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Pool Liners: A Do-It-Yourselfer’s Guide to Installation

Needing to replace a swimming pool liner is a natural part of above ground pool ownership, and increasingly, part of in ground pool ownership as well. Whether it’s because your liner is leaking, faded, or the liner bead is coming out of the track, installing a new liner can be a laborious but fun project.
First, here are the items you will likely need:
• Razor
• Scissors
• Screwdriver
• Tape measure
• Sander
• Duct tape
• Floor padding (optional)
• Sand
• Large plaster trowel
• Wall paint
• Binder clips
• Plastic coping
• 3-inch by 3-inch pieces of cardboard
• A standard garden hose (if the mouth of the hose has any sharp areas, use duct tape to affix a cloth around the edge to prevent it from tearing the liner)
• Vermiculite mixture (for cement or vermiculite floors)
• Hand trowel (for cement or vermiculite floors)
• Vacuum with hose attachment (commercial grade, if possible)
• Herbicide or Algaecide
Above Ground Swimming Pool Vinyl Liner Replacement
1. Completely drain the pool.
2. Once the swimming pool is empty, begin removing the pool liner by removing any bolts or screws that hold in wall fittings with the screw driver.
3. Begin cutting the liner into workable, removable pieces with scissors (or a razor) until the entire swimming pool liner has been removed. Dispose of the old pool liner.
4. Inspect the now-exposed area for rocks, pebbles, or other sharp objects, and remove them immediately. Also look for sand contaminated with algae, and pull out and dispose of any existing vegetation. PcPools recommends treating the sand using an algaecide or herbicide to help combat any potential future issues.
5. Check the pool floor for levelness using a leveler. If you determine the bottom of the pool area is not level, use sand to fill in the unlevel areas. Smooth and tamp down the filled-in area(s) with the large plaster trowel. Re-check the newly settled areas with the leveler to ensure no mistakes were made.
6. Depending on the age and type of your pool, use the razor to scrape any rust off the pool walls. When finished, paint over the affected area(s). If the rusting that took place was excessive, and even when repainted may damage the new liner, smooth wall foam over the affected area after scraping.
7. Use a measuring tape to measure the pool length, width, and depth, including where the liner flips over the wall or locks into the track, if you will be installing a beaded pool liner. Make sure the liner you purchased is the correct size before you go any further.
8. Remove the pool liner from its packaging and partially unfurl it. Place it on the top rail of one end of the swimming pool, with one end hanging over the outside of the pool by about 1 foot. If your swimming pool will have variable depth, begin this process from the shallow end.
9. Completely unfold the liner and drape it over all sides, ideally hanging it over by about 2 feet. But, make sure the bottom edge seam of the liner is inside the pool wall by about 1 foot. Once this is complete, use binder clips to clamp the liner to the underside of each top rail. Use the 3 square inch pieces of cardboard under the clamp and over the liner to protect the pool liner from rips or tears during this part of the installation.
10. With the clamps in place around the edge of the pool, begin slowly filling the pool with water via the garden hose. If the liner is becoming too tight or wrinkles are forming on any part of the walls, release a binder clip in that area to create some give. Replace the clip once the desired tautness is achieved and any wrinkles are smoothed out.
11. Once the pool water reaches approximately 2 feet in depth, turn off the water. Raise the sides of the pool liner up from any 2-3 top-rail sections at a time, and remove all top caps, top rails, vertical end caps, and stabilizer rails.
12. Smooth the liner and attach it to the top of the wall with plastic coping (or as appropriate depending on your style of pool liner). Replace the stabilizer rails over the coping and all the other parts you previously removed. Proceed filling your swimming pool with water until it reaches its water limit.
In Ground Swimming Pool Vinyl Liner Replacement
1. Completely drain the pool. Cut the liner into removable, workable pieces using scissors or a razor and remove the liner. Tape off wall joints and use the sander to smooth any rusty, rough, or uneven areas.
2. Remove all face plates surrounding the suction and return ports. If desired, now is the time to install a layer of wall foam to create smooth, soft walls.
3. Before the new in ground pool liner can go in, the bottom of the pool must be smooth and clear of debris, so remove any sharp objects or vegetation from the pool bottom. If the floor is sand, remove any algae-contaminated areas, and level the ground with new sand, tamping it with the plaster trowel. Re-check grade with leveler. PcPools also recommends using an algaecide or herbicide to treat vegetation or algae as necessary.
4. Vacuum the cement or vermiculite floors and use a trowel and vermiculite mixture to fill any cracks or holes that developed.
5. Unfurl your new pool liner and drape it across the pool, lining it up in the very center. If there are in-pool steps that will be covered by the liner, begin installing the liner at the bottom step. TIP: wear nothing but clean socks on your feet during the pool liner installation process to avoid tearing or damaging the new liner. The shallow end of the pool should follow.
6. Work your way around the pool, ensuring the liner is unwrinkled along the wall as you put the bead in place. If there are any wrinkled areas, now is the time to get rid of them.
7. Once the pool liner is snapped in at all points, undo a very small section of the bead big enough for a vacuum hose head. The key is to have an airtight seal everywhere else but at the point where you will place the vacuum head. Turn on the vacuum to suction out the air in order to create a tight fit.
8. Begin filling the pool with the garden hose, but do not turn off the vacuum until the filling process is complete. Smooth any wrinkles that develop as it fills.
9. Once 6 to 12 inches of water has accumulated in the shallow end, begin attaching faceplates. If you begin this process earlier, you may up with wrinkles around the plates.
10. Proceed with filling the swimming pool until it reaches its water limit.
Good Luck!