Vinyl liner pools combine beauty, design versatility and economy – which contribute to their status as a popular choice for Central Florida homeowners. If you’re considering adding a pool or own a home with an existing vinyl liner pool, we’ll tell you about the pros and cons – as well as how to maintain it so you’ll have years of great times with your family and friends!
How a Vinyl Liner Pool is Built
Because this is an in-ground pool, excavation is the first step. Of course, the actual first step begins when you select a vinyl liner pool contractor and design your pool. We’re getting a little ahead of covering the advantages of this type of pool, but – unlike a fiberglass pool – there is quite a bit of flexibility in size and design options. Jason Hughes of River Pools provides the following basic process.
During excavation, the hole is dug approximately three feet larger than the finished pool around the entire perimeter. This allows space for the vertical braces that support individual wall panels.
Once the pool location is excavated, the structure is installed. The frame part of the pool features thermoplastic or metal pieces that fit together and form bracing that holds the wall panels in place. The braces prevent the thin wall panels from bowing from the water pressure and flex somewhat as the ground around them shifts.
After assembly of the perimeter wall panels is complete and the footing inspection approved, an eight-inch-deep concrete footing is poured around the outside perimeter of the structure. This locks the wall panels in place and prevents them from shifting over time. Plumbing is then installed around the perimeter of the pool, and to the pump and filter system.
This phase is followed by installing the pool base – the material that covers the exposed earth and that the liner rests upon. This material is typically either a blend of vermiculite, cement, and water – or a blend of sand, cement, and water. It is mixed, then troweled in place and leveled. It’s critical to obtain a smooth finish on the base of a vinyl liner pool because any imperfections will be seen through the liner.
The vinyl liner itself is custom-made from large pieces of thick PVC material that are cut into smaller sections to fit the size of the pool. Liners are heat-fused together to create a durable seam, and a bead is then welded onto the top edge to hold it firmly in place once installed. The vinyl liner is installed and secured across the top of the pool, then tightly vacuumed into place to eliminate any folds or wrinkles before the pool is filled with water. After the pool is filled enough to hold the liner in place, the holes for any skimmers, lights, return jets, or the pool steps are cut, and faceplates are installed to hold the liner in place. The pool is then completely filled with water.
The average time frame for vinyl liner pool installation is four to eight weeks, depending upon variables.
Advantages and Challenges of a Vinyl Liner Pool
One of the main advantages of a vinyl liner pool is the relatively short amount of time to install, as opposed to three to six months for concrete pool construction. Other pluses include the following:
Low initial cost – A vinyl liner pool is the most economical type of in-ground pool. Although not inexpensive, the cost is lower than its concrete and fiberglass counterparts.
Design flexibility – Vinyl liner pools can be built in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. As covered in our blog post – “What You Need to Know About Fiberglass Pools” – fiberglass pools are limited in size and shape because they’re manufactured in a facility and transported to the job site by truck. CAD technology has advanced the versatility of design options in vinyl liner pools, making possible a degree of design flexibility that’s almost comparable to that of concrete pools, but at significantly less cost.
Easy maintenance – Unlike concrete pools, vinyl liner pools require a relatively simple maintenance routine to keep them in top condition. Our blog post – “How to Maintain a Vinyl Liner Pool” – covers this topic in detail.
However, there are some aspects of a vinyl liner pool you may want to consider:
Liners must be replaced – Depending upon such factors as environment and use, the vinyl liner itself must be replaced every six to 10 years. While this in a way could be considered an advantage, since it provides an opportunity to give the pool an updated look, replacement is expensive. Which leads to the next drawback.
Slightly higher lifetime cost – Although a vinyl liner pool has a lower upfront cost, liner replacement over the years adds up, making them ultimately more expensive than a fiberglass pool.
More susceptible to algae growth than fiberglass pools – Although true, proper maintenance can prevent the development of algae, and it is easy to remove if algae does take hold.
Care and Maintenance for Maximum Vinyl Liner Life
As we’ve said before, low maintenance doesn’t mean no maintenance. The following cleaning and care advice is courtesy of Jeremy Miller, director of digital marketing for Latham.
Gently brush it – To keep dirt, debris and undissolved chemicals from accumulating on the liner, give it some attention with a soft-bristle brush or sponge periodically. How often depends on how much foreign material ends up in your pool, but you might start with once per week.
Maintain proper water chemistry – If your pool water is not in balance, it can have a negative effect on your liner. From calcium scaling to wrinkling and puckering to accelerated aging, there are a whole host of issues that can arise. However, maintaining proper water chemistry is easy once you learn how.
Prevent chemicals from coming in contact with the liner – As you add chemicals to keep your water in balance, be sure you do so in a way that prevents them – especially chlorine crystals – from coming to rest on the liner. That interaction can cause bleaching and deterioration. Be sure to completely dissolve your chlorine or shock in a bucket before putting it into the pool.
Never empty your vinyl liner pool – Your liner can shrink and crack if you completely empty the pool. If you need to drain some of the water for any reason, be sure you don’t remove more than half of the total volume.
Tend to the waterline – Dirt and oils can build up at the waterline and cause staining. Use a vinyl liner cleaning solution to keep the area at and above the waterline clean. This kind of product will also help protect the liner from the sun’s damaging rays.
Don’t allow toys that aren’t pool-safe – Pool toys are designed to be free of corners and sharp edges for a reason. Objects with those characteristics can puncture or tear a liner. Be sure that you only allow appropriate toys in the pool.
Unfortunately, vinyl liner pools are as susceptible to leaks as every other type of pool. Leaks can occur from holes in the liner, underground lines, underground fittings or connections, cracked face plates, torn gaskets, stripped screws on faceplates, walk-in steps, main drains, light niches and backwash line leaks.
The Take-Home Message
If you’re deciding what type of pool to install in your yard, we hope we’ve given you the information you need to make the right choice for your budget, recreational expectations and lifestyle! If you bought a home with a vinyl liner pool, we hope you now know more about its construction, characteristics and care requirements. With regular maintenance and staying alert to evidence of leaks, your pool will be a central part of your Central Florida summer fun now and well into the future!
However, calling our experienced team at Certified Leak Detection if you suspect a leak will help keep a bad situation from becoming much worse. We use technology and techniques we have developed over 20 years in business. In addition to quick detection of pool leaks, we provide industry-leading leak detection for spas, hot tubs and fountains. Serving areas throughout Central Florida – including Orlando, Longwood, Lake Mary, Sanford, Kissimmee, Clermont and Winter Springs – our team is ready to answer your call. Contact us for quick, reliable service!