Using Sand for Backfilling a Pool

Using Sand for Backfilling a Pool

Adding a pool to your yard is not only a great way to gain function and enjoyment from your outdoor space, but it can also add incredible value and appeal to your property when you decide to sell.  That said, there are some logistical choices you’ll need to make to ensure that your pool meet standards for safety and longevity.

There is some debate about which materials are best for backfilling, which is to say, either filling the space around your pool to ensure stability, or filling the space where a pool used to be.  Here, we’ll talk about backfill when adding a new pool, and there are a couple of materials you may be considering.

While dirt and gravel are often cited as contenders for backfill, sand is the best backfill material for a few reasons.  Here’s a breakdown of why sand is the ideal solution for your safety and peace of mind.


Some will tout the dirt you remove in preparation for installing a pool as the easy and affordable way to backfill.  They’re not wrong, at least not initially.  Unfortunately, dirt backfill does not offer a dense pack and it settles over time, which will cause your pool to shift.  This can not only be unsightly, but also dangerous, and it can lead to the need for significant and costly repairs down the line.  In other words, dirt is appealing short-term, but extremely detrimental long-term.


There are some benefits to using gravel backfill for a pool, such as the fact that it compacts well (especially with the use of a compactor) and it offers excellent drainage.  However, like dirt and other large particulate forms of backfill, it can settle over time, leading to the pool shifting, or even causing bulges or cracks in fiberglass pools.

The Benefits of Sand

Let’s just start with the fact that fiberglass pool manufacturers cite sand as their recommended backfill material.  Sand compacts extremely well and is not easily shifted, even when surrounding earth settles over time.  The only potential concern with sand backfill is the fact that it doesn’t drain well.  When sand gets wet, it can hold water.

However, when installed according to pool manufacturer specifications, this shouldn’t be a problem.  This entails following specs for spacing around the perimeter of the pool, as well as wetting sand during installation to ensure optimal compaction.  With proper drainage considerations, appropriate volume of backfill material, and correct compaction, sand serves as the ideal backfill for pools, especially fiberglass models.