Foam? Sand? Gorilla Pad? What do I need to put under my pool and what is optional?

Slippery

Member
Jul 15, 2018
19
Portland or
I am prepping the ground for my 16x49 Intex graphite pool and doing my research.

I see lots of talk about foam and sand and gorilla pads. What do I actually need under the pool and what is just for feel? Are there other things I am missing?

I am leveling the ground myself. I was going to get the dirt level using a laser level (got any suggestions for one?) Then dig spaces for the pavers. Then fill the rest with sand. With a slight dip into the middle.

After searching here I am seeing lots of talk about foam and gorilla pads and other stuff.

Does the foam replace the sand? Do I need foam and sand? Seems like folks are using the pink or purple foam you can get at Home Depot. Is this correct? Foam would be easier for me since I don't have a driveway and I would have to lug the sandbags one by one to the back yard up a few steps.

Do I need a gorilla pad or can i just use the ground cover that came with the pool? I assume the gorilla pad is there to prevent grass and rocks from cutting the liner. Is that correct?
 

chayne

Bronze Supporter
me personally i use the anti fatigue mats, then i put a gorilla pad on top of that. it helped to hide where the mats interlock. i used plenty of gorilla tape to tape the mats together but there was still a slight showing of the lines. when i put the gorilla pad on top of the mats the lines were gone. not to mention the gorilla pad helps with any weed growth that might come up.
 

Slippery

Member
Jul 15, 2018
19
Portland or
me personally i use the anti fatigue mats, then i put a gorilla pad on top of that. it helped to hide where the mats interlock. i used plenty of gorilla tape to tape the mats together but there was still a slight showing of the lines. when i put the gorilla pad on top of the mats the lines were gone. not to mention the gorilla pad helps with any weed growth that might come up.
Thanks! Do I need sand underneath if I do the mats? Assuming I can get the dirt level on it's own?
 

nick_wa

Well-known member
Jun 12, 2012
58
I am also curious the details on using anti-fatigue mats or XPS foam. If I understand correctly:

1. Perfectly level gravel or dirt base
2. Dig in patio stones for uprights to sit on, flush with base
3. Install bottom track, uprights, and wall
4. Anti-fatigue mats or XPS foam inside walls, over gravel
5. Gorilla pad over mats/XPS
6. Install bottom perimeter cove
7. Install liner


Is that correct? I'm a bit confused about doing step 4 or 5 first.

Additionally, I guess it doesn't matter if you add 1" of XPS to the base within the walls (thereby making your pool 1" less deep?
 

Slippery

Member
Jul 15, 2018
19
Portland or
I am also curious the details on using anti-fatigue mats or XPS foam. If I understand correctly:

1. Perfectly level gravel or dirt base
2. Dig in patio stones for uprights to sit on, flush with base
3. Install bottom track, uprights, and wall
4. Anti-fatigue mats or XPS foam inside walls, over gravel
5. Gorilla pad over mats/XPS
6. Install bottom perimeter cove
7. Install liner


Is that correct? I'm a bit confused about doing step 4 or 5 first.

Additionally, I guess it doesn't matter if you add 1" of XPS to the base within the walls (thereby making your pool 1" less deep?
I've been reading tons of post how people did it. It seems like some folks put the pavers down on the level dirt then get foam that is the same height as the pavers so you don't have to dig down. But I am not confident of this assumption. I was hoping someone far more experienced would chime in.

Also, is the cove necessary? or just something nice to have?

As for foam walls one guy said it wasn't necessary and kind of a pain do to correctly and doesn't add much insulating value if at all. I'd like to hear others thoughts on this.
 

nick_wa

Well-known member
Jun 12, 2012
58
Cove is necessary yes, if not foam cove then sand - but foam much easier and potentially longer lasting.

As for foam wall, I don't care about the insulation but rather the feel. Liner on metal would be very hard to the touch and the foam would just make it a little bit softer.
 

JasonPayne

Member
Jan 12, 2013
23
Northeast Arkansas
There is someone on this forum who often makes this point about the foam walls. The argument goes that foam walls make your liner much easier to puncture/rip. The example they give is: Take a piece of paper and lay it down on a flat table and try to poke a pencil through it. It can be done, but it takes work. Now that that same piece of paper and put it down on a piece of foam (say foam mouse pad) and try to poke a hole through it. MUCH easier. I don't know from experience, but this example makes sense to me.
 

Slippery

Member
Jul 15, 2018
19
Portland or
Cove is necessary yes, if not foam cove then sand - but foam much easier and potentially longer lasting.

