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    How to Replace an Inground Vinyl Pool Liner

    July 5, 2012

    inground vinyl liner installation

    Your local pool company or pool installer may try to scare you and tell you that there is no way that you can install your own inground vinyl liner. Don’t listen to them, installing an inground pool liner is something that any handy homeowner can do with a few helpers.

    Let's assume that you already took measurements for your custom inground liner; maybe you read my earlier blog post on how to measure your pool for an inground pool liner. You placed an order from our amazing variety of pool liner patterns. Perhaps you read another post of mine titled How to Select a New Inground Pool Liner? In any case, let's assume that you have received your liner. Before installing your liner, store it in an area with a temperature above 60 degrees. This will prevent excessive folds in the liner and the vinyl will be more pliable and easy to work with when you install your new inground liner.

    Inground Pool Liner Replacement Materials List

    • Custom Inground Pool Liner
    • Wall Foam, Spray Adhesive
    • Skimmer, Main Drain, Return Gaskets
    • Submersible Pump to drain pool dry
    • Floor Patch Material
    • Razor Knife, Duct Tape
    • Large, no. 3 Phillips Screwdriver
    • Liner Vac or Wet/Dry Vac

    Your inground vinyl liner installation can be fast and easy - just follow these simple instructions.

    Step 1: Drain the Pool & Remove the Liner

    Drain the pool bone-dry, even removing the main drain cover and pumping or sponging the water left in the main drain pot. Be careful to pump the pool to a distant location, or into the storm drain, to prevent the water from cycling back under the pool, and if your pool is located in a high water table area, wait a few days after any heavy rainstorms. Also, check the weather on the day of your liner install, and if high winds or rain is in the forecast, it may be best to reschedule.

    When the pool is nearly empty, you can slice the liner at the bottom of the wall with a razor knife. Check to see if you have wall foam on the wall, if so, be careful not to slice through it. Next, make several vertical razor knife cuts, from the top of the track to your horizontal cut at the base of the wall.

    Next, remove the screws from the skimmer, pool returns and pool step section, and pry off the faceplates or plastic pieces on top of the liner. Use a proper size screwdriver so that you don't damage the screw heads, and store all screws in a safe place (you don't want to lose any of them!).

    Now you can remove the vinyl sections covering the walls by lifting the liner bead out of the track (gently, you don't want to damage the track). Remove them from the pool, and roll up the wall sections. Now cut the floor liner into pieces that are small enough to handle and can be removed from the pool. When you reach the deep end, carefully remove the screws to the main drain cover ring.

    Enter the pool slowly and move lightly around the pool, so that you don't do any damage to the floor of the pool.

    Step 2: Wall Preparation

    If the pool walls don’t have wall foam you should consider installing.  Wall Foam protects the liner from corrosion and also helps the pool retain more heat. It also gives the wall a warmer and softer touch. One roll of wall foam measures 1/8” x 42” x 125’ which is enough for a 20’x40’ pool item. Wall foam is rolled over the wall and secured by using a Spray Adhesive. 2 cans are sufficient for a 16’x32’ pool and 3 cans for pools up to 20’x40’. Spray it on the wall, and then roll on the foam!

    When rolling on the foam, be mindful of wrinkles in the wall foam as they will show through, under the liner.  Trim around all skimmers, returns and lights and leave at least an extra 1” on all sides.  This makes the installation easier when you install the faceplates because the wall foam does not interfere with a good tight seal of the faceplates.

    If you are not installing wall foam, inspect the walls closely for corrosion or deposits. Scrape clean any mineral deposits. If you have rusty walls, you should scrape clean and spray paint - then roll on wall foam, to protect the liner. To hide the wall seams, place a new strip of duct tape over the joint where the wall panels intersect.

    Step 3: Floor Preparation

    Clean the floor with a broom or blower or wet/dry vac. Inspect the pool bottom closely for any pebbles, roots, vegetation or algae. If you have any depressions or footprints now is the time to repair them. The most flexible material to use for floor repair is Vermiculite, but you can also use a hydraulic cement to fill in divots and holes. Clean the entire pool floor thoroughly because any small particle will be felt under your feet, through the liner, and sharp items can create a hole in the liner over time.

    If your pool has a sand bottom, you will need to have a few large trowels and several hours to work over the pool floor. Sand or Vermiculite can be used to patch divots, heel prints or eroded areas. Be careful not to add an entire layer of sand to the pool, which can raise the floor level or change the bottom shape, causing the liner to not fit properly.

