Is It Necessary To Backfill An Above-Ground Pool? 

An above-ground pool provides a refreshing oasis in hot weather. And while installing one is much easier and cheaper than installing an inground pool, there are still a few significant steps to undertake. Does that include backfilling?

Backfilling an above-ground pool is recommended, but the amount of backfill needed is normally much less than for in-ground pools. Backfilling creates a barrier between water and the ground, keeps the pool level, and prevents the bottom of the pool from corroding and rusting as quickly.

It’s important to know when to backfill an above-ground pool, how to do it, and which materials to use. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about backfilling an above ground pool. As with most expensive household projects, you want to get the install of a pool right so that you can enjoy years of enjoyment to come, and it all starts with understanding the backfilling requirements for your unique situation.  

Is It Necessary to Backfill an Above-Ground Pool? 

Empty above ground swimming pool in a backyard

Since an above-ground pool like the Bestway 24′ x 12′ x 52″ Steel Frame Above Ground Pool (on Amazon) is, by definition, above the ground, the need to backfill is not obvious to many pool owners. But when an above-ground pool is installed partially in the ground, the hole created to fit the pool has to be backfilled, since it’s typically larger than the pool itself.

And even if an above-ground pool is installed fully above the ground, some backfilling is still required. The amount of backfilling varies depending on the specific situation. 

Backfilling an above-ground pool is necessary for several reasons. One is to create a barrier to stop water from running beneath the pool and washing away the sand bed. Such erosion can put the structure at risk of collapsing.

Backfilling also covers the plates and rails at the bottom of the pool, protecting them from corrosion and rusting.

Another primary reason for backfilling an above-ground pool is leveling. Since most yards are not perfectly level, some amount of excavation is required to allow the pool to sit evenly. The hole created in this process is usually larger than the pool and will need to be filled.  

Materials Needed to Backfill an Above-Ground Pool 

Backfilling an above-ground pool differs significantly from backfilling an inground pool, both in terms of the process and the materials needed. For example, gravel is an excellent backfill material for inground pools but should never be used for above-ground pools. This is because of the likelihood of gravel ripping the pool liner or causing a rough pool bottom. 

As its name suggests, backfilling generally refers to refilling a hole with the soil that was excavated from it. This is a viable option when it comes to backfilling an above-ground pool. It’s a very cost-effective approach compared to having soil brought in from somewhere else and also transporting the excavated soil out of your property.

If the soil in your yard doesn’t have a desirable composition, however, you may be forced to source soil from elsewhere or use a slurry mix. A slurry mix is ideal backfilling material.

The cement and plaster sand combination in the slurry mix is strong enough to support itself. It doesn’t rest against the sides of the pool and can be removed later on to allow for pool repairs. 

How to Backfill an Above-Ground Pool 

Above ground swimming pool

Backfilling an above-ground pool must be done properly to avoid rusting, corrosion, and pool collapse. Here are the most important steps for how to install and backfill your above-ground pool:

Step 1:

Check with the local authorities to confirm what local laws require for installing a pool. Many areas have requirements for pools that are intended for above-ground use. If you live in such an area, you may need to request a building permit from your local authorities before you begin.

Step 2: 

Identify the perfect location for your pool in your yard and begin excavating the ground where it will stand. The hole’s perimeter should be at least 18 inches from the pool walls. Unless you want your pool to be installed partially in the ground, you should only excavate where a slope rises above the ground level.

Try to leave as much ground undisturbed as possible. Pile the excavated dirt around the hole to make it easier to backfill — unless you want to use a slurry mix instead.  

Step 3:

Level the area where your pool will sit and make it as even as possible. You can spread a layer of sand where the pool will be to protect it from corrosive elements present in the soil. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions to find out if the layer of sand is recommended. 

Step 4: 

Assemble your pool and fill the liner. Make sure that the pool’s walls are at least 18 inches away from any soil above grade. You can now fill your pool with water. It’s recommended that you let it rest for up to two weeks before you backfill.

This will allow you to detect any defects with the pool such as separation of seams in the liner that can cause leaks. It will be easier to identify, access, and repair issues with your pool before you backfill.  

Step 5:

Before you backfill, you should add protection to the pool’s exterior walls. Because above-ground pools are designed for above-ground use, their exterior walls don’t have any protection against corrosive elements in the soil.

You can line the exterior wall with roofing tar or plastic to prevent corrosion and rust. You can also keep the backfill from the exterior wall of the pool by building a retaining wall. The wall will also protect the pool from the inward pressure caused by the backfill sitting up against it.    

Step 6:

Check the pool walls for any wrinkles, bulges, or leaks before you backfill. If there are none, you can now backfill with your preferred material, whether its contractor-grade backfill dirt or slurry mix.

Make sure you backfill to a slightly higher level than the ground to allow for settling. Compacting the backfill is not necessary. You may decide to install a drainage pipe along the wall of the pool to keep run-off away from the pool’s wall.     

Can Backfilling Make an Above-Ground Pool Into an Inground Pool? 

Although most manufacturers and contractors strongly discourage using an above-ground pool as an inground pool, it can be done successfully with backfilling. However, great attention to detail is required when backfilling since the walls of an above-ground pool are not designed to support outward pressure.

You’ll need to carefully consider the backfill material. Slurry is the best option when you want to completely bury an above-ground pool since it can support its own weight without putting pressure on the pool’s walls. 

To avoid a cave-in, you should fill your pool first before you backfill. The water level should be at least a foot higher than the ground. Most contractors advocate sinking an above-ground pool only halfway in the ground.

This not only reduces the risk of the pool collapsing inward when drained, it also minimizes excavation costs and makes the pool surface more accessible for cleaning duties. 

Make sure to check the manufacturer’s warranty before setting an above-ground pool in the ground. Installing it in the ground may void the warranty. 

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