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:
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 âmatâ under the step, for âmore protectionâ. 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 âunder step/ladderâ mats for pools, but I was discouraged by customer reviews complaining they didnât stay put unless weighted down or tied to the steps in some way â 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 (17â x 36â) and the suction cups seemed rather hard, so I opted to use three smaller mats (16â x 24â) of another brand that had softer cups â 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, untilâŚâŚ 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 âplumbers vinylâ, as recommended by some â the vinyl sheet used to line shower trays â but the only âshower linerâ 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, Iâm looking for something, ideally a single piece around 4â x 5â, 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 Âźâ) and resilient to cushion the rocking movement of the step base.
Probably a sheet of Âźâ silicone rubber (like gasket material) would work, but youâd 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 (45â x 50â size) looks like it might be a bit thicker than the rest:
http://www.amazon.com/Hydro-87956-Prote ... B0032JSQIO