Pool Ground Cloth vs Tarp: Which One Should You Choose?

Robert Wimberly

pool ground cloth vs tarp

Suppose you want to have a swimming pool without having to consider the cost or duration of the project. In that case, above-ground swimming pools are the ideal choice for you.

And, if you’re planning to do it on your own (yes, it’s possible), then you should probably remember this: do not forget to put a cloth underneath it. For this step, you have two options: Pool Ground Cloth vs Tarp.

Pool Ground Cloth Pool Ground Tarp
Materials High-quality, waterproof, and long-lasting materials From polyester, canvas or plastics
Suitable for uneven and rough surfaces? Yes No
Protection For pool liner base For above the pool and the pool base (more versatile)
Cost More expensive Cheaper
Readily available? No Yes
Waterproof? Yes Yes

Differences Between Pool Ground Cloth and Tarp

When discussing the two pool ground covers, it is important to know their four main differences:

1. Composition


Pool ground cloths are specifically made for protecting above-ground pools from moisture, small rocks, insects, or anything else that can damage your pool liners.

This is why it’s made of high-quality, long-lasting materials such as “PE plastic”. This material has three qualities: it’s sunproof, water-proof, and soft, which makes it easy on the foot.

On the contrary, as tarps are designed to serve other purposes (such as a protective cover over the pool or used in camping), their composition varies from that of the pool ground cloths.

A tarp is usually made of polyester, canvas, or plastics such as polyethylene. They are flexible, durable, and water-resistant, making them ideal covers to protect against strong winds, the sun, or rain.

Therefore, in the case of swimming pools, the optimal use of tarps is to act as a cover rather than to sit on the bottom of the pool.

2. Suitability for uneven and rough surfaces


When it comes to this category, the pool ground cloths win without a doubt, as this material has a much thicker layer than the tarp.

There are different kinds of pool cloths on the market. For example, Intex provides the typical pool ground cloth, Blue Wave offers a product called pool pads, and BalanceFrom EVA offers interlocking foam mats under pool.

Furthermore, pool ground tarps can prevent any leaks or damage. But as it’s relatively thinner than the pool ground cloth, it’s not suitable for surfaces that have bumps and are not leveled.

When you step into the pool, you can still feel the bumps of the uneven surfaces through the tarp.

In short, your feet won’t like it.

3. Cost


Pool ground cloths are more expensive than tarps. For comparison purposes, I’ve looked up good examples of the products on Amazon, and here are their costs:

  • Pool Ground Cloth (Intex): $17.33
  • Tarp (Better Blue Poly Tarp): $8.99

There are other products that may or may not be cheaper than the ones I’ve found, but in general, tarps are cheaper.

4. Availability


Tarp for under pool and over pool are multifunctional and more widely used, it is easy to find them at any hardware store in your town.

As for pool ground cloths, they are relatively easy to locate online; however, they are more difficult to locate at hardware stores.

Pros and Cons

Regarding the debate over pool ground cloths vs. tarps, many aspects, such as their pros and cons, need to be considered. In this section, we’ll try to weigh in on the advantages and disadvantages of each product.

1. Pool ground cloth

  • High-quality and durable materials that make it long-lasting.
  • Protection for the bottom of the pool
  • Protection against moisture, mold, and mildew.
  • Different varieties:
    • Pool ground cloth – Basic type; provides enough protection for pool liners; no padding.
    • Under pool mats – Puncture-resistant padding, thus an extra layer of protection to pool liners.
    • Interlocking foam mats for under the pool- Featuring foam and, thus, have a softer surface; cushion the bottom of the pool, thus ideal for kids as they can absorb impact.
  • A more expensive option
  • Cannot cover over the pool

2. Pool ground tarp

  • Good materials that are waterproof and sun-proof.
  • Good as a substitute for pool ground cloths.
  • Provides enough protection for the bottom of the pool against mildew
  • Cheaper than pool ground cloth
  • Readily available
  • Not suitable for rough and uneven surfaces.
  • Only lasts for a year or so
  • Not exactly child-proof

Which Option is Suitable for Swimming Pools?


The pool ground cloth is the better choice due to its superior utility and longevity. It’s great for the pool liner, the bottom, and your feet since it’s thick and soft. It’s especially great for kids since it can absorb impacts, just like the soft tiles we put in the living room to keep them safe.

But if you’re looking for a cheap, easy-to-find replacement, and you don’t have a child (or your kids are all grown), then you can also go with the pool ground tarp.

Or, you could also think about it this way. Where are you going to build your above-ground pool? Is the surface there rough and uneven? If that’s the case, then you should go with pool ground cloths. But if it’s flat and there aren’t any bumps, then it’s okay to go with pool ground tarps.


The “Pool Ground Cloth vs Tarp” debate has cropped up time and time again in conversations between homeowners who are interested in installing an above-ground pool. Generally, it’s better that you go for the more durable and protective one, which is the ground cloth.

However, if you intend to use it on a flat surface and want to cover the pool with it, you can go for the tarp.

5/5 - (2 votes)