Above-ground pools are an inexpensive and easy way to enjoy the summer with your family at home. With a reasonable price tag, easy setup, and simple operation, they are a great option for anyone looking to cool off in the summer (and have a blast doing it).
Once you’ve set up your walls, placed the liner, and filled it up with water, you’re good to go, right? Not quite. Above-ground pool liners are finicky creatures that need a little help and protection from the sharp objects of the world. This is where above-ground pool pads come in.
Laying a pool pad down before you place your liner is one of the best ways to protect your above-ground pool. These handy little accessories will save you time, money, and extend the life of your liner.
Top Picks for Best Above Ground Pool Pad
|GLI 70-0024RD-BLK-160 Round Armor Shield Floor...||$154.96||Buy on Amazon|
|Horizon Ventures HV/LA-18 Round 1 Piece Underpad...||$61.95||Buy on Amazon|
|Gorilla Floor Padding for Above Ground Swimming...||$123.85||Buy on Amazon|
|Rhino Pad 24-Foot Round Pool Liner Pad for Above...||$129.96||Buy on Amazon|
|24 ft Round Pool Liner Pad, Elephant Guard Armor...||$106.26||Buy on Amazon|
|Liner Life GP24R Pre-Cut Liner Pad for 24' Round...||$143.89||Buy on Amazon|
|Blue Wave 15-Feet Round Liner Pad for Above Ground...||$68.74||Buy on Amazon|
What is an Above-Ground Pool Pad?
An above-ground pool pad is a specialized piece of fabric that’s designed to protect your pool liner from punctures caused by rocks, roots, or grass. A pool pad is placed underneath your pool liner, under the entire pool and adds an extra barrier of protection against bugs, debris, or anything else that might damage the liner, causing a leak.
Pool pads are constructed from a geotextile material, usually a polypropylene blend that looks and feels like felt. This isn’t the felt your kids use in arts and crafts, however. It’s an extremely durable material woven to withstand punctures, weed growth, strong roots, and even glass, with the goal of extending the lifespan of your pool liner as much as possible.
Why You Need an Above-Ground Pool Pad
An above-ground pool is a fun and enjoyable addition to any backyard, but the moment you spring a leak, the party’s over.
Imagine you’re ready to jump into your pool on a hot summer day when you notice a rip in the liner, causing water to leak out everywhere. Summer ruined! Pool liners are fragile things that typically tear at the worst possible times. That’s where pool pads come in to save the day.
If you own an above-ground pool, it may seem like your pool is under constant attack from the ground itself. Along with all the sharp pointy things like rocks and sticks, you have to constantly battle insects, debris, corrosion, and other pests that try to get into your pool. Moisture alone can be as damaging as all the rest.
Using an above-ground pool pad, you’re providing a suit of armor for your pool liner in its battle against the elements. This simple, yet effective shield will keep your pool looking and feeling its best while saving you money and frustration in the long run.
What to Consider When Buying an Above Ground Pool Pad
What Size Pool Do You Have?
The first thing to consider when buying an above ground pool pad is the size of your pool. You want to get a pool pad that will fit your pool more or less perfectly, with only a bit of overhang around the edges. You wouldn’t buy a set of king size sheets for your twin bed, would you?
What Kind of Surface Does Your Pool Sit On?
Some pool pads work best on concrete bases and some work really well on a grassy/rocky lawn. When reviewing the specifications for each pool pad, you’ll notice that some recommend only using the pad on top of a layer of sand. Think about how your pool is situated and what pool pad would work best in your backyard.
What Kind of Climate Do You Live In?
If you’re a pool owner that lives in a wet or humid area, it might be worth considering a water-resistant or mold/mildew-resistant pool pad to go under your above ground pool. The moisture from the ground or heavy rains can wreak havoc on the felt-like material of a pool pad.
Make sure to look for above ground pool pads made from synthetic materials that specifically advertise mildew and water-resistance capabilities. This will extend the life of your pool pad and save you money in the long run.
Do You Have a Heated Pool? (Do You Want to Keep Your Pool Warm?)
Some above ground pool pads are specially designed to reduce convective heat loss to the water in your pool from the cold, cold ground. If you live in a chilly place and want to keep as much heat in the water as possible, make sure to look for a pool pad that is up to the challenge.
Top Tips for Choosing the Best Above Ground Pool Pad
You’re not going to find extreme variety when it comes to pool pads but there are a few important features to look for when making your purchase.
- Durability: The most important job of a pool pad is to protect your liner. Finding a pad that’s well-constructed and durable is step number one.
- Permeability: A breathable pool pad is a happy (and mold-free) pool pad. The tighter the weave on a pool pad, the more water condensation will be allowed to form, causing mold, mildew, and possibly corrosion on a steel frame pool.
- Cushioning: Cushioning is secondary to liner protection but is a great added bonus, especially if your above ground pool is situated on rocks or gravel. Most pool pads are fairly thin and won’t be like walking on memory foam, but will be a bit of a buffer for sensitive feet.
- Ease-of-Use: An easy installation is not the number one priority when it comes to pool pads but it is a great bonus. Finding a pool pad that checks all of your boxes is the goal!
