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Everything You Must Know About Above Ground Pool Liners

Here’s Everything You Need To Know

When people purchase above ground swimming pools, they usually come with a package of components and accessories. Aside from the frame of the pool, you’ll also receive the liner, cover, pump, and ladder in some cases as well. The manufacturer basically makes all the decisions for you as to which accessories you’re going to have.
Unfortunately, this convenience doesn’t teach people to learn about these components and which replacements are the best for them. For instance, you won’t know how to properly maintain your pool liner so that it lasts for a long time. If you can just learn a few basic terms and maintenance ideas, then you can care for our pool liner and eventually replace it when the time is right.

20-ft x 40-ft Rectangular Cover

Ground Pool Safety Cover

Drill and Tamp characteristic brass anchoring arrangement

Hard-Sided vs. Soft-Sided Above Ground Pools

Soft-sided swimming pools have pool walls and liner, which are both constructed from the same piece of material. Hard-sided swimming pools use lighter vinyl liner, which diminishes its durability and makes the liner more susceptible to damage. That is why you’ll likely be replacing your liner more often if you have a hard-sided pool.

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Intended for in ground pools

Should You Replace Your Pool Liner?

Is your pool kind of patchy? If so, then you need to think about replacing the liner. Here are the reasons that a liner would need replacing:
1) Sun Damage
As the sun shines down on your pool for a long time, the liner has a greater chance of getting damaged. The dangerous ultraviolet rays can bleach and dry out the area of the liner that is above the pool water. The result will be fragile and weak liner.

2) Excessive Chlorine Amounts
If your pool water has a lot of chlorine in it, then don’t be surprised if the liner weakens after a while.
3) Lawn Mower Debris
When you mow the lawn around your pool area, there is always the chance of debris flying out of the mower and ending up in your pool. If this happens too often, your liner might possibly get torn up.
4) Rain and Wind
Bad weather causes all kinds of problems for pools. Weather conditions like hurricanes, thunderstorms, and tornadoes bring a lot of wind and rain to your pool water. On top of that, you could have broken tree limbs, sticks, twigs, leaves, and other kinds of debris getting blown into the water and causing damage to the liner.
5) Aging
Pool liners do not last forever. If the pool liner of your above ground pool is too old, then it’ll become weaker and very brittle.
6) Expanding and Contracting
The vinyl of your liner will expand and contract as it is exposed to high and low temperatures over the course of each year. This scientific fact will result in weaker areas forming in your liner. Then it’ll be susceptible to leakage.

What to Do About Leaks

If the pool liner of your above ground pool has a leak, then it can be fixed very easily. You simply need to learn how to apply a patch to the leak. There are repair kits available to help you do this. The biggest difficulty is locating the leak because they tend to be too small to notice. Most leaks are not that huge.
If you were to remove the existing liner and install a new liner, then you would save more time than if you tried to find the leak yourself.  

Selecting a New Liner for An Above Ground Pool

Below are the four primary styles of replacement pool liner available. The main difference between each one is their method of attachment to the swimming pool.
1) Overlap Liner
An overlap liner is just how it sounds. It is a liner that overlaps the walls of your pool by folding it. Coping strips clip the liner into a secure position. To install the overlap liners on your above ground pool the proper way, it can be rather challenging. But these are the cheapest liners on the market, which makes them a great choice if you’re on a budget.
2) Beaded Liner
The upper area of the pool wall has a track where the beaded liner gets tucked into. Along the top edge of the beaded liners, there is a bump to make this installation easier. Conversion kits are available to change an existing overlap liner into a beaded liner.
3) J-Hook Liner
Installing a J-hook liner is easier than installing a beaded liner or overlap liner. The top edge of the liner contains a dense rubber fold throughout it.
The rubber fold has a unique shape which inspires the liner’s nickname, J-bead. When installing the rubber fold on the pool wall, it slips right onto the top edge of the wall. Coping strips are not needed to secure its position either. The top rails simply get installed on it.
4) Universal Liner
The universal liner is the only liner style which is compatible with any type of above ground pool wall. It has a J-hook shape for a simple and standard installation.
There are three styles of the universal liner, including the uni-bead. To install the uni-bead on a beaded liner track, the top edge of the liner needs to be trimmed off. This liner is made to be trimmed easily, so you won’t struggle with this. Just do a little cut over the beaded area and use your hand on the top strip to peel it away. It should function similarly to a regular beaded liner if you do this.
The duo-bead is another universal liner style which has a folding flap. You don’t need to do any trimming in order to install the liner. It can remain folded for a beaded track installation, or you can fold the flap open to make it a J-hook.
If you want a liner that is already shaped like a J-hook, then choose the EZ-bead liner. The outer flap has a thick track which doesn’t need to be modified for any installation type.

