A new vinyl liner for your pool can be installed quickly and with a minor in the way of professional expertise. DIY-ing the liner’s installation is surprisingly simple, especially considering how much you may save on a single weekend. Installing commercial vinyl pool liners is more challenging than installing residential liners because of the responsibility of ensuring each liner is aesthetically pleasing.
Without years of practice, you can install three liners per week without at least one wrinkle. To save thousands of dollars, it is not difficult to establish a single liner in your pool. When putting a liner on your own, wrinkles on the floor and slopes are the most common issues you may face. If you can’t figure out what’s wrong with your liner and fix it, you’ll end up with creases no matter how carefully you measure it. A professional installer would know how to position the liner to get the best possible fit, whereas you must go by eyeball. In the worst situation, you won’t be able to eliminate all your wrinkles and will have to learn to live with them. Since wrinkles are purely cosmetic and do not affect the pool’s capacity to hold water, the job is considered successful if you are pleased with the outcome.
Extra-bladed utility knife
Water nozzle for a garden hose
A flat metal edge for scraping paint
Domestic wet/dry vacuum with 5 HP motor
Bristle broom with a rigid bristle head for use in a commercial setting.
Shop broom with soft bristles (optional).
Medium-sized Phillips screwdriver
Large Phillips-head screwdriver
Hex key slotted screwdriver
One or two 100-foot flexible tape measures.
You probably already own or have access to these products through friends and relatives. If you don’t have access to these tools or know someone who might lend them to you, you can rent them from a hardware store for less than the cost of purchasing them. You should hold a pool party when you finish your liner to attract fresh and different friends if you can’t get together essential tools like a screwdriver, broom, kettle, and garden hose from the people you already know.
What You’ll Need to Get Started
Dark print on 30 mil vinyl liner (borders optional but suggested).
The spring was taken out of 25 wooden clothespins.
Two standard-sized rolls of duct tape
The penetrating oil of one can of WD-40
One can of anti-rust paint for galvanized metal, a primer for galvanized steel, and one can (optional).
Replacement skimmer gasket and cover
Upgraded return gasket and cover plate
Depending on the state of the floor, fine-washed sand.
Depending on the state of the floor, either vermiculite or zeolite.
Portland cement (Type 10 or Type 1, as appropriate for the floor’s current state)
Taking Pool Dimensions
First, you’ll need to measure your pool so that a new liner can be manufactured and shipped to you; this can take as little as two weeks during the off-season and as long as six weeks or more during the spring and summer.
The only tricky part of using this design is figuring out the radius of the pool’s corners.
You’ll need to provide a perimeter measurement of the top edge of the pool in addition to the measures you give the liner manufacturer, and this measurement will serve as a check on the accuracy of the measurements you provide. Corner radii can range from 90 degrees (a sharp angle corner where two straight walls meet) to 4 feet (long, gradual, sweeping corners).
If you’re measuring a pool that’s already full of water, the only tricky measurements are the depth and the slopes. To make these measurements more accurate, you can use a trick where one person holds a pole over the middle of the pool by laying it on the deck and standing on it, and another throws the tape measurer over the bar.
If you don’t want to waste money on extra liners, carefully round down your pool’s measurements whenever possible.
The liner will expand to fit, so if you get it slightly too small, it will still work out OK. In this regard, the only pool measurement that needs to be adjusted by hand is the deep end’s overall depth. To get the perfect cosmetic fit, builders often subtract two inches from the deep end’s total depth before ordering a liner. This ensures that the liner fits quickly into place and that there isn’t too much liner material or wrinkles in the pool.
Submit your measurements to the liner manufacturer, who will verify them and begin production on your liner. You will receive confirmation that your measurements have been verified and the liner is in production. If your measurements are off, you may be disappointed on the installation day.
All new liners look great once installed, so pick the one that will help pay for itself. Everyone has an opinion on this, but there’s only one rule you need to know: dark liners can heat the water by as much as seven degrees Fahrenheit just by absorbing sunlight alone, compared to a pool with a lighter color liner.
Schedule for Setting Up
There is a risk associated with leaving a swimming pool empty. Therefore you’ll want to leave your collection open for as little time as possible while the new liner is installed.
