Installing a new vinyl liner for your pool is fast and easy and takes very little technical skill. Installing the liner is actually quite easy in terms of a DIY project especially considering how much money you can save over the course of one weekend. Being a commercial vinyl pool liner installer is a more difficult process since you will need to be required to have knowledge outside of what it takes to install the liner itself, and are held accountable for each liner installation to be cosmetically perfect.
Installing three liners per week without any wrinkles or problems requires years of experience in the trade. Installing a single liner, in your own pool, for the expressed benefit of saving thousands of dollars is easy by comparison. The most likely problem that you can encounter when installing your own liner is to have wrinkles on the floor and slopes. Even if the liner is sized well you can still easily have wrinkles in your liner if you do not have the ability to diagnose the problem and adjust the liner accordingly. A giso professional installer uses experience to orient the liner for the best fit possible where you will just wing it based upon what you see at the time. In a worst case scenario you are not able to lose all the wrinkles and have to live with the results. The real benefit here is that as long as you are satisfied with the results, then the project was successful since wrinkles are cosmetic and do not compromise the pools ability to hold water.
Tools You Will Need:
Utility knife with extra blades
Garden hose and nozzle
Paint scraper / flat metal edge
5 Horsepower residential wet / dry vacuum
Stiff bristle shop broom
Soft bristle shop broom (optional)
Phillips screwdriver, medium
Phillips screwdriver, large
100′ flexible tape measurer (sometimes two of these)
These items are all so common that hopefully you will have them already or be able to borrow them from friends and family. If you do not have any of these tools and can not borrow them from anyone you know you, you can rent them from a hardware store for less than buying them will cost. On a personal note, if you can not pull together items like a screwdriver, broom, kettle and garden hose from everyone you know put together you should consider throwing a pool party when you finish your liner and attract some new and more diverse acquaintances.
Materials You Will Need:
30 mil vinyl liner with a dark print (border optional but recommended)
25 wooden clothes pegs separated, spring removed
2 full rolls standard duct tape
1 can of wd40 penetrating oil
1 can galvanized steel rust paint
1 can galvanized steel primer (optional)
New skimmer gasket & faceplate
New returns gasket & faceplate
Fine washed sand (depending on floor condition)
Vermiculite or zonolite (depending on floor condition)
Type 10 / type 1 portland cement (depending on floor condition
Measuring the Pool
The first step you will need to take is to measure your pool for a new liner which will be manufactured and shipped to you. This process can take a little as two weeks in the off season or as much as six weeks or more during the spring and summer season. Measuring the liner involves following a template supplied by the company that you order your liner from. The liner measurement template will be specific to the shape of your pool and will take into account length, width, orientation and corner radius.
The template is straight forward with the sole exception of determining the radius of the corners in your pool.
The radius of the corner ranges from ninety degrees, which is a sharp angle corner where two straight walls meet, to four foot radius corners which are long gradual sweeping corners. As part of your measurements you will be required to provide a perimeter measurement of the top edge of the pool and this measurement will act as a double check for the measurements that you supply to the liner manufacturer. Each shape of pool combined with each corner radius has a specific perimeter measurement associated with it. Still to be sure you should read all of the supporting documentation that the supplier make available to you to understand how to measure the pool according to their requirements. The measurements themselves are taken with 100′ flexible tape measurers of which you need one for rectangle pools and two for all other shapes to take A and B plot points.
The only tricky measurements are the pool depth and slopes when you are measuring a pool full of water. Attach a key ring with a few keys on it or something with weight to the zero end of the tape measurer. Have someone hold a pole over the middle of the pool by laying it on the deck and standing on it while a second person throws the tape measurer over the pole. The person with the pole would stand along the side of the deep end extending the pole over the water while a second person stands by the diving board and takes measurements. You will be able to situate the tape over the deepest part of the pool and slowly let the weight pull the tape to the bottom of the pool. Once resting on the bottom you can measure the height to the current water level and then in a separate measurement from the water level to the point where the liner hooks into the coping to give you your total depth in the deep end.
All measurements in the pool should be taken as precisely as possible and rounded down where applicable to avoid having too much liner.
Having too little liner (by a very small degree) will help to ensure that the liner fits well overall as it will stretch to fit. In this respect the only measurement in the pool that you should manually manipulate is the overall depth in the deep end of the pool. This one single measurement you will deduct 2″ from the total depth of the deep end only. This will ensure that your liner stretches nicely into place and avoids excessive liner material and wrinkles in the pool. This is a great trick that contractors use to ensure a good cosmetic fit.
Once you have completed all of your measurements it is critically important that you repeat this process and remeasure everything. If your measurements are off then you could find yourself unhappy come installation day. When you submit your measurements the liner manufacturer will confirm with you that they have been verified and the liner is in production.
Before you order your liner you will need to choose your liner pattern. Everyone has an opinion on this however there is only one simple rule that you need to know – dark liners can heat the water by as much as seven degrees Fahrenheit by absorbing sunlight alone over a light coloured pool. Since you are interested in saving money this is a fringe benefit that can not be overlooked. All new liners look good when they get installed – go for the one that will help to pay for itself for years to come by offsetting heating costs. Pool supply stores will have actual vinyl color samples for you – often the same colors and patterns that you can order online if you want to see the color in person instead of on your computer monitor.
