Liner Installation for Above Ground Pools – A Step by Step Guide

17,Feb 2021

Installing an overlap liner in your above-ground pool does not have to be complicated. At Swimming Pool Discounters, we have put together a step-by-step guide to installing a liner for your above-ground pool. While we can’t replace your manufacturer’s instructions, those should be referred to; first, we wanted to offer you some insight on how to install a pool liner. 

An overlap liner is the most economical option for above-ground pools. As the name suggests, this type of liner overlaps or drapes over the side of your pool wall and is secured by the pool’s top rails. This is the liner type you will need if you are installing a liner in a pool with a deep end. 

What to Do Before Installing Your Liner

Before you open the box that the liner is in, confirm that you have purchased the pattern and size liner.  

Prior to installing a liner of any shape or size, you should take these steps for the best results. Before you begin installing your pool liner, make sure the pool is built where only the top plates and the small stabilizer rails are installed. Keep the top plates loosely installed with a single screw. This will help you easily adjust the liner. You do not need the wide top rails at this point in the installation. 

Have all the uprights installed, and be sure to double-check the roundness of the pool. This can be done by taking cross measurements in several places around the pool. 

How to Prepare Your Pool Liner for Installation

Plan to install your liner on a warm, 60-95 degrees Fahrenheit and windless day. The warm weather will make the liner easier to work with. If it is too hot outside, the liner can stretch too easily and become punctured. If the liner is too cold, it can crack in the folds. Do not store your liner at temperatures lower than 55-degrees Fahrenheit. 

Open the line box carefully to avoid damaging the liner and avoid using any sharp objects to open the box. You can either unfold the liner inside of the pool or outside on the grass. Open the liner in an area free of metal pool parts, rocks, sticks, and other sharp items that could tear the liner. Spread the liner around inside of the pool with the help of a friend or two. 

Installing a Round Overlap Liner

Starting at the liner’s wall same, place your liner on top of the pool wall, print side facing up with the flaps for the seams facing down. Keep the rails together at this time. Hang the liner over the wall of the pool with the seam straight up and down or perpendicular to the floor to ensure the liner goes over the wall straight.

Spread the liner out evenly around the pool and the center of the floor in the middle of your pool. Make sure there are no open seams as you install the liner. Be careful to avoid the wall seam over the skimmer or skimmer return. Once you have placed the liner in the proper position, using either alligator clips with cardboard or a few of your friends, secure the liner on the wall in 3 or 4 places. Begin the installation by taking 3 or 4 of the stabilizer rails off, hanging the liner over the pool wall. 

This can be done with about one foot of liner overlapping on the outer pool wall. Spread out 4 or 5 feet of the liner around the top of the pool wall. At this point, you need to visually locate the seam where the floor portion of the liner and the wall portion of the liner meet. You need to adjust the liner so that it is positioned just at the top of the pool cove. Adjust by pilling more liner over the pool or letting more overlap. 

Once the seam is in the correct position, you can place your coping strips on the top of that part of the liner. The strips will slide over the loner on the top of the wall to secure it. Using an alligator clip or a friend’s helping hand, secure the station where you started to help you maintain stability and keep the liner from falling or coming unclipped.

A few extra installation tips:

  • Once you set a section of the liner, you can measure the amount of overlap that is hanging out of the pool. If the floor and cover are leveled, then the overlap should measure the same around the pool. 
  • After you get your first section of liner hung, cut a piece of the coping that same length as the liner overlap. This will help you measure your overlap as you continue installing.
  • Be sure not to bunch up the liner on the wall as you work the perimeter. You want to pull the top of the liner around the pool wall as you go. Pill the slack out of the perimeter of the pool liner. 
  • Make sure the loner is fully secured with coping strips all the way around the pool wall and address any areas with too much slack or not enough. Your liner will stretch about three feet to give you more slack. 
  • Check to make sure the center of the liner floor is centered as best as possible with the center of the pool floor. 

Finishing Your Pool Liner Installation

Adjusting for Air Gaps

 Expect that your liner will look smaller than the pool because you need to have a small air gap around the cove, measuring about 3-7”. If there is too much liner inside of the pool, there will be no gap. To fix this, you will need to overlap more of the liner over the wall. If the air gap is too big, then there is too little liner inside of the pool, so you will need to bring some of the overlapped liner back into the pool. 

Vacuum Fit the Liner

Using a Shop-Vac will help you vacuum for the liner to the shape of the pool. This technique is helpful for stretching the liner both on the floor and the wall. This also helps eliminate wrinkles. It is possible that you will see creases from where the liner was folded. Don’t worry about these because they aren’t wrinkles and will be flattened by sunlight and water pressure. 

Place your vacuum on a flat surface outside of your pool and close to the skimmer opening. Then, insert your vacuum hose into the pool’s skimmer opening, about 4-6” above the pool’s cove. Turn on the vacuum and use a soft bristle brush or broom to smooth out any wrinkles. Be sure to watch the air gap and the bottom of the wall above the cove while working. You want to keep the air gap uniform to prevent more wrinkles from forming.

You shouldn’t have any wrinkles, only a gap of air between the line and the cove, around 3-5”. Test your liner to make sure it can withhold the water pressure by pushing and stretch the liner down on the cove. If you can push it to the cove by hand, then it should make the last stretch into place when water is added. 

If you have to push really hard, but you can still touch the liner to the cove, it may be too cool outside. If it is cooler out, let more of the liner back into the pool. Warmer weather above 60 degrees Fahrenheit will allow the liner to stretch into place without other adjustments. 

Don’t add water to the liner if it is too tight. This can lead to tears in the liner, or it can pull down the wall. 

Add Water to Your Pool

Make sure all the wrinkles that you can work out are taken care of prior to adding the water. Once you are 100% happy with the placement of the liner, you can begin to add the water. Make sure to keep the vacuum on until the water reaches below the shop vac hose. When the water reaches the hose, turn off the vacuum and remove the hose. Make sure to monitor how fast the pool is filling up. Your liner should stretch slowly, so if the water is coming in too fast, it can cause issues. 

Follow any final steps in your manufacturer’s manual, and enjoy your new pool liner! For more information about pool liner installation or to purchase a top-quality pool liner, contact Swimming Pool Discounters today!