Closing the Pool Drains
It will take three to seven days to drain a pool using a submerged pump connected to a garden hose, while it will only take one or two days using a submersible 2″ pump. If you have a gas-powered pump with a 3″ or 4″ outlet, you can drain your pool in as little as an hour. However, removing the water from the bottom foot or two will take much longer. Use a garden hose to clean the pool’s walls and floor while you empty it. If your collection is green and gross, this helpful hint will make a difference in how dirty and unpleasant you get in the next phase. No exceptions can be made to the rule that ALL electrical equipment used near a pool must be GFI-protected. Because of the long, slippery slopes, swimming pools, and electricity do not go well together. Do not take any chances; learn about electrical safety precautions before working near water.
Taking Out The Liner
Pieces of the liner will be snipped out and rolled up before being thrown away. Cut long strips, about four feet wide, starting on the floor at the narrow end. Once a part of the old liner has been rolled up, it can be leaned against the side of the pool to drain any remaining water before being moved. The cut edge of the vinyl liner is exceptionally sharp and can cause paper cuts that will quickly become infected. When removing very old or dry parts of the liner, the liner can crack and shatter like glass. Damaged liners will break, releasing sharp shards that can easily lacerate the skin. When removing old liners from the coping track, caution must be exercised so as not to damage or extend the existing coping, which could also lead to the need for coping replacement. Using a lift-and-pull technique, the liner can be removed from the track with minimal effort. Doing this too quickly can cause damage to your ability to cope, so take your time.
Do away with Covers and Gaskets.
Cut around the liner gaskets and access them once the entire liner has been removed if you need to remove a substantial piece of the previous liner. Before taking any of the fittings apart, inspect them for the correct orientation of the gaskets. Since gasket orientation varies by pool type and manufacturer, recreating the same setup as your old pool is your best choice. If you’re worried about misplacing the gaskets later, taking images of the disassembly procedure can help. Each fitting has three potential gasket placements: behind the liner, on top, or both. The instructions for installing the replacement faceplates and gaskets are included. Ensure you note every screw and the faceplate it came from. If any screws are corroded or otherwise difficult to remove, mark them on the wall with a permanent marker so you can get to them later. Be careful not to damage the screw threads or strip the screw heads when removing stubborn screws.
Check the walls
Now that the pool’s water has been drained and the liner has been removed, the pool’s actual condition can be assessed. The interior must be clear of rust, cracks, and sharp objects or debris that could puncture the lining. Rust rings have appeared at various points on the pool’s masonry. You experienced pinhole leaks in your liner in each of these spots. The walls must have all rust removed with a paint scraper or trowel.
Check the ground for any damage.
Compressed sand, vermiculite cement, or mortar will cover the floor. Tracks on the sand are the most obvious giveaway that someone has been there. It may look like it has a thin crust from being compressed by the weight of water, but closer inspection will reveal that it is just sand. When preparing the bottom for the liner, sand bottoms require extra attention to detail. Sharp objects are difficult to conceal in the sand. Sprinkle water on the sand and smooth it with a trowel to reshape it. A vermiculite floor can be made to look and feel just like concrete. Vermiculite can be identified through its compressive strength.
When compared to regular concrete, vermiculite-based constructions are considerably weaker and lighter. Vermiculite is present if your heel leaves an indentation on the floor. Its hardness and resistance to puncture will be telltale signs that concrete is there. Vermiculite is so soft that a screwdriver can be pushed directly through it, yet concrete is too tough to break through. Before you can hang your liner, you’ll need to fix any damage to the pool floor, such as cracks or uneven spots. Cracks in the foundation must be repaired using the same material as the floor itself. The same materials should be used to improve sand, vermiculite, and concrete floors. If you combine these components, the two-floor materials may eventually separate, damaging the liner.
Clean the Floors and Walls
Before you can hang the liner, you’ll need to thoroughly clean the pool from top to bottom and wall to wall. After cleaning the pool, you should sweep the deck to ensure no more dirt or leaves fall into the water. Sand bottom pools require careful inspection and cleaning, with the addition of new sand to rough spots. The vermiculite and concrete collections will be brushed and hosed down. The water that settles to the bottom of the deep end will be pumped out. You will start to tape up the seams after washing and rinsing.
Tape All Joints And Border Coping
A vacuum will be placed behind the liner when lowered into the pool to help keep it in place. To accomplish this, you must first seal off any air leaks by taping over the pool’s seams. This is something that the prior installation should have left behind in the form of masking or duct tape. The goal is to use a single strip of duct tape to join all of the wall panels from ceiling to floor. Although masking tape can be utilized, duct tape will produce superior results. As well as taping the walls, you should also tape the pool’s perimeter where the coping meets the top of the wall. For the tape to attach, the walls must be completely dry.
