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Thread: Protective Under Mat for Pool Steps

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    Protective Under Mat for Pool Steps

    Hi,

    I know we are coming into winter, but storing my pool stuff away after closing the other day, my thoughts turned to under-step protective mats.

    I have an above ground pool (Cornelius 18' round) with these Festiva steps from Lumi-O:

    http://lumi-o.com/index.php?content=stairs_2&lang=en-CA

    The pool and all were given to us by a relative, so I didn't choose the steps, but they are quite robust and sturdy, at least when fixed to a deck. Problem is that the pool was installed (on stone dust base with protective under-liner 'carpet') with a slight slope from the cove down to the main drain - a good thing in itself, except that, when attached to the deck with the brackets (arms), the step base doesn't rest evenly on the liner. The manufacturer does state that this model requires a 'flat site'.

    I tried putting some shimmy (rubber) under the deck brackets to lean the steps forward, which helped a bit, but I could see that, as people used the step, there was still sufficient movement on exiting for the base to rock forwards and back. Entering was less of a problem except when launching from the middle steps. I might add that I did explain to people the scientific purpose of my submerging myself by the side of the steps as they were getting in and out.

    Anyhow, I was worried that over time this movement would cause indentation and damage the liner, and so looked at the options for under-step protection. Reading the manufacturers installation instructions over, I noted that they did in fact recommend putting a “mat” under the step, for “more protection”. You would have thought then that they could supply one, even as an optional extra, or at least advise the type of mat to use.

    Web searches turned up various vinyl ‘under step/ladder’ mats for pools, but I was discouraged by customer reviews complaining they didn’t stay put unless weighted down or tied to the steps in some way – which seems to defeat the object. None of the major pool suppliers in my locale stocked them. One said that some folks use the rubber bath mats with suction pads. Largest I could find in the stores was a Rubbermaid extra large bathmat which was not large enough (17” x 36”) and the suction cups seemed rather hard, so I opted to use three smaller mats (16” x 24”) of another brand that had softer cups – one under each side and the front. Cant recall the brand now (chucked them out), but they were about 6 $ each.

    They seemed to do the trick, with just enough suction to keep them in place, until…… I started to get green algae problems around the steps. Pulled up the mats and for sure they were coated, not underneath as one might suspect, but on the surface just inside the steps. Got rid of the algae, but within a few days of putting back the mats it was back. And so began the ritual of removing and cleaning the mats when the pool was not in use. Not only tedious, but over a few weeks the mats start to deteriorate, mostly from rubbing at the back of the step base, and by the end of the season they were just falling apart. I suspect also that the pool chlorine played a part, as each time I took the mats out to clean it appeared that material was dissolving. Maybe the more expensive Rubbermaid mats are better quality vinyl, but I suspect that there would still be algae problems, as the none-slip surface is quite rough.

    I did consider using ‘plumbers vinyl’, as recommended by some – the vinyl sheet used to line shower trays – but the only ‘shower liner’ I could find at local plumbers merchants was quite expensive, and seemed much too light and thin. I also looked at more heavy duty rubber floor mats but good find none that were smooth and/or large enough.

    So, I am keen to know if anyone can offer a good solution from their experience.

    For my purposes, I’m looking for something, ideally a single piece around 4’ x 5’, that has sufficient traction and/or weight to stay put without adding extra weights to the step or mat - the two gravel filled steps are already 50lb each and I need to be able to lift the step up for cleaning. Obviously the mat needs to be sufficiently thick (probably at least ¼”) and resilient to cushion the rocking movement of the step base.

    Probably a sheet of ¼” silicone rubber (like gasket material) would work, but you’d be looking at several hundred dollars for a piece that size.

    Are any of the commercially available pool mats suitable? The one from Hydro Tools (45” x 50” size) looks like it might be a bit thicker than the rest:

    http://www.amazon.com/Hydro-87956-Prote ... B0032JSQIO

    Any suggestions?

    Cheers.
    "Inherited" Cornelius 18'x54" Round AGP (Steel walls), Hayward Pro Series 21" Sand Filter, ClubPro (Jacuzzi) 1HP single speed pump, Lumi-O Festiva steps, Toile-Soleil mesh leaf net/winter cover. That's about it.

