A pool liner can last up to 15 years provided the liner is made of thicker Virgin Vinyl, Fabricated with double lapped seams, and water maintenance is kept optimal for the life of the liner. Poor water maintenance can shorten the life span by up to several years.
Pool liners are made of two kinds of materials molded from PVC thermoplastic vinyl. One method produces Recycled Vinyl which is generally thinner and less durable. Virgin Vinyl is thicker and more durable.
Patterns are printed onto these materials through a production process called stamp rolling. The pattern is basically printed on like ink is on to paper. The thicker virgin material does a better job of maintaining its appearance longer. The recycled material being thinner tends to lose its luster after just a couple of years in the sun.
There are also chemical treatments that help prevent premature fading and help with mold and mildew control. They provide a barrier like sunblock does on your skin. How long these chemical treatments last depends on the thickness of the material.
Pool liner thickness is most commonly measured in gauge and or Mil Thickness. Gauge is a term used in the metals industry. The smaller the gauge the thicker the metal. However, with pool liners, it’s not this way.
The higher the advertised gauge the thicker the liner is said to be. A better measurement would be knowing the MIL Thickness. Years ago pool liners came in 2 Mil thickness. 20 and 25 Mil are simply 20,000 and 25,000 thousandths of an inch thick.
In today’s market place Gauge is used more than MILThickness. If one can find the Mil thickness this represents the most accurate thickness. Ask before you buy. A knowledgeable sales professional should know the difference.
Please have a look at the following material thickness flow chart. See how they compare to one another and know the safe zone for material thickness. If you stay within the safe zone, chances are you will choose the proper thickness.
There is also thickness throughout the liner to consider the material thickness. Pool liners are manufactured from rolls of material. Often times the sidewall is a higher thickness and the bottom is a lower thickness. It is not uncommon for a sidewall to be 25Mil and the bottom to be 15-20Mil in thickness.
This is a terrible practice but one which is used by many pool liner manufacturers. An oversight entity makes no standard checks. Just know what you buying beforehand. The pool liners made with the same thickness across the entire liner are the best choice.
You should also know that seams are the only part of a liner that is warranted for leaks. General holes are not part of a pool manufacturer’s liner warranty. The seams are what is covered in a pool liner’s warranty.
There are traditional seams and lapped and even double-lapped seams to consider.
Traditional seams are like seams in clothing. Where to ends are joined together at the edges. Lapped sean]ms are when seams overlap and are sealed. Double-lapped seams are when ends are folded onto themselves and then sealed together. Double-lapped seams are the strongest.
Generally speaking recycled vinyl with traditional seams structure are the liners that have great prices and low thickness. These types of liners tend not to last more than 1-3 years. Those that are virgin vinyl, thicker materials that are double lapped. These tend to last 8-15 years.
All newly installed pools will need a liner replacement at some point. It’s just a matter of which liner will last longer than others and double-lapped, thicker virgin vinyl do last longer.
The longest-lasting pool liners also tend to have owners who care for the water best. Well-maintained water chemistry is a great way to get the longest-lasting liner. Some sanitation systems maintain chemistry better than others.
Traditional chlorine water maintenance needs more testing and some homeowners just throw chlorine in the pool and shock once a week. Does this work? Yes and no. It may keep the water clear but having free chlorine that is high can ruin a liner and is not healthy for humans.
There are better options when it comes to pool water sanitation. Here are a few and a little bit about them.
The Pool Frog or Nature Two Purifiers are mineral-based sanitation systems. They use minerals that allow a pool to use 50% less chlorine than a traditional chlorine pool. These are great on the skin too.
Salt systems produce chlorine at the pool by converting salt water through electrolysis converts salt into chlorine. This system produces chlorine in a safe way and is also great on the skin. Salt is placed into the water and the automated system maintains sufficient chlorine levels in your pool.
These systems are ozone based and use hydrogen peroxide. They use no Chlorine and are truly easy on the water. Please find out more information at Oxygen Pools.
Just like the name suggests these systems use UV light to sanitize pool water. It destroys organic matter, eliminating the formation of dangerous chlorine by-products.
Last but not least is the weather. Storms all year round can wreak havoc on pool water chemistry and falling branches from trees are a big risk to pools. A fallen branch can ruin a liner by piercing it. It’s always a good idea to look around your yard. Do maintenance on potential problems that could arise from weather events.
I’ve replaced hundreds of pool liners that make it up to 20 years. It’s always the thicker liners with doubled-lapped seams and homeowners who take care of the water chemistry. The ones that fail quickly are the low-cost thinner type liners and the water maintenance is not kept up as it should.
We do hope this will help you choose the perfect pool liner for your above-ground pool. To learn more about choosing the best pool liner please check out “5 Steps to a Perfect Pool Liner Replacement” and “6 Pool Liner Attachments-Above Ground Pools”