Swimming Pool Sand – A Beginner’s Introduction

Swimming Pool Sand - A Beginner’s Introduction

Anthony Barnes

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What is swimming pool sand? What does it look like? How much should you add to your pool? 

Swimming pools are great places to spend time with family and friends, but they also require regular maintenance.

One of the most important aspects of maintaining a pool is cleaning it regularly.

The water in a pool contains bacteria and other contaminants that cause health problems.

Regularly adding sand helps to filter out these harmful particles. 

Sand is often added to a pool to improve its appearance and reduce algae growth.

Sand also serves as a natural filter to remove dirt from the water. If you want to clean your pool, you will need to purchase sand. 

But what sand should you use? In this article, we will introduce you to different kinds of pool sand, while also explaining their uses and requirements. 

Why Use Swimming Pool Sand?

When installing an above-ground swimming pool, it’s important to use two different sands for the bottom and filter.

These sands must be compatible, which means they should not mix or react when placed together.

This can lead to blocked filters and damage to the equipment. 

The sand used for the pool’s bottom is commonly known as mason sand, whereas the sand in the filter is referred to as filter sand as well as silica sand.

Both kinds of sand have different properties and can be purchased from various locations.

However, you will need to understand the difference between both sands before completing your above-ground swimming pool

Let’s take a look.

Mason Sand (For Bottom) 

Otherwise known as mortar sand, mason sand can usually be purchased from masonry supply stores or sand yards.

The sand is commonly measured using yards and should not contain any harsh materials like pebbles or rocks. 

This kind of sand is ideal for the bottom of an above-ground swimming pool (see also ‘Can You Put An Above-Ground Pool On Pavers?‘) because it creates a soft and solid base for the pool.

It also provides a smooth surface for children and pets. 

When purchasing mason sand, you will need to make sure that you are purchasing the right one for your pool.

This can be done by seeking the help of a professional who has experience in installing above-ground swimming pools (see also ‘How To Insulate Swimming Pool Pipes’). 

If you’re unsure about how to measure the right amount of mason sand needed for your pool, here are some guidelines.

Mason Sand Chart 

The chart below shows the recommended amounts of mason sand needed based on the size and dimensions of the above-ground pool you own: 

Pool DimensionsAmount of Sand (Yards)
10’ round0.75
12’ round1.00
15’ round1.50
18’ round2.00
21’ round2.50
24’ round3.50
27’ round4.00
30’ round5.50
7’ x 13’ oval 0.75
7’ x 15’ oval0.75
8’ x 12’ oval0.75
8’ x 14’ oval1.00
8’ x 15’ oval 1.00
8’ x 16’ oval1.00
8’ x 19’ oval1.00
10’ x 15’ oval1.00
10’ x 16’ oval1.00
10’ x 18’ oval1.25
10’ x 19’ oval1.25
10’ x 21’ oval1.50
12’ x 16’ oval1.25
12’ x 17’ oval1.50
12’ x 18’ oval1.50
12’ x 20’ oval1.75
12’ x 21’ oval1.75
12’ x 24’ oval2.00
12’ x 27’ oval2.00
14’ x 20’ oval2.00
15’ x 23’ oval2.50
15’ x 24’ oval2.50
15’ x 26’ oval2.50
15’ x 30’ oval3.50
16’ x 26’ oval3.50
16’ x 26’ oval3.50
16’ x 32’ oval4.00
18’ x 33 oval4.50

Filter Sand (For Filter) 

Swimming Pool Sand - A Beginner’s Introduction

Otherwise known as silica sand, filter sand is specially designed to capture small particles and unwanted debris. 

You can find filter sand at hardware stores, home improvement centers, and even online. However, it could be labeled as silica or filter. 

While there are many types of filter sand available, each type is made up of either quartz or diatomaceous earth. Either one of these substances works well to trap dirt and debris. 

When buying filter sand, you’ll want to know if the sand is suitable for your filter.

To learn this information, you can either seek professional help or refer to the owner’s manual. 

Filter Sand Chart 

Different filters need different amounts of sand, so we have provided the chart below to show you how much sand you should purchase:  

Filter BrandAmount of Sand (lbs)
Hayward S166 T 16” Sand Filter System100
Hayward S180 T 18” Sand Filter System150
Hayward S210 T 20” Sand Filter System200
Hayward S230 T 23” Sand Filter System250
Pentair SD40 Sand Filter 150
AquaPro 19” Sand Filter System150
AquaPro 24” Sand Filter System300
Hydrotools 16” Sand Filter System100
Hydrotools 19” Sand Filter System175
Hydrotools 24” Sand Filter System300

Can You Install Above-Ground Pools On Concrete Slabs?

Yes! Above-ground pools can be installed on concrete slabs. There are several advantages to using concrete slabs over traditional soil beds.

For example, concrete slabs provide more stability than soil beds. They also don’t require any additional drainage systems. 

However, concrete slabs do have their disadvantages. One disadvantage is that concrete slabs are very heavy.

Therefore, they may cause cracks in older homes. Another disadvantage is that concrete slab installation requires special tools. 

Because of this, professionals prefer to use the sandbox method when installing above-ground pools.

This method allows homeowners to install pools without having to worry about cracking and other problems. 

Can You Use Dirt Instead Of Pool Sand?

While it is possible to use dirt, the practice is not recommended. Although dirt is cheap, it does not work as well as pool sand.

When using dirt, you run the risk of contaminating the water and blocking the filtration system. 

For this reason, we recommend using pool sand instead of dirt, as this creates a softer bottom and is compatible with pool filters. 


Swimming pool sand is a great option for creating a soft, stable foundation for your above-ground pool while providing a safe environment for kids and pets. 

It is important to note that before you buy pool sand, you must first determine what kind of sand you need.

If you aren’t sure which sand to buy, then ask a professional who has experience installing above-ground pools for advice. 

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By Anthony Barnes

Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age