The Complete Guide to Above Ground Pool Liners
It’s never fun to walk outside and recognize that your above ground pool is suffering big time from patches, quick fixes, and cracks and crevices that are starting to turn into major leaks.
Unfortunately, though, this is the cold reality of pretty much every above ground pool. The liners are going to fail at some point in the future and the odds are good that you’re going to have to swap them out or replace the pool entirely.
Thankfully though, most of the time you’ll only ever have to replace above ground pool liners that aren’t quite up to snuff any longer.
But where do you begin?
After all, when you purchased your above ground pool the odds are pretty good that it was all in one kit and you didn’t have to pick the frame you wanted, the liner you wanted, and then the pump and internals you were looking for.
Well, that’s why we have put together this quick guide.
By the time you are done with the inside information we highlight below, you’ll know exactly what to look for in above ground pool liners, how to care for them and how to maintain them, and how to make sure that they last just as long as humanly possible.
Picking Hard or Soft Sided Above Ground Pool Liners
The first major decision you are going to have to make about your new pool liner is whether you’re going to go with something soft-sided or something hard and solid.
The overwhelming majority of soft-sided pools are going to feature liner and wall material that handles double duty, and these materials need to be pretty strong, pretty thick, and pretty robust. If you have a soft-sided pool the odds are that you’re going to have to do a total replacement of this unit when it becomes compromised.
Hard-sided above ground pools are going to feature an interior liner that is separate from the walls themselves. That means that the liner doesn’t have to be anywhere near as thick or as heavy-duty – but that also means that it’s going to become compromised a lot faster than it would have been if it was made a little thicker.
You’ll want to know exactly what kind of liner you are looking for before you head out and search for replacement options.
Why is My Liner Breaking down?
There’s a world of difference between pool liner damage that can be easily patched and pool liner damage that represents a real safety risk – and it’s important to understand the differences between the two.
On top of that, you’ll also want to know what kinds of things contribute to the degradation of your pool liner so that you can get out in front of as many of them as possible. You won’t be able to avoid all of these issues going forward (as you’ll soon see) but you can definitely mitigate most of them.
For starters, excessive sun damage is going to leave your pool liner looking pretty bleached and washed out – and that means that your liner probably needs to be replaced as it’s gotten dry and will start to crack. UV damage can be much worse above the waterline, leaving your pool liner week and brittle and really vulnerable to total collapse.
Secondly, if you’ve been adding a lot of extra chlorine to your swimming pool (or shocking your swimming pool more often than not) the odds are pretty good that you’ve started to compromise your liner as well. Too much chlorine – too much chemicals in general – will begin to eat away at the synthetic liner faster than you would have expected it to.
Mowing your lawn can prove pretty dangerous for your liner as well, especially if you hit a patch of rocks or a bit of gravel and sent it flying into the liner itself. They might not ever even think of this being a big issue, but accidents like these happen all the time.
Wind and rainy weather can wreak havoc on a pool in a bunch of different ways, not only by blowing all kinds of debris into the swimming pool that can damage the liner but also by overfilling the water level and causing the liner to become stressed and compromised that way, too.
Finally, the truth of the matter is that just like everything else man-made your swimming pool liner has a finite lifecycle. It’s going to get old, it’s going to wear out, and it’s going to need to be repaired and replaced. That’s just the nature of these kinds of materials.
Choosing a New Above Ground Pool Liner
There are a couple of different pieces of the puzzle to finding a new above ground pool liner, not the least of which is making sure that you have found the right style liner for your specific pool.
There are four major types that you’ll have a chance to pick and choose from and we highlight each of them below.
The first type of liner you’ll come across is the overlap style liner, a pool liner that (obviously) stretches beyond the framing of your pool, wraps around the opposite side, and then attaches to the pool wall itself.
These pool liners can be a little bit tricky to install without a bit of help but they are almost always the least expensive options on the market today.
Beaded liners (sometimes called snap bead liners) are engineered with a tiny little bump near the top edge that sort of snaps into a specific track situated across your pool wall. This makes installation really simple and straightforward, but they don’t have the same kind of “seal” or longevity that some of the other liners out there do.
You can buy conversion kits to transform different types of pools to beaded liners if you’re interested, a decision that might be worthwhile because they are so easy to work with and so relatively inexpensive.
J Hook liners are another choice that are similar to beaded liners, with the main difference being the way that the track system looks and the sealed edge that you can create with these particular options.
A little more expensive than beaded liners, you don’t have to worry about using coping strips to lock the liner into place and the seal is a lot stronger and a lot more durable. The installation is just as fast though they are usually a little more expensive.
Universal beads are the last specific type we want to highlight here, a type of above ground pool liner that looks a lot like both of the beaded options we mentioned just a moment ago but also one that usually provides a lot of extra material to the liner that can be trimmed for a totally custom fit.
That’s the reason behind these liners being called universal, and that they can fit pretty much any pool imaginable and then be cut to size after they have been locked into place.
Important Things to Consider When Buying a Liner
A handful of key details are going to play a huge role in the durability and effectiveness of your new above ground pool liner, with the details we touch on in this quick section being the most important of them all.
For starters, the durability of your new pool liner is going to be hugely impacted by the thickness of the material itself.
Obviously, thicker liners are going to be quite a bit more durable than thinner options – but there comes a point where thickness turns into a real drawback, particularly when you are trying to install it. Overly thick liners are a nightmare to wrestle with and can tear later down the line just because of the abuse and stretching you have to put them through during the installation process.
Shoot for above ground pool liners that are anywhere between 20 and 50 mls as far as thickness is concerned.
Secondly, it’s not a bad idea to look for pool liners that include a foam liner pad that isn’t just going to retain heat and keep your pool water nice and comfortable but is also going to provide a smoother, softer swimming pool floor that swimmers will really enjoy.
The coving material that you select is another big piece of the puzzle, as you aren’t going to have a lot of right angles where the corners of your swimming pool meet. Coving isn’t always included with swimming pool liners but it’s something that you’ll want to add for sure if it isn’t, as it protects your liner from stretching out, getting wrinkled, or getting damaged in the corners for sure.
At the end of the day, finding the right above ground pool liner becomes a whole lot easier when you focus on the key details we highlighted in this quick guide.
There are plenty of great options to pick and choose from but you want to set aside at least an entire day to tear down and replace your existing liner, and it might even be better if you have an entire weekend to work with – as well as some friends to help you speed up the process.