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Thread: INTEX Site Prep / Ground Leveling HELP Needed!

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    RubyLK's Avatar
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    INTEX Site Prep / Ground Leveling HELP Needed!

    Hello all,

    I am a new owner of an Intex Ultra Frame 26 x 52 round pool, the biggest round Ultra Frame Intex sells. It arrived by freight a little over a week ago, and I'm still working to get the site ready for the pool to be installed / put together. I also ordered a 27ft round Gorilla Pad (the closest size to my pool that they make) to go with the pool.

    I'm attaching photos in the hopes that this helps give everyone a better idea of my situation.

    My entire backyard has a gradual slope. The only spot that is extremely flat, is the far-back yard, which is very shady due to neighbors' trees, and also sits above an inground pool that the previous owners of my home had filled in and demolished. (Sad!)

    So, due to settling concerns and since the weight of my above ground pool when filled with water will be quite a bit (and the fact that the only flat spot I have is very shady) I was told it would be best to choose another spot. The other available area is also quite sunnier, so I felt better about it.

    I had the area dug up by a family friend with a Kuboda (similar to a bobcat) construction machine. He removed all the sod and a whole bunch of dirt to get it somewhat level. We roped the area off with stakes prior to him starting. He said he had a difficult time leveling it completely because alot of the dirt seemed like clay. After he was done, he said I would benefit from getting a load of fresh dirt, sand, or something to smooth it all out. So, I got 3.5 yards of screened topsoil delivered by a huge truck from a local landscape supply company. (photo #2).

    After Jim with the Kuboda machine spread around that new dirt, the area looked like Photo #3. It looked almost perfectly flat!

    The same night, we got a HUGE thunderstorm and a ton of rain. The next morning, the area looked COMPLETELY different (see Photo #4.) The dirt seems hard, compacted, and it actually looks just like beach sand. I don't know if alot of the dirt got washed away, or what happened. Even now that its been almost 3 more days and its been dry each of those days, the stuff is still hard as a rock, and its very bumpy and certainly not level; there are high spots and low spots everywhere; not to mention what seems like a million trillion rocks of various sizes.

    This is my first time owning a pool; and I'm not really sure where to begin to continue prepping the area for the pool. I tried to build a 2x4 spinner to level the dirt like in this video I found: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uEmuVODpKA but, unlike this guy's dirt, mine just isn't "movable" like that. I tried raking it around and chopping it up with a shovel and metal rake / garden tools, it turns into dozens of river-rock sized "pebbles" of dirt, but doesn't separate back to its original consistency. When I wet it with the hose, it turns to absolute mud almost instantly, and isn't workable. Do I need something other than topsoil? Should I rototill the whole area, or is there something else I am missing or a step I am skipping? The darker black area in Photo 4 that you see is how the dirt looked after I chopped at it with a shovel, raked it with a metal rake/hoe tool for over an hour, and got it wet.

    I'm so excited about having the pool, but getting a bit discouraged and frustrated because I'm just not sure how on Earth I'm going to get it all the way flat. The big slope that was in the yard in this area is gone, but now there are tons of inclines and declines all thru the "pool pit". I have seen in videos, posts etc. that some people have used sand under Intex pools; but many of them updated that the following year they had 60 or more pinholes in the bottom of their liners as a result. I have seen still more posts that say that while you can't use sand to level, you CAN (and perhaps should?) use a few inches of it to smooth out your area AFTER it is level, and protect the liner from rocks, etc. I also know the Intex Installation manual also says specifically NOT to use sand. I'm not sure which information is correct here.... and have no idea where to go from here.

    Any and all advice is GREATLY appreciated!!
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Intex Ultra Frame 26' x 52" round pool. Gorilla Pad, Intex 2650gph Sand Filter Pump, seperate Intex Saltwater System and Skimmer Basket. Newbie pool owner, in my 2nd season! :)

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    Re: INTEX Site Prep / Ground Leveling HELP Needed!

    Whatever you do, make sure its level! I would put down 3/4 crush gravel as a base. Don't use sand! I would rent or hire someone with a site laser. It will be worth it in the long run! Make sure its 100% level. Tamp down any small rocks that are sticking up. I put down 8 sheets of 3/4 inch Styrofoam sheets on my 16 ft Ultraframe. I duct tape them together and then put the pool on top. I then cut off the excess Styrofoam and then placed small pieces of wood to support the legs. Hope this helps..it worked for me.

