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Thread: Using 1" polystyrene foam bottom- my experience

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    scurvydude's Avatar
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    Using 1" polystyrene foam bottom- my experience

    For those who are struggling with which option to choose for a pool bottom, here is my experience with using 1" tongue & groove polystyrene foam.
    I installed it as a base directly on the flat ground (no sand). Taped all of the seams and used peel-and-stick foam cove. Worked great, loved the feel of the bottom, the smoothness, cleanliness of install, etc.
    This year, the 2 year old liner developed a 5 inch split along the seam at the bottom during the winter. During the spring melt, the ice in the pool turned into a big "ring" of ice. As the water leaked out, this ring of ice settled onto the foam, destroying most of the sheets, in many spots smashing right through to the ground. The water also made it's way under the foam, washing out and displacing some of the ground underneath. The washout was not major, but enough that the foam would need to be removed to fix.
    As I am now in the middle of making my repairs, I have decided not to use the foam bottom again. One of the reasons for this is the expense. Even though this scenario probably will not happen very often, the thought of it happening again and having to spend $100+ on foam and Gorilla Tape and spending hours cutting the new pieces is not appealing. Mostly because in my mind I will assume this will happen over and over (even thought it probably wouldn't), and if I used any other bottom there would be little to no expense getting the pool back up and running aside from some labor to straighten things out.
    What I have decided to do moving forward is to add 1" of sand in place of the foam, put a Gorilla Pad/Liner Shield or the like on top of that with cove. I should also note that the cheap cove I bought two years ago cannot be re-used either, as it has compressed to about 1/4 the size it was when installed. I will need to replace it with something better.

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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Using 1" polystyrene foam bottom- my experience

    Thanks for the info. I've been thinking of using that on the bottom of my sisters pool. Around here we never have to worry about freezing so that's not a concern.
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    mcoonan's Avatar
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    Re: Using 1" polystyrene foam bottom- my experience

    Sorry to hear about your troubles! Having a liner split after only 2 years is a pain in the rear. (not to mention the wallet!) I am suprised that the foam was destroyed. Mine has been there for 3 years now, (I used the 2" pink from Menards) but I take my pool down every year (Intex pool) and park my boat on it. So far so good, was thinking about replacing the tarp that covers the foam but it still looks OK for this year. I believe the foam helps us folks up-north in keeping the pool warmer by insulating it from the cold ground.
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    scurvydude's Avatar
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    Re: Using 1" polystyrene foam bottom- my experience

    I agree, it sure seems like the foam helps keep the water warmer up here! I did really like it until I had to take everything out....I think a major contributor is the clay around here. It was a wet fall and the ground heaves were worse than normal. My pool is the all aluminum type with the aluminum deck all the way around, and during the winter the deck looked awful, like it was put together by Dr. Suess. The ground thawed and settled back down level again, but I sure was nervous for awhile that I would be left with a twisted up mess. Thankfully all of the pieces appear to be ok. If I had a cement slab or ground that didn't heave so bad in the winter, I would definitely use the foam sheets again.

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