Let’s just start from the beginning and answer the question “what is a vinyl liner pool?” Sometimes referred to as a “package pool”, it is an in ground pool build with steel or plastic walls and usually a vermiculite floor. A one piece vinyl liner is custom made to fit the structure and is what actually holds the water. The liner is the pool’s finish material and is available in a variety of colors and patterns.
Now let’s talk about some common myths associated with vinyl liner pools.
Vinyl liner pools are not a permanent structure: This may have been true years ago when vinyl pools were built with wood walls and sand floors. With today’s superior materials a properly built vinyl liner pool should last indefinitely. Every manufacturer has specifications on how their product should be installed, so ask your builder for drawings and details of how the pool is going to be built. Make sure they actually follow directions and are not tempted to cut corners.
Steel walls will rust: As I mentioned before, vinyl pool walls are manufactured in plastic or steel. We choose to build with steel walls because they are much stronger than their plastic counterparts. We have always built with steel walls, but we also replace liners and do remodeling work all over Nebraska. In that time we have seen plenty of cracked plastic walls that need to be replaced, but very few steel walls with structural problems. We have seen some rust in older steel wall pools, maybe on their 3rd or 4th liner, but rarely something so severe that it has to be replaced. Small rust spots just require some light sanding and a spray of rustoleum.
High life time cost: The main thing to understand about vinyl liner pools is that the vinyl liner itself is going to wear out. This means that over time the liner becomes brittle and fades from sun and water exposure. Basically it just starts to look bad and needs to be replaced. The good news is that this is a relatively quick and clean job, usually just a day or two and it does not require any large equipment. The replacement cost is usually between $3,000 to $6,000 based on a variety of factors. The average life of a liner is 7-10 years, so this cost should be a factor when considering a vinyl liner pool.
Vinyl liners are weak and tear easily: Quality liners are actually very durable, but they can be punctured and torn. Care needs to be taken to keep sharp objects away from the pool, but then again, that’s generally a good idea with any type of pool. If the liner does get ripped, it can be easily patched, even underwater.
Vinyl liner pools offer limited sizes and shapes: With today’s technology in steel manufacturing, there are very few limits to what we can do with a vinyl liner pool. However, if you are considering a special feature like a beach entry or vanishing edge, a vinyl liner is probably not the best choice.
Vinyl liner pools look cheap: I agree with this one… most of the time. Too many vinyl liners are built with the standard white aluminum coping around the perimeter and a white plastic step stuck to the side. To make this visual nightmare even worse, they usually come with a 3’ band of concrete decking and some automatic cover rails running down each side. Below is an example of a “typical” vinyl liner.
It DOES NOT have to be this way. As clients thumb