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Remote Controlled

20×40′ in-ground Swimming Pools

Choose a Specific Brand

Besides focusing on the different types of pool liners for above ground pools, you must focus on the pool brands as well. Certain brands have variations in their bead tracks and receiving tracks. Because of this, the brand liners which fit the best should be the ones you purchase. Three examples of such brands include Wilkes, Kayak, and Esther Williams.

Measuring Durability of a Pool Liner

There are no set standards in the pool industry for accurately measuring the durability of swimming pool liners. However, the thickness of a liner says a lot about its strength.
If you have liners which are too thick, then they can be difficult to install. Wrinkles are difficult to remove when they form. If the liner doesn’t fit well or you make a mistake during the installation, the vinyl material is affected.
Therefore, very thick liner will only work out well if the installation is performed properly. To measure the thickness of the pool liners that are used in above ground swimming pools, there are two units of measurement: gauge and mil.


In the United States, a mil is the basic unit of measurement for 1/1000th of an inch. The word “mil” means one thousand. So, when the pool liners of above ground pools are measured, they’re usually up to 25 mil. To put this into perspective, a dime is 49 mil, and a regular sheet of paper is ten mil.


The pool industry has not standardized gauge. You could have a 25-gauge pool liner with a 25-mil or 22-mil measurement. Gauge tends to have slightly different sizes, especially between different manufacturers. But they are small differences.
It is recommended for you to use reputable pool brands and make sure you choose the right fit and size for your pool liner. But if you’re interested in knowing the strength of the pool liner, then mil measurements are the key.

Under the Pool Liner

In addition to purchasing a pool liner and tossing it into your pool, you need a top-quality liner pad too. The pad serves as a protective layer for the liner so that it doesn’t get damaged or lumpy. You must place the pad in the middle of the pool liner and the ground.

Here are the two materials used to make the liner pads.

Foam Liner Pad

Foam liner pads can be trimmed and rolled into strips in order to fit easily below the floor of the pool. The great thing about foam liner pads is they retain heat and make the pool floor comfortable, smooth, and gentle for people to walk on it.

Geotextile Liner Pad

Geotextile pads are typically one sheet of sturdy material made of polyester. Some geotextile pads have seams as well. You might find precut pads which can accommodate your pool size and type. In some cases, you must trim the pads to make them fit your pool properly.

The purpose of geotextile pads is to prevent nutgrass growth, lumps, and moisture that causes mildew.


In an inground pool, there are no sharp corners in the area of the flooring which intersects with the walls. You’ll just find a gentle slope there instead. Above-ground pools do not have this convenience. You need to install these gentle slops by using something called coving. This is a foam material that you attach to the wall to cover up the sharp corners.
You place the liner pad over or below the coving. Next, the pool liner is placed over both. Although coving is not a requirement to use in a pool, it’ll give your liner more protection by preventing wrinkles, damage, and stretching from happening due to the liner getting wedged tightly into the corner.  

Measuring is Important

To figure out the size of the liner that you need for your pool, all you need is a tape measuring tool. Use the tape measure to get two measurements of your pool walls, since they can shift and warp.
To measure the height of your above ground pool, begin at the bottom rail and then work your way up to the top. Get rid of all obstacles that are on the ground so that your measurement is accurate.
Do a second height measurement of another area of the wall and compare it to the results of the first height measurement. If the result is within the standard heights of what a liner should be, then you need to round up.

Round Pools

At the top of the pool, go straight across when measuring the interior. Move around your pool about 25% of the way and take a similar kind of measurement on the inside. Both results should match. If they don’t, go with the larger result. If the figure ends up between the basic sizes for a liner, then round up.

Oval Pools

From one rounded end to another, measure the pool interior to find the length. To find the width, you can measure from one straight side to the other. Choose two separate points for measuring the width. If you need to, round up.

Rectangular Pools

Choose two separate areas and do measurements of the length and width. Remember the corner shape of your pool. You don’t measure from the top rails or exterior edge. Just measure from within the walls of the pool.

Above Ground Pool Liner Installation

The type of liner you have will determine how it gets attached. All the other steps of the installation remain the same, no matter which type of liner you have.

Make sure you drain your pool water before replacing or installing a new liner. Otherwise, the wall might collapse.

You can use a pump to remove the water easily. Either that or you can dig a little hole at the bottom of the wall near the pool’s lowest edge. At the hole, cut the liner open and let the water flow outward.

Once you’ve successfully done this, the new liner can be installed.

1) Take out the old pool liner and any other accessories

The top rail should remain installed to maintain pool wall stabilization. Use pliers and a screwdriver to take out the return and skimmer.

