Options for Lining a Swimming Pool

by Pool Builders on 01-12-2011 in Articles

If you are having a swimming pool constructed, or if you are looking at replacing an existing pool liner, this article should provide information on the available options.

Lining requirement

For any below ground pool it will be necessary to have a smooth liner, firstly to retain the pool's water and secondly to give the internal surfaces a pleasant tactile feel.

The two choices that are available are a constructed tiled and grouted finish, or a fitted vinyl liner. Both will be suitable for nearly all submerged or below ground swimming pools. Which option is the best is subject to opinion, but here are some of the main distinguishing features that should assist with the decision.

Liner Cost

A flexible liner is considerably cheaper than tiles and grout. Furthermore its fitting can usually be completed in a single day. This contrasts significantly with a "wet trade" tiled lining that will take several days to install and that will require a highly skilled craftsman. The result of this is that a tiled pool liner will cost many times more than a vinyl liner.

Durability, damage and repair

Vinyl liners have become increasingly durable and, once fitted, are quite difficult to damage or tear. Even so, they do not have the same resilience as tiles and it is still possible to scuff or scratch them.

Vinyl liners that are subjected to small areas of damage, typically a small tear, can be repaired, however the repair will normally remain visible. By contrast, it is very difficult to damage a tiled finish and it would take the application of a heavy and sharp object to do so. Damaged tiles also have the advantage that they can be replaced and, despite the fact that there may be a slight variation in the colour of the grout used for the remedial work, small or large areas can be adequately repaired.

Vinyl liners can be expected to last for 10 years or more which, given their comparatively low cost, makes them very good value. A pool surface covered with tiles will, however, last many years longer and if maintained correctly could continue to perform for decades.

Appearance and feel

It was once true to say that, "nothing looks quite like a tiled pool".

However, with modern vinyl that not only simulates the pattern of tiles, but also gives the impression of a tiled surface texture, this is not quite so true. Vinyl is very hard to distinguish from tiles and, additionally, it has a smooth and tactile feel. This means that you will never scratch yourself on the walls of a pool lined with vinyl. The use of soft compressible batts against the pool's walls and a sand base mean that vinyl liners also have a slightly padded feel to them.

Which is best?

There is no definitive answer to this question. Some pool users consider a vinyl liner more attractive, more comfortable and easier to clean and maintain than tiles. Other owners take the view that a "proper" pool must be tiled and grouted.

The tiled option is undoubtedly the more expensive and, once completed, you are stuck with the tiles - pretty much forever. Flexible liners can however be easily and cheaply removed and replaced. This means that if you want to change your colour scheme you can, and at a relatively low cost. Additionally it can probably be done over the course of a single day.

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