swimming pool in the yard

How Long Does a Pool Liner Last? 6 Ways to Extend Its Lifespan

When installing a pool, most homeowners expect it to last a few decades without significantly costly repairs or maintenance. However, this timeframe may be affected for those who chose a pool liner instead of a fiberglass pool. While most pool liners feature a 20- to 30-year warranty, their lifespan is generally around a quarter of it.

Furthermore, both inground and above-ground pool liner warranties may not cover customers for as much of the replacement costs as expected. As a result, homeowners often have to pay a lot out-of-pocket to replace their pool liner sooner than anticipated.

Those looking to save themselves the trouble and some money may benefit from knowing more about pool liners. Particularly how long does a pool liner last and how to extend an inground or above-ground pool liner’s lifespan. This post covers all consumers need to know about pool liner longevity and maintenance.

In This Article

How Long Does a Pool Liner Last?

There are various types of pool liners on the market, but most are vinyl. The two main types of vinyl pool liners are above-ground pool liners and inground pool liners. Which type of pool liner is best for a pool depends on its structure.

How Long Does an Above-Ground Pool Liner Last?

above ground swimming pool

Above-ground pool liners are designed to fit above-ground pools. These structures are usually concave and may get placed fully or partially above the ground to retain water. Deck, terrace, and patio pools are examples, but above-ground pools are also often chosen for uneven or sloped terrain.

Most above-ground pool liners may last anywhere from 6 to 10 years. However, depending on the weather and water conditions, liner brand, quality, and maintenance, they may last longer or shorter.

How Long Does an Inground Pool Liner Last?

house exterior with a swimmig pool

Inground pool liners are designed for inground pools. Inground pools are usually those dug directly into the ground. Then, subsequently lined with concrete, fiberglass, a pool liner, or one or a combination of these materials to retain water.

On average, inground pool liners last slightly shorter at around 5 to 9 years. Most have a lifespan of under seven years. That said, though a rarity, it’s possible for an inground pool liner to last up to 20 years. Much like above-ground pool liners, how long an inground pool liner lasts depends on various factors.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Pool Liner?

As mentioned prior, many pool liner warranties don’t cover the majority of its replacement costs. Additionally, warranties may mislead customers about how long a pool liner lasts. Those who’ve installed a pool liner with a seemingly ample warranty may be caught by surprise.

Why Don’t Manufacturers Pay Out the Full Liner Replacement Costs?

Proration is one of the main reasons some pool liner manufacturers end up paying out less. In most cases, the warranty is only a full warranty for around 2- to 5 years. After which, the age of a pool liner will detract from the warranty replacement payout percentage, year on year.

As outlined, replacement is very unlikely during this initial 2 to 5 year period. That is unless there is a genuine fault with the liner or installation. Usually, the replacement will occur at around the 5- to the 10-year mark. After which, the pool liner manufacturer will almost certainly not owe customers the total liner replacement costs.

What Are the Typical Pool Liner Replacement Costs?

Though the figure varies, pool liner replacement may be costly. Homeowners can expect to pay for a new inground or above-ground pool liner. Though the same size, this liner will likely be more expensive than their last due to inflation. Its price could range from $350 to $2000 per new liner, depending on its size and type.

How long a pool liner lasts also affects the costs of its replacement. The warranty payout could be around 50% to 10% of the original liner value, depending on its age. Essentially, unless replacement unexpectedly occurs during the first few years of the warranty, the customer may pay out most of the costs.

Additionally, water and labor will need to get factored in. Inground and above-ground pool liner warranties hardly ever cover these costs. This figure may range from around $1,000 to $3,000 for labor and water, depending on local hourly wages and water prices. As one can see, the overall costs to replace a pool liner may quickly spiral into thousands of dollars.

How to Know When to Replace A Pool Liner

Knowing how long a pool liner lasts is important. However, so is knowing when it’s time to replace one. There are various tell-tale signs that a pool liner needs to get replaced. These should get taken into consideration alongside the age of a pool liner.

