Above Ground Pool Liner Selection
This page is a crash course in pool liner selection for your new above ground pool project. Below are the basics in what the differences are in vinyl pool liners and their applications. Also included on the page an understanding of the warranties and how to make a claim as well as above ground pool liner instructions for those DIY pool installs. I hope this helps and please send us an email if you have questions.
Above Ground Pool Liner Types
There are 3 basic differences between above ground pool liners. First is thickness, and the larger the number the thicker the pool liner. Example: 25ga. liners are always thicker than 20ga. liners. Go with the 25ga. every time. It’s marginally more expensive and worth every penny, especially in Florida. The second difference is print or design. This has no bearing on the longevity of the liner or any other factor, it’s purely subjective to your personal preference. You may find one pattern more pleasing to look at than another. The last difference is how the pool liners attach to the pool wall. If you are trying to determine what’s best for your new pool purchase, I would recommend the unibead liner. This liner is also called a J-Hook or V-Bead liner.
What makes this my choice for the average new pool purchase is ease of installation and final results. Uni-bead liners are pre-fit from the factory. This means no guessing at how much material to pull over the pool when when installing. These types of liners also ensure a perfectly straight tile-line or graphics. Simply clip on top of the pool wall and go. Very easy to work with.
For more information on the various types of pool liner available continue reading below.
Overlap Pool Liners – are easy to identify as they simply go up the inside of the pool wall and hang over on the outside, leaving several inches of excess vinyl visible. These liners are held in place with strips of plastic called liner coping strips. Overlap liners are the most affordable pool liner and can come plain or decorative and in various thicknesses. Overlap liners are made to fit 48″ 52″ or 54″ pool walls.
Unibead Pool Liners – work in most any above ground pool and are very easy to install. Unibeads attach by simply hooking onto the top of the pool wall. If using a bead track, tear off the removable hook and snap liner into the track or receiver. This stylish upgraded liner needs no additional parts for it’s use. Great waterline graphics, 20ga or thicker 25ga vinyl, 48″, 52″ and 54″ wall heights available. This style of liner requires pool wall height when ordering.
Expandable Pool Liners – are simply very tall overlap liners. Extra big to ensure adequate material exists to accommodate deeper swimming areas. Expandable liners allow for 2-3 feet of additional water depth, making typical above ground pools up to 6 or 7 feet deep. Deep ends and deep centers are created by dishing out the pool floor to the desired shape and depth prior to installing the expandable liner. These liners conform to your unique pool floor shape. Trim off excess material if needed. It’s important to note that not all expandable liners are the same. Some will accommodate up to 2 feet of additional water depth while other liners can go an additional 3 feet.
Beaded Pool Liners – these liners attach to an above ground pool using a track system. Beaded liners simply snap down into the bead track or bead receiver along the top of the pool wall. Beaded liners are often sold as unibead liner because the Unibead liner is capable of doing the same thing so there is no need to stock both style liners any longer. When a unibead liner is used in with a bead track you simply tear off the removable flap at the top and snap the liner down into the track or receiver along the top of the pool wall. This style of liner requires pool wall height when ordering.
Pool Liner Installation Instructions
When it comes to installing an above ground pool liner, the process for new and used pools or liner installations is the same. You must make the pool floor smooth and nice to walk on first. This varies big time from location to location. In South and Central Florida the soil is usually soft and easy to manage with rakes and other ground tools. But in North Florida the ground can be much harder and often include large rocks which will to be removed. Regardless of where your pool is going the idea is the same. Make the ground as flat, free of debris and smooth as possible before installing the pool liner.
Most of the jobs I’ve been on did not require sand to get the pool floor smooth. The natural earth in Central Florida is ideal. If your location is less than ideal simply add sand or dirt and smooth out flat. Use only enough sand to make the bottom smooth. This is often only 2″-3″, adding more than required will be a bad thing. When too much sand is applied the pool floor becomes full of footprints and lumpy. You will not like the final results, trust me here.
One common question is “Will pool floor pads take the place of sand?” The short answer is no. Pool floor pads are considered liner protection from sharp objects and do little to make a rough and lumpy pool floor smooth as glass. I highly recommend Armor Shield for all above ground pool floors in Florida. They stop moles, beetles and other insect that burrow and puncture vinyl pool liners. Armor Shield also protects from broken glass roots, rocks and other bits and pieces that often get overlooked during the installation process. Use Armor Shield or nothing at all, regardless of what you read or others tell you. Foam, plastic sheeting, roofing paper etc all do nothing to help your cause and all promote early rust out of the pool wall.
We have included a basic pool liner installation guide from Swimline’s website. It’s not bad and is fairly straight forward. To view the overlap and beaded pool liner installation guide click here. For unibead pool liner installation instruction click here.
Pool Liner Warranties
Every pool liner purchased these days come with a warranty provided and backed by the manufacturer. What these warranties are and how to make a claim is included within the liner box itself. These warranties may vary by actual brand but are all similar in structure. This means they are pro-rated much like a car tire or battery. I’m going to use the tire analogy because it illustrates how this works perfectly.
Say you went to your local Florida tire store and purchased a new set of tires for your vehicle and on the way home you had one of these brand new tires split in half. You would go back to the dealer or maker of the tire needing to make a warranty claim. Because the tire was brand new the maker would replace it free of charge. But if you drove on that same tire for 2 years and 20,000 before having the same exact issue, they would likely require you to pay a percentage of the replacement cost. This is because you had the use of the tire for years prior to having any problems. This is a fair and common practice for many products on the market today including pool liners.
Pool liner manufacturers tend to be pretty fair in honoring their warranties and only require proof of the damage and proof of purchase. Proof of the damage can come by pictures of the problem area sent by email or the actual liner defect cut out of the pool and sent to the maker by postal service. This is their call so you must comply if you want any relief from them. The second requirement is proof of purchase. This is needed to determine the age of the pool liner and ultimately the percentage you must pay toward replacement if covered under warranty.
The largest pool liner manufacturer is Swimline Corporation in New York and there liners are what you typically see in most pool stores, both online and brick and mortar stores across the country. They are sold mostly using the 20ga. and 25ga. distinctions mentioned before. Their 20ga. liners come with a 15 year warranty and the 25ga. liners come with a 25 year warranty. We’ve included a copy of both warranties here so just click the link to view them. Swimline 15 Year Pool Liner Warranty and Swimline 25 Year Pool Liner Warranty