With So Many Options to Choose from, Here are Tips for Finding the Best Liner for You and Your Pool
When choosing a vinyl pool liner, the possibilities are truly endless. From colour and pattern to texture and thickness, you have the opportunity to customize your pool liner to your specific tastes.
But how do you know what options will work best for you and your pool?
As with everything else you need to consider before installing a pool, you’ll also need to consider the various types of pool liner options to find the best fit for your budget, pool, backyard, and preferences.
WHAT IS A POOL LINER?
A pool liner covers a pool’s floor and walls, providing a leak-proof barrier to hold water in the pool, while also creating a decorative appearance.
Pool liners come in various colours, patterns, and thicknesses, and can be purchased in standard sizes and shapes or custom made in almost any shape.
Pool liners are available as:
- Overlap liners—which are popular, easy to install, and typically the least expensive option, but are difficult to replace and only come in a few colours and patterns;
- Beaded liners—are easy to install and replace, and come in a variety of styles;
- Unibead liners—the easiest liners to install, remove, and replace.
During installation, a pool liner is attached to the swimming pool coping. However, pool liners are not permanent installations, so they can be removed for repair or replacement.
THINGS TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION WHEN CHOOSING A POOL LINER
Consider the following when choosing a liner for your vinyl inground pool.
The colour you choose for your pool liner will affect the pool in more ways than just the appearance of your pool and backyard.
Blue is the most popular colour for pools, but it can come in various hues, from light to dark.
Dark colours absorb light and heat, which will help warm up your pool water. Dark liners also hide dirt, stains, and debris. So if you have any hard-to-clean stains, you won’t have to worry about seeing them every time you go swimming.
The only major drawback to a dark liner is the risk of the liner fading and bleaching over time due to the chlorine and the sun’s UV rays.
Light coloured liners reflect sunlight instead of absorbing it, so they are less prone to UV damage, such as fading and bleaching from the sun.
But since light colours will show dirt and debris, you will have to stay on top of your pool cleaning schedule—which isn’t a bad thing.
For the best of both worlds, you might want to opt for a medium-coloured liner that offers a natural aqua appearance.
Pool liners usually come with two patterns—a border pattern and a pattern for the body of the pool. Another option is to have a solid colour or pattern without a border.
For the border pattern, you might want to choose one that complements your pool deck, patio, or surrounding landscape. And for the body pattern, you’ll need to consider how well the seams line up since most pool liners will be seamed together in several places.
These seams might be more noticeable with tile patterns and solid light colours. Pebble patterns tend to hide seams. And wavy, swirl or abstract designs with a reflective water appearance provide excellent camouflage for seams.
Textured vinyl liners are a safer option for pools, especially on pool steps. With textured liners, the vinyl is embossed with a texture that provides a non-slip grip and also feels gentle on bare feet.
Some liners are completely textured instead of just having texture on the steps. These can be textured to feel like gunite, compressed sand, or recessed grout lines on tile patterns.
Pool liners come in various thicknesses ranging from 20 to 40 mil (a unit of thickness used in the pool liner industry). One mil is equal to one one-thousandth of an inch, or 0.001 inches. So a 20 mil vinyl pool liner would be 0.020 inches thick.
Sometimes, gauge is used as a unit of thickness instead of mil. But gauge is slightly thinner than mil, so a 20-gauge liner will be slightly thinner than a 20-mil liner.
Also, liners will sometimes have a floor thickness that is thinner than the walls. So there might be two thickness values, such as 28 wall 20 floor, or 28/20.
Thick pool liners are typically more expensive than thin liners since they require more vinyl and time to manufacture, but they also tend to last longer than thin liners. Thick pool liners are more durable and puncture-resistant, so they are less likely to leak.
Installing thicker liners can be more difficult, especially in colder weather, since they are not as elastic (stretchy) as thinner liners, and they can be hard to fit in corners and around steps in pools.
Many factors affect the lifespan of a vinyl pool liner. Along with thickness, chlorine levels, the chemical balance in your pool, exposure to UV rays, freeze/thaw cycles, and whether you have a pool cover will all affect the lifespan of your pool liner.
Vinyl pool liners degrade faster with exposure to the sun’s UV rays. So using a swimming pool cover to block these harmful rays will help extend the life of your liner.
To give you an idea of what the average expected lifespan of a pool liner is, 20-mil liners tend to last 8 to 10 years, while 30-mil liners generally last 12-16 years.
As mentioned before, the thicker the liner, the more durable and puncture-resistant it should be. Also, protecting your liner from the sun’s harmful UV rays and keeping your pool water chemistry balanced will prevent the liner from wearing down faster and becoming prone to damage.
Pool liner maintenance is key for keeping your liner in top shape for longer. Along with keeping your pool water and liner clean, you’ll also need to keep the water chemistry balanced. Pool water that is too acidic will wear down vinyl liners faster, while water that is too basic can produce water scale that can buildup and damage liners. So test and balance your pool water chemistry regularly to protect your liner.
With so many options to choose from with vinyl pool liners, it can be difficult to settle on just one. So keep these factors in mind and speak with your local pool specialist for help choosing the best pool liner for you and your pool.