How to Install a Liner in an Above-Ground Pool

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The vinyl liner in an above-ground pool is subject to a lot of wear and tear from swimmers. It’s also subject to the chemicals in the pool’s water. Over time, a swimming pool liner develops small holes, and eventually you must replace it. While it’s awkward to work with, you can replace a pool liner yourself. You do have to handle the liner with care so you don’t damage it during the installation process. Plan to install your swimming pool liner on a warm, sunny day. This makes the vinyl liner pliable and easier to work with.

Things You'll Need

  • Clean sand
  • Hand tamper
  • Cove inserts
  • Garden hose

Drain the pool. Turn off electricity to the pump. Disconnect the pump at the skimmer return on the pool’s wall. Remove the coping and any other attachments from the top of the pool’s walls. This allows you to remove the pool liner from its frame. Skip this step if this is a new pool installation.

Add 3 inches of clean sand for the floor. Use a hand tamper to create a level sand floor. Start around the perimeter of the pool and work your way to the middle as you tamp the sand. Wet the sand as you go to help keep it firm. A carpenter’s level can help ensure that the surface is level. Add sand or remove it to create a level floor.

Build a sand cove that climbs the inside of the wall at least 8 inches. This cove should form a 45-degree angle between the wall and the floor. Pack the cove into place with a hand tamper. If you prefer, install pre-made cove inserts along the base of the pool’s walls.

Remove your shoes. Slide the liner inside the pool’s walls. Unroll the liner. As you work, begin to position the liner so that the floor seams align with the coving. The location of the skimmer return on the vinyl liner should line up with the skimmer return on the pool’s walls. Work out large wrinkles as you smooth the floor into place.

Bring one side of the liner up and over the wall. Use the connector for your pool to hold it in place. Some pools use coping clips that slide over the top of the pool wall to hold the liner, while others use a beaded system where you slide the top of the pool liner into a track. Once you have the first connection in place, go to the opposite side of the pool and attach the liner. Next connect a spot halfway between the first two. Make the fourth connection on the opposite wall to the third connection. Finish connecting the pool liner to the wall at all the points in between the four original locations.

Run 3 or 4 inches of water into the pool with a garden hose. Work out any wrinkles in the bottom of the liner. Continue filling the liner to the bottom of the skimmer location.

Follow the directions from the liner’s manufacturer for installing the skimmer plate. This involves cutting a hole into the vinyl liner for the skimmer, so there is no room for error. Each manufacturer has different methods to ensure that this opening does not leak in the future.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some above-ground pool liners have a decorative top edge. Take steps to ensure that this decorative row is parallel with the top of the pool.

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