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    Ohm_Boy's Avatar
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    Re: Protective Under Mat for Pool Steps

    Not sure what to suggest here, but commercial buildings with EDPM roofing often use thick (like 1/2") rubber pads for personnel walkways on the rooftop. Perhaps an internet search for "roof walkway pad" is in order? Something like the 36"x48" version here? http://www.matsmatsmats.com/commercial- ... -pads.html
    [center:1kpalu48]Helpful Links: Pool School | CYA/Chlorine Chart | Pool Calculator[/center:1kpalu48]

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    Re: Protective Under Mat for Pool Steps

    Thanks. Yes, that type of thing, although I wonder how recycled rubber would fare in the chlorine.

    Actually, I just contacted the step manufacturer (now owned by InnovaPlas) to see what they suggest. Was advised that, instead of a mat, they now recommend using their 'Step Cup System' i.e. suction cupped feet:

    http://innovaplas.com/accessories/9060/

    Installation requires drilling holes in the step base. They advised a minimum of 4, and preferably 6 for my steps. The cups are about 3" diameter apparently. Inclined pool floors can be accommodated by the use of spacers.

    Anyone using this type of system? My only concerns are whether the cups themselves would, over period of time, indent the pool base, and obviously you would not want them to stick so well that it becomes difficult to lift the steps for cleaning.

    Still think a mat would be best.
    "Inherited" Cornelius 18'x54" Round AGP (Steel walls), Hayward Pro Series 21" Sand Filter, ClubPro (Jacuzzi) 1HP single speed pump, Lumi-O Festiva steps, Toile-Soleil mesh leaf net/winter cover. That's about it.

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    Ohm_Boy's Avatar
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    Re: Protective Under Mat for Pool Steps

    You could probably find a Yoga mat cheaply enough and try it. I dunno, maybe I'm not the one to ask though, 'cause this is my kind of ladder solution:
    [center:1kpalu48]Helpful Links: Pool School | CYA/Chlorine Chart | Pool Calculator[/center:1kpalu48]

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    Re: Protective Under Mat for Pool Steps

    And it probably works quite well. Doubt they do a Size 150 flip-flop though

    I've heard of people using Yoga mats, but I cant see how that would work though - they are usually made of or filled with foam are'nt they? I tried a sheet of quite dense closed cell foam once and it just disappeared up the inside of the steps.
    "Inherited" Cornelius 18'x54" Round AGP (Steel walls), Hayward Pro Series 21" Sand Filter, ClubPro (Jacuzzi) 1HP single speed pump, Lumi-O Festiva steps, Toile-Soleil mesh leaf net/winter cover. That's about it.

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    Ohm_Boy's Avatar
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    Re: Protective Under Mat for Pool Steps

    I suppose you could get a strip of weatherstripping and glue it to the bottom rim of the stairs.
    [center:1kpalu48]Helpful Links: Pool School | CYA/Chlorine Chart | Pool Calculator[/center:1kpalu48]

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    Re: Protective Under Mat for Pool Steps

    The problem with attaching some form of cushioning to the underside of the steps though is that you are still left with a surface, albeit softer, that can rub against the liner. That's why I'm a bit dubious about these suction cup feet - do they really hold the step base fast to the liner, so there is no movement? Even flexing/flattening of the cup as weight is put on the step is bound to cause some rubbing. Even though I have protective 'carpet' under my liner, the last thing I want is something digging into the compacted stone dust underneath and stirring up the small sharp stones. So, in my case at least, I still think it's better to have a protective rubber mat under the step.

    Edit: Well, if I haven't found anything suitable by next Spring, I think I'll try the Hydro Tools mat and hope that it stays put. If I do still find algae grows on the mat on the inside of the step, I might look at installing the suction cup feet to lift the step base above the mat; one of the main selling points appears to be that this improves circulation around the base, so discouraging algae. If the mat does move, I might then have to consider screw-locking the sleeve that attaches the back vertical support tubes to the deck braces so there is no vertical movement; until now, I (like many people) have left that loose, so that the step can be lifted for cleaning. If these cup feet really do what they say, the steps should require less frequent cleaning anyway.
    "Inherited" Cornelius 18'x54" Round AGP (Steel walls), Hayward Pro Series 21" Sand Filter, ClubPro (Jacuzzi) 1HP single speed pump, Lumi-O Festiva steps, Toile-Soleil mesh leaf net/winter cover. That's about it.

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