    41x25x18 Humpback Haven
    Graduated from 16ft Intex

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    RubyLK's Avatar
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    Re: INTEX Site Prep / Ground Leveling HELP Needed!

    hi Matt, thanks for the advice! I've decided to go with the Gorilla pad and 2 tarps (one being a heavy duty tarp, another being the cheapier one that comes with the pool) as the base. Originally I was thinking foam, but it will be expensive, and much more labor intensive. The Gorilla pad helps with rocks, grass etc I've read; but I didn't realize that with using something like foam, I didn't actually need to remove the rocks? They are small, but there are SO many of them. The thought of having to somehow remove them ALL was almost dizzying. I do plan on placing patio blocks that are sunken-in, level with the ground, under each of the legs. The guy I had dig up / try to flatten out the area with the big Bobcat type machine did use a laser level. He had it pretty darn level too, until the storm. Another one is coming tonight, apparently. I've seen some setups where edging or wood is used as a "frame" to the pool area - I may need to do that to keep my dirt from eroding away.

    Can you be more specific Matt about what you mean by 3/4 Crush Gravel? Another post I saw here on TroubleFreePool recommended to use something called 'Screenings'. It looked in the photo here on the forum like grayish colored sand almost.

    When I called the landscape supply company to ask for some, they had no idea what 'Screenings' where - maybe it is slang for a more widely known term? I called a gravel co. also, and also asked the guy who leveled the ground out for me, who does concrete as his profession - none of them had a clue what that was. Can anyone else confirm what screenings are, or if the crush gravel is the way to go, and if so what that is? Matt, do you mean to use 3/4 of an inch of crushed gravel?

    THANKS!!
    Intex Ultra Frame 26' x 52" round pool. Gorilla Pad, Intex 2650gph Sand Filter Pump, seperate Intex Saltwater System and Skimmer Basket. Newbie pool owner, in my 2nd season! :)

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    RubyLK's Avatar
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    Re: INTEX Site Prep / Ground Leveling HELP Needed!

    Can anybody tell me which of the groundcoverings on this page I might need (assuming its listed here). This is my local landscape supply co; and they deliver cheap: http://www.birchtreebarkandstone.com/soilsands.htm
    Thanks!
    Intex Ultra Frame 26' x 52" round pool. Gorilla Pad, Intex 2650gph Sand Filter Pump, seperate Intex Saltwater System and Skimmer Basket. Newbie pool owner, in my 2nd season! :)

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    joshuaberman's Avatar
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    Re: INTEX Site Prep / Ground Leveling HELP Needed!

    Getting the site level is a must as I'm sure you know by now. It's the first thing everyone is going to say. It's also the most frustrating part of the entire build. Be patient and do it right the first time and your pool will be safe and serve you longer.

    My 22' x 52" pool has been up and running for about 3 weeks now and getting the ground ready was a bear of a job as I did it all by hand. Dig out the high area to be level with your lowest point. Check level with a Laser level, a transit, or a water level. A water level is cheap to make, easy to use, and extremely accurate.

    I think when people say "sand" it's meant as a general term for the substrate used. I used a yard of "crusher rock" then a yard of "sand" type fill during my final leveling. After that, 18 sheets of 8'x4' "Pink" foam, the tarp, then liner.

    You can check my build with the link in my signature. All the information I got beforehand came from this site.

    Good luck and keep the pics coming!
    22'x52" Intex 10,472 gal. w/ 2650 Sand Filter, using Taylor K2006 Kit. BBB

    My Build: http://www.troublefreepool.com/threa...x)-Will-update

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    joshuaberman's Avatar
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    Re: INTEX Site Prep / Ground Leveling HELP Needed!

    Quote Originally Posted by RubyLK
    Can anybody tell me which of the groundcoverings on this page I might need (assuming its listed here). This is my local landscape supply co; and they deliver cheap: http://www.birchtreebarkandstone.com/soilsands.htm
    Thanks!

    With what's showing on that link, I'd use the "Chips n' Dust". The beach sand is way too fine. I would also make them aware of what you're doing and they may be able to help you decide if they have other material available.

    EDIT: Use the crushed gravel, then "Chips n' Dust". The small stones in the crushed gravel will fit together when wet and compacted, creating a very hard layer.
    22'x52" Intex 10,472 gal. w/ 2650 Sand Filter, using Taylor K2006 Kit. BBB

    My Build: http://www.troublefreepool.com/threa...x)-Will-update

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    Casey's Avatar
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    Re: INTEX Site Prep / Ground Leveling HELP Needed!

