How Much Sand Do I Need for a Pool?


Working on the base

Above-ground pools are quicker and cheaper to install than in-ground pools. However, to provide a soft floor beneath your feet and prevent the pool lining from tearing, it’s necessary to put a layer of sand between the pool floor and the pool lining. So how much sand will you need?

You will need at least 2 inches (5.08 cm) of sand for your above-ground pool lining. For an average 15 × 30 foot (4.5 x 9.1 m) rectangular pool, you will need around 2-3 cubic yards (1.53 – 2.29 cu m) of sand or approximately 4 tons (3600 kilos).

There are two types of base materials and one common liner protection material that is laid over the base material. Mason Sand and Stone Dust are used as the base of your above-ground swimming pool. A geo-Textile material (Pool Pad) is then laid over the base material before the pool liner is installed. The following are the amounts needed for the different size pools.

Pool Size ftMason Sand yardsStone Dust yardsPool Pad size ft
121112
151115
181.51.518
212221
242.52.524
273.53.527
305530
336633
12×172212×17
12×242.52.512×24
15×263315×26
15×304415×30
18×335518×33
18×406618×40
21×437721×43

In the rest of this article, I will explain how much sand to use for your pool, how to calculate the amount of sand needed and the best kind of sand to use.

Why Do I Need Sand for an Above-Ground Pool?

Although above-ground pools are easier to install than in-ground pools, there are a few important things to keep in mind. You will need to dig a small, level surface to place the pool and then fill in a layer of sand between the pool floor and the pool lining.

You need sand for an above-ground pool because the sand protects your pool lining and provides a soft surface to walk on. The sand layer prevents the tearing of the pool lining by sharp rocks and gravel. It also prevents vegetation from growing through the lining.

Layering the sand is an important part of installing an above-ground pool. If this step isn’t done properly, you could potentially end up spending thousands on fixing leaks in your pool.

inside round super nova

Calculating the Amount of Sand Needed

Before you begin buying sand, you will need to calculate how much you’ll need. Use the following steps to calculate how much sand to buy.

Calculating Volume

First, begin by calculating the volume needed to fill at least 2 inches (5.08 cm) of your pool with sand. The formulas for calculating the volume are given below.

For Round Pools

Area = π r2 h

Where r = radius and h = height

i.e. Area = 3.14 × r2 × h

For Rectangular Pools

Area = Length × Width × height

The easiest way to calculate the volume is by using feet to measure each dimension. 

Your height here is 2 inches (5.08 cm) or 0.167 feet (.05 m). This height depends on how big you want the sand layer to be. Two inches (5.08 cm) is the minimum recommended height, but you can go up to 6 inches (15.24 cm).

For a 15 × 30 foot (4.5 x 9.1 m)  rectangular pool, I’ve given an example of the calculation below.

15 × 30 × 0.167 = 75.15 cubic feet (2.12 cu m.)

Convert to Cubic Yards or Tons

Sand is usually measured by the number of cubic yards needed or tons.

Convert the number you calculated in the previous step to cubic yards by dividing it by 27. This will give you the amount of sand needed in cubic yards.

You can also go a step further and find out how much the calculated amount of sand would weigh in tons. On average, sand weighs around 1.35 tons (1224 kg.) per cubic yard. Thus, to calculate the approximate weight of the sand needed, you can multiply the amount in cubic yards by 1.35.

Continuing the same example as before, here are the calculations.

75.15 cubic feet ÷ 27 = 2.8 cubic yards (2.14 cu m)

Therefore, the amount of sand needed by volume is 2.8 cubic yards (2.14 cu m). Multiply that by 1.35 to get the weight, and you get 3.78. This means that the total amount of sand you will need is almost 3 cubic yards (2.29 cu m) or 4 tons (3628 kg).

Which Sand Is Best for Your Pool?

Since the purpose of the sand layer is to protect the lining from tearing, you’ll want a soft and fine type of sand. Ordinary beach sand or playground sand won’t do because those have sharp pieces of rock, so choosing the correct kind of sand is essential.

Mason sand is the best for your pool. It’s also known as masonry sand or mortar sand. This sand is fine and free of sharp rocks and gravel. A good alternative to mason sand is concrete sand.

It’s important to pick the best kind of sand for your pool. It needs to be free of gravel, glass pieces, and sharp rocks; otherwise, it could tear holes in your pool’s lining. However, some kinds of sand may be too fine, so it’s important to go for something in the middle. Both mason sand and concrete sand are the perfect size and consistency for your pool.

Where Can You Buy Sand for Your Pool?

Once you’ve determined which type of sand you need and how much of it is needed, you can buy some. Sand usually comes in bags that weigh between 50 lbs. (22.7 kg.) and 100 lbs. (45.4kg.).

You can buy sand for your pool at most local hardware or gardening stores. This sand will usually come in 50 – 100 lb bags (22.7 – 45.4 kg.). However, if you need a large amount of sand, you could call your local landscaping or pool installation company to see if they will sell it by the truckload.

For smaller pools, it makes more sense to simply buy the sand in bags from your local hardware store. However, if you need more than a ton of sand, it may be more cost-efficient to buy it by the truckload.

Conclusion

For all above-ground pools, a minimum of 2 inches (5.08 cm) of sand is recommended. Experts also recommend using mason sand or concrete sand instead of regular sand.

To calculate the volume of sand needed, use the following formulas.

  • Round Pools:

Volume = πr2h

Where r = radius, and h = height

  • Rectangular Pools:

Volume = length × width × height

Once you’ve calculated the volume, divide that by 27 to get the amount needed in cubic yards.

You can buy the sand either at the local hardware store or by the truckload from a landscaping company.

Sources

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