Congratulations on deciding to replace your aboveground liner this spring – DIY style!
This article covers how to inspect, repair and prepare the pool wall and floor, before installing your new pool liner.
These concepts will apply to inground pool liner installations as well, although I’ll describe the steps from the perspective of an aboveground pool.
I’ll assume that you’ve drained the pool and removed the liner already, so we can get a good look at the pool walls and floor. Let’s dive right in!
Aboveground Pool Wall Inspection & Preparation
Modern aboveground pool walls are constructed of polymers (plastics) or galvanized steel. With the liner removed, hop into the pool and give the walls a close inspection, looking for:
Buckling & Bowing: On aboveground pools, walls that are crimped or bowed is usually a problem with the level of the pool. In the area where this occurs, one or more wall sections or the upright posts between them, may have sunk into soft soils.
With a laser level, or just a laser pointer, shoot laser beams across the top of the pool wall, from side to side, to check for how much the buckled side has sunk. Use concrete paver blocks underneath the upright posts to raise up an area that has sunk over time.
If the buckling or bowing was from another cause – rough play in the pool, or a small accident outside of the pool, or from winter ice putting pressure on the walls – you may be able to push the wall back towards vertical.
Rusted Pool Walls: For rust on your pool walls, scrape off the rust and cover with a rust proofing paint – any color will do! If rust is a problem on your pool walls, you should use Wall Foam to cover the walls. Wall foam will provide a protective barrier between your pool wall and your new pool liner. Plus, it makes the walls feel nice to the touch.
If you notice rust around the entire perimeter, very close to the floor of the pool, you should consider installing pool cove, after scraping and painting. Pool Cove provides a nice transition from wall to floor, protects the liner from rust, and it looks great.
Holes in the Pool Walls: Small rust spots can eventually grow into holes if not caught in time. Pool wall holes can be common near the base of the wall, where earth and moisture come into contact. Obviously a problem. However, there is an easy solution.
Buy some sheet metal at the hardware store. Use shears to cut a piece that is larger than the hole, with a few inches of overlap all around. File down any sharp edges on the sheet metal patch and then duct tape it to the inside of the wall. Rivets or screws are not necessary. For large patches or several patches, using pool Wall Foam to go over top of the wall will help protect the liner, and help to hide the patches on the wall.
Dirty & Dusty Pool Walls: Not a big problem or concern. You can clean them if you wish, or scrape off any efflorescence (whitish, mineral deposits). You may notice more of this near the skimmer and returns. After removing the faceplates, clean the wall beneath the gaskets well, so that your new gaskets will have a clean surface to seal up against.
Rough Pool Wall Seams: At the point where a continuous wall panel joins together, you may have many screws. Clean up the area with a brush, and cover the screw heads with 2 layers of duct tape. Do the same if you have other vertical wall joints around the pool, or anything that might show through the pool liner.
Aboveground Pool Floor Inspection & Preparation
Your pool floor is probably a base of masonry sand, or you may have paid extra to have a sand/cement mix, or a vermiculite bottom. If you put in a solid pool floor, simply sweep it clean, and patch any cracks or holes with a similar material.
Weeds and Grasses: You may be surprised to find anything growing under your liner, and indeed, it is rare. If you do have anything green growing, treat it with a product like Round-Up, and then cover the floor with a pool liner pad, to prevent damage to your liner from nutgrass or other such tenacious plants.
Algae: If your floor, particularly sand floors, has dark green spots that look like algae, treat with a bleach solution, or replace the most affected areas with new masonry sand. Algae can stain a pool liner, so you may also want to install a liner floor pad, for protection.
Rocks & Pebbles: Anything larger than a sand grain should be removed. A litter box scoop or slotted spoon can be helpful to scoop up and strain out pebbles which could stretch your liner and possibly cause a hole in the near future.
Sand Bottom? Using a large bullnose trowel (with rounded ends), you can retrowel the bottom of the pool smooth, before installing your new pool liner.
You can add a small amount of masonry sand if needed, but if you add too much sand, beaded liners may end up being too long, causing wrinkles.
You can keep the floor level by using an 8 ft long 2×4 board with a carpenter’s level. Check the level of the floor in this method for areas that have been troweled.
Trowel the floor sand right up to the walls, just up to the base of the wall, and no higher. Pool Cove is useful for creating a uniform transition between floor and wall, which can be hard to achieve using sand alone.
Floor Padding? Sand pool floors benefit from using a Liner Guard or Happy Bottom floor padding. Either one will help prevent punctures to the pool floor, and stop the floor from becoming “wavy” or getting heel marks and foot prints.
Both floor pads will also keep algae or rocks from damaging the new pool liner. Liner Guard will stop nutgrass and can even prevent pool leaks with it’s woven geo-textile fabric.
Happy bottom comes in thick, straight strips which you position next to each other and tape together, while Liner Guard comes as a pre-cut, one piece floor pad. Liner Shield is not thick, only 1/8″ or so – while Happy Bottom is twice as thick, measuring 1/4″.
Wall and floor prep for your new vinyl liner installation – it’s not much work, just a few hours. Before you get to that point however, take a look at some of our new aboveground vinyl liners, and start making plans to replace your pool liner this spring – DIY style!
InTheSwim Staff Blogger