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    Inground Pool Vinyl Liner Installation Tips

    July 11, 2013


    In the installation process of your inground pool kit, after you have finished the pool bottom work, it is time to install the pool liner. The liner will be a perfect fit if you have followed your dig sheet to the specifications provided.

    Before you even put the liner box inside the pool you will want to go over the complete bottom and make sure it is just the way you want it. Free of any debris, divots, ridges or any objects such as stones or roots sticking up through the finished bottom work.

    Check the Weather

    storm-cloudsThe weather does play an important part on the liner installation also. You want the temp to be at least in the 60s and a sunny day makes for an easier liner install. Check the weather, and avoid overcast or rainy days. On the flip side, being too hot can also be a problem. When the temp is in the high 90s and the sun is beating down on the liner it tends to stretch out and expand the liner, making it harder to get a wrinkle free liner installation.

    Assemble the Team

    helpersA vinyl liner installation is easily done with two people, having a third or fourth person on the job is helpful, especially when you are pulling the liner across the pool, and locking the bead into the track.

    Your helpers can be promised a swim in your new inground pool, but save the beer until after the job is finished, if you want to keep mistakes to a minimum!

    Foam the Walls

    wall-foam-for-poolsThe pool bottom is perfect, the weather is good, whats next? I highly suggest putting wall foam on the pool walls for an added bit of protection for the pool liner. When installing the wall foam use spray adhesive or spray tack, as it is called. About 2" under the pool coping make a straight line with the spray tack and the same at the bottom of the wall about 2" up, than make a big X on the panel and that is a sufficient amount to hold on the wall foam.

    Only do a few panels at a time as in warm weather the spray tack dries quickly. After the wall foam is installed go to your skimmers, returns and light and trim out the foam that is covering them. When trimming the foam, go 1" larger all around so the wall foam does not interfere with the gaskets and face plates.

    Set Up the Vac

    shop-vacThe next step is setting up your liner vac or shop vac. I suggest putting it at the break - at the end of the shallow end, where the slope begins. The vac hose should be against the pool wall, over top of the wall foam and about 3" from the bottom of the pool wall. Putting a little extra spray tack at the bottom of the wall foam at that point will help, so the vac hose will not suck up the foam at that spot.

    Place your Gaskets

    vinyl-liner-gasketsNext you want to put your gaskets on the skimmer and pool light niche; use a little adhesive or a few small strips of duct tape to hold them in place. The return fittings come with the gasket already attached. Now for the main drain, put the gasket over the main drain use duct tape so it does not slide when you are installing the pool liner.

    Drop the Liner

    do not actually "drop it" - that's just the term we use. Place the box in the middle of the shallow end of the pool - there will be arrows showing which way to face the box towards the deep end. When opening the box do not cut the box straps downward, if you have to use a knife be very careful and cut upwards so there's no chance of accidentally cutting into the box and possibly the liner.

    Unfold the liner from side to side. Hand the deep end liner corners up to helpers on both sides of the pool, and then walk the liner corners down to the deep end of the pool. Once there, lock the liner bead into the track near the corner to hold it in place. With two helpers working opposite each other, work down the long side of the pool hanging the liner about every 4 to 5 feet - just to hold it there temporarily.

    Once you have the liner roughly hung into the track all around the pool, go back to the deep end corners and set them accurately, there is usually a mark on the underside of the liner, to indicate the corners. Once the 2 deep end corners are in place finish locking the liner into the track, along the back wall. Then, work your way down the long sides of the pool and while hanging the liner in the track keep pulling it forward, to remove any slack.

    As you continue to hang the liner bead in the track, continue to pull the liner towards the shallow end of the pool, so by the time you reach the shallow end corners you do not have to pull them into place. Next, hang the shallow end width of the pool, going over the steps just as if it was just another pool wall section.

    Now you need to block off the open steps for the shop vac to work properly. You can either use wall foam and go over the top of the step and duct tape it on the sides, or use a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood to cover over the top of the step. Whichever way you do it now tape the liner to the wall foam or plywood and this will give you the suction you need for a good fit.

    Suction Time

    suction-the-poolWhere the vac hose slips behind the liner, use long strips of duct tape to seal up the gap around the hose. Place tape around the skimmer lid, to stop any air leakage. Now start the vac, after a few minutes you will see the liner start to suck into place. If the liner does not very noticeably suck tight against the walls and floors within 5 minutes, check that there are no air leaks around the hose, skimmer, steps or benches. Air should be blowing out of the vacuum, if it's not - check that your suction hose is not collapsed, or blocked.

    Wrinkles in the Liner

    Once you see that the liner is suctioned against the walls, check to see if you have any wrinkles in the liner, if you do - go in the pool without shoes on and work them out, by pushing them towards the sides and corners. After the liner is wrinkle free you may want to sand bag the shallow end corners, use some contractors trash bags and put about 25 lbs of sand in them for weight. Place them in both shallow end corners and push them into the corners of the walls. It is a good idea to do that with 2 bags in front of the pool steps also. Sometimes if you're getting a lot of stretch and pull into the deep you may need to put a sandbag on either side of the pool, where the shallow end meets the slope.

    Fill the Pool

    fill-the-vinyl-poolNow start filling the pool up. Put about 6" of water in the pool and then carefully walk down to the deep end to the main drain. You will see an indentation where the screw holes are. Put a new gasket and ring on with screws on opposite sides, then put in the rest of the screws and tighten them up (very tight). Use a #3 Phillips head, and crank the screws down until you begin to hear the plastic creak.

    After that, trim out the vinyl inside of the ring and secure the main drain cover. Start the water up again. Keep the vacuum running until there is 6" of water in the shallow end of the pool. At that point, shut off the vac, and carefully pull the hose out and clip the liner into the track.

    Step Section

    When the water gets up to the bottom of the first step, it's time to cut-in the shallow end step section. The gasket comes attached to the step already so all you need to do is attach the step strips. Start on the top on either side and find the top screw hole and put the screw in. Do the next one down and then you can skip a few at a time until you reach the bottom, then go back and insert the other screws, tightening them up very snugly.

    After both sides strips are secured, you can start on the bottom strip. Start at one end and tighten the first two screws, then do the same on the other end. Skip a few screws at a time until you reach the other side, then go back and screw in the remaining screws. After all the screws are in and tightened up, you can trim out the vinyl on the inside of the step, using a razor knife. Save this piece of liner in case you ever need a patch for your liner, which would be a perfect match.

    Finishing Up

    jump-in-the-pool-2Continue filling up the pool. The next stopping point is the light, do not cut-in any of the lights, returns or skimmers until the water level is right below them. Put on the light gasket and ring and all the screws and then trim out the inside of the light. Next will be the return fittings, the gasket comes attached to the inside fitting itself and there is not usually another on the face plate itself. Put in the 4 screws and trim out the inside. Last will be the skimmer. Place the gasket and face plate over the indented screw holes, then tighten up the screws and trim out the inside.

    And now - you have successfully completed the liner installation of your DIY inground pool project, and yes, you can take your first swim in your new inground pool. Enjoy the proud pleasure of installing your own inground pool, and be sure to brag about how you built it yourself!

    Larry Weinberg
    SPP Pool Expert

    Blog Author
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