground pool. But to ensure the safety of your above ground pool, make sure you place the pool on a stable surface. Once you have set up your above ground pool with a durable material underneath it, you can enjoy your pool for the rest of the season and years to come!
For more tips, head over to my recommendations for the best above ground pools and guides on how to level the ground below your pool, how to set up an above ground pool, and what size above ground pool to choose.
Do you have any questions about above ground pools? Feel free to reach out; I am always happy to help!