    Step 4: Secure the Gaskets

    Line up the holes in the gasket and secure the new gaskets to the main drain, returns, skimmer and underwater lights with strips of Duct tape. These are the gaskets that go under the liner. You will also use a gasket on top of the liner, underneath the faceplates. Rubber gaskets are best, but the compressed cardboard type is also durable.

    When your order your liner, spend some time locating the proper gaskets for your main drain, returns, skimmers and lights. For a step section in the shallow end, or a drop-in loveseat in the deep end, if the rubber gasket used on 3 sides looks to be in poor shape, replace it with our Pool Step Gasket Kit. Replacing gaskets and faceplates will cost you a little more time and money, but it will look much nicer and also help prevent leaks.

    Our Hayward Faceplates & Gaskets chart can be helpful to identify Hayward main drain, returns, skimmers and lights gaskets and faceplates with our item numbers. Faceplates and gaskets chart for hayward equipment

    Step 5: Install the Inground Liner

    Now that you have done all of the prep work we are ready to start installation. First remove the liner from the box. Place the liner in the shallow end of pool and carefully unfold the liner. Look for a label that indicates deep end or shallow end. With helper(s) holding the shallow end firm, carefully pull the liner to the deep end and push into the track in a few areas. Avoid dragging the liner across the pool bottom. The more people you have helping during this step - the easier it will be.

    Once the liner is hung in the deep end corners, work your way back towards the shallow end, reaching down to pull the liner up, snapping the liner bead into the track about every 5 feet. Take up any slack by pulling the liner as you move along towards the shallow end. Once you reach the shallow end, snap the liner in the shallow end corners. Once you have the liner hung in all corners, go back around entire pool, with two people working in opposite directions to snap the entire liner bead into the track, while keeping the corners in place.

    If the liner seems tight in the shallow end use some sand bags in the shallow end corners, and if you have covered steps, place sand bags on the steps.  This will help keep the liner in place. If you have plastic steps (with no liner covering them) cross the step with a 2x4 board, and use Duct tape to attach the liner. Now take a large piece of your old liner and place it over the entire step section and weigh down the edges. This is done to get a tight seal around the steps when we turn on the vacuum in Step 6.

    Step 6: Set the Liner


    To prepare the pool for filling, we first "set" the liner by using a vacuum to suck all the air out from behind the liner. This causes the liner to suction closely to the walls and floor. It is at this point where you can easily see any problems in the fit of the liner. To set your inground pool liner, you can use our Cyclone Vac, or a Wet/Dry Vac of at least 5hp. Our liner vac can also be used as a blower, to blow out the pipes for pool winterizations.

    Remove a small area of liner bead from the track, close to the breakpoint. The breakpoint is where the pool bottom starts to slope from shallow to deep. Insert the vac hose behind the liner, and run it to a point about 3” from the bottom of wall. Use Duct tape to seal up where the hose goes in, around the skimmer lid or plastic pool step sections. Check that everything is air tight, or the liner will not suction tight against the pool shell. Run the Vac for 5-10 minutes, until the vacuum sucks the liner tightly. Check the fit to make sure liner looks good and that you don’t have to adjust the liner "hang" for a better fit. If you have wrinkles, shut off the vacuum and adjust the liner, working wrinkles towards the edge, and then try again.

    Step 7: Fill the Pool!

    Finally, you are ready to start filling the pool. If you have a main drain on bottom of pool fill up pool for about 2-3 inches so water is just on top of the main drain and stop.  Carefully walk down into the deep end of the pool and tightly install gaskets, faceplates and screws onto your main drains. Once the main drain face plate is installed, take your razor knife and trim around the inside of the main drain pot and securely replace the main drain cover.

    Fill up the rest of pool, but wait to install the skimmer, light and return faceplates until the water level is a few inches below each of them. The liner will continue to stretch as the pool fills, so don't screw on these faceplates too soon. Underwater light rings and step section pieces can be screwed on when the pool is about half full, and the returns and skimmer faceplates can be screwed on underwater, or when the pool is almost full. Tighten down all screws very... tightly, until you hear the faceplate begin to creak and moan. After you have secured the faceplates, light ring or step pieces, use your razor knife to cut out the vinyl pieces inside.

    Keep your Liner Vac running until the water is at least covering the entire floor by 3-4 inches. If the vacuum hose is covered by too many inches of water, it can be hard to remove. Pull the vacuum hose out slowly from behind the liner and pop the bead back into the track in this area.

    Congratulations! You just saved a lot of money and successfully installed your new inground pool liner. Now, go enjoy your refurbished swimming pool.  

    Chris Low
    SPP Pool Expert

    Blog Author
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