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Choosing Between Overlap, Unibead, Beaded and Expandable Above Ground Pool Liners

At Pool Supply World, we often get questions about the difference between pool liners. When shopping for an above ground pool it’s important to know how they differ. This is why we’ve put together a simple article, explaining the differences between the three main types of above ground pool liners.
Above ground pool liners are necessary components of all above ground swimming pools. There are three main types of vinyl liners for above ground pools: Overlap, Beaded and Unibead. The purpose of liners is to retain pool water, create a protective barrier for the structure of the pool, and assist in maintaining structural integrity. The main difference between these liners is how they are installed and attached to the pool wall.
Overlap Pool Liners:Overlap pool liners are the most economical option and are easy to install. They attach to the pool wall with coping strips that hold the liner to the pool wall. A coping strip is a piece of plastic that acts like a wide paper clip that runs along the top of your above ground pool wall. Since it “overlaps” the swimming pool wall from the inside, the copingstrip ensures that the liner is held firmly in place. Multiple coping strips are used to precisely contour the entire length of the pool wall. Because overlapping may cause unevenness when installing, Overlap designs are typically limited to a solid color or uniform patterns. Many attractive styles are available and add a hint of style to a pool.
Beaded Pool Liners:Beaded pool liners are the easiest to replace and come in a wide array of designs. Using a bead receiver that hangs over the top of an above ground pool wall, the Beaded pool liner simply snaps into the receiver giving you an even and consistent look. Because they install evenly around the pool wall, Beaded liners flaunt beautiful designs and patterns including wall borders and tile trims.
Unibead Beaded Liners:Unibead pool liners are the ultimate in versatility and have a two-in-one feature that allows you to replace an Overlap liner with a Unibead liner. Unibead liners have the option to be used with a bead receiver or as a J-Hook liner. If you don’t have a bead receiver, simply hook the line onto the rim of the pool wall. If you have a bead receiver, carefully remove the J-Hook portion of the Unibead system and install like a beaded liner by snapping the liner into place. Both give you a clean, professional look without any excess material hanging over the edge like in an Overlap liner. The Unibead provides all the benefits of protective liner and the freedom to use patterns found only on beaded liners.


Overlap, Beaded and Unibead liners come in a variety of sizes and designs to fit any above ground swimming pool. Fitting pools from 8’ to 33’ and ranging in sizes from round to oval, there’s a perfect liner to suit any size and style above ground swimming pool.

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  • Anonymous

    cellent article.

  • Stacy Griswold

    what is better for the gauge for an above ground swimming pool? the 20 or 25 gauge? I would want to order the 72″ expandabe liner

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi Stacy, that’s a great question. A common misconception about vinyl liners is that the gauge, or thickness, of the liner determines its quality. In reality, the material of the liner and the way you maintain the pool determines how long the liner lasts.
      Liners made of 100% virgin vinyl have been cut once, from a previously uncut sheet of vinyl. These liners are much more elastic than regrind or processed liners, and will hold up to sun and chemical exposure. The single most important tip we can give to people who want to make a pool liner last is to keep your chemical levels balanced. If your alkalinity and pH levels are off, your liner can begin to deteriorate after one year. All of the liners offered by PoolSupplyWorld are made of 100% virgin vinyl. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  • zach vanderteems

    I have an older 24′ x 48” above ground round pool and it needs a beaded liner that locks into the top rail of the pool. I dont see any diagrams for this style of liner on your site, can u help me find this type of liner. thanks

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi Zach, thank you for your question. You will need a unibead liner which can either clip right on to the top rail of the pool or attach to a bead receiver. To view our selection of unibead liners, check out our Pool Liners section. Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.

  • Toni Marquez

    What is the difference in a beaded and unibead liner. I have heard so many different things. I was told that a beaded liner is the same as a unibead you just have to trim the plastic on the unibead. I am trying to purchase a liner for a patriot eldorado pool that is about 10 years old that has a S track….PLEASE HELP!!! who knows what to buy…..Please explain

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi Toni, thank you for your question regarding the difference between a Beaded and Unibead pool liner. Unibead, or J-Hook, liners have a piece of soft plastic welded onto the top edge of the liner. If you tear the plastic strip off the top of a Unibead liner, it becomes a Beaded liner. Unibead liners can either be draped over the pool wall like Overlap liners or inserted, like Beaded liners, into a bead receiver track, which sits on the inside of the pool wall, under the top rail, and hooks the liner into place using the weight of the pool’s water.