A utility knife can be used to cut a couple of inches under the top rail. The liner should be cut into tinier pieces in order to remove them more easily.

Take out the coving and liner pad if they’re present. You’ll want only dirt or sand remaining within the pool walls. If a hole was dug to remove the extra water, then you can start filling in the hole now.

2) Connect the Shop-Vac

The vacuum hose slides into the opening of the skimmer and then down along the pool’s side. It needs to be around 6 inches higher than the ground. Secure the hose in place with duct tape to seal the opening. Close the return with the tape too.

3) Add Sand and Smooth it Out

If sand was used before, see if there is enough sand left to aid the bottom surface of the pool. If there is less sand or no sand, then add more sand until you have a sand bed that is 3 inches across the whole interior of the pool.

A push broom can be used on the sand bed to level it out. Use a tamper to pack it down. If there is no tamper available, then go to the nearest hardware store and see if there is a soil compacting tool for rent.

4) Liner Pad Installation

The liner pad must now be installed. Follow the installation instructions provided by the manufacturer. To prevent damaging the pad and liner, only walk on them with socks on.

5) Coving Placement

The coving now goes on the pool walls. Make sure no gaps are left between the pieces.

6) Unfold the Liner

The liner must be placed in the pool’s central area first. Now unfold the liner and work your way outward. On the back of the liner, the seam is in the area where the wall piece is attached to the floor piece. Pull the seam toward the coving.

7) Take Off the Top Rail

You may have wobbly pool walls. However, the new liner can only be installed if you take off the top rail first. Start by removing the old liner strip that is under the rail.

If you can, replace each section one at a time. The pool walls won’t collapse if you do this. To simplify the process, have a few friends help you out here.

8) Center the Liner and Then Hang It

Make any necessary adjustments to the liner to ensure it is fully centered. Now hang the liner by using a track to set it or draping the liner over the pool wall.

Ask your friends to help you keep the pool wall stabilized as you hang the liner around the pool. This will prevent a wall from collapsing. The liner can be pushed against the coving with sock feet.

9) Top Track and Coping Replacement

If an overlap liner is used, the coping needs replacing. Use a rubber mallet to tap down coping if it’s stubborn. After the track is installed, you secure the plates.

10) Activate the Shop-Vac

This vacuum eliminates air from in back of the liner, causing the wrinkles of the liner to smooth out. While the vacuum is on, use your feet to keep moving the liner near the coving. The wrinkles will get stretched from the liner floor as you continue working around the pool area.

11) Turn on the Water

Once the wrinkles are gone from the liner, you can now add water to the pool. During this waiting period, the top rails and caps can be reinstalled again.

12) Take Out the Shop-Vac

If there are a couple of inches of water in the pool, deactivate the Shop-Vac and take out the hose. Take off all the duct tape too. When you have a water depth of about 1 foot, the return fittings and skimmer can be replaced by applying new gaskets to them.

13) Monitor the Pool

Make sure someone is watching the pool as it fills up with water.

Take Care of Your Water

To keep your pool liner strong for a long time, you must perform regular maintenance on your pool water. If you add a lot of different chemicals to the water or you stop balancing the water chemistry, then your liner will suffer the consequences.
You must always balance your pool water chemistry for the sake of your liner and the people who swim in the pool.

Cleaning the Pool Liner

Clean your pool liner regularly to increase the effectiveness of the sanitizers in the water. Cleaning the liner can be done without even draining the water out of the pool.
Besides, if you drained the water from an above ground pool, the UV rays of the sun could damage the liner and possibly the walls. In some cases, the pool will collapse if you take out the water. You should only drain the pool if you’re removing the liner and installing a new one.
When you’re ready for a new liner, make sure you learn the proper way to drain the water from your pool.
1) Brush
The brush attaches to the telescoping pole. Scrub the pool floor and walls with the brush to remove algae and germs. You can put a little backbone into the scrubbing, but make sure you don’t damage the liner.
2) Vacuum
Vacuum the loose particles of debris and contamination on the pool walls.
3) Water Balancing
Conduct a water test and balance the water chemical levels if they’re unbalanced.
4) Pool Shocking
Shock your pool the same way you do every week. If a lot of algae is present, use double the amount of shock treatment.
5) Filter
Leave the pump running for a couple of hours to clear the water. This will give your filtration system some time to capture all the dead bacteria, debris particles, and shock that is keeping your water cloudy.


It is challenging to install pool liners on an above ground pool. After you’ve successfully performed the installation, take some time to relax and enjoy what you’ve accomplished.
On the other hand, if this job was too difficult for you to perform, then call a professional and have them do it for you. It is a worthy investment. Trust Us.