How to Install an Above Ground Pool

pool install

The next few years are going to be difficult for the above-ground pool industry. With many families staying home, a lot of people have turned to their local pool store for this year’s staycation. Unfortunately, this has caused both a shortage of products and installation availability. The company I work for sold out of the installation slots for the 2021 season in October 2020. I have put together this article for anyone who wants to be a do-it-yourselfer.

Installing a round Above Ground Swimming Pool can be done quickly if you’re prepared beforehand. Below I have provided the steps, along with a helpful video, to walk you through the process of installing a round above-ground pool and prepare you for the project.

Pool Install Video Instructions

Part One

Part Two

Pool Install Written Instructions

ORGANIZE

Having all the correct tools on hand will allow you to be more efficient in constructing the pool. We recommend separating the materials, including hardware and tools, so they are easily accessible.

Tools You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Tape Measure
  • Phillips Head Screwdriver or Screw Gun
  • Duct Tape
  • Carpenter’s Level and/or Transit (optional)
  • Landscape Stakes and C-Clamps (optional)
  • Patio Blocks 2″x8″x16″ (1 per each bottom plate)
  • Box Cutter
  • Wrenches commonly needed are 5/16 and ¼

Very fine Sand for the base of the pool cove. Plus a patio block will be needed for each post. The amount for common round pools is as follows

Pool SizeSand RequiredBlocks for Posts
15′2 yards10
18′2.5 yards12
21′3 yards14
24′3.5 yards16
27′4 yards18
30′4.5 yards20

ANALYZE

After organizing your tools and materials, find a large and level area in your yard big enough to accommodate your above-ground pool. Remember to check for utility lines and underground obstructions. Also, make sure your installation is in compliance with all state and local codes before building.

Quick Tip: You can rent a transit from your local equipment store for precise level measurement or use a board with a level.

MEASURE

To find the center point of your pool, it is easiest to measure off an existing object (ex. fence, wall) and mark where you want the wall. Then, measure 1/2 the width of the pool and stake the tape measure at this point.

We recommend pulling the tape measure to the radius measurement PLUS 1 extra foot. This is where your pool will go, plus gives you a little extra room to work. Place a marker on the center and walk the tape all the way around, tracing the perimeter.

CLEAR THE AREA

It’s important to build your pool in an area free from sod, roots, rocks, and additional debris, for a guaranteed smooth pool floor.

Quick Tip: Sod cutters are extremely helpful in expediting the process and are highly recommended if removing large areas of grass for this installation. You can rent one from your local large hardware store.

Here in the Rochester NY Area

Try One of These Rentals Services

Taylor Rental

Sunbelt Rentals

LEVEL OUT

Since clearing the sod and debris may have affected the level of the land, it’s necessary to even out the ground you’ll be working on. Use a leveler to find the highest points in the installation area and dig to level it out. Always remember to dig down the high areas; don’t build up the low areas. This will help avoid major problems in the future.

Uneven surfaces can cause your above-ground pool to settle and damage the bottom of the pool.  Once the area is within 1″ of being perfectly level, you can start building.

CONNECT EACH BOTTOM RAIL

The next step is to connect each rail to its bottom plate. Metal, resin, and resin bottom cuffs connect to the bottom rails in the same manner. Once you’ve connected the rails to the bottom plates, measure the diameter in several areas to make sure the base is truly round. Once satisfied, you can stake the ring into position.

Quick Tip: For easier installation, lay your bottom rails and bottom plates down along the perimeter of the installation area before connecting them.

BLOCK BOTTOM PLATES

For added support, place a patio block underneath each bottom plate. It’s important to dig out the area and place each block in the recessed hole to ensure stability, so the track is still laying level with the ground.

Quick Tip: Make sure the block is level in all areas and then check the level of all bottom plates to make sure they are still within 1/2″ of each other.

ADD THE POOL BASE

The next step is to remove one bottom rail to easily cart in the sand. We recommend marking the placement of the two bottom plates to ensure the exact position after dumping the sand.