      For your Patriot El Dorado pool, we would recommend a Unibead liner. The advantage of the Unibead liner is that to change it or replace it, you can access it easily by draining the pool and pulling it out of the J-Hook track, without having to disassemble your pool or deck. You can find a wide variety of Unibead Liners in our Pool Liners section, and choose one to fit the dimensions of your pool. Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.

  • L.Roddy

    You may have anwsered below, but my question….. I am looking at putting in a pool…..is there a liner that will allow me to replace it when the time comes? IE, not access or remove the top rail? I would like to use a deck design that would actually be flush with the pool wall (inside dimension) which would entail decking over the top rail.

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi L. Roddy, if you’re looking to install a deck directly over your above ground pool’s top rail, we recommend using a beaded liner. Beaded liners are designed to snap into a track or bead receiver located around the inside of your pool, at the very top of the pool wall. Bead receivers do not come with above ground pools, and must be purchased separately.

      Please feel free to browse our wide selection of liners and beaded receiver tracks. If you have questions or would like immediate assistance, please contact us and let us know the size and shape of your pool, and we will be happy to help you locate a track and liner combination that will work for your application.

  • Rhonda

    We replaced our above ground pool liner last spring. The new liner had only been installed a couple of months when we noticed we were losing water in the pool, much faster than just evaporation. By the end of the year it was down to about a foot of water in a 52″ pool. This year when we were getting ready to repair it as we thought it was just a leak above the 1 foot mark, we noticed pin-sized holes all in the bottom of the liner. The pool is about 15 years old, and the original liner was in before we replaced it with a new one last year. When we called the dealer we purchased the new liner from, he informed us that ants must have chewed the liner. Wouldn’t this problem have happened in the last 15 years as well? Our concerns now are: (1) How do we keep ants from doing this again? (2) Would a higher gauge liner be better than the 20-gauge we purchased? (3) Will ants chew through a floor liner? Thank you so much for any help that you can provide us!!

  • Melanie Easley

    I recently replaced my liner (above the ground, 27′, round, unibead) and it keeps pulling out from the wall. Is there some sort of keeper that we can slip over it to hold it into place? I found this ‘T’ looking thing, but I don’t understand how it’s used and I have searched the internet with no luck. Please help!

  • bill

    Hi, I have a vogue pool.. 21 round 52″ deep.. If I understand what i have been reading, Vogue pools take the unibead liner? Can you confirm this for me, I cant find alot of info on the vogue pool. It is about 14 yrs old and I finally need a new liner, Any info would be greatly appreciated.. THANKS

  • ron douglas

    i am changing my liner it is a beaded liner that hooks on the top of the pool wall. can i buy a bead reciever so i can put on my pool so it would be easer to change if i needed to change it again. i also think it would be easer to do. thanks ron

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi Ron, you can certainly replace your existing track receiver with a beaded receiver, and we offer a variety of them to fit all above ground pool sizes. However, changing out the receiver track does require minor installation, including completely removing your pool’s top rail, so please keep this in mind before your final decision. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

  • Linda Jones

    We currently have a overlap expandable 21/41 liner. Our deep end is in the middle – doughboy pool. Want to change the liner to beeded or unibeeded expandable for our 21×41 pool. Do they make them? Our deck is in the way. Please advise.

  • Alicia D

    I have a 16′ round Intex metal-framed pool that needs a new liner. I’d like to dig out a deeper section and use an expandable liner, but it seems like I can’t find one that is designed to work with anything other than a metal-WALLED pool. Is it possible to get an expandable liner for an above ground metal-framed pool? If liners for this purpose don’t exist on the market, why is that? Is there a structural integrity issue with digging out a metal-framed pool that isn’t there with a metal-walled style? Thanks!