Remove All Garbage
Debris left in the pool can cause expensive repairs, so this procedure requires extreme caution. When you’re done placing the new liner, a pea-sized stone left under it will look like a baseball. Even though you cleaned the pool, you must vacuum it thoroughly. Discontinue this procedure and repeat washing and brushing the pool if you notice a lot of tiny debris on the bottom.
Install O-Rings and Washers
All the screw holes in the pool’s faceplates need to be sprayed with wd40 or penetrating oil. If the threads in a screw hole are corroded, you can clean them by inserting and removing the screw many times while soaking it in oil. Remove any grit or dust from the bottom of each screw hole by vacuuming. Do not miss this step, as a screw bottoming out too soon could prevent you from tightening the faceplates to the gaskets. This is especially important when working with the main drain. The screws are then put back in their holes with as little force as possible. Because dragging the liner across a screw with a sharp edge will easily rip it, all screws with sharp edges should be filed down or removed. To further reduce the amount of resistance experienced by the liner as it slides over the screws, you may also apply a small amount of Vaseline to each screw head. The screws should be left in place during the installation of the faceplates over the liner so that the screw head can be positioned accurately. Photograph the pool from every angle to capture the correct screw and gasket placement. If you’re not sure how to install the faceplates in a few minutes, this can help.
Putting Up The Net
It ends here. Installing the liner will go more smoothly if you do it on a sunny, warm, and perhaps even hot day. Attempting an installation on a cloudy, cold day is unlikely to succeed. As you work on the job, you’ll realize that hanging the liner is just the beginning. Preparing the pool’s walls and floor surface consumes the bulk of the time required to install a new liner. The pool should be spotless before the liner is placed inside of it, and the pool deck should be free of any sharp objects, toolboxes, or other debris that could be blown into the water. Roll the liner to the box’s shallow end edge, then open the package carefully not to rip the liner. You may lower the liner into the pool by lifting it and pressing it against the wall. The weight and bulkiness of the liners are a bit of a surprise. It would be beneficial to have some strong hands to help out today.
After removing the liner from the packaging, you’ll need to sit down before entering and exiting the pool to check your shoes for any jagged objects. When working on the liner, you shouldn’t have any tools in the collection, on the ground, or your person. Many experts insist on working barefoot in the water when installing a pool liner. Spread the liner open to cover the entire shallow end. Stickers are usually placed on the liner to indicate the shallow and deep ends. However, you may or may not be able to find them. To begin unrolling the liner, you’ll grab a chunk, head right down to the deep end, and set it down. As you continue to make room for the water, your next task will be to pinpoint the two corners of the shallow end and move them into position.
The liner’s bead must be bent ninety degrees and pushed straight into the coping to hang the liner in the track. You can guide the dot into its final home in the dealing by using one hand to maintain the liner’s weight. The liner’s weight will be released while the bead remains. The liner exerts a vertical force on the dot, and the coping resists this force through friction and leverage. The liner may tend to peel away from previously installed places. The liner will likely come loose if your coping is old and worn. Wooden clothes pegs from which the springs have been removed can help keep the liner in place. The pegs are slightly tapered in one direction and quite sharply in the other. While installing the liner in portions, carefully wedge it in place using the clothes pegs.
Beginning at one of the shallow end corners, you’ll make your way across the shallow end’s short wall. If you want a perfect fit for the liner, carefully examine the external end corners and the short wall. It will take much more work to make the necessary modifications as you move along the pool’s long walls. You can start hanging the liner in the deep end once you’ve reached the edge of the shallow end on both sides of the pool. Two individuals are needed for this phase, and four would be ideal. You’ll begin at the shallow end and work up the long wall, installing a new liner section every two or three feet. Your leading arm should pick up the liner and support its weight while the other hand installs a one- or two-foot-long liner segment. The potential for severe injury or death from a forward fall into the pool makes this a significant safety concern. If you do this with a group of four individuals, you can keep three feet on the ground as you go closer to the far wall.
Install the liner in the track from the shallow end to the deep end once you are satisfied with the positioning of the deep-end corners. Once you have a few things in place, adding the rest will be much simpler. Remember that the deep end of the pool liner cannot be installed from within the pool. Once the liner is in place, the shallow end is the only location you’ll need to go inside until the vacuum is installed.
