New Pool Owner - Setting up my first above ground pool

markag

Member
May 11, 2020
8
Illinois
Hey everyone, I'm a new pool owner getting ready to setup my first above ground pool.

We bought a summer waves 14x48 metal frame pool (in the light wicker print pattern - not that it matters). As a side note, it seems like this particular pool may not be a common model. The 14x48 size with the wicker patterns maybe are new models? I've not seen much online for them outside of the few retailers that still had them in stock about a week and a half ago when I ordered mine.

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I've been planning on how to get it setup for the last week or so. I actually started digging yesterday to kick the process off. This is my plan for setup, please let me know if I should make any alterations.

I started by removing the grass from the area under the pool and am planning on tilling up and leveling the dirt that is left behind. I was hoping to avoid using sand, but after working with the dirt, I don't think that willl be the best idea. My soil is clay, and tilling it up left a lot of balls and clumps that didn't brake down well. In addition, I found an area that had a good amount of pea gravel in it, and there is no good way to get that out of the dirt. So now I've shifted my plan a bit to level out the dirt first, and then to go through and get a layer of sand to put on top and level for under the pool. I also have a summer waves ground covering tarp that I plan to put under my pool liner before installing it.

I also purchased 12 inch concrete patio stones to put under each of the legs. I think at the moment, I'm planning on setting those in the ground so they are level with the ground under the liner. It would potentially be easier if I didn't have to dig out and set them down in the ground, but I'm assuming the pool was designed to go on a flat surface, and not have those supports raised above the ground level.

I'm still trying to figure out if I put the legs down on top of the tarp above the pavers, or if I roll up the tarp around the bottom edge of the pool so the legs are sitting directly on the concrete pavers. I'm not sure how much risk there is for water to run down those poles and cause erosion around the pavers and make things shift. Most of the videos I'm seeing online have the ground covering tarp rolled up against the edge of the pool, and not extending under the pool legs.

This is my progress after a half day of work. I got the grass removed, and I'm starting to work on tilling up the soil to level it out. I don't have a power tiller, so I've been doing it by hand with one of those claw tools.

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This is my progress today after another half day session. I cut out a little more grass to make a 16 foot circle so I've got room for my 12" pavers and some wiggle room to work with around the outside edge of the pool. I also got the ground pretty level and ready for the sand to go on top. I'm expecting rain for the rest of the week, so we will see when I get to work on this some more. I'm hoping the hardest part is over now, and the rest will go relatively quick. I can get a truckload of sand from a local landscaping shop, get that down and level, and then it's on to pool setup and fill. Maybe one full day worth of work left to get this thing done.

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sammckin

Bronze Supporter
May 9, 2019
407
WV
Wow, you don't mess around! Looks good so far. How think are your pavers? Most people seem to have better luck with 4 inch think, usually found in the masonry supplies at your local big box.
 

markag

Member
May 11, 2020
8
Illinois
The pavers are 12x12 inch square, buy they are only an inch or so thick. They are the patio stones that Menards sells for just over $1 per piece.

I was hoping that the area covered would make up for any lack of height. I wouldn't think they would want to sink unless the ground under them would wash away or crumble from lack of compaction or something. But I've never done this before, so I'm making assumptions and going off of what I've seen others do online.
 

sammckin

Bronze Supporter
May 9, 2019
407
WV
The pavers are 12x12 inch square, buy they are only an inch or so thick. They are the patio stones that Menards sells for just over $1 per piece.

I was hoping that the area covered would make up for any lack of height. I wouldn't think they would want to sink unless the ground under them would wash away or crumble from lack of compaction or something. But I've never done this before, so I'm making assumptions and going off of what I've seen others do online.
I'd worry more about them cracking.
 

markag

Member
May 11, 2020
8
Illinois
I'm starting to wonder if I could double them up. I've already got a set of the 1.5" ones sitting out in my back yard that I purchased a week ago for the pool.

I also have some treated lumber in my garage I could use to help spread the load of the legs on the patio blocks.
 
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Blacklisted

Well-known member
Sep 10, 2013
244
El Cajon CA
I'm starting to wonder if I could double them up. I've already got a set of the 1.5" ones sitting out in my back yard that I purchased a week ago for the pool.

I also have some treated lumber in my garage I could use to help spread the load of the legs on the patio blocks.
For your pool the 2" thick pavers will work just fine. I have the 15'x48" Intex with the 12x12x2 pavers and have no problem. Just make sure they are fully supported by the ground under them. They will crack if there is voids under them. Look at my build thread in my signature for how I did it. I used DG and compacted with a plate compactor and have been fine.
 
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sammckin

Bronze Supporter
May 9, 2019
407
WV
For your pool the 2" thick pavers will work just fine. I have the 15'x48" Intex with the 12x12x2 pavers and have no problem. Just make sure they are fully supported by the ground under them. They will crack if there is voids under them. Look at my build thread in my signature for how I did it. I used DG and compacted with a plate compactor and have been fine.
This sums it up pretty well, the pavers will as solid as the ground underneath.
 

markag

Member
May 11, 2020
8
Illinois
I've been putting in the sweat equity to get the ground prepped. My plan was to get each patio block fully supported to avoid having high spots or voids under the patio blocks. I know that will crack them quick.

I also had the same idea to assemble the top ring of the pool so I can line up the blocks and get everything leveled and supported before setting up the pool. Glad to see others doing the same thing.
 
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markag

Member
May 11, 2020
8
Illinois
After a couple of weeks of trying to squeeze pool prep in between rain and family visits, I finally got the pool up.

I started by bringing in about a half yard of sand to lay down on top of the leveled ground. My soil is clay, so the sand is there to give a soft base to protect the liner and be more comfortable. My kids helped spread the sand, and then I went through and leveled it and smoothed it. This was probably an extra step, but I wasn't sure how much sand I needed, and this helped me understand that I had enough.

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After this step, I assembled the top ring frame of my pool, and laid out all the concrete patio stones. Then I went through and started with the lowest stone, and dug down to level out all of the patio stones to the lowest one. Like I said above, my soil is all clay, so I am not too concerned about soil settling, especially since I dug down to level rather than building up. I went around twice and confirmed everything was level. I also set the distance of each paver stone from the center to be equal to ensure they made a circle pattern. One thing that I wish I would have done was center the T-posts better on the patio stone. I biased the legs a little bit towards the inner edge of the stone, but that gave me very little margin for error when actually setting up the pool.

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I then went back through and smoothed out the sand to be at the level of all the patio stones. I then covered it with the pool ground cloth (a.k.a. "tarp"). We got some more rain overnight, and the water didn't run off the tarp, which I took as a good sign that the pad was actually level. We got the water off and all the helicopters and pine needles. Then we put the pool up. So far, so good. This may have been the most excited they've ever been. After bedtime for the kids, we went out and skimmed out all the debris that already fell in the pool from the trees around our yard. The water level was already about half way up the pool. Based of the pattern in the liner, it looks like I'm level within about 1/2 inch. We should be able to finish filling it tomorrow. It felt like we never were going to get to this point, but we are finally here.

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