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    Replace Your Inground Pool Liner this Weekend

    March 24, 2014


    Here at SPP we sell about 1,500 inground pool liners each season. Most of these are installed by the homeowner and not by pool people. This is a very simple DIY project. Some folks may be a little leery of taking on a project like this but I can assure you, this is something any handy homeowner can do in 1-2 days.

    Ask yourself this question, do I really want to pay someone $3-5,000 for something I can do myself over a weekend for around $1500?


    graphic showing how to place your measuring stick to measure hopper bottom for a new linerThe first thing to do is measure your pool. Grab a helper and spend half an hour with the pool measurements and you're done. Once you fill out the form and pick out a liner pattern you're on your way there. Inground pool liners are custom made to your measurements, but do not worry, it's easy because of the geometric shape of the pool floor on most inground vinyl pools. You'll measure length and width and depth, and also the location of all the floor and slope corners.

    inground-liner-measuring-instructionsSelect your pool shape, and print out the measurement form on our website. Then scan and email, fax or make a copy and mail it to us.

    In the meantime, you should order other supplies or materials needed for the job. Wall foam can be used if you have rough or rusty steel walls. New faceplates and gaskets for the skimmer, returns and main drains are recommended. hayward-return-faceplateSee these and other inground liner installation accessories on our website. If your pool floor is rough, or has known problems, vermiculite or a sand concrete mix can be used to make floor patching repairs. There are no special tools needed to do a liner install, just basic hand tools and some duct tape. A heavy duty wet/dry vac or Cyclone vac is needed to set the liner, or suck it up against the wall just before filling. One person can get the pool all prepped and ready to go but having at least one extra person to hang the liner is a good idea. Prep Time: 1-2 hrs

    Drain the Pool

    When you have everything ready to go, it's time to drain the pool. You may be able to use your main drain to remove most of the water, if you close the skimmers tightly, but it may lose prime while draining. If that happens, or to get the last bit of water out of the pool, a submersible electric pump, like a pool cover pump or sump pump can be used. You can spill a little bit of water on the deep end floor, but you really need to have all of the water pumped out before you can proceed. Drain Time: 2-24 hrs

    Remove old Liner

    Cut the liner out with a sharp razor knife, at the base of the wall, and then cut the floor into 2 or 3 strips. Remove the faceplates and gaskets on the skimmers, returns, main drains and pool light. Remove the cover strip for any step sections and remove all of these screws, and the step plates. Store all of your screws in a safe place, so you do not lose any of them. We have replacement screw sets if that happens. Demolition Time: 1-2 hrs

    Wall and Floor Prep

    Clean up the pool walls by brushing them with a hand brush. Light rust on the walls can be sanded and painted. Duct tape can be placed on the vertical wall joints, to help obscure the fold. Check that the track, under the coping is intact all the way around, and there are no broken or cracked sections. For the floors, sweep them down very clean with brooms and/or a leaf blower. If there are divots, cracks, or crumbly areas, you can mix up some floor patch material with a little sand and cement, or you can use vermiculite. Just mix with water and trowel into place. Make sure before hanging the liner that your floor is absolutely clean, no leaves, tiny pebbles or rough areas. Place a new paper gasket on the skimmer, pool light and main drains. Returns and steps normally have a built-in rubber gasket behind the liner, and only need new gaskets on top of the liner. Wall and Floor Prep: 1-3 hrs

    Hang the Liner

    Place the liner into the shallow end of the pool, unfold it carefully and start putting the bead at the top of the liner into the pool coping. The bead just pushes into place with no special tools, and 'hangs' from the track. Once the shallow end wall is in place, and the corners are set, two people work opposite each other to lock the rest of the liner in the track. Once you have it centered in all corners and hanging smoothly in all areas of the track, without any large wrinkles running across the floor, you are ready to set up the vacuum. Hang Time: 1-2 hrs

    Set the Liner

    Use duct tape around the skimmer lid to seal up the finger hole and around the edge. Pull back the liner along a long side of the pool, and insert the vac suction hose. Run it down behind the liner about 6" up from the bottom of the wall. Use duct tape to seal up the coping to the liner, where the hose runs down. Small air leaks can prevent a complete suction on the liner. For the step section, use a piece of the old liner and throw it over the top of the steps, and tape up the edges. Turn on the vacuum and at this point the shop vac will do all the work, sucking the liner in against the walls and floor in a minute or two. If it doesn't set in 5-10 minutes, look for and seal up the air leak, or get a second vacuum set up, which may be needed on large vinyl pools.

    If you see any wrinkles beginning to form, adjust the liner by pushing and pulling on the liner with the vac running. If you still have wrinkles, shut off the vac, and try again, with the liner repositioned or pulling up on that area, or using push brooms or small sand bags to hold wrinkles away from the floor. If you have twisting wrinkles on the wall, adjust the bead of the liner, which is somewhat twisted in relation to the corners. Once the liner is set perfectly, begin to fill the pool with a hose, while walking carefully down to the deep end to screw on the main drain cover plates, with a second paper or rubber gasket. Torque the screws very tight, cut out the inner vinyl with a razor knife, and install install safe VGB approved main drain covers.

    Leave the vacuum running until you have about 6" of water across the shallow floor, then remove the vacuum hose and place the liner bead back into the track. Set the Liner: 1-2 hrs

    Fill the Pool

    You can fill the pool from a truck in just an hour or so, or you can fill from a garden hose. Normal size pools of 20,000 gallons will fill in about 36 hours, from the average garden hose pressure of 10 gals per minute. You can measure your own flow rate by timing how long it takes to fill a 1 gal or 5 gal bucket.

    Now it's just a matter of putting on the gaskets and face plates and cutting out the liner. Nothing difficult here, just wait until the water gets right below the fitting (pool light, return, skimmer) and then put on your gasket and faceplate with the correct screws. After it's screwed on very tightly, just trim out the inside vinyl with a razor knife. Pool steps are done the same way, wait until the water level is up above the bottom screws before you install the step plates and screws. Continue to fill the pool all the way full. Fill the Pool: 2-48 hrs

    A few things to Keep in Mind:

    • When measuring, take all measurements at water level; do not follow the slope.
    • Take your time prepping the pool bottom; you will see any imperfections once the the pool is full.
    • Make sure that the main drain has a gasket under the liner as well as on top of the liner.
    • do not shut off the vacuum until the water is 6" above the shallow end floor.
    • Don't cut out any face plates or steps until the water is up to that point.
    • Torque all faceplates screws very tightly, with a large, long handled Phillips driver.

    Everything I mentioned here from start to finish is definitely something 99% of homeowners can do over a weekend. Feel free to contact us here with any questions or concerns and we will be glad to help.

    I'm sure you can find a place for the money you'll save by installing your own inground pool liner.


    Larry Weinberg
    SPP Pool Expert

    Blog Author
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