Above-Ground Pool Base Materials Explained

Oval install

What Goes underneath an Above-Ground Pool

Have you ever wondered what is underneath an above-ground swimming pool? I’ve been on many backyard pool visits. My customers ask me this at every backyard pool visit.

Above-ground pools must have a base material in order to withstand many tons of water weight. Mason Sand or Stone Dust is what installers use. Other accessories include Rhino Pad, Armor Guard, and or Liner Shield. These three items are GEO textile materials that protect the pool’s liner. They all lay between the liner and the base material.

What is Mason Sand?

Mason Sand comes from larger rocks like granite, trap rock, and or limestone. It’s crushed and then it goes through a screening process. It goes through the screening process twice. By doing this it creates a nice smooth consistency. It feels like beach sand or what we in the business call pool sand.

What is Stone Dust?

Stone dust is a larger rock crushed into dust. Also called Quarry dust is coarser than Mason sand. It packs like concrete and creates a hard pool base. Much like an in-ground pool base. It’s used in concrete construction. A Stone Mason will use for laying pavers.

How Much Material do we need?

These materials come in volumes of yards and or tons. We have a chart that we use to know what amount we’ll need to get for a particular size pool. See the following chart it will show you the amount we order when installing a pool.

Base Material Chart for Different Sized Pools

Pool Size in ftMason Sand YardsMason Sand TonsStone Dust YardsStone Dust Tons
Base Material Chart

*The chart shows that it’s the same amounts whether you use Mason Sand or Stone Dust.

Do I need a Protective Padding Under my Pool’s Liner?

A floor pad goes between the base material and your pool’s liner. It protects the underside of your pool’s liner from smaller-sized rocks from poking the liner. It’s a good idea to have one.

Most pool manufacturers will extend the liner warranty if you use the padding. For that reason, it’s a great idea. Generally speaking any added security you can get is a Good Idea.

Check out the warranty differences between the two warranties. See the following video for an explanation of the extended type warranties.

What is Armor Shield?

Do we Need Foam Cove?

As an installer for many years, I cannot get behind this product. I have seen it fail many times. Buyer beware of “Foam Cove” as it’s dangerous! We prefer Mason Sand or Stone Dust for the obvious reasons shown in the following video.

The proper base for your pool

We can also see other well-known installers are not fans of this pool cove as well. Listen to Chad from the “Above Ground Pros” Youtube channel tell you in his own words why.

Chad from AboveGround Pros

Will the Delivery Truck Wreck my Lawn?

In most cases NO. The amount used comes in smaller-sized dump trucks. Generally speaking, they are light enough to not cause any disasters.

Important to note when the weather is wet or has been wet in the days prior. Anything on your lawn will cause issues. It’s best to make this decision on the day material is delivered.

Most delivery companies will not drive on your lawn!

The better question is whether the truck has access to the backyard? Most pool installers will charge extra for having to wheel barrel the material.

Coordinate any fencing or landscape with fence or landscapers you currently have. pool Installers do not like the added responsibility to take down fences etc.

Landscaping Around an Above Ground Pool

landscape material

Landscape rocks or crushed stones are most common around a pool after it’s installed.

They serve two purposes. One is they keep moisture from staying near the pool wall.

Moisture against the pool wall can cause it to rust faster. Second, when spread around the pool perimeter it creates a strong base. Pool and base become one solid structure.

The most used rocks are 3/4″ crushed stones. It can be anything you like. What you don’t want around an above-ground pool is mulch!

The mulch keeps moisture against the wall. It will cause the pool wall to rust quicker.

Do not place Mulch around your above ground pool!

Another material to not use is acid-washed stones. The acid can attack the wall finish and cause rust to develop quicker.

Peastone Gravel is the Best!


Picture a warm summer day and the kids are in the pool playing ball. What happens every time the kids play ball in the pool? The ball ends up on the outside of the pool.

One of the kids will need to hop out and get it. The Peastone is a small 1/4 inch smooth rock. They feel good on their feet. the last thing you need is for your company to cut their toes while jumping out of the pool.

How Much Landscape material do we need?

This will depend on the size of your pool. Please see the following chart for how much-crushed stone or pea stone you’ll need.

Pool Size in ftYards Needed
Landscape Material Chart

The chart is based on Yards and the stones will be laid 3 inches thick.

They will lay about 2ft away from the pool wall. Your exact amount will depend on your project scope.

I hope this information proves useful to you.

Thank you,

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