The popularity of liner pads for above ground pools has skyrocketed in recent years. This begs the question, does the product live up to the hype?
In short, liner pads are a fantastic addon to your pool that offers tons of value for their low price point. Although a standard sand bottom will do the job just fine, a small investment in a floor pad will give you peace of mind for years to come.
A good starting point is understanding what exactly a liner pad is, and what function it serves. A liner pad is typically a felt padding that pre-manufacturer to fit your pool. It is installed overtop of your pool base, but underneath your liner. A liner pad is designed to protect your liner from any debris that may be pushed up through the pool base, while also softening the feeling of the pool floor. A liner pad can also give some minor protection against washout in certain situation as well, by slowing down erosion that may come from inside the pool in the event of a leaking liner.
Some liner pad companies may recommend slightly different variations of installation, but the guiding rule remains the same. The pad is installed on top of your pool base, but underneath the liner. It is also recommended to use styrofoam pool cove in conjunction with a liner pad. Although using sand cove will work, styrofoam cove will never wash away or degrade over time, unlike sand. This washout or degradation can lead to liner failures over time. The small cost of the styrofoam pool cove will pay dividends over the life of the pool.
We like to install our floor pads underneath the bottom of the pool cove, in order to get the best fit possible with no wrinkling in the cove area. This can be seen in the image below.
Liner pads are constructed of several large pieces of the felt fabric double stitched together to make a round or oval shape. Unlike rolled or sheet styrofoam, it will require almost no fabrication or alteration to fit your pool, and has very few seams. As the floor pad has been pre-manufactured, the "seams" (where the different pieces of felt are stitched together) will not separate over time. Other pool bottom types (sheet styrofoam, rolled styrofoam) have many more seams than a liner pad, which has the tendency to show through the liner, and can separate after years of down pressure from the weight of the water/ice.
Liner pads are a fantastic upgrade for your pool bottom that can be installed quickly, easily, and at the lowest point of any pool bottom. They protect your liner and offer a level a comfort better than that of a traditional entry level sand bottom, and will last the life of your pool.
Although sticking to a standard sand bottom is perfectly okay, liner pads just offer so many advantages for a small price tag. Floor pads are DIY friendly, and offer a better bang for your buck than any other above ground pool floor upgrade.