The installation of your liner needs to happen over a short period of time. There is risk involved with having a swimming pool empty so you want to leave your pool empty for as short of a period as possible while installing your new liner.
Draining The Pool
Drain the pool with a submersible pump or gas powered pump. A garden hose submersible pump will take three days to a week to empty a pool where as a submersible 2″ pump will empty a pool in one to two days. A gas powered pump with a 3″ or 4″ discharge can empty your pool in as little as an hour but are difficult to get the bottom foot or two of water out. As you drain the pool use a garden hose to wash the walls and floor down. This small tip will make a huge difference in how dirty and disgusting you will get in the next step especially if your pool is green and gross. Please note that ANY electrical equipment used around a pool must be electrically GFI protected – no exceptions. Pools and electricity are not a good mix as the long slippery slopes are a recipe for disaster. Do not take any chances and be sure to understand electrical safety when working around water.
Removing The Old Liner
The liner will be cut out in pieces and rolled up to be disposed of. Start on the floor on the shallow end and cut into long strips around four feet wide. After you roll up a section of old liner you can stand it on end and lean it on the pool wall to drain any excess water out before transportation. Be extremely careful as the vinyl liner cut edge is very sharp and will give you paper cut like cuts that are certain to get a nasty infection. If you are removing sections of liner that are very old or dry the liner will have a tendency to break and shatter like glass. Liners in this condition will shatter and throw sharp shards and cause severe lacerations. Great care must be taken when removing old liners from the coping track as you do not want to damage or stretch the existing coping or you may find yourself needing to replace your coping as well. To get the liner out of the track you will use a lift and pull method which will allow the liner to slip out easily and smoothly. Do not force this step or risk breaking your coping – finesse is the key.
Remove Faceplates and Gaskets
When you are removing large section of the old liner simply cut around the liner gaskets and get to them after the whole liner has been removed. Inspect each fitting and determine the orientation that the gaskets have been installed before disassembling them. The gasket orientation changes from pool to pool and manufacturer to manufacturer so your best bet is to install the same configuration that previously existed for your pool. You can take pictures of the dismantling process which can help you later if you forget where the gaskets will go. Each fitting has three possible locations for gaskets being behind the liner, on top of the liner, or both behind and on top of your liner. You can also follow the instructions that come with your new faceplates and gaskets. Be absolutely certain that you keep track of all the screws and which faceplate they came from. If any screws are rusted or difficult to remove then mark on the wall with permanent marker which ones were suspect so you can deal with them later. It is critical that you do not snap off any screw heads so be wary of screws that do not seem to want to come out.
With the water out and the liner taken away you can now for the first time really inspect and evaluate the condition of your pool. It should be rust and crack free on the walls and floor and be free of any foreign material or sharp areas which could damage the liner. You may notice areas on the pool walls where there are rust circles in various places. Each of these areas is a place where you had a small pinhole leak in your liner. All rust needs to be scraped off the walls with a trowel or paint scraper.
The floor will be mortar cement, vermiculite cement or compressed sand. Sand will be the easiest to determine as you will leave footprints in it as you walk. It may appear to have a slight crust from the compression from water weight, but investigation will reveal that it is sand. If you have a sand bottom then you must be meticulous when you do your final cleaning and grooming before hanging the liner. Sand will easily hide sharp items . To reshape the sand then sprinkle with water and trowel smooth. If you have a vermiculite floor it will look like concrete and even feel like concrete. You will be able to determine vermiculite by its compressive strength.
Vermiculite concrete is much lighter and much weaker than traditional concrete. If you can indent the floor with your heel then you have vermiculite. If you have concrete it will be apparent in its hardness and resistance to puncture. A screwdriver can be pushed right through vermiculite but would not penetrate concrete. All cracks and inconsistencies in the floor of the pool need to be repaired before hanging your liner. You must repair floor cracks with the material that your floor is originally made from. Fix sand floors with sand, vermiculite with vermiculite and concrete with concrete. Mixing these materials can lead to separating of the two floor materials which can ultimately damage the liner in the future.
Brush & Wash Walls & Floor
When you begin the final stages of preparation before hanging the liner you will need to wash and broom down the entire pool from top to bottom including the walls. Be sure to sweep the deck area off as your first step to avoid additional debris being knocked into the pool after you have cleaned it. Sand bottom pools must be inspected and cleaned slowly and carefully adding new sand in areas which are rough. Vermiculite and concrete pools will be washed with a hose as well as brushing from top to bottom. You will then pump out the water that accumulates in the bottom of the deep end. Once you have finished washing and rinsing you will begin the process of taping up the seams
Tape All Seams & Perimeter Coping
When the liner goes into the pool you will be putting a vacuum behind the liner to suck it into place. In order to be able to do this you need to tape shut all the seems in the pool which would leak air and prevent this process. You will see evidence of this from the previous installation likely in masking or duct tape. The point is to seam all the wall sections together from top to bottom with a single band of duct tape. Masking tape can be used but results will be better with duct tape. In addition to the walls, you will also need to tape the perimeter of the pool where the coping meets with the top of the wall of the pool. The walls must be totally dry in order for the tape to stick