How To Install An Above Ground Pool
Making sure you’re prepared beforehand can make the installation of an above ground pool go quickly and easily, but only if proper preparation is taken into consideration.
Step 1: Organization
Having all of the correct tools available and ready to go prior to work can make for a more efficient and overall smoother installation and construction of the pool. We highly recommend that you lay out your tools in such a way that the are both visible and accessible. We also recommend that you place them back in the same location once you are done using them so they can easily be accounted for and remain accessible to everyone involved. Some of the tools you will need are listed below:
- Tape measure (large and small)
- Duct Tape
- Box Cutter
- 4′ Level and 6′ 2×4 (Transit/Laser Level)
- Assorted Wrenches (Standard and Metric *just in case)
Step 2: Locate The Optimal Location
Once your tools have been collected and laid out in the designated staging area you’ll want to start looking for the perfect location. You’ll want to survey your yard for a large, level area, that is big enough to accommodate your pool depending on its diameter. One thing you’ll want to keep in mind is to make sure you check/verify the location for utility lines and underground obstructions (Call a company like Miss.Dig). Not only this but you’ll want to make sure you are within both your states and local ordinance codes and be sure to pull any permits if needed.
Step 3: Getting Your Measurements
Now it is time to find and mark exactly where the pool will be built. This may seem like a daunting step but once you know what to do its very simple. You want to make sure you get this right. The entire build out of the pool relies on it. To begin, you’ll want to find the location of the center of the pool. This is easily done if you find an already existing location (fence, wall, tree, porch, etc.) and then measure of that location. From this location you will mark where you want the wall of the pool to be. From this mark you will measure in half the distance of the pool, the pools radius. (If the pool is 36ft in diameter, its radius would be 18ft, or half) At this point you’ll hammer in a stake, this marks the center of your pool.
A trick that we would recommend is to mark the pool based of its radius, then create another mark that is an additional foot (18ft radius for the pool, 19ft radius for the additional foot). This gives you some extra wiggle room for working, more than likely you’ll need it.
Step 4: Clearing Out The Area
It is imperative that the area in which you are building your pool is clear of any and all debris. This means you will want to remove all grass/sod, rocks, roots and anything else you might find. The reason why you want to do this is to ensure that the bottom of your pool floor is smooth and nicely laid out. If you have nice grass and you will to keep it or place it somewhere else in your yard we would recommend you rent a sod cutter. This will not only increase the time it takes to complete the process but it will also allow you to save the sod and place it in any needed spots throughout your yard.
Step 5: Leveling Out The Area
Once you have all of the grass and debris removed you’ll then begin leveling out the area. More often than not the removal of the grass and debris will leave the area very uneven and in need of leveling. It is imperative that the ground is level to ensure your pool sits correctly and the water level is even. While leveling sometimes you will need to remove dirt from one area and place it in another, or completely get rid of it all together. We recommend that you start at the highest point and work your way to the lowest.
This will allow you to remove material from the high points and add them to the low points helping to limit the amount of material that needs to be removed overall. This also helps to avoid potential problems with the pools foundation in the future. Once the area is within 1″ of being perfectly level you can begin lightly tamping down the ground and the construction of the pool can begin.
Step 6: Laying Out And Connecting The Bottom Rails
You’ll have various pieces that need to be accounted for here, the bottom plates, stabilizer rails and the bottom rails. The bottom plates can be made out of metal, resin or a resin bottom cuff. The stabilizer rails are crimped on one side, have both male and female ends and is smaller that you bottom rail. The bottom rail will be made of either resin or metal, is larger than the stabilizer and has straight cuts on both ends. This should help you identify the various parts that construct the bottom. You’ll want to start by laying out the bottom plate and connecting each rail to its dedicated bottom plate.
Resin, metal and resin bottom cuffs all connect to the bottom plate in the same manner for ease of execution while also limiting confusion. Once the connections have been made and the rails are properly and securely connected to the bottom plate you’ll want to measure the diameter in multiple locations to ensure that the pool is indeed truly round. Once this is verified you can stake the ring into position while also ensure that it is snug to the ground and secure.
Quick Tip: If you lay out the bottom plates and bottom rails around the perimeter of the pool it makes it much easier to visually ensure that you have all the pieces needed while also making it easier to connect them.
