Aboveground pools are bargains compared with in-ground pools, particularly in areas where the ground freezes and thaws over the course of winter. Aboveground pools are smaller, so they cost less by using less water and chemicals. Outfitting an aboveground pool can be just as expensive as outfitting an in-ground or inside pool, though. If you have a sturdy ladder and access to some leftover PVC water pipe and other salvage construction material, you can fabricate your own swank pool slide for a fraction of what one from a pool supply might cost. Measurements will vary with pool size and configuration.
Set up the ladder and install the only the bracket bases for the guardrails. Guardrails should rise high above the pool.
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Snap or scribe a straight line down one side of a large-diameter PVC pipe with a chalk line. Cut along the line, making straight, square cuts, with a circular saw using a fine-toothed blade designed for PVC or a hacksaw.
Mark and cut a second line down the length of pipe to make an opening at least 20 inches wide. The open tube should allow swimmers to sit upright as they slide, but rise high enough to control their slide.
Smooth the cut edges with a pocket or paring knife, a process called "deburring."
Lay a piece of foil-lined foam board insulation on the ground. Place the entry tongue on top of it and lay a PVC heat blanket on top of the tongue. Plug the blanket in and heat the plastic until it starts to soften.
Remove the blanket and lay the tongue over the deck of the pool, bending it to conform to the deck until the bottom of the slide rests on the bottom of the pool.
Clean the slide with a damp cloth and remove any stubborn stamped labels with acetone or nail polish on a lint-free cloth.
Open small-diameter PVC or ABS pipes to fit over the side edges of the slide; they will protect hands and cushion the bottom of the slide as it lies on the pool bottom. Use pipes that fit snugly over the edges to shorten softening and fitting time.
Soften the grips with the heating blanket until they fit on the sides. Lay the blanket over the grip pipe as it sits on the edge to fit it precisely. Wear thick or insulated gloves to smooth the softened pipe along the sides of the slide.
Clean the inside of the grip and edge of the slide with cleaner-primer thoroughly. Glue the grips to the slide edges with compatible PVC or ABS adhesive. Follow directions on the cans and work quickly -- the waterproof adhesive dries quickly.
Paint your completed slide with spray paint formulated for plastic surfaces.
Cut two holes with a drill and a hole saw attachment to match the handles on the pool ladder. Slip the ladder handles through the holes on the tongue and tighten the deck fittings securely.
Use water-system PVC manufactured after 1987, when the last of the regulations controlling the production of vinyl chloride monomer and dioxin in PVC went into effect. Pipe from current public and government-permitted projects must meet these standards.
Find a piece of pipe long enough to reach from the top of the ladder rails to the bottom of the pool at a 30 degree to 45 degree angle. Sewer pipe with a diameter of 40 to 50 inches may be more than an inch thick. If you use surplus water pipe, allow for the bell fitting on one end that must be cut off.
Rent a PVC heat blanket and practice on scrap pipe before using it on your project. You may need two blankets for thick pipe.
Raise the top of your slide by sliding an additional step -- made of pool decking or plywood painted with pool paint -- under it between the ladder handrails. Attach the slide to the step with water-resistant deck screws.
Things You'll Need
Aboveground pool ladder
8 to 12 feet of 36- to 48-inch-diameter PVC pipe
20 to 30 feet of 1- to 2-inch PVC pipe
Chalk line or carpenter's square
Circular saw or hacksaw
Drill with hole saw bit
PVC cleaner-primer and adhesive
Acetone or nail polish remover
Pocket or paring knife
Section of foil-lined foam board insulation
Build your slide before filling the pool. Never use electrical equipment near a filled pool.
Wear a dust mask when cutting PVC to avoid inhaling vinyl chloride dust. Cut PVC outdoors -- never indoors. Keep kids away from the area when cutting PVC or using cleaners or adhesives.
Wear eye protection when using power tools or working above eye level, and wear work gloves when heating and bending PVC.
Keep the heat blanket away from the pool liner and any vinyl deck or pool structure.