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Do Inflatable Pools Float? How To Keep A Pool Floating

We’ve bought our fair share of inflatables over the years, and with quite a collection gathering, we wondered if we could use them as floats in a larger pool, or maybe even use them as a raft. After some trial and error, I’ve got an answer for you.

Yes, inflatable pools can float if they have been inflated properly. However, there will be a weight limit to the floating inflatable pool. Add too much weight into the inflatable pool, and it will sink. If done correctly, they can be used as rafts or floats in larger pools or lakes.

The size and amount of air your inflatable pool can hold will determine how much weight it can hold before sinking. Once water starts to get in over the sides of the pool, it will must likely sink quickly. Here’s how much your pool can hold, and how to avoid sinking.

Do Inflatable Pools Float?

Inflatable pools will float, making them great float toys in large pools, ponds, lakes, and rivers. Some mid-range inflatable pools can even be used as a raft. With some easy modifications, and a paddle or two, you could use an inflatable pool as a little boat to get around the water.

They do have their limits though. Most of the time when an inflatable pool sinks, it’s because too much water got to the inside of the pool. The pool will mostly likely stay near the surface of the water when it does sink, unless the air has been let out.

If you’re using an inflatable pool as a float and it starts to deflate, exit as quickly as possible. The pool may wrap around you and make it difficult to swim. The same precautions used with other inflatables applies.

Visit my 12 Best Inflatable Pools By Category article and look for pools between 5′ to 10′ long, those pools worked the best for floating with multiple people.

Can You Use An Inflatable Pool As A Raft?

Yes, you can use an inflatable pool as a raft with some quick and easy modifications. Depending on the durability of your inflatable pool material, you may want to wrap the underside with a tarp to protect the pool from getting rips or tears in the material while on the water.

Any tarp with grommets along the side will work for this. You will need a tarp large enough to cover the bottom and sides of the pool, with some extra to wrap around the top for securing. I recommend this Heavy Duty Waterproof Tarp from Amazon, because it comes in 19 sizes, you’ll be sure to get one that fits your pool.

The goal is to protect the pool, without causing the tarp to take on water and slow down or sink it.

Steps to convert an inflatable pool into a raft:

  • Lay the tarp out in an open area
  • Inflate the pool and place on top of the tarp
  • Pull the sides of the tarp up over the side of the pool
  • Run a rope through the grommets on the tarp
  • Tighten and tie off the rope, holding the tarp into place

The rope should tightened and tied on the top side of the inflatable. This prevents the tarp from slipping and riding down the side of the pool taking on water.

Now all you need is a couple paddles and you’ve got yourself a makeshift raft. Of course an inflatable raft would be ideal, but they can be very expensive, and some inflatable pools can be purchased for under $30.

When Will The Inflatable Pool Sink

The inflatable pool will sink if it has been overloaded with too much weight, or the pool has been punctured, allowing air to escape, or water to enter. Trying to fit too many people in the pool is a sure way to make it sink.

It will seem fine at first, as long as the top of the pool is above water. But as soon as you start rocking, and water slowly starts getting in over the sides, the pool will slowly sink more and more into the water.

You want to make sure you have a 6 to 12 inches of clearance between the top of the pool and the water line. Over time inflatables will start to deflate slightly, but this usually takes hours or days.

Keep in mind that pressure on the out side of the pool may speed up natural deflation, but you should still have a full day before that becomes a worry.

Usually if an inflatable pool does sink due to being filled with water, it will remain at the surface of the water. Unless you fill the pool with rocks and bricks or the pool gets a hole in it of course. We’ve had good luck just pulling the pool out of the water and draining the water out if it gets filled up.

How Much Weight An Inflatable Pool Will Hold Before Sinking

The answer to this question can vary wildly depending on the size of the pool and how much air it holds. So lets just cover a few basics so you can decide for yourself how much weight your pool will hold.

In general, flotation equals the weight of the water being displaced by an object. With one gallon of water being about 8.5 lbs, an empty gallon jug would take 8.5 pounds of pressure to submerge it. This is because it is displacing about that amount of water.

To relate this to an inflatable pool is going to be difficult because of how many different sized pools there are.

Keep in mind that a floating inflatable pool resting on top of the water is actually not displacing any water. It won’t displace any water until someone climbs into it. The weight of the person needs to be less than the water being displaced by them in the pool. Here are some estimates I’ve come up with.

This is considering nominal air density at 70 degrees Fahrenheit with a standard atmospheric pressure at sea level of 14 psi.

Pool Holding Weight Estimates:

Pool SizeDimensionsAmount Of People
Small3′ by 3′1 Adult,
or 2 Kids
Small/Medium4′ by 4′2 Adults,
or 1 Adult and 1 Kid
Medium4′ by 6′3 Adults,
or 5 Kids
Medium/Large4′ by 8′4 Adults,
or 6 Kids
Large4′ by 10′4 or 5 Adults


Please keep in mind these are just my estimates, I have only tried doing this with a few people and a few different inflatable pools. For the most part, they worked really well, better than any of us expected actually.

Keep Water From Entering The Inflatable Pool

We stumbled on a couple neat tricks for keeping water out of the pool while on the water. This was the biggest hurdle we faced, overloading the pool, water getting, and the pool sinking. Here’s how we tried to prevent that.

Prevent Water From Entering The Pool:

  • Scoop water out as it fills – This was our first idea, and our worst idea. It worked ok at first, but once the water starts pouring in, just call it quits.
  • Duct tape pool noodles across the top – This actually worked surprisingly well for a short time. It gave the pool just a couple more inches safety barrier to keep the water out.
  • Just get another pool – Eventually the best thing to do is to just get another pool and split the load between more than one vessel.

Best Inflatable Pools For Floating

The best inflatable pools for floating in were between 5′ to 10′ long pools. The shorted ones, around 3 feet, worked great for the kids though. The longer, 10′ pools, could hold more people and ended up being a lot funner of a time. This Homech Family Inflatable Pool (link to Amazon) worked the best for us.

Check out my 12 Best Inflatable Pools By Category article to get an idea of a good pool to use for this. Look for something between 5′ and 10′ long and completely inflatable (not just a top ring) for the best results.

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