    Hi Ruby! Welcome to TFP! I have a thread going on my build. My slope puts your slope to shame! Check it out when you have time... rounding-the-corner-to-a-new-pool-build-t56134.html

    This is what you need to do as mentioned above, find your low point and dig out the high ground. It looks like this:



    It's NOT easy! Last week, my husband and I rented an excavator and guess what?!!! It rained that night and the next morning it was like a sheet of muddy ice and 2 days later when I went to work on it, it became so hard! I'm having such a difficult time with it that I've decided to pull midnights just to get it done because it gets full sun from 8am-8pm!!

    Leveling a pool site is painful! One high or low spot will throw the pool off. It's your foundation. Take the time and do it right and your pool will look nice!!!
    I'd bet you my bikini you'll never get TFP water from a pool store!

    24' Sharkline Venture De Filter

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    Re: INTEX Site Prep / Ground Leveling HELP Needed!

    Quote Originally Posted by RubyLK
    hi Matt, thanks for the advice! I've decided to go with the Gorilla pad and 2 tarps (one being a heavy duty tarp, another being the cheapier one that comes with the pool) as the base. Originally I was thinking foam, but it will be expensive, and much more labor intensive. The Gorilla pad helps with rocks, grass etc I've read; but I didn't realize that with using something like foam, I didn't actually need to remove the rocks? They are small, but there are SO many of them. The thought of having to somehow remove them ALL was almost dizzying. I do plan on placing patio blocks that are sunken-in, level with the ground, under each of the legs. The guy I had dig up / try to flatten out the area with the big Bobcat type machine did use a laser level. He had it pretty darn level too, until the storm. Another one is coming tonight, apparently. I've seen some setups where edging or wood is used as a "frame" to the pool area - I may need to do that to keep my dirt from eroding away.

    Can you be more specific Matt about what you mean by 3/4 Crush Gravel? Another post I saw here on TroubleFreePool recommended to use something called 'Screenings'. It looked in the photo here on the forum like grayish colored sand almost.

    When I called the landscape supply company to ask for some, they had no idea what 'Screenings' where - maybe it is slang for a more widely known term? I called a gravel co. also, and also asked the guy who leveled the ground out for me, who does concrete as his profession - none of them had a clue what that was. Can anyone else confirm what screenings are, or if the crush gravel is the way to go, and if so what that is? Matt, do you mean to use 3/4 of an inch of crushed gravel?

    THANKS!!
    Hi Ruby!

    Here they call it 3/4 crush "road base". It packs well for pathways and driveways and of course pools. If you go to a place that sells gravel, ask for 3/4 crush "road base", they might have a different term for it where you live? This has very fine material, slightly larger than sand and it has small rocks up to 3/4 of an inch and grey in colour here. This altogether packs really well. This is why they use it under paved roads. My 3/4 crush is surrounded by landscape ties, so the gravel has nowhere to go. I then covered the exposed crush with bark mulch and it looks great! As far as the Styrofoam, I picked up 8 sheets for just over sixty dollars, it wasn't very expensive. The good thing about the foam is the pool may retain the heat more, where as if it was on a tarp or another cover, the heat could be lost into the ground. It's something to consider! I'll try and post some photo's later. Be sure your buddy is good with the laser! That's a big pool!! Keep us posted!
    41x25x18 Humpback Haven
    Graduated from 16ft Intex

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    RubyLK's Avatar
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    Re: INTEX Site Prep / Ground Leveling HELP Needed!

    Thank you everyone for your comments and advice! I think I'm going to guy buy a hand tamper tomorrow at Home Depot and see how that works out. I was just so astonished after the storm to see how unlevel the area became, I was just shocked. Prior to that, I felt like we were 100% ready to put up the pool; if it hadn't been for the fact that the sun was setting on us. I've decided the best option is to build a wood box / slightly raised bed of sorts, probably using wood rather than edging or patio blocks, since they're more expensive, tamp down and level what is in the "pool pit" now as much as possible, then have something more added to the top to flatten it all out nicely and keep it from washing out if it rains heavily again before the pool is up.
    Intex Ultra Frame 26' x 52" round pool. Gorilla Pad, Intex 2650gph Sand Filter Pump, seperate Intex Saltwater System and Skimmer Basket. Newbie pool owner, in my 2nd season! :)

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