8 Above Ground Pool Pad Ideas: what to put under your pool this summer

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With summer approaching are you thinking about cooling off in your above ground pool? In this article I’ll look at 8 things that people put under their above ground pools – particularly inflatable pools and kiddie pools. (What they put under the liner to help protect the liner and add comfort to their feet.)

8 things people put under above ground pools to act as pool pads for above ground pools
Pool Pads for Above Ground Pools (8 ideas)

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Please note:

I am not a pool expert. I’ve been doing some research for our small, above ground pool that was rather cheap. (It is a soft-sided HydroForce inflatable pool.)

If you have an expensive above ground pool that requires a team of installers or hours and hours of labor to set up, follow the directions of the pool manufacturer as to what to put under the pool (or the advice of professional installers). What I highlight in this article may not be appropriate for your specific pool so I can’t be held responsible for any issues that may arise.

Table of Contents

Who is this article for?

This article is primarily for people wanting to put up an inflatable pool, kiddie pool or another “lower end” above ground pool in their backyard. It isn’t for the permanent above ground pools.

Who is this article NOT for?

As mentioned above, if you have a large or expensive above ground pool follow the advice of the manufacturer or installer because using something other than what’s recommended may void your warranty.

And you don’t want thousands of gallons of water rushing out of your pool because you did something wrong.

What if I have a cheap above ground pool that I want to put down on my lawn?

This is honestly the boat I’m in.

I don’t have an expensive above ground pool…and where I live we only have about 2 months when we can use the pool so I’m not going to dedicate a big portion of my yard for a permanent installation. I’m not going to truck in tons of mason sand to prep a base for it.

So in my case – and maybe yours too – I do need something to help protect the pool liner from stuff under the pool because I’m going to put the pool right on the ground and not have a compacted sand base.

Obviously this half-baked approach isn’t suited for expensive pools, permanent installations or large pools.

Wherever you put your above ground pool and whatever you put under it, make sure the ground is level and free of debris before setting up your pool.

Pool Pads for Above Ground Pools like Kiddie Pools and Inflatable Pools

Below are some things that people put under their above ground pools to enhance comfort on the feet and to protect the pool liner.

1) Pre-cut Pool Liner Pads

Liner Life Pre-Cut Swimming Pool Liner Pad, 18’ Round, White – Made of Strong, Durable Polyester Geotextile Material, Precut to Fit Perfectly, GP18R

You can purchase pre-cut above ground pool pads such as the Gorilla Pad, or the one shown above by LinerLife.

They are meant to be laid on the ground under the pool liner. The manufacturer states that putting it on sand is recommended, but I’ve read about people putting it on hard ground (but the manufacturer doesn’t recommend this).

What’s nice about a pool liner pad like this is that it is pre-cut so it makes installation easier.

You can buy them in various shapes (for round pools, oval pools and rectangular pools), and various sizes.

For instance, if you have a 15-foot round pool, you’d get a 15-foot round pre-cut liner. You don’t need to buy a bigger size pad.

Click here to check Current Price on Amazon.

2) Foam Rolls designed to be used as Pool Pads for Pool Walls

Blue Wave NL1975 Gorilla Guard In-Ground Closed Cell Pool Wall Foam, 1/8" x 42" x 125'

These rolls of 1/8-inch thick closed-cell foam are intended to be used on the side walls of above ground pools. But some people put them under the pool as a pool liner pad too.

This particular roll is called Gorilla Guard by Blue Wave. Because it comes in a roll – and not precut to size – you’ll have to cut it to suit your pool size.

Click here to see more details of Gorilla Guard foam roll on Amazon.

I wonder if the foam that goes under laminate flooring would work?

3) Rigid Foam Insulation

I saw this approach in a YouTube video. The guy (who is really skilled with rigid foam) made a smooth base for his above ground pool by cutting rigid foam boards to create a circle for his Intex pool.

(Lately though, with the rising prices of construction materials, this may be cost prohibitive and I wouldn’t have room to store the foam in the off-season.)

4) Interlocking Foam Pads

BalanceFrom Puzzle Exercise Mat with EVA Foam Interlocking Tiles, Blue, 1/2” Thick, 144 Square Feet(Pack of 36)

Another option to use as pool padding is to use interlocking foam mats like the kind you use as flooring in a home gym.

It will provide some cushioning for your feet as well are provide a barrier over the ground.

This sounds like a good option because once the pool is taken down for the season the foam mats are re-usable.

