A Guide to Vinyl Liners for In-Ground Pools

a large swimming pool surrounded by a patio.

If you are in the process of shopping for an in-ground pool installation and are considering a vinyl liner pool, this guide is a helpful tool. You probably have questions about the information you are reading about vinyl liners.

Questions like what is a mil, how thick should my vinyl liner be, what does embossing have to do with the thickness, and how long will a vinyl liner last are just a few that our clients ask. You may even be wondering how long it takes to install an in-ground pool with a vinyl liner.

At Prestige Pools, vinyl liner pools are our specialty so that is to say, we know a lot about them! In this article, we want to guide you by sharing some basic information that will help you make the best choices when buying your in-ground vinyl liner pool.

Longevity of the Vinyl Liner

When your vinyl liner is good quality, measured properly, and well-maintained, it can easily last 10-15 years and even up to 20 years. Here are factors that come into play with how long the liner may last.

Pool Maintenance

Where your vinyl liner falls in the typical 10-20 years lifespan is directly affected by the pool maintenance you perform. Everything from the alkalinity and pH to the amount of sanitizer and proper cleaning routine affects the life of the liner. By taking the time to keep the water balanced, not over-chlorinated or sanitized, you can contribute to a longer lifespan. Improper water balance can cause a loss in the liner’s elasticity and the chemical makeup of the liner. When you over-chlorinate, use excess powder and/or pellets that lie on the liner, or have heavy metal buildup from copper and iron, you get stains that can impact your enjoyment of the pool.  Never add undiluted granular chemicals like chlorine directly into your pool; always dissolve the granular chemicals in a bucket of water before adding them to the pool water.

The Sun

Over time, the sun’s rays will cause the liner to fade and become brittle. This time can be lengthened by covering your pool when it isn’t in use. A cover serves a couple of purposes by 1) blocking the sun and 2) preventing debris that can cause punctures.


Thicker liners are more impervious to punctures but it is still important to keep the pool free of objects with sharp or rigid edges. Keep the pool clear of debris like rocks and sticks that create an opportunity for puncturing the liner.

The Water Level

Maintaining the correct water level and not letting the level become too low protects the vinyl liner from shrinking. Monitoring the water level gives you a heads-up as to small holes or leaks in the liner that can be patched easily before developing into larger issues.

Correct InstallationCustom Pool Builders Cary

The lifespan of the pool vinyl liner is affected by the installation being done correctly. When it isn’t installed in the right way, the liner won’t last as long. It’s best to use a professional pool company like Prestige Pools to ensure proper installation. Installation requires the liner to be snapped into place and form-fitted to the shape of the pool by removing the air behind the liner. Additionally, the liner must be cut to the exact size for the pool depth, width, and shape for correct installation.

The Thickness of the Vinyl Liner

When you are selecting your pool’s vinyl liner, you learn that thickness is an important aspect of longevity. A thicker liner lasts longer than a thinner one. By selecting a thicker vinyl liner, you have greater protection from punctures and tears that can occur from animal claws, broken glass, or any sharp object.

The standard measurement of the thickness of a vinyl liner is in mils. A mil is 1/1000 of an inch (20 mil = 0.020 inch, 28 mil = 0.028 inch, and 30 mil = 0.030 inch). Some manufacturers measure the thickness in a gauge. A gauge measurement is different from a mil, so a 20-gauge thickness is not the same as a 20-mil thickness.

Embossing affects the thickness of the liner. A 25 mils embossed liner is not the same thickness as a 25 mils non-embossed liner. Embossing creates peaks and valleys in the liner so that the thickness varies but is usually measured by the highest peaks in the liner.

Stains on the Vinyl Liner

Stains don’t affect the longevity of the vinyl liner, just the aesthetics of the pool. Most stains come from either organic buildup or metals in the pool. Organic stains are usually brown or green and come from dirt, mud, leaves, algae, or bugs. Metal stains come in a wide range of colors and are typically caused by metal pool parts like ladders, corroded pool pipes, pool heaters, and water. It’s important to properly maintain the pool water chemistry to keep stains at a minimum.

You use different methods of removing stains, depending on the source of the stain.

Common Organic Stains

A professional pool service company knows exactly what type of stain you have and how to remove it. Generally, this is the way to remove organic stains on your pool liner:

  1. Remove debris and leaves from the pool.
  2. Clean the filter.
  3. Vacuum the surface of the pool.
  4. Test the water and balance the chemicals accordingly. This step can significantly fade the stains.
  5. Shock the pool using dissolved pool shock chemicals. Brush the stains after shocking the pool to remove them more quickly.

You can also use a pool liner stain remover and wipe the stain directly with a cloth. Don’t use household cleaners or chlorine. Another effective cleaner is a stain eraser tool made for cleaning pool liners.

Metal Stains

Removing metal stains is more difficult and time-consuming than treating organic stains. Consider calling a pool service provider when you suspect that you have metal stains.

  1. Assess the color of the stain to determine what the source might be.
  2. Clean the pool and balance your pool chemistry.
  3. Test the pool for metals using a metal test kit.
  4. Eliminate the presence of metals with a metal sequester.
  5. Identify the cause of the stains and correct the issue.
  6. Regularly test for metals, balance the water chemistry weekly, and continue using metal sequesters to catch metals before they stain the vinyl liner.

Holes in the Vinyl Liner

If you are seeing your pool lose water each day, it could be from evaporation. But, it can also be due to a tear or hole in the vinyl liner. Here are a couple of ways to determine if your liner has a hole or tear. First, you can use a bucket to compare the levels after 24 hours or the second method is applying food coloring on any spots that feel squishy. The food coloring will move with the flow of water that is leaking through a tear, locating the damage. It’s best to contact a professional pool service company when you find there is a leak in your vinyl liner.

Contact Prestige Pools for In-Ground, Vinyl Liner Swimming Pool Installation

Our professional team at Prestige Pools is ready to give you information about vinyl liner pools that can help you in making your decisions when building an in-ground pool. We can create the backyard pool of your dreams!  Call us at 919-779-1033 or complete the easy-to-fill form below for a free consultation.

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