Best Above Ground Pool Pad Reviews
#1 GLI Round Armor Shield Floor Pad
The GLI Armor Shield above ground pool pad provides an important protective layer between a vinyl swimming pool liner and the sand or soil base. Made of a durable polypropylene geotextile material that prevents cuts and punctures to the vinyl liner caused by rocks, roots, grass and even glass. Armor Shield also reduces convective heat loss and provides a comfortable floor pad for tired feet. It comes in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit your pool.
- Fits true to size, no cutting or fitting involved
- Sturdy material like felt that prevents sharp objects from penetrating the liner
- Easy to install with single-piece construction
- Prevents pool footprints in your yard
- Protects your pool liner but is a bit thinner than advertised
- A bit wrinkled on arrival but flattens if dampened
#2 Horizon Ventures Above Ground Pool Pad
The Horizon Ventures Above Ground Pool Pad works like a carpet underpad to provide a soft smooth floor pad beneath a pool liner to protect against damage caused by roots, stones, and coarse sand. Made from a one-piece, water-resistant synthetic material and is pre-cut to sizes to fit most standard round and oval pool sizes.
- Water-resistant synthetic material will last the life of your pool liner
- Thin but very sturdy
- Inexpensive and easy to install
- May require some cutting to size properly
#3 Gorilla Above Ground Pool Pad
Extend the life of your pool liner and preserve your above ground swimming pool with the strong, soft, and super-durable Gorilla Floor Padding. This floor pad is designed to sit underneath your pool liner, adding cushioning and the extra protection you need to ensure the life of your pool liner. Made from a durable, felt-like material, Gorilla Padding geotextile offers additional cushioning to eliminate footprints and protection from leaks and cuts to pool liners. It comes in a variety of sizes and shapes.
- Thin but very durable material
- Easy installation
- Soft cushioning to walk on
- Seamed around the edges for added strength
- Slightly larger than advertised size, can be cut to fit
- Only comes with a 90-day warranty
#4 Rhino Pad Above Ground Round Pool Liner Pad
The Rhino Above Ground Pool Pad is made from high-quality, geotextile fiber that is 45% post-consumer and 45% industrial recycled material. Not only does it provide cushioning, but it also creates a more even surface and protects your pool liner from damage. Use the liner guard for the ultimate protection from sharp and foreign objects. It comes in a variety of round sizes.
- Made of strong, eco-friendly material
- Mildew and mold-resistant
- Double-layered felt material completely prevents weed growth and rock damage
- Eliminates condensation for corrosion prevention
- May need to be trimmed to fit your pool size exactly
- A bit tough to get the wrinkles out initially
#5 Elephant Above Ground Pool Liner Pad
The Elephant Above Ground Pool Liner Pad is made of a durable, tear-guard weave that helps to protect your liner from punctures. It comes pre-cut to fit your size swimming pool, just place under your vinyl liner using a sand base. It comes in several sizes with built-in mold and mildew resistant inhibitors. The Elephant Pad is specifically for undergrowth protection, not for cushioning.
- One-piece construction with no cutting, taping or measuring
- Super-easy to install and lays flat upon arrival
- Best for rocks and prevention of nutgrass growth
- Mold and mildew-resistant
- No cushioning provided. We recommend using a sand base with this product.
- May require some cutting to fit your pool exactly
#6 Liner Life Pre-Cut Above Ground Round Liner Pad
Liner Life pre-cut liner pads are specifically designed to cushion and protect the bottom of your above ground pool. The high-quality padding material prevents grass, roots, rocks or other sharp objects from damaging the pool’s liner while adding a comfy layer of cushioning to your pool’s floor. Liner Life padding is pre-cut to size for your pool, eliminating the need to cut or tape padding and comes in a variety of sizes to fit your pool.
- Perfect for a cement barrier
- Fits true to size with a bit of overhang
- Easy to install
- Great leak prevention
- Has two large seams that may be noticeable through the pool liner
- A bit more prone to mold than others so it may only last one season
#7 Blue Wave Above Ground Pool Liner Pad
The Blue Wave Above Ground Pool Liner Pad makes old foam floor padding obsolete. Unlike foam, which can be easily cut by grass, roots or rocks under your liner, this liner pad protects your liner from sharp objects and also adds a small layer of cushioning. Liner Pad is cut to size and seamed for your pool. No more cutting and taping as with foam. It comes in 9 different sizes to fit your pool.
- Cut to size and seamed for your pool
- Well constructed and true to size
- Excellent for blocking grass growth and debris
- Above ground pool liner pad only – Blue vinyl liner sold separately
- Very thin material, more for blocking grass than cushioning
Above ground pool pads have come a long way since their awkward and cumbersome foam ancestors. These days, all you have to do is lay out a perfectly-sized pad to protect your pool liner (and your toes) from the sharp objects below.
Now that you know what to look for in an above-ground pool pad, have an idea about the choices you have, and are pretty much an expert in the subject—go out there and get the perfect pool pad to protect and preserve your above ground pool.