Using a swimming pool liner is the best way to protect your pool from leakage, bad weather conditions, UV rays, algae and pool chemicals. Additionally, they also help you to control the temperature of the water at a stable and comfortable level. And since liners come in many different patterns and colors, they will even give you the possibility to personalize your swimming pool with an attractive and unique design.
What are swimming pool liners?
A swimming pool liner is a synthetic fabric, usually very resilient vinyl (Polyvinyl chloride or PVC), that covers the entire floor and walls of a pool. The liner functions as a protective shield that prevents water leakage, mold and cracks, resulting from daily usage and exposure of the pool to the weather elements.
Unless you chose for a concrete or fiberglass swimming pool, securing a liner is always an integral part of the installation process of a new pool, whether you choose for an inground or an above ground pool.
However, while the pool itself is considered to be more or less permanent, this is not the case for the liner. Depending on weather conditions and how well the pool is maintained, it will be necessary to replace the liner sooner or later, on average every 8 to 12 years. For inground pools, it’s usually a professional contractor that takes care of this replacement, while above ground pool owners often replace the liner themselves. However, the choice is up to you. With some handiness, the help of a couple of friends and the installation tips on this website, you will be ready to replace any type of liner yourself!
But why do people choose a ‘vinyl liner pool’ instead of a traditional concrete (gunite) pool with tiles? This is because liner pools have lower purchase and maintenance costs. On top of that, they also are a lot faster to install. In theory, liner pools could be constructed from concrete, but this is usually not the case. Instead, cheaper materials like wood, galvanized steel or foam are used for the construction of the walls and floor of the pool. The liner itself covers only the internal surface of the pool and usually consists of 100% virgin vinyl.
A vinyl pool liner is an excellent choice to protect your pool. The coated PVC has a high level of flexibility, making sure that it covers the interior surface of the pool in a uniform and even way. This means that air bubbles and wrinkles are easily smoothed out during the installation or replacement process. However, you have to make sure that the size and shape of the liner exactly match the measurements of the pool.
There are many brands of pool liners on the market. The advantage of this is that the prices are relatively low and that there’s a wide range of colors and patterns to choose from. However, when you decide to buy a new liner, quality should be your first concern instead of its price tag. When you have the budget, try to avoid the cheapest brands since their products usually only last 3 to 4 years due to the inferior quality. Choosing for a durable liner will definitely save you money in the long run.
Above ground liner reviews
Manufacturers usually offer different kinds of models for above ground pools and in-ground pools. So make sure to purchase the correct model according to the type of pool that you own. The below table offers an overview of some of the above ground pool liners that we recommended. All of them have been handpicked based on their excellent quality and durability. Click on each liner name for a short review and buying advise. For more general information, visit our above ground pools and inground pools information guides.
Recommended liners for above ground swimming pools
|Stoney Creek 3D, full print liner||24ft||Round||Overlap||25||25 years|
|Glimmerglass, full print liner||24ft||Round||Overlap||25||25 years|
|Caribbean premium pool liner||24ft||Round||Overlap||20||15 years|
|Heavy Gauge Liberte Beaded Style Liner||12ft x 24ft||Oval||Beaded||25||25 years|
|Boulder Swirl Beaded Liner||15ft x 30ft||Oval||Beaded||25||25 years|
Selection guidelines & tips
Pool liners can be divided into 3 categories depending on their finish at the top of the pool: overlap, unibead (J-hook) or beaded (hung). Overlap and unibead liners only fit above ground swimming pools, while beaded liners can be used for both above ground and inground pools. More information about the different types of finish can be found here.
Also note that many brands offer a warranty between 15 and 30 years. Although, you shouldn’t rely on this warranty too much, it’s longevity may be an indication of how high the manufacturer values the quality of its own product. Don’t be fooled though, pool liner warranties are usually ‘pro rata’, which means that the value of your purchased liner decreases year by year. When a replacement is needed, the manufacturer will only reimburse the current value, without covering any extra expenses, like the cost of labor, water and pool chemicals. So, even with a warranty, replacement costs will still be quite steep for the pool owner. That’s why we recommend to invest in a high quality liner in the first place!
Vinyl pool alternatives
Nowadays vinyl liners are still the top choice for pool owners in the US and Europe, because of their low cost, fast installation and easy maintenance. However, depending on your requirements, there are some alternatives to vinyl. In this section, you can find more information about the 2 most common alternative choices: fiberglass swimming pools and gunite swimming pools.
Fiberglass pools are gaining more and more popularity in recent years. Despite their higher initial cost and pool shape & depth limitations, the main advantage of fiberglass swimming pools is their incredible durability. This results in lower maintenance costs in the long run and a higher resale value in case you want to put your property on the market. Continue reading to find out more about fiberglass swimming pools.
Concrete or gunite pools
Unless you have a very specific shape, size or design in mind, a concrete pool is in general not recommended for the average home owner. Instead gunite pools are usually only chosen for professional installations by hotels, resorts, recreation parks and alike.
Concrete pools have several disadvantages compared to their vinyl or fiberglass counterparts: they come with a high installation and maintenance cost, it takes much longer to install them (usually 2 to 4 months) and they require a lot more chemicals to prevent algae. However, if you are looking for a highly unique and luxurious swimming pool for your backyard and you have the budget, then don’t hesitate to check out our gunite pool information guide.