Before you commit to installing a pool at your home, perhaps you want to do a trial run with an inflatable pool first. This begs the question: where should you install that? Grass can be a bit unstable, but if you have a concrete patio, then that can be a good location to set up.
Generally speaking, concrete is flat, even, and can support a lot of weight. However, sometimes it can be quite abrasive which could lead to tears and punctures underneath your inflatable pool. Furthermore, sometimes concrete is uneven and so you may end up with a slanted pool.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to place some softer material under an inflatable pool to protect the pool’s floor as well as even out any unevenness in the foundation.
With regards to what to put under inflatable pools on concrete, some great options are: pool pads, interlocking mats, sand, crushed stone, solid foam, pavers, carpet padding, flooring underlayment, and tarpaulin.
In this article, we will cover in more detail each of these options to help you find the best option to place under your inflatable pool on concrete.
What to place under an inflatable pool on concrete
Pool pads (sometimes referred to as Gorilla pads) are the most common option for putting under an inflatable pool because of how versatile they are. There are so many to choose from to suit your needs, from size, shape, and durability.
Pool pads are a popular choice because their tough material makes them relatively unaffected by insects, plant growth, and other pests.
These pads are effective year round and are super easy to install. You simply lat the pad on the concrete floor, place your inflatable pool on top, and that’s it. Even if you have an irregularly shaped patio or pool, you can trim the pad to accommodate the space as needed.
Interlocking mats are commonly found in children’s play areas but can also double as a cheap and straightforward solution to our rough concrete problem.
An obvious strength of the interlocking design is that you can easily interlock them or take them apart as needed. When you want to store them, these mats won’t take up much space.
You can easily create an area larger than the pool itself so that you can safely walk on the concrete with bare feet. It makes tripping less of a hazard and can keep your feet clean.
One downside of the interlocking mat is that sometimes they can become disconnected from each other. They are also not as durable as a commercial pool pad.
An old-school way of setting up an inflatable pool on most ground types, including concrete, is with sand. It’s inexpensive and easy to set up, as you just literally pour the sand where you want the pool to be set up.
I’m sure you’ve heard the cautionary tale of the foolish man who built his house on sand. How about a pool? It’s a much more viable option for a pool since this is not intended to be a permanent installation; we only need it to get the job done for a little while.
That said, sand does have some clear disadvantages. If you’ve ever been to the beach, then you’d know that sand can get everywhere. It will stick to your feet and can track onto the pool floor and result in a gritty layer.
Many pests and small animals will make their home in the sand, and possibly find their way into your pool. Additionally, household pets can track the sand into your house or use it to dispose of their litter, which can result in unpleasant smells.
Some people prefer crushed stone to sand for a base. Crushed stone is similar to sand in that it’s inexpensive, has good drainage qualities, and is easy to shape, but it creates a more stable base than sand.
Unlike sand, it is much harder for insects and pests to bury into and can be used in wet and rainy climates.
Stone is heavier than sand and is harder to wash away, thereby making it more permanent than sand as long as it is tamped and rolled sufficiently.
Crushed stone is more effective the more tightly packed it is. It does not stick together as naturally as sand, so use a tamping tool to press down hard and force out as much air between the crushed stone as possible.
You should use polished stones with rounded edges so that the stones don’t puncture and tear the pool bottom, which is the problem we’re trying to prevent in the first place. Pea gravel also fits this criteria.
The traditional felt carpet material isn’t durable enough to protect the inflatable pool’s bottom from concrete. However, modern closed-cell carpet pads are.
Look for a carpet or rug pad made with memory foam. Like solid foams, they can come in various thicknesses, so you can just choose a thickness that works for you. Carpet padding is also easy to cut into the shape you need for your particular space.
Also look for carpet padding rated for high-traffic areas, as these are designed to be more durable. Keep in mind that carpet is not as thick as foam, so you might need multiple layers to achieve the level of softness you desire.
Similar to carpet padding, underlayment sheets are commonly used in flooring to create a more stable surface.
Since floor underlayment sheets are also thin, multiple layers may be required to protect the bottom of an inflatable pool.
This option is much cheaper than commercial pool pads, so you aren’t breaking the bank buying many of them to create a softer surface on concrete.
Lastly, you can use heavy-duty tarpaulin. Tarps are commonly placed over objects, not under them. Even though tarps come in various thicknesses, generally speaking not even the thickest one is able to protect your inflatable pool bottom for the long-term.
However, chances are you have a tarp laying around in your garage or storage room. If your options are to set up your inflatable pool on concrete, or to at least put it on top of a tarp for even just a tiny bit of protection, I think you’d rather pick the latter option.
That said, if you want sufficient protection for your inflatable pool on concrete, I’d recommend sticking with a pool pad for peace of mind.