Spread the sand equally throughout the pool area and then replace the bottom rail segment.

Quick Tip: Use chalk or a marking tool to trace the bottom plate onto the block to make sure you place it in the exact same area when replacing the bottom rail.

INSTALL THE WALL

Installing the wall can be tricky and difficult to maneuver. Place the wall along the bottom track. If it’s uneven or the skimmer cutout falls directly over a bottom plate, this video will show you how to adjust the wall and bottom rails to get a perfect fit. We recommend using landscaping stakes to support the wall as you connect around the bottom track perimeter.

A quick tip: Make sure the skimmer cutout is on the top portion of the wall before connecting to the bottom track.

Single Row Wall Bars

  • Rivets on walls
  • Wall bolts attached using hand tools
  • Fill every hole with a bolt
  • Wall bars must not touch each other
  • Cover bolt heads inside the pool with three layers of duct tape

Staggered Wall Bars

  • Wall bars need to be attached
  • Wall bolts attached using hand tools
  • Fill every hole with a bolt
  • Wall bars must not touch each other
  • Cover bolt heads inside the pool with three layers of duct tape

CREATE COVE

Build a 6″ to 8″ high pool cove for support.

Quick Tip: Create a 45-degree slope using sand or pool cove liner protection.

MOUNT THE UPRIGHTS

Next, the uprights are installed into each bottom plate of the above-ground pool. Uprights strengthen your pool wall and provided support to your pool. The tops of each upright are usually determined by an extra hole near the top.

For resin uprights:

  • Slide the upright into the bottom resin cuff to snap it in
  • No additional hardware is needed

Quick Tip: When installing a resin upright, check to make sure all tabs are through at the bottom to ensure it’s fully snapped in place.

TAMP THE SAND OR POOL BASE

Now, you can smooth out the bottom by tamping the base for an even and strong bottom base. Make sure to tamp the entire bottom of the pool and then sweep away any remaining lines.

Quick Tip: Wetting the sand with water will make tamping easier and pack the sand better.

INSTALL THE LINER

The liner is an essential component of your above-ground pool and should be installed carefully. This video shows how installers lay out and apply it to the pool. Remember to remove your shoes before walking on the liner during installation.

Quick Tip: Lay the liner out in the sun to make it easier to manage, then re-roll it for easier transport and installation.

OVERLAP LINER

  • Hang over the pool wall
  • Need coping strips to secure

BEADED LINER

  • A separate bead track is installed on top of the pool wall
  • A beaded vinyl liner is snapped into the track

UNIBEAD LINER

  • Does not require J-Hook
  • Unibead liners offer additional pattern options
  • Eliminates excess material

ATTACH STABILIZER RAILS AND TOP PLATES

Once the liner has been installed, begin working out all wrinkles from the sides of the pool.

Attach the stabilizer rails and top plates to the top of the pool wall. The stabilizer rails simply slide into each other all the way around the pool, reinforcing its circular shape. The top plates are secured onto each upright with screws. You can now remove each landscaping stake if used.

Quick Tip: Use a leveler to make sure the uprights are completely perpendicular to the ground. This will ensure the maximum stability of your pool.

ATTACH THE TOP RAIL

Once the stabilizer rails and top plates have been installed, this illustrates how to place the top rails. This also shows that the method is the same if you have a resin top rail.

Quick Tip: Place all the top rails before screwing them down completely. 

SLOWLY FILL WITH WATER

Add water slowly, this will allow you to smooth out wrinkles in your pool liner. It’s recommended to fill the pool halfway, then refer to the separate instructions on how to install the skimmer and return fittings. Once installed, you can finish connecting the rest of the pool equipment like the filter system and pump. After installing all the above-ground equipment, you can fill the rest with the pool.

Quick Tip: Smooth out the liner when there is 1″ of water in the bottom of the pool. This will allow you to adjust the liner, giving it a smoother, tighter fit.

SAFETY FIRST

Safety is the number one priority when using any pool. Your above-ground pool will come complete with safety warning labels and must be placed on the pool in designated areas.

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