Step 7: Blocking The Bottom Plate
This step is slightly out of order but this is the most appropriate place to have it. You’ll need to place patio blocks underneath each of the bottom plates to ensure the the perimeter of the pool remains stable. This ensures that the track stays level throughout the duration of time in which the pool is there. You’ll want to verify if the pool remains level after doing this and you’ll want to make sure that the entire pool is within 1/2″ of level.
Step 8: Adding The Pool Base
To begin, you’ll want to remove one of the bottom rails to make it easier to cart in the sand (removing the ‘obstacle’). You should mark the exact placement of the two bottom plates to ensure you remember their exact position after dumping the sand. Spread the sand out equally throughout the entire pool and be sure to reattach the bottom rail segment that was removed.
Quick Tip: You can use a piece of chalk of a marker to mark the exact location of the bottom plate on the blocks to ensure the you place the bottom rail back in the exact location when replacing them.
Step 9: Building Out The Walls
This step can be quite tricky and its beneficial to have some helping hands when trying to accomplish this task. You will place the wall along the bottom track. If your wall is uneven or the skimmer falls directly above the bottom plate you will need to adjust your wall and your bottom rails according until you get the perfect fit. We personally recommend you use landscaping stakes to help with supporting the wall while its being connected to the bottom track around the perimeter (this is also where some extra help comes into play).
Quick Tip: You’ll want to verify that the skimmer is on the top of the wall before you start connecting the wall to the bottom track. If not you will need to undo all of your work and flip the wall over.
Step 10: Creating The Cove
When it comes to creating the cove you can either purchase a cove liner protector or you can create one out of sand. If creating one out of sand you will want to make sure its 6″-8″ high. The cove is in the bottom corner of the pool and it is virtually just a 45 degree angle (of sand) around the perimeter or the pool.
Step 11: Installing The Uprights
Now the uprights can be installed. These will be placed into each of the bottom plates or the pool. Uprights are responsible for the strength, rigidity and overall support of the pool. The top of each upright is oftentimes identified by an extra hole at the top of the upright itself.
Note: If installing resin uprights you’ll want to make sure that the tabs are fully through at the bottom. This ensures that the upright has been fully snapped into place.
Step 12: Tamping The Base/Sand
Now you can begin to tamp the sand that makes up the bottom of the pool. You’ll want to tamp it in such a way that you create an even and strong base. Once the bottom has been tamped you’ll want to sweep away any remaining lines.
Quick Tip: If you dampen the sand it is much easier to pack and creates a much stronger pack.
Step 13: Liner Installation
The liner is one of the most critical components of your pool and it needs to be installed with great care. You need to ensure that you are following the exact instructions provided with your pool, they all vary slightly but they all follow the same general premise. One thing you’ll want to make sure of is that you remove your shoes or boots prior to walking on the pool liner during installation. One thing that will make the installation easier is to lay the liner out in the sun for an hour before installation. This makes the liner easier to manage and form to the pool and the bottom.
Step 14: Attach The Top Plates And The Stabilizers
Now that the liner has been installed you’ll want to start working out any wrinkles from the side of the pool. Once you have done this you can start attaching the stabilizer rails and top plate to the pool wall. The stabilizer rails snap into one another around the perimeter of the pool to help with its structural integrity and reinforces its circular shape. The top plates are secured to each other through the use of screws.
Step 15: Attaching The Top Rail
You’ll want to make sure you don’t tighten down all the screws fully until you have the top rails attached. The top rails are installed in the same manner as the top plates and stabilizers. This is also true if you are installing a resin top rail.
Step 16: Begin Filling With Water
This is where you will begin to fill the pool with water. You will do this slowly and while it is being filled you will want to flatten out any wrinkle that might have developed in the pool liner. We recommend you fill the pool up half way, then refer to your pools instruction guide in regards to how you should install the skimmer and return fittings. Once this is done you can then complete the connection of the rest of the pool equipment like the filter system and pump. Now that everything has been connected you can continue with filling the remainder of the pool with water.
Quick Tip: When you have about 1″ of water on the bottom of the pool you will want to smooth out the pool liner. You will be able to still move it as need be but the weight of the pool will keep it held in place.
Step 17: Enjoy Your New Pool!
Remember, proper preparation prevents poor performance. If you make sure you have all your ducks in a row prior to starting you should be able to complete the build out of your new pool in no time.
Safety: Please remember that pools are dangerous and it is a priority that they are used under proper supervision and all of the proper safety and warning labels are placed in their dedicated areas.