The Pool Liner Is Leaking Due to Cracks, Punctures, or Tears

One of the most obvious signs that it’s time to replace a pool liner is if it’s leaking. Small tears, punctures, and cracks may slowly leach out water, leading to more frequent refills. If small, these can get patched if they can get found. However, attending to them as soon as possible is a must. Otherwise, leaks may wash away soil and erode pool walls, potentially causing dangerous sinkholes underneath or around a pool.

The Inground or Above-Ground Pool Liner Has Stretches or Wrinkles

No matter how long a pool liner lasts, it will lose its plasticity and elasticity over time. An obvious sign a liner is on its way out is if it is stretched or wrinkled in many places. Though not yet leaking, these malformations may pose a risk, potentially resulting in cracks and tears that do leak.

The Pool Liner is Faded or Discolored

With age, a pool liner will also lose its natural color in the sun and perhaps even darken in areas. Not only can this be unsightly. It may also warn that the vinyl’s structural integrity may no longer be as it was when new. Algae and rust stains may also contribute to the pool liner’s discoloration and be challenging to remove.

6 Ways to Extend Inground and Above-Ground Pool Liner Lifespan

Replacing a pool liner may be a costly affair, especially if done once every ten years or more frequently. Fortunately, how long a pool liner lasts depends partly on its maintenance. There are many effective ways to extend the life of a pool liner. Here are five of the best ways.

1. Pick Out a Quality Inground or Above-Ground Pool Liner

Homeowners often choose an inground or above-ground pool liner over a fiberglass pool due to costs. A pool liner may cost considerably less than a fiberglass pool, even if it’s not as durable. However, it’s advisable not to skimp on the quality of a pool liner to reduce costs further. Additional money spent on one that’s better quality and comes with a superior warranty may save customers long term.

2. Treat the Pool Water Frequently and Safely

Pool water pH and alkalinity play a crucial role in the longevity of a pool liner. Acidic water degrades pool liners faster, as can undissolved pool chemicals that settle at the bottom of it. It’s advisable to treat the swimming pool regularly and thoroughly pre-dissolve pool chemicals before addition.

3. Minimize Swimming Pool Evaporation & Low Water Levels

On top of water quality, the swimming pool water level is a concern. Low levels may result in tears and cracks in the unsubmerged liner. Installing and using a pool cover can help minimize evaporation, pool refill frequency, and water expenses.

4. Make Sure That Professionals Install a Pool Liner

Besides water conditions and maintenance, how long a pool liner lasts also depends on its initial installation. Customers should ask their pool liner replacement company or professional questions to ensure they’re getting their money’s worth, including:

  • How long have they been replacing pool liners?
  • Are they part of any official pool maintenance or liner replacement organizations?
  • Where are their pool liners sourced from, designed, and made?
  • Do they get sub-contractors to do the pool liner replacement work?

5. Protect Pool Liners From the Sun and Air

protected pool by a cover

Sun and air are two forces that can damage an in-ground or above-ground pool liner. Covering or shading a pool liner may extend its lifespan, as can draining it minimally and avoiding leaving it exposed. Once open to the air, the liner may shrink, causing cracks and tears that remain once refilled.

6. Avoid Puncturing a Pool Liner at All Costs

Since pool liners are much softer than fiberglass or tiles, they need extra care. Sharp pet claws, pool cleaning tools, pool toys, or broken glass may cause costly punctures. Keeping pets, glasses, bottles, and inappropriately sharp pool toys out of the swimming pool is best. Also, homeowners must ensure they always clean the pool with equipment that doesn’t pose a threat.

To Conclude

When it comes time to replace their pool liner, homeowners often get left with a difficult choice. Sometimes, they may have to continue using a run-down pool or drain it if they can’t afford the replacement costs. Shelling out for a new above-ground or inground pool liner, out-of-pocket labor, water, and other out-of-warranty costs can be expensive.

Even if how long a pool liner lasts doesn’t match the full warranty, having one is better than nothing. However, it’s important consumers educate themselves on the proper installation and maintenance of pool liners. Following the maintenance tips mentioned in this guide can help them extend their pool liner lifespan. In so doing, saving themselves stress and money.

Editorial Staff

The DM staff writers are often joined by topic experts, to bring you the most accurate, reliable and trustworthy content.

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