Are you thinking of installing your own above ground pool? A few weeks ago Tony and I, with help from his parents, installed an above ground pool in our backyard. Tony and I have done a lot of DIY projects together, but this was one of the most difficult (somewhere right up there with installing wallpaper with your spouse). Long story short, the pool is up, it holds water, and the kids love it. The longer story is that it’s not perfect. We made some mistakes, but learned a lot.

I’m going to write a three part series on how to install an above ground pool, including preparing the base, installing the walls, and finishing with the liner and top ledge. If you’re thinking of installing your own above ground pool, I hope that you will learn a thing or two from our experiences!

How to install an above ground pool yourself

*I worked in collaboration on this project withPool Supplies Canada,who provided me with a discount on pool parts. All opinions are my own*

Why an above ground pool?

It gets really hot here in the summer and we wanted to have an activity for the kids to stay cool and be outside. The kids love swimming, and I love to float around with a bevy in my hand. Our goal was to have a pool, but not spend a lot of money. So we decided to install an above ground pool (way less expensive than in-ground) and do it ourselves (save money on labor).

We were able to find a used 27 foot round pool for a fraction of the price of a new pool. It came with a salt water generator, the pump, and most of the parts and accessories. It did have a few missing and broken parts, but we were able to get everything we needed from Pool Supplies Canada.

Let’s get to the 6 steps we took to prepare the base for our above ground pool

1. Remove Sod

Once you have all your pool parts and chosen the location for your above ground pool, the first thing to do is remove the sod and make the area somewhat level. We have very rocky soil behind our house, so Tony used the tractor to remove a fair bit of the soil and rocks.

how to install an above ground pool yourself

2. Find the center and mark the circumference

We found the center of the area and marked the exact locations of the edge of the pool. We got a 27ft round pool, so marked 13.5 feet from the center.

how to install an above ground pool yourself

3. Pack the soil

Next Tony used a tamper to pack the soil that had been stirred up by the tractor. We didn’t want to risk the soil settling over time.

how to install an above ground pool yourself

how to install an above ground pool yourself

4. Add a crushed stone base

Next we prepared the base by dumping a few loads of crushed stone, and raking it out fairly flat.

how to install an above ground pool yourself

Next Tony taped a level on a 2 x 4 board, and attached one end to a pin in the center of the pool area. We worked our way around the pool scraping the crushed stone flat, while also making sure the radius of the circle was level.

how to install an above ground pool yourself

5. Pack the crushed stone

Once the crushed stone was level, Tony again tamped it down. It is very important to get the base flat and level. It has to be entirely level within an inch, otherwise you risk the pool collapsing. That is not a risk we were willing to take.

how to install an above ground pool yourself

6. Double check the level

Then again we checked how level the base was using the level on a 2 x 4. We filled in any low areas with crushed stone, and scraped down any high areas. We also used a transit to double check all our measurements, and make sure the entire circle was within an inch.

how to install an above ground pool yourself

Above ground pool base

Easy right? We worked at the base over the span of a few weeks, so there wasn’t too much pressure to get it done. Next week I”ll show you how we installed the feet, bottom rails, and sidewalls of the above ground pool (just a tad more of a stressful day). Then the week after I’ll show you how we finished off the pool!

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