6 Common Vinyl Liner Pool Problems with Solutions

When it comes to purchasing swimming pools, we all want one that is not only going to be a great time for you and your family, but most importantly one that can last. The best way to make sure your new pool has a long life is to buy one with the right vinyl liner.

This might sound like an odd notion and you might be asking why a vinyl liner is so important? Well vinyl liner swimming pools have actually made up a pretty large portion of the swimming pool market in the U.S. and the majority have been built in the Northeastern part of the country.

Of course, with the purchasing of vinyl liner pools comes a few important decisions regarding some potential problems that accompany the structure. But fear not, we’re going to discuss and break down the problems and solutions, so you’ll know exactly what kind of vinyl liner pool you want.

The Top 6 Vinyl Liner Pool Problems and With Solutions

  1. Ugly Entry Steps & Benches
  2. Ugly Pool Coping
  3. Metal or Polymer Walls
  4. Life of Vinyl Liner
  5. Floating Liner
  6. Vinyl Liner Wrinkles

Ugly Steps and Benches

One of the main complaints about vinyl liners is that they look cheap. And in most cases that is the honest truth. But that’s part of the purpose of this discussion, to focus on ways to prevent a liner from looking cheap.

Most of the time, vinyl liner pools use white plastic for the steps and benches. It’s structurally solid, but the issue is the bright white of the plastic usually doesn’t mesh well with a coloured liner. On top of that, the benches and steps have a 3-4-inch lip that is the same colour as the top of the patio making them stick out like a sore thumb. That’s not exactly the best thing to feast your eyes upon after dropping big bucks on a beautiful patio.

There is a simple solution to this problem; the ‘vinyl over step’ method.

This is where the steps and benches of the pool are interspersed as part of the wall panel structure and then covered with the vinyl liner.

This is a bit of a pricier option, but it does bring together the colour scheme of the pool to be more aesthetically pleasing to the eyes.

Ugly Pool Coping

Now most liner pools have what is called an aluminum C-track because it’s fairly easy to install and pour concrete up to.

The issue that it creates though is the white rim that lines the whole edge of the pool. It comes across even worse if you’re planning on pouring any type of coloured or stamped patio around the pool because the clash of colours is so obvious that it takes away from the look of the pool as a whole.

So, with this issue, there are actually two alternatives to the ugly aluminum coping. 

The first one is bit more difficult because you have to pour a cantilever concrete edge. It’s going to take more time with the technique, but compared to aluminum coping, the difference in aesthetic is night and day.

The second less difficult but more expensive alternative is brick or paver coping. But know that with the amount you invest it will only enhance your pool to look magnificent.

Metal vs. Polymer

Originally, all vinyl liner pool structures were made of wood and the thought of long term wasn’t considered when building a pool. Manufacturers eventually caught on and began producing metal walls (galvanized steel panels) in place of the wood ones. These were quite the upgrade and are still used by manufactures today.

But with metal being metal, even galvanized, it’s still going to oxidize over time underground, especially with the popularity of salt water pools.

No vinyl liner is exempt from leaks at some point. They are usually behind the liner itself. So, when this happens, the pool water drips onto the metal liner causing that annoying pestilence we all know as rust.  In some cases, the panel can oxidize all the way through causing a huge problem leading to costly repairs.

There is a simple solution to this problem; polymer wall panels. A lot of vinyl liner companies are using them for the pool’s structure now because they don’t oxidize over time and are unaffected by salt.

Liner Longevity

The main discussion here is making a liner last. It’s the biggest concern if you’re a pool owner or are looking to become one. And it’s understandable with the vinyl replacement costs falling between $4-8k after labour, liner and water.

The average lifespan is about 8-12 years and there are some cases where they last even less than 5 years and as much as 15.

But you can take the proper measure to ensure your pool liner’s longevity.

It pretty much comes down to three important rules to follow.

The first being the proper maintenance of the water chemistry in things like pH and alkalinity.

The second is the proper installation of the liner by the builder. I know you should just trust the professionals, but you’re paying for the pool so don’t feel bad for double checking to make sure they’re doing it right.

The third is the type of water sanitizer. When you have high levels of chlorine, its tough on the liner.  This is one of the reasons why salt and non-chlorine systems are easier on the liner’s longevity.

How Long Will a Vinyl Liner Last?

Floating Liner

Okay, one of the final problems is when the water pressure under the pool actually causes the liner to float. This usually happens in areas with high water tables and causes the liner to look as though it’s inflated. It feels kind of similar to walking on a water bed.

Most of the time this doesn’t damage the liner, but it does cause wrinkles in it once the ground water recedes and the liner falls back into place. And that’s no good for any pool owner as that takes away from the overall aesthetic of the pool.

There are a couple different solutions to this problem though.

To fix the ground water issue, you can install a dewatering system around the pool that will keep the ground water limited and the liner from floating again.

The best way to remove wrinkles in the liner is to drain the pool and reset the liner. But do be careful as if the ground water is still present, it could turn into a horrendous mess. This process shouldn’t be done by anyone without experience working on liners as it can be tricky. Once liners get to be more than 3 or 4 years old, they dry, shrink and become rigid extremely fast.

Wrinkled Pool Liner

I’ve heard over and over again, there isn’t a way to avoid wrinkles in your vinyl liner pool. We winterize and service many pools not just our own and we see it almost at every home. The corners have wrinkles, the jet fittings and vinyl over steps. Since the liner is flexible and with lowering the pool water at every season, the liner expanding and shrinking with climate and the reaction to the chemicals. Vinyl pool liners will always have wrinkles!

To avoid and minimize the wrinkles so that they are not noticeable under water, a high quality liner that welded on site and properly installed would do the trick. 

These are all common liner problems and should all be considered carefully before investing money into a pool. Especially as you now know that there are solutions that follow them. But, now that you know how to handle these issues if they are to present themselves, you can move forward with your dream pool.