Buying a new aboveground pool liner is not as scary as it sounds. It is actually quite easy when you know what you are looking for.
The first thing you need to do when shopping for above ground pool liners, is to measure your pool. Even if you are certain of the size "I know I have a 24 foot round pool...", measure it just to be sure it's not something different. Every year, a few unfortunate customers order wrong, and spend hours trying to make a liner fit, until they measure the pool...
If you have a round pool, you would measure inside to inside straight across the pool [diameter]. Take two measurements - one at the top of the wall to the opposite side, and also from the bottom of the wall (above any cove) straight across the floor to the bottom on the other side. If the diameter at the top of the wall is different from the bottom, the walls are not vertical, and this could create installation challenges. In addition to a top/bottom diameter comparison, it is best to measure diameters in two different spots - to make sure the measurements are the same, and your pool is not "out of round".
If you have an oval pool, the liner measurements would be done the same way except you will need to measure the longest length and longest width of your pool, typically measured on the center-lines of your pool length and width.
If you have a rectangular pool, you will need to measure the same way getting the measurements for the longest length and width. With a rectangle pool, you need to know what type of corners you have. Are the corners squared (90 degree angles), radius (rounded corners) or 45 degree angles? You will need to know what the measurement is for the radius or the length of the diagonal. To figure out the radius of your pool corners, use two measuring tapes, intersecting at 90 degrees, as the image shows to the right. It's very important when ordering a new pool liner to specify the exact radius for curved corners, or the exact measurement of wedge corners.
Now we need to figure out the depth of the replacement pool liner, also known as the wall height. Most round above ground pools have a flat bottom but some do have a dished bottom, slightly rounded out in the center. If you have a flat bottom pool liner, you would measure the pool wall to get the depth of the pool. Measure from the pool floor to the top where the liner attaches or goes over the pool wall. If your pool has floor cove, either a foam wedge where the wall meets the floor, or if the sand is troweled up the wall, into a ledge - be sure to measure both ways.
Above-ground Oval and rectangular pools also usually have a flat bottom, but can have a "deep end". If the deep section has a "hopper bottom", with geometric sides, this is measured using an inground liner measurement form. If it has a free-formed, rounded out bottom - take the deepest measurement, and then measure the depth at one foot intervals from the center of the deep part, to the edge of the shallow part. If the deep end is uneven and irregular, it may be best to order a new liner to even, regular measurements, and rework the floor to these measurements before installing the new pool liner.
Most above ground pool liners have a wall height of 48 inches or 52 inches. We also sell deeper pool liners. For overlap liners, you can simply pull the liner over the wall more to fit, but you must be sure of the wall height, [pool depth] when replacing beaded pool liners. If you have a dish bottom pool liner, we will need to know the deepest measurement, out in the center of the pool. For making this measurement, you can float out on a boat, with a rigid measuring stick, or use duct tape to attach a tall measuring stick to your pool pole, and reach out to the center. A helper on the other side, holding a long string, tied to the end of the pool pole, can be helpful in supporting your extension measuring pole. If your deep end area is very uneven, more precise measurements are needed.
What type of pool liner do you need? Overlap or Beaded. If the liner goes from the inside of the pool, over the wall and is visible from the outside of the pool, you have an overlap liner. Overlap pool liners use plastic coping strips over the wall and the liner to hold it in place. Once you put the pool back together, you can trim the liner on the outside to make it look more attractive.
Overlap style pools can also use the J-Hook style liner, which hangs on the pool wall with a thick bead on the edge that's turned over into an upside-down "J" shape. The J-Hook pool liner hangs onto the top of the wall, no coping strips needed. This style also has a greater pattern selection, with tile border prints, not usually available on a traditional overlap style liner.
Beaded pool liners are a little bit trickier. The two main beaded liners are the standard bead and a J-Hook. With a standard beaded liner, you will have a bead receiver which hangs on the edge of the pool. Beaded pool liners have a thick piece of vinyl at the top of it - this is called the "bead". The bead attaches to this receiver by locking into the track, and hangs inside the pool. Beaded liners are made specifically for flat bottom pools. Expandable type pool liners, meant to stretch into a deep area, and used on Doughboy type pools, are traditional overlap liners.
Some manufacturers make their own brand specific beaded liners. If you have an Esther Williams, Trojan, Kayak, Wilkes or Gilbralter pool, you will need to order a custom beaded liner. You can see the different beads on our website, if you are not sure what you have.
All beaded liners are made for flat bottom pools. The liners are usually made to fit either a 48” or 52” pool wall.
Now it’s time to choose a liner that you like! This is the fun part. Most of the liners come in 20 mil or 25 mil thickness. The 25 mil pool liner will resist accidental tears and cover floor blemishes more easily. 20 mil pool liners are considered the standard, and 25 mil pool liners should provide the purchaser with a longer lasting pool liner. You choose the pattern that you like and the thickness that you want. Order by pool size.
More decisions coming your way. Decide weather you need or want to use any of the common pool liner accessories. One that we like to recommend using is the Armor Shield liner guard, underneath your new vinyl liner. It's like liner for the liner! Armor Shield will protect the liner from any nut grass or rocks pushing through the bottom of your liner. It can also help to resist divots in a sand bottom, and give an overall smoother finish. Armor shield is a geotextile, very thin, which you lay over top of the pool floor before installing your new pool liner.
You can also use wall foam to protect the liner from rough or rusty pool walls. Wall foam also has an insulative benefit, and gives the walls a nice, soft touch. Pool cove, which are long, foam triangles that you place at the intersection of the pool wall and floor, is another popular pool liner accessory. It can protect the liner from the sharp, rusty base of many pool walls, and provide a smoother finish, and comforting ledge for those that can't quite touch the pool bottom.
Okay, so you have all the pool measurements - you know what type of liner you need, the thickness you want and the pattern you like. Now you are ready to order the liner. If you are still not sure which liner to purchase or if you think you may need a Custom Order liner, I would sincerely recommend talking to one of our friendly pool liner specialists to ensure that you are ordering the correct vinyl liner for your particular pool. Call at 800-983-7665, so we can ask you some specific questions.
For aboveground pool liner installation tips, see our recent blog post on How to Replace your aboveground pool liner - you can replace your own pool liner, and we can show you how easy it can be!
SPP Pool Enthusiasts