I have had an above ground pool since 2008. The pool was installed professionally. I have had to replace the liner 3 times, professionally installed as well. We have talked with the pool installer, he recommends sand. I really want to try something else. The sand appears to erode at the same location, causing liner failure.

This will be the last attempt, so we are hoping to create a highly stable surface. The current underlayment is pool sand. However, the liners are continually failing. Current liner is 25 mil thick. I am planning to purchase a 30 mil thick vinyl liner in a week or so. I have read a great deal online about synthetic foam boards/pads. Would you be able to provide some specific guidance? (thickness, etc)

I have also read about gunite. Any suggestions on this? We live in southwestern Pennsylvania.

We do not have grass or weeds near the pool.


The first issue you need to address is why is the base eroding in the same place time after time? The large majority of above ground pools survive many years with a leveled sand base. The probable reasons for your erosion problem is an unstable base, misguided water runoff or the base is a bit too high in relationship to the surrounding area allowing runoff to seek a path under your pool.

An XPS base may help a lot, but even with a foam board base it needs to be on a stable compacted base. If the foam is installed over an area that is going to erode too deeply, it will collapse into the void created by that erosion. I strongly suggest you analyse the drainage around your pool area and correct or redirect runoff before you destroy another liner.

  • I am a true believer in finding the root cause for problems. Some DIYers tend to look for the quick fix and not willing to take the extra time to do it right. Not necessarily this person's situation, but see so many questions looking for the magic bullet. Apr 30 '13 at 12:42
  • Yeah. And so often the cheap magic bullet.
    – Michael Karas
    Apr 30 '13 at 19:36

They make pads and I have seen people use XPS foam sheets that you can get from the big box. I helped put Happy Bottom in a pool a few years ago, and it was pretty nice. No issues since either. I know nothing about the product but it took about 2 hours for the 3 of us to get it into a rather large above ground pool. I am sure Happy Bottom has lots of competitors so check and see which one fits your needs.

Steps we did

  • Dig out circle
  • Level area
  • Pull out weeds and rocks
  • Install pad - friend got the sheeting so we had to tape it together
  • Depending on pool usage they might not have any "problems". You put a bunch of big teenagers in a pool and have them play basketball all summer and you will have tons of sand movement underneath which leads to the liner issues. I would seriously think about digging a few inches deeper if they felt it was a true erosion issue. Also if the problem is thought to be a water issue I would think about making sure water is draining away from the pool - so build up the sides a few inches and add rock on top.
    – DMoore
    Apr 30 '13 at 16:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.