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What to Put Under an Intex Pool (4 Options: Best to Worst)

Intex swimming pools can last anywhere from a few weeks to several years depending on how well they’ve been looked after.

Surprisingly, one of the biggest factors that determine the longevity of any above-ground pool is its base; the surface it rests on.

This article will go over some of the most common options for what to put under an Intex pool, the pros and cons for each, and ultimately help you decide the ideal base for your pool.

Why Put Anything Under an Intex Pool?

Whether you get an inflatable ring or metal frame Intex pool, these types of above-ground pools are all made from a thin sheet of vinyl that’s easily susceptible to damage.

The most vulnerable part is almost always the vinyl floor of the pool, especially when the pool is placed on a poorly chosen foundation (or base) or simply put directly on the ground.

Not only can this lead to serious tears and leaks in your Intex pool, but placing it on uneven, lumpy, or hard surfaces can prove to be uncomfortable on the feet since the base makes direct contact with the vinyl material.

The bottom line is, while choosing and installing a suitable base can be a costly or time-consuming process, it’s very much worth the investment if you plan to keep your pool intact for the long term.

What Should You Put Under an Intex Pool?

Let’s get into your options, starting from best to worst:

Foam

ProsourceFit Extra Thick Puzzle...
ProsourceFit Extra Thick Puzzle...
  • PROTECTIVE WORKOUT FLOORING - Durable, non-skid...
  • EASY ASSEMBLY – Lightweight puzzle pieces...
  • VERSATILE – The water-resistant and...

Solid foam is a very popular choice as the foundation for an Intex pool. It comes in a variety of forms and thicknesses, from interlocking tiles to large foam sheets that can be cut to size.

Most pool owners opt for tiles as it’s easier to transport and lay, taping the individual pieces of foam together with gorilla tape and ensuring there are no gaps in the foam.

Whether you choose foam tiles or a foam sheet cut to size, it’s a good idea to cover the foam with a tarp (or better yet, a gorilla pad) before placing the pool, as this provides a much-needed extra layer of protection.

Round Gorilla Pad - 24 ft
Round Gorilla Pad - 24 ft
  • Gorilla Floor Padding Cut and Sized to Fit 24ft...
  • Sits Underneath Your Pool Liner for Added...
  • Extremely Hard to Penetrate - Specially Designed...

Pros

  • Protects the bottom of the pool vinyl
  • Smooth surface makes it easier to vacuum the pool floor
  • Foam feels nicer on the feet when walking around the pool
  • A better insulator than placing directly on the cold ground
  • More aesthetically pleasing than other foundations
  • Good quality foam can last upwards of 10 years

Cons

  • Usually the most expensive option per sq/m
  • Still requires a tarp or gorilla pad laid over the top
  • Cheap/low-quality foam can soak up water
  • Pool legs will still need their own support

Verdict: An excellent choice if money is not a limiting factor.

Concrete

A concrete pad or slab is considered an all-around good base for an Intex pool, especially if the ground is already level.

Concrete is quite abrasive, however, so it’s a good idea to add another layer on top so the pool isn’t making direct contact. Adding some foam, a camping mat, or Gorilla Pad will provide better protection and a softer surface to walk on.

Concrete is also one of the only foundations that will support the entire structure of the pool without requiring any other materials, including the legs of a metal frame pool.

Pros

  • Often provides a perfectly level surface
  • Doesn’t shift under the weight of the pool
  • Works well as a foundation for other materials
  • Also provides support for the pool legs

Cons

  • Direct contact with the liner can damage the vinyl
  • Not ideal if the concrete isn’t already level
  • Still needs something soft to pad the surface

Verdict: A great choice if the concrete is already level and you can add some extra padding.

Old carpet

Yes, this is just regular carpet; the same stuff you would use for the floor of your house. Using carpet as a base for an Intex pool is a little unconventional, but some pool owners have found it to be very effective.

Carpet won’t provide the same level of cushioning as foam, but it will protect the bottom of your pool from rocks or other abrasive surfaces, and potentially even help you retain the temperature in the water.

If you decide to use this as a base, you’ll also want to cover it with a tarp to protect it from things like bugs, spillover, and the elements. You can also use sand as the foundation for the carpet, but this is entirely optional.

Pros

  • Easy to source locally
  • Easy to lay and cut to size
  • Relatively cheap (potentially free if used)
  • Provides some cushioning (not as soft as foam)
  • Can help to retain heat in your water

Cons

Verdict: An unconventional choice but one that still proves effective when paired correctly with other material.

Sand

Fine sand (mason sand) is often used to pad the ground and make it softer. In some states, you can even find specialized “pool sand” that utilizes clay, allowing it to more easily compact and harden.

While this may be the cheapest option, using sand by itself has many drawbacks and is often considered the least desirable base. It can work reasonably well when used to pad a Gorilla Pad or carpet, however.

Sand is also sometimes used to help minor level adjustments for an above-ground pool, though sand alone isn’t good enough to level out severe inclines, declines, or divots in the ground.

Pros

  • Easy to find locally
  • Easy to lay and compact down
  • Usually the least expensive option

Cons

  • Likely to sink and shift over time
  • May contain stones/pebbles that damage the liner
  • Rain will likely wash it away over time
  • Not ideal if putting your pool on concrete
  • Insects can sometimes burrow through the sand
  • Best used in combination with a more suitable base
  • Unstable base can cause liner wrinkles

Verdict: Sand is generally considered the worst option when choosing a base, at least when used in isolation.

What to Put Under Intex Pool Legs?

The foundations above are specifically for the vinyl material of your Intex pool; the part of the liner that makes contact with the ground.

If you have a metal frame Intex pool, you’ll need to think about how you will support the legs as well, as most of the options listed above will not provide adequate support.

Concrete is the only base that is suitable for the entire pool, including both the vinyl liner and the supporting legs.

If your pool is not going to be resting on concrete, it’s essential you prop up each of the legs using either concrete pavers, clay bricks, or even blocks of wood.

Important: The legs should be level with the base of the pool. Any higher and it will place too much pressure on the vinyl liner, causing it to stretch and potentially break.

Choose Wisely!

Once you’ve filled the pool, it will be impossible to adjust the bottom or put anything new under it without draining and starting over.

It’s not uncommon for Intex pool owners to later regret not having spent more time building out the right base, so be sure to give this the attention it deserves and save your future self from an unnecessary headache.

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