The Vacuum Cleaner Setup
Now you must vacuum the area behind the liner to remove any trapped air. You can buy a high-end vinyl liner installation vacuum that costs over $3,000 or a standard wet/dry shop vacuum that costs around $100. For maximum suction power, choose a five-horsepower model and always keep the paper filter outside the vacuum. The vacuum hose must be spotless and devoid of sharp burs that could puncture the liner. Wrapping the portion that will go behind the liner in duct tape will prevent any cuts from occurring. The liner will be squeezed firmly against the end of the vacuum hose. Thus, you must ensure that the hose cannot sever the liner. A dab of Vaseline on the nozzle’s tip might make removing it later much less of a hassle.
The hose is routed through the deck’s skimmer’s opening at the top. The hose will enter the mouth at an angle and curve behind the liner. The hose’s end should be positioned about two feet below the pool deck’s surface. The next step is to make a cardboard tube with a hole in the middle to accommodate the vacuum hose. Ideally, the cardboard will be affixed to the deck above the skimmer, with a hole cut out for the suction hose. The vacuum hose should also be taped to the cardboard on all sides to create an airtight seal. If there is a second skimmer in the pool, seal it off with tape to prevent air from escaping. If everything checks okay, you can begin sucking the air out from beneath the liner.
The liner will begin to retract back into position as soon as the suction removes the air from behind it. The liner won’t reject if the seal is poor or air is escaping elsewhere. In three to five minutes, most of the philosophy behind the liner should be pulled out. If, after five minutes, most of the air is still visible, there is likely a leak in the pool’s preparation, and you should investigate.
To smooth out the creases in the liner while the air is being sucked out from behind it, you will need to enter the shallow end and begin physically manipulating the floor. A plunger might help grab the lining and work out the wrinkles. Competence and experience are essential at this stage. You can’t determine which creases will smooth out as the pool fills with water and which needs to be addressed to avoid ugly wrinkles in the final result unless you’ve done many liner changes. You may need to reorient the liner if there are significant creases, especially along the long slope of the pool. An expert can assess the severity of a wrinkle and determine how much the liner has to be moved to smooth it out. If you’re starting, getting the perfect fit for your liner will require much hard work and trial and error. If the vacuum is too strong, you can release air from behind the liner and have people stand in critical locations to keep it in place until the vacuum takes over. When a heavy liner is suspended above the shallow end, the entire slope will be pulled toward the deep end. This can generate creases from the shallow end to the pool’s deep end. It may help to stand at the edge of the shallow end as the liner is being laid down. This method should help you smooth out the major kinks.
Get to Work on That Pool
Before turning on the water, ensure you’re satisfied with the liner’s fit. Draining water will be a significant hassle now. The pool can be filled with water once the liner has been properly placed and at least 95% of the creases have been ironed out. To prevent the liner from being nicked, the hose must be spotless. Due to being squashed, pulled, or held together with clamps, most hose ends are sharp. These fill hoses won’t enter the pool area under any circumstances. If you need to, go out and buy a new hose. The hose will be lowered over the edge of the deck into the deep end, settling to the bottom. You don’t want raindrops landing on your liner because they can dilute the hue. The vacuum will keep running until the shallow end has at least a foot of water, at which point it will automatically turn off.
In most cases, this will require a single night’s stay. It is crucial that once the water has been started, the vacuum is not turned off. The pool’s shallow end will be dragged away from the deep end of the suction fails, necessitating a complete drain and refill.
A/C Pulling Vacuum
To turn off the vacuum and remove it from behind the liner, wait until the shallow end has 12″-16″ of water. The hose will feel tight; you must wriggle it slightly to disconnect it. This stage demands diligence and finesse, not brute force, so please be patient. If the water level rises too high, removing the hose will be impossible without first reducing it. Pulling out a hose when the water level is high enough to cover the nozzle is an excellent way to learn just how heavy water is. It’s not that you can’t get the hose loose with some deft maneuvering, but rather that no amount of effort or change of direction will cause the hose to budge. The liner would be displaced and pulled down into the deep end if the vacuum was turned off too soon. When disconnecting the hose from the void, be careful not to rip or tear the skimmer gasket. When the vacuum is removed from the pool, the water can fill to a depth of at least two feet in the shallow end.
After the pool has been filled, the circulation may be turned on, and the collection can be used. One or two cups of granular chlorine, dissolved in water, should be thrown into the pool as a shock treatment before anyone uses the collection.
Canadian-based Steve Goodale is an author and swimming pool expert.
Read also: Commercial Property Renovation.