replace a pool liner

As your pool ages, its liner may become discolored or damaged. Your pool’s liner doesn’t exist just to make the pool a pretty blue color. Your pool’s liner is its first line of defense against structural damage. 

A liner that no longer serves that purpose not only makes the pool less attractive and requires you to top off the water frequently, but it could also damage the pool’s structure and lead to costly repairs. Here’s how to replace a pool liner so you can save money and keep your pool in tip-top shape. 

5 Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Liner

Because of the potential damage to the pool from a faulty liner, it’s important to understand the warning signs. This is especially prudent in the spring before you start using the pool or in the fall after you’ve stopped. That way, if you find a problem, you can get the liner replaced before you miss out on the cool pool during the summer season. 

Routinely examine your pool liner for the 5 signs below. 

1. Cracks, Rips, or Tears

These are the most obvious signs of damage to a liner. Your pool’s liner spends its time outside in the elements. 

Although the water prevents most of it from drying out, that same water can present its own source of damage to the liner if chemical balances aren’t kept in check. Over time,  these environmental factors, along with regular wear and tear, can result in cracking, ripping, or tearing in the liner. 

2. Fading and Staining

One of the big factors in the life of a pool liner is its exposure to UV rays from the sun. If you’ve ever left plastic out in the sun for too long, you’ll have seen how quickly it can become dry and brittle under the stress of the sun. Pool liners are designed to spend their time outdoors and can withstand UV light. 

However, over time, that protection fades. When it does, the pool’s liner begins to fade with it. 

A faded pool liner is a good sign its best days are behind it. Stains provide a similar warning sign, as it takes a long time for a properly maintained liner to stain heavily.

3. Water Leaks

When cracks become rips and tears, any water above the tear will leak out of the pool. The damage to the pool’s structure becomes a serious problem. 

The liner protects the metal parts from being exposed to chemically treated water. Once that protection is gone, water is free to drain into the components of your pool’s structure and begin corroding them. 

4. Stretching or Wrinkling

Over time, your liner may stretch. This is especially true if it is a low-quality liner or is not installed correctly. 

Because the liner isn’t designed to stretch beyond the amount required for installation, this shortens its life and is a good sign it needs to be replaced. As the liner stretches, you’ll see wrinkles where there were none before as the extra material bunches up.

5. Beads Not Staying on Track

Beaded liners are a popular choice for pool liners for aesthetic and practical purposes. Beads are easy to snap into place and create a beautiful, uniform look around the whole inside of the pool. However, if your beads aren’t staying on track, this may be a sign of too much wear and tear. You may be able to reattach the liner to continue using the pool temporarily, but a liner that pulls apart from its beads repeatedly will need to be replaced. 

But Aren’t Pool Liners Meant to Last a Long Time?

Replacing a pool liner isn’t something you’re supposed to do seasonally. A good pool liner may come with a 20 or 30-year warranty. They don’t always last that long, but by looking out for a few conditions that shorten the life of a liner, you can extend the life of yours. 

Along with these tips, be sure to practice good ongoing pool care. Because the cost to replace a pool liner can range from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars, proper maintenance can save you significant money over the life of your pool.

Here’s what to look out for.

Poorly Balanced Water

Pool water requires a precise balance of chemicals to keep it clean while keeping the water’s pH at an ideal level. Pool liners are designed to withstand the conditions of an ideally balanced pool. But a pool that’s not balanced properly can expose the material of the liner to chemical conditions that it won’t tolerate well and lead to damage. 

Unpatched Leaks

When your liner develops a leak, it can be patched, and the liner can continue functioning for a long time. This depends on fixing the leak early, however.

You can patch a small leak before it does too much damage. But if it isn’t patched in time, chances are high that conditions will worsen, and the once tiny crack will turn into a much larger tear. 

Improperly Winterized Pool

Over the winter, you aren’t spending as much time maintaining your pool. Its filter is off, and debris will more easily collect in the water. 

This debris can cause physical damage to the liner. Covering the pool will protect its liner from this debris. 

It will also significantly reduce the number of months that the sun’s harmful UV rays are in contact with the liner, further extending its life.

To learn more about how to properly winterize your pool, read our article here.

Using the Wrong Size Liner

We’ve seen how stretching signifies that the pool liner needs to be replaced. Sometimes, this stretching starts as soon as you install the liner. A liner too small for the pool will be too tight to fit. 

Such a poorly installed liner won’t last long. Similarly, a liner that’s too large won’t provide the fit required to perform its job for an extended period of time. 

High Ground Water

Most above-ground pools sit directly on the ground. This means when the water in the ground rises above ground level due to over-saturation, it can push on the bottom of your pool liner. 

When it does, the liner will float above the water line, opening the door to stretching and other structural damage that can shorten the life of your liner. This is a more significant problem in areas known for high groundwater. 

Installing a New Liner

Once you’ve decided to replace your pool liner, you’ll need to install the new one. Because proper installation is vital to the pool’s longevity, you should have a professional perform the task if you’re unsure of your own skill level. 

The steps to replace an above-ground pool liner are outlined below.

1. Drain the Water

The first step to installing your new liner is to drain the water so you can remove the old one. You can rent a submersible pump placed at the bottom of your pool and pump its water into a suitable storage location. Because of the amount of water that needs to be pumped out, you’ll need to plan ahead. 

Your locality may allow you to pump the water into a storm sewer. Be sure to check on the legality and requirements before pumping the water anywhere you’re unsure of.

2. Unfold the Liner

Remove the old liner from the pool. Afterward, lay your new liner into the pool and begin to unfold it. 

This is easiest if you place the liner in the middle of the pool and work outwards. Once the liner is fully unfolded, position it correctly in the pool so the installation process can continue.

3. Remove Rail Assembly and Install One Side

The liner of the pool will attach to the rail assembly. To start the installation, remove the rail assembly so the liner can be put into place. 

Stretch one side of the liner to its position on the rail. Once the liner is in place, you can use a clamp to hold it while you install the remaining sides.

4. Install the Remaining Sides

To ensure the liner is installed evenly, move to the opposite side of the pool and perform the same procedure as before. Continue around the pool, skipping from side to side to ensure the liner is always pulled evenly. When all the sides are in place, you can begin replacing the clamps holding the liner with the rail assembly to finish its installation.

5. Use a Wet-Dry Vacuum and Your Hands to Push Out Wrinkles

By attaching a wet-dry vacuum to the skimmer hole in your pool, you’ll create negative pressure that will help you to push the wrinkles out of the pool liner. While the vacuum can do much of the work, you’ll likely need to manually finish the job using your hands to remove any remaining wrinkles from the liner. 

6. Fill the Pool Back Up With Water

With the liner installed and all the wrinkles worked out, it’s time to fill the pool with water again. Once you’ve pumped the pool full of water, apply the appropriate amount of chemicals so that your new pool liner has an ideal pH balance to start its new life out with. 

A Strong Liner Means a Better Pool

Taking good care of your existing pool liner is an important aspect of extending its life. However, once your pool liner has reached its end of life, replacing it becomes crucial to extend the life of the rest of your pool equipment. 

To enjoy many summers of cool, relaxing pool water, always be sure to check your liner before the swimming season starts and replace it if necessary. Use a high-quality skimmer net during the season to keep the liner free from debris. For more information on how our pool products can keep your pool operational, contact us today.
Disclaimer: Pool ownership and maintenance is very complicated, and we know every situation is unique. While we’ve done our best to cover the best practices here, we encourage you to reach out to ProTuff directly at with any specific questions you may have.

How and When to Replace a Pool Liner
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