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How to Replace an Above Ground Swimming Pool Liner

A solid liner is critical to your swimming pool and should be inspected every year for any damage. If you determine that you need to replace your pool liner, we’re here to help. We have prepared a helpful guide to get you started replacing your liner.
Drain the Pool
The first thing you need to do is drain the pool, this can be done in a few different ways and varies depending on the pool. You can use a sump pump or can use your pool vacuum and turn your pump to waste and it should start pumping out the water.
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Removing the Old Liner
You will now need to remove your top cap / top rail; this is the piece on the top of the wall that actually secures the liner in place. Once the top cap / rail is off you can discard the old liner. Once the liner has been removed you should inspect the walls and floor to make sure there is nothing that could potentially damage the new liner.
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The New Liner
At this point, make a note of the size of your above ground swimming pool or measure it if you don’t know before proceeding. Next, you need to purchase a new pool liner. A word of caution, purchasing the cheapest liner available may not always be the best for your pool’s needs. It’s best to consider the thickness (gauge) of the liner you are purchasing and it often determines how durable the liner will be. Also, its suggested to purchase some additional preventative liner protection since you have the primary liner out.
A good way to do this is purchasing a Liner Guard to protect the bottom of your pool from any foreign objects puncturing the bottom of your swimming pool. Liner Guard is made from a geotextile material this gives the bottom of your pool soft cushy feeling while protecting your liner from foreign objects like rocks and tree roots.
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But, the best way to save yourself time and money in the future is purchasing a Perfect Pool Bottom Kit, these kits use hard flat polymer material that give you a super smooth pool bottom that reduces your need for using sand and of course, it adds the additional protection you are looking for your pool.
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Installation
It is a good idea to install on a warm sunny day to allow the new liner to become more flexible and relax the wrinkles. You should lay out the liner according to the instructions or labels on the liner. Make sure that the liner seams meet where the wall and floor meets.
Once you have the position right, pull the liner evenly over the walls until a small center area is still touching the ground. The liner should be draped over the wall, now you need to attach top cap of the wall over the liner but DON’T fasten it down. This will give the liner some support while filling, you can now start to add the water. As the pool starts to fill up remove portions of the top caps to release more of the liner evenly around the pool. You should work your way around the pool repeating this process until the entire pool floor is filled with 6 inches of water and your liner is properly positioned. Now attach the top cap / rail and fasten it down to hold the liner in position.
Continue filling and that’s completes your install of an above ground swimming pool liner. Before you start your pool pump you might need to prime it to avoid running without any water and damaging the pump.
Protect your pool liner with PoolSupplyWorld’s complete selection of liner protection products.
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  • Raymondclan

    there any reason not to leave the old liner in place as added protection while putting in a new liner? The old one sprung a slow leak near the bottow that I could not find.

    • Marian

      I want to know if anyone has placed a new liner on top of an old liner in an inground pool. what problems may occur??

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi Ray, we strongly recommend you remove your old liner before installing your replacement liner as not doing so may void the warranty on the new liner and could cause an improper fit, which could lead to future issues with your new liner. Once you remove your liner, you should thoroughly inspect your pool walls and floor to make sure there is nothing which will puncture your new liner.

      For added liner protection, we recommend a LinerPad, which will help prevent rocks, roots and other objects from puncturing your liner. Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi Marian, we do not recommend installing a new liner on top of an old in-ground pool liner as doing so may void the warranty and cause an improper fit, which could lead to further problems. Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.

  • carman iannotti

    i would like to know if there is a ring or lock that goes on after you replace the liner. thank you

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi Carman, that’s a great question. It depends on the type of liner you have. Overlap liners are held in place by coping strips, which are installed over the liner and under your top rail.

      Bead liners hook into a bead receiver that sits just under the top rail, on the inside of your pool. This style of liner is ideal if you have a deck system, because if you ever need to remove the liner you can simply drain the pool and lift the liner out of the track without disassembling the deck. Check out our blog, Choosing Between Overlap, Unibead, Beaded and Expandable Liners for more information.

  • JoAnn

    We need to replace the liner in our above ground pool. Is there a way to save the water to refill it?

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi JoAnn, unfortunately there is not a cost effective way to save your pool water when changing your liner; saving your water would take renting a tank truck or having a container large enough to accommodate your pool’s gallon capacity. When changing a pool liner, we recommend draining the pool, and after installation of the new liner, refilling the pool with fresh water from your garden hose. Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.

  • Katherine

    What about the skimmer and the return? Do you have to cut holes in the liner? Would you put water in first to stretch liner before cutting the holes!

    • PoolSupplyWorld

      Hi Katherine, when installing a pool liner, once the pool is constructed and the liner is in place, you should slowly fill the pool up to 1″. At this point, you can work out any wrinkles in the bottom of the liner. Once the bottom of the liner is wrinkle-free, you should fill the pool about halfway. This will be the point when you will install your skimmer and return(s).

      The proper way to install your pool’s skimmer and return(s) should be outlined in the installation instructions of your skimmer’s owner’s manual. To do so you will have to cut the liner. After installing your skimmer and return(s), you can then fill the pool the rest of the way. For a step-by-step video on installing an above ground pool, including liner, please feel free to check out our How To Install a Round Above Ground Pool video and blog. The liner portion is at minute 19:30. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.