Gorilla Pool Pad Vs. Sand: Which One Is Better For Above-Ground Pools?

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

When you first install your pool in your home, you have to think about how you can pad the bottom of your pool. After all, above-ground pools need to have a nice, gentle support at the bottom. Traditionally, this would mean that you would add sand to the bottom of your pool. However, Gorilla pool pads are growing in popularity. Which material option is truly the king of this jungle?

Sand is an affordable way to pad the base of your pool liner, is unlikely to grow uneven, and doesn’t contain any glass or rocks. However, it is more likely to scratch the bottom of your pool, speeding up the need for repairs. Gorilla pool pads are just as grippy, but are far gentler on the bottom of your pool. They may cost a bit, but they’re worth it.

Gorilla pool pads are popular for a reason. If you were thinking of skipping out on this pool pad, think again. Here’s why you will love this.

Do You a Need Pool, Spa, or Hot Tub Contractor?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Do You Need A Pool Pad Support For Your Above Ground Pool?

Above-ground pools are not as tough as in-ground pools, and part of this deals with the pool liner. Above-ground liners are going to be sensitive to pokes and prods. They can tear or even pop if they get hit by the wrong item. Having some protection is the only way to make sure that you avoid having a tear at the bottom of your pool.

Using sand or a Gorilla liner will help reduce damage to your pool liner, potentially avoid mold, and also make it possible to reduce capillary action. All of this turns into a much better swim, not to mention a lot less wear and tear on your pool. Some pool building codes may also require it.

What Is Pool Sand?

Pool sand is standard silicate sand—no glass shards, no marbles, nothing. It’s brought in by the barrelful (or ton) and is meant to add a barrier between the actual ground and the pool vinyl. It’s meant to be fine and it has a slightly coarse feel to it.

In most circles, this is known as mason sand. This is because it’s also used for a wide range of other projects. While you can technically use other types of sand, mason sand tends to be the top choice. It’s plentiful and affordable.

What Happens If You Just Use Sand For Your Pool Bottom Support?

Sand is a viable option if you just want to have some bare-bones grip to the bottom of your pool. If you choose this option, you will need to pack the sand in carefully to ensure that it’s level and flat. This is what you need to be aware of if you use sand for your support:

  • It will only last for a couple of months. You *might* be able to get it to extend to a couple of years if you have very sturdy soil and do something to try to box it in. However, sand has this way of spreading that’s kind of aggravating.
  • Rocks, glass shards, and roots can eventually poke through the sand. This can cause the pool’s bottom to puncture.
  • Even if the pool sand stays put, you may notice that the sand grates or scratches the vinyl’s bottom. This can cause serious damage over time.
  • Sand is resistant, but not immune to mold. So, some mold might grow. Ew.
  • Adding the sand is going to require barrels, shovels, and work. It’s sand. So, you’ll have to order it by the pound (or ton) depending on how much stuff you want to get.

How Much Does Mason Sand Cost?

Mason sand is the best pick for protecting your pool sand base. You should expect to pay anywhere from $77 to $120 per ton of mason sand. Most pools will ned at least one ton of sand if you want to use sand as your pool base.

What Is A Gorilla Pool Pad?

Gorilla pool pads are specialty liner bottom pads that are made by the Gorilla corporation. They are derived from geotextile fabrics that are often used in landfills. After years of market testing, Gorilla pool pads hit the market as one of the easiest ways to protect your pool from rocks.

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Gorilla Pool Pad?

Buying a Gorilla pad is the best investment that you can make when it comes to the protection of your above-ground pool. Here’s why you will want to use one instead of sand:

  • It is easy to install. All you need to do is carry it onto the pool area and unfurl it. Done. If your pool is petite or unusually shaped, you can cut it to size, no problem.
  • Pool pads offer better protection, without the chance of having it grate on the bottom of the pool. Since it’s a smooth, cushioned surface, it’s not going to wear on the bottom of your pool.
  • It lasts for years. It’s not unheard of for a Gorilla pool pad to last for as much as 10 to 15 years. Most last around 5.
  • Gorilla pool pads also feel nicer. Sand is sandy and moves everywhere and feels coarse. Pool pads offer a nice, easy cushion for your pool.
  • Your pool pad also will stay in place. The same cannot be said about using sand. That stuff gets everywhere.
  • The protection you get from a Gorilla pool pad is just better. Things can poke through sand, even if you have a big layer. It only takes one errant root to poke a hole in your pool. You might as well get a fully solid pad to cover them.

How Much Does A Gorilla Pool Pad Cost?

Believe it or not, getting a Gorilla pool pad is actually around the same price range as using sand, aside from the fact that you will need sand to install it. It just tends to offer up better results. You can buy a Gorilla pool pad for as little as $80.

Larger sizes can be upwards of $110 to $120, depending on the store that’s selling them as well as specifications. You may also need to buy some sand just to get that perfectly cushiony feel, but that’s up to you.

Related Questions

What is Gorilla padding made from?

Gorilla pool padding is made from a thick geotextile that feels almost like a rubbery felt. While it may feel felty, it’s way stronger than felt. This material has regularly been used in landfills as a way to protect portions of the area with stuff.

Do you need sand underneath a pool pad?

Technically, you don’t. All pool pads will need at least two inches of stabilizing material underneath it. The most common way to handle this is to pour (and level) two inches of mason sand there. However, if you don’t want to use sand, you can also choose to use two inches of styrofoam. Either way, you still need a base for the pool pad.

Can sand wash away from underneath the pool?

Yes, and that’s actually why many homeowners have to replace their sand underneath the pool. This can happen as a result of improper installation as well as other issues. In some rare cases, extreme flooding can cause sand to erode from underneath the pool. The same can be said for things like sinkholes or certain types of animals.

Do You a Need Pool, Spa, or Hot Tub Contractor?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Which One Is Better, Sand Or Gorilla Pads?

If you can’t tell from the article, the best thing that you can do for your pool is to use a Gorilla pad. It’s a good price, it protects your home, and you also get to enjoy a better floor experience in your pool. What’s not to love? There’s a reason why they are the tried and true option among pool pads.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

More by Ossiana Tepfenhart