5) Lay a Tarp on the Ground

This isn’t recommend for big fancy above ground pools, but if you’re putting a kiddie pool or small above ground pool on your lawn or concrete for a short period of time, a tarp might do the trick.

A tarp is a cheap idea to use as a basic above ground pool pad.

6) Old Carpet as an Above Ground Pool Pad

Some people lay down old carpet under an inflatable pool or other above ground pool
Lay an old carpet under an above ground pool

Here is another idea that I first heard about in some YouTube videos.

And what is great about this option is that many people throw out old carpet for free.

Put the plush, softer side up against the pool liner and the fibrous, webbing side down on the ground as shown above.

I have used old pieces of carpet around the inflatable pool in the past to have something to step on when we get out of the pool, but I’ve yet to put carpet under an inflatable pool. It is an interesting idea.

7) Simply put the Inflatable Pool on Grass

What to put under a kiddie pool - if you have nice grass you could put the pool right on the grass as long as there are no rocks, sticks, etc... to poke the pool liner.

If you have a well-maintained grass lawn that doesn’t have any sticks, rocks or other sharp objects, you could put a small above ground pool right on the grass. It may kill your grass under the pool though depending on how long you keep the pool set up. (But I bet all the options will do that though.)

Rake your lawn and check closely for anything that could tear your pool liner.

8) Sand

This is what is usually recommended to go under above ground pools, especially “permanent” installations.

This article from thePoolFactory.com states that they recommend a 3-inch layer of compacted mason sand (aka pool sand) under your above ground pool. Once you have created a smooth, compacted base layer of find sand there should be no divots or air pockets.

Keep in mind this 3-inch layer is for the larger or more permanent installations. (Or “proper” installations.)

And if you do decide to lay down sand in your backyard, you’ll be able to level out your pool better, but you’ll have to remove the sand if you want to grow grass there again next yet.

What is an Above Ground Pool Pad for if you have a big Above Ground pool?

I honestly thought that a pool floor pad for big above ground pools was to protect the pool liner and stop it from getting rips or tears from stuff under the pool.

For little pools like mine tossed on the yard this is true, but Chad from the ‘Above Ground Pros’ YouTube channel said this isn’t the case for large, properly installed above ground pools.

In the video below he said in about 25 years of working on pools he has only seen about 2 tears in the pool liner caused by something coming up from underneath the pool. (Watch the 9:35 mark of the video for this remark.)

Therefore, in his expert opinion, if you’ve got a good base layer of smooth sand laid down then your above ground pool pad is more for comfort on your feet than actually protecting the pool liner.

This is of course if you have done the work to build a flat, smooth base for your pool. A professional like Chad isn’t just slapping an expensive pool down on rough ground like I do. 🙂

I hope this article has given your some ideas on what you can put under your above ground pool or inflatable pool.

Remember it is always a good idea to read the manufacturer’s instructions to see what they recommend so you don’t void any warranties (if applicable).

Up Next:

19 awesome Above Ground Pool Accessories (get the most out of your above ground pool)

above ground pool accessories

13 refreshing Pool Shade Ideas [enjoy your pool without the scorching sun]

13 refreshing Pool Shade Ideas and Pool canopies to help beat the heat

15 excellent Outdoor Towel Rack options (includes some great options for the pool)

outdoor towel rack options

Backyard party accessories

Having a party to celebrate getting your above ground pool? Don’t miss these Backyard Party Accessories.

Need some privacy in your backyard so you can enjoy your pool? Check out these 19 popular Privacy Fence Ideas.

privacy fence ideas

Need a hose to fill your pool? Check out my initial thoughts on the Rapid Flo 100ft compact garden hose.

Rapid flo hose

4 thoughts on “8 Above Ground Pool Pad Ideas: what to put under your pool this summer”

    1. Hi. Because we have a relatively short period of time that the pool is set up, I decided to just put it on the grass. I raked it first, picked up any twigs and then set up the pool. It damaged the grass a bit but it rebounded quickly in the fall. If the pool was set up for much longer it may have killed the grass, but I’m not really a perfectionist when it comes to my lawn….I realize I can always plant more grass. I hope one of these options helps you.

  1. I got a question. Is it a good idea to use, racked leaves and cover those with a tarp, and use as a overground pool base?

    1. Hi Brian, I am not a pool installation expert. If you have an expensive pool, I would follow the advice of the manufacturer. If you have a basic above ground pool that you only have up for a couple months per year I think the tarp could be good to help protect your liner but I wonder if the leaves would compress and degrade at different rates, potentially causing your pool to be uneven. I don’t know if that helped you but that would be my concern.

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