As for foam wall, I don't care about the insulation but rather the feel. Liner on metal would be very hard to the touch and the foam would just make it a little bit softer.
I looked at the construction of my pool and the liner just basically hangs from the frame. check out this video:

There is a bottom ring for the cove to sit against but it is outside the legs. See page 15 of manual: http://www.intexsales.com/b2cmnl/B2CMNLServlet?instantiate=B2cMnldownloadApp&action=pub_mnl&filnam=120PO_R1_1910_EN.pdf

Since the ring the foam cove would sit against and keep it in place might be too far outside the edge of the actual liner I might have to glue the cove to the XPS foam I plan to use. Should I glue the cove? Secure it another way? WHat is the cove doing that I might need it? Is it worth it?
 

JoeSelf

Gold Supporter
Jun 18, 2014
502
Glassboro NJ
I watched the video and did not see where a cove is necessary. The cove is usually for a steel walled pool to keep the liner from pushing out where the floor and wall meet.
 

nick_wa

Well-known member
Jun 12, 2012
58
I looked at the construction of my pool and the liner just basically hangs from the frame. check out this video:

There is a bottom ring for the cove to sit against but it is outside the legs. See page 15 of manual: http://www.intexsales.com/b2cmnl/B2CMNLServlet?instantiate=B2cMnldownloadApp&action=pub_mnl&filnam=120PO_R1_1910_EN.pdf

Since the ring the foam cove would sit against and keep it in place might be too far outside the edge of the actual liner I might have to glue the cove to the XPS foam I plan to use. Should I glue the cove? Secure it another way? WHat is the cove doing that I might need it? Is it worth it?

My apologies. I was referring to a steel walled pool not the Intex.
 

scout123

Well-known member
Feb 18, 2018
119
Chattanooga, TN
Nice pool. I didn't see where you'd need a cove with this pool. That's usually for steel walled pools. This looks like the usual intex pool, but with a nice panel surround. You can use the foam under the pool. I did that, and it's nice to walk on. You'll still want to dig in your leg supports though, because the weight of the water will compress the foam somewhat. When you piece together the foam, tape the seams a couple times. I used gorilla tape, and taped each seam 3 times. The reason you want them taped well, is so the liner doesn't work its way down in the seams. I put a tarp over the foam and then put my pool on that. Oh, and besides being nice to walk on, the foam will help protect the bottom of the pool from small rocks and things that can work themselves up from the ground.
 

Teald024

TFP Guide
Intex pools generally need some type of pad under the liner to stop things from poking through the liner. Most users just place it on grass. Anything above this is a better install. Level is most important. If you are using sand or flat foam panels, then the pad is just extra. If you use gravel, then a pad is necessary to protect from the sharp edges of gravel. A cove is not needed nor recommended since coves are just for hard walled pools. The legs need to sit on solid thick pavers. The 2" pavers typically crack unless the ground is very hard. The sand or foam is brought up to the top of the pavers in height. Be careful on the placement of the pavers since the legs typically spread out once the pool is filled with water.
 

chayne

Bronze Supporter
i did not put any sand under my mats. my dirt was not perfectly level but you could never tell with the mats. now, my pavers were perfectly level. once the pool was up, i went around and trimmed the mats so they would not stick out from the pool. then i put the gorilla pad on top of the mats. this pic was from last year. i had the foam boards the first year, i really did not like them. i really like the softness of the mats.

20170318_140303.jpg
 

Slippery

Member
Jul 15, 2018
19
Portland or
Nice pool. I didn't see where you'd need a cove with this pool. That's usually for steel walled pools. This looks like the usual intex pool, but with a nice panel surround. You can use the foam under the pool. I did that, and it's nice to walk on. You'll still want to dig in your leg supports though, because the weight of the water will compress the foam somewhat. When you piece together the foam, tape the seams a couple times. I used gorilla tape, and taped each seam 3 times. The reason you want them taped well, is so the liner doesn't work its way down in the seams. I put a tarp over the foam and then put my pool on that. Oh, and besides being nice to walk on, the foam will help protect the bottom of the pool from small rocks and things that can work themselves up from the ground.
HOw far down do I need to put the pavers when adjusting for the foam compression? I am going to use 2" thick pavers (according to the manuals suggestion).
 

Slippery

Member
Jul 15, 2018
19
Portland or
i did not put any sand under my mats. my dirt was not perfectly level but you could never tell with the mats. now, my pavers were perfectly level. once the pool was up, i went around and trimmed the mats so they would not stick out from the pool. then i put the gorilla pad on top of the mats. this pic was from last year. i had the foam boards the first year, i really did not like them. i really like the softness of the mats.

View attachment 96034
how did you level the pavers?
 

chayne

Bronze Supporter
i think if i am not mistaken i left the foam about a quarter of an inch taller than the pavers. not much because like Teald024 said they do not compress much. i used a carpenters level from paver to paver. it came out pretty good. less than an inch once pool was up. this year i am gong to use a water level so i can get the level dead on. i actually went this morning and bought the items to build one. the cost was less than 15 dollars.