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi Alicia,
      Expandable liners require the strength of the metal walls to support the water. There is not an expandable liner available for a frame pool. The frame style of pool just doesn’t provide enough strength to do what you are wanting to do. Let me know if you have any questions! -Christian

  • Rosie

    I have a 24 round with a overlap liner my hubby wants to put a beaded liner in with the pad underneath which is better overlap or beaded

    • Dylan (PoolSupplyWorld)

      The actual quality of the liner material is going to be similar and would not make a difference. With a beaded liner you would need to purchase a bead receiver track, which is what the liner would snap into. An overlap liner does not need this same bead receiver as it just hangs over the pool wall and is held in place by being clamped down.

      Some upside to a beaded liner is that you can purchase them with patterns along the top. This is possible because the liner is going to be uniformly distributed around the pool, and not pulled too far one way or another. With a overlap, since you are just pulling it tight yourself, it can be uneven and not look quite as nice.

      To sum it up, the liner material will be of the same quality, you just will have more pattern options and easier installation with a beaded liner. If you have any further questions just let me know! Thanks.

  • Vic

    I have a 16x32ft Doughboy pool and need to replace the liner, can I convert from an overlap sytle liner to a beeded liner.

    • Dylan (PoolSupplyWorld)

      You most certainly should be able to convert over to a beaded liner. The one additional thing you would need is going to be a bead receiver track. These bead receiver tracks line the top of the pool and are what the beaded liner snaps into, to hold it in place. We don’t have a package specifically for a 16′x32′ pool, but I can just recommend the next size up and should work fine for you (maybe an extra track or two):


      If you have any further questions that come up then feel free to get in touch!

  • http://batman-news.com Colleen

    i want to put a new liner inside my existing Intex liner, which would be the best liner for this application?

  • PoolSupplyWorld

    Hi Rhonda, there are a couple of potential solutions to your liner problem. First, a 25 gauge liner may be in order, as its higher level of thickness will provide more durability than a 20 gauge liner, which should help with any rips or holes that have occurred in the past.

    Second, if ants are indeed the problem, in addition to pest control, it’s recommended to consider liner padding, which is essentially a form of liner protection that features a tough, geotextile material that prevents rocks, roots, and grass (and most likely ants) from penetrating your liner. It is highly durable and offers a spongy exterior that also creates a softer pool floor for swimmers to stand upon, and most liner pads are mold and mildew resistant. Liner pads are installed on top of your above ground pool’s sand foundation before the liner is smoothed across the top of it. To find the liner padding that fits your pool, please feel free to check out our complete line of LinerShield Floor Padding.

    If you can supply us with your above ground pool’s exact dimensions (length x width x height), as well as its shape and the type of liner you’re considering (i.e. an overlap liner, beaded liner or unibead liner), we will be more than happy to help you find the best liner and liner padding for your pool. If you have any further questions or would like immediate assistance, please feel free to contact us directly.

  • PoolSupplyWorld

    Hi Melanie, if your new Unibead liner is sized correctly and replaced a Beaded liner, it should fit evenly and cleanly into your existing bead receiver. If you replaced an Overlap liner, the plastic coping strips from your old liner should hold the liner securely in place by slipping over the edge of your pool wall, over the liner. If you need to replace your plastic coping strips or bead receiver, please provide us with the make, model and wall size (48″, 52″, 54″) of your 27′ round pool, and we will be happy to help you locate replacement parts if they are available. For immediate assistance, please feel free to contact us directly.

  • PoolSupplyWorld

    Hi Bill, after speaking with Vogue, they have explained the all Vogue pools either use an overlap liner or a unibead liner, and this will depend on the Vogue model that you currently have. If you can let us know the name and model number of your above ground pool, we will be happy to find out which type of receiver track and liner it uses and requires. Or, if you’d like to contact Vogue directly, they can be reached at 514-363-3232. Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.

  • PoolSupplyWorld

    Hi Linda, you can convert your pool from an overlap liner to a beaded or unibeaded liner, but you will have to change the receiver track that outlines your pool, which is located just beneath the top rail. We offer a wide variety of beaded receiver tracks to choose from to fit your specific pool.

    However, your deck may act as an obstacle to removing the top rail of your pool, particularly if it is directly on your pool’s top rail. Removing the top rail is necessary to remove your liner and install the beaded receiver track, so you may need to remove your deck completely if you plan on installing a receiver track. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us for immediate assistance.