In some regions, there is a three-week wait to make an appointment to talk to a professional about installing a pool at your home.
A quicker and more economical option is the inflatable swimming pool, but first, you should learn how to level an inflatable pool on concrete.
How To Level An Inflatable Pool On Concrete
There are various ways to create a level surface on uneven concrete. While some of these methods last longer than others, they can all give you at least one summer of safe and comfortable swimming.
Here are the five best inflatable pool leveling methods on concrete:
- Solid Foam
- Crushed Stone
- Memory Foam Carpet Pads
These five methods are designed for above-ground inflatable swimming pools. Prevention is always cheaper (and less labor-intensive) than the cure so, ideally, you should apply them before you install the pool on the concrete surface.
5 Ways To Level An Inflatable Pool On Concrete
1 – Sand
Sand is probably the quickest and cheapest way to create a level surface on concrete, but it comes with some disadvantages.
It’s not a permanent solution because sand is not a ‘solid’ material in the same way as cement or concrete pads are.
Over time, it will shift and slowly erode from underneath the pool although tamping can keep it secure for several months.
On the plus side, sand is extremely malleable. You don’t need special tools to shape it so you can easily add or remove material to remedy dips and elevations.
Sand’s impermanence means you can tweak, change and readjust the surface for your pool as many times as you want without committing to costly renovations.
To use sand to level an above-ground swimming pool, pour the material out onto your installation spot. Spread it across an area that’s slightly larger than your inflatable pool (extending slightly beyond its perimeter) making sure to distribute the sand in a way that compensates for dips and slopes.
If the concrete surface is sloped, the sand layer will need to be thicker at the point of lowest elevation to ensure both sides of the pool are the same height.
- The most inexpensive option
- Easy installation (no tools needed)
- Very soft (no risk to pool’s base)
- Can be readjusted, replaced, redesigned, etc.
- Impermanent (the sand will erode)
- Not suitable for rainy/wet climates
- Some insects like to burrow into wet sand
- Ideal for moulding and building
- Washed, screened and dried
- Great for making concrete or for filling the kids sandbox
- Suitable for a wide range of landscape applications
Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
2 – Solid Foam
Styrofoam sheets and foam tiles are another quick and inexpensive way to level inflatable swimming pools. While pricier than sand, solid foam is still a lot cheaper than installing permanent pads on top of a concrete surface.
The material is strong but lightweight and it doesn’t shift around like sand does which makes it a lot more secure.
The foam’s springiness provides cushioning for the bottom of the pool thereby increasing comfort for swimmers and protecting its exterior from tears and punctures.
Solid foam can be bought in a variety of sizes and thicknesses. Polystyrene and polyurethane are the best materials for this job but it’s up to you how thick you want the foam and whether it’s worth spending more money on semi-permanent interlocking tiles.
- Can be cut into any shape
- Easy to layer for extra thickness/cushioning
- Especially effective on concrete surfaces
- Has enough grip not to slide around
- Can be pricey depending on what type you use
- Cutting/shaping to fit can be time-consuming
3 – Crushed Stone
Some people prefer to use crushed stone instead of sand for leveling inflatable pools on concrete. The material works in a similar way to sand because it’s relatively inexpensive, has good drainage qualities and is easy to shape, but it creates a much more stable base.
Stone is harder to wash away and can be considered more permanent than sand provided it gets tamped and rolled sufficiently.
Crushed stone needs to be packed as tightly as possible. It has less material cohesion than sand so you can’t rely on it sticking together naturally.
Use a tamping tool to push down hard and force as much air out from between the stones as you can. Remember to use polished stones with rounded edges to avoid tearing the swimming pool’s exterior.
Pea gravel is a great choice as the crushed stones are small and round, too small to have edges large enough or sharp enough to create punctures.
Don’t forget, you’ll need a thicker layer of stone in areas with a lower elevation. Concentrate on these spots first.
The simplest way to level an inflatable pool is to identify the highest and lowest points and then raise the lowest points to match the highest.
- Significantly more stable than sand
- Harder for insects to burrow into
- Relatively inexpensive material
- Can be used in wet/rainy climates
- More risk of tears (even with smooth stones)
- Needs a lot of tamping to be secure
- Less cushioning for swimmers
4 – Pavers
It’s common now for pool installers to place leveling pavers beneath the bottom of rail connectors. It adds security and stability, so it’s sometimes done even when the surface is already level.
Pavers and patio blocks make effective levelers because they’re extremely durable and can tolerate heavy loads and pressures. In some cases, pressure-treated wood blocks are used but these are only suitable for dry climates.
There are two ways you can use pavers to create a level surface on concrete:
1 – Lay down the inflatable pool’s bottom rails on the concrete to figure out where the connectors will end up. Find a way to mark the spots. Then, briefly remove the rails, place the pavers/patio blocks over the spots and fully install the bottom rails.
2 – It’s possible to insert leveling pavers/patio blocks underneath connectors which have already been installed but it’s a trickier process. Follow the same method but don’t remove the rails after you’ve positioned them on the concrete. You might need to ask a professional installer for help with this. Ideally, you should always work to level the surface before setting up the pool.
- Very strong, durable and long-lasting
- High-end look for a relatively affordable price
- Lots of different patterns/styles available
- Can use ‘readymade’ paving blocks/slabs
- Can develop stress fractures in very hot climates
- Harder to shape (can be cut but special tools are required)
- More expensive than sand, foam, etc.
5 – Memory Foam Carpet Pads
Traditional felt carpet padding (underlay) is not a suitable pool leveler but closed-cell foam carpet pads can work surprisingly well.
This material is often referred to as ‘memory foam’ underlay and comes in rigid foam-like sheets. Just like foam, it’s easy to cut and shape and it provides a springiness that makes swimming more comfortable.
Some varieties of small cell underlayment such as those used in soundproofing or as cushioning for wood floors may also be suitable.
If you plan to use soft, spongy pads to level your concrete, opt for the most high-traffic material you can find. It must be tough enough to tolerate a lot of weight and movement.
Consider using two layers of carpet padding for maximum cushioning and extra lift in low elevation areas.
- As easy (if not easier) to cut than foam
- Widely available and inexpensive
- Offers some degree of extra cushioning
- Protects the pool’s base from abrasions
- Thinner than foam sheets/tiles
- Two layers may be needed for sufficient cushioning
- The Densest Visco-Elastic Memory Foam cushion for soft feel under your feet. Full 1/2" Thick padding.
- Hypoallergenic - ozone friendly (no CFC's). DuPont Active Layer RS renewably sourced moisture barrier film.
- Protects your investment by enhancing carpet performance and makes any carpet or rug feel more luxurious under foot.
- Spillguard moisture barrier prevents spills and accidents from penetrating the cushion, so they can be blotted from the rug quickly and easily.
- This pad is intended to provide comfort and protection. Does not have a non-slip backing, not recommended for keeping rugs in place. Arrives as two (5'x8') pads pieced together with a 3" wide carpet tape.
Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Helpful Tips To Know About Leveling An Inflatable Pool On Concrete
The obvious difficulty associated with leveling a swimming pool on concrete is you can’t dig or change the shape of the bare ground.
You’ve got to add to it and create a new shape rather than cutting away the bits that are too high. This can seem like an impossible task at first but there are lots of good materials you can use for molding and shaping.
Always focus on the lowest spots. If your concrete has a serious slope, find a way to raise the lowest points.
If your concrete surface has many dips and bumps and is variable all along its length, leveling will be harder but it’s still possible. Use a spirit level to thoroughly assess the ground and create a map of troughs and elevations.
Here are some more tips you can use:
- Take your time clearing away any debris from the area where you plan to install your swimming pool. You must have a ‘clean’ surface (free of stones, leaves, insects, etc) before you start leveling.
- Consider applying clean fill (recycled construction waste) to the concrete surface to prime it for the leveling materials.
- Check the area for weeds. Depending on the type of leveling materials used, weeds might have room to push through and make holes in your inflatable pool’s liner. It’s something to consider when using springy, air-filled materials such as styrofoam.
- The goal should be to raise the pool rather than sink it. Ensure the bottom of the swimming pool is at least slightly above the surrounding ground.
- Clear an area for the base padding that’s about one foot outside the perimeter of the swimming pool wall. You can cover this area with wood chips or gravel if you’re concerned about weeds.
Some materials make sturdier bases than others for inflatable swimming pools. Sand, for example, is highly effective in the short term but it’s not stable enough to be a permanent leveling solution.
It’s worth thinking about how regularly you plan to use your pool and for how many months of the year because the benefits of a short-term fix might still be worthwhile.
If you want your inflatable pool to be a semi-permanent fixture, however, I recommend going with something sturdier than sand.
My preferred choice is foam because it’s easy to source, comes in thick sheets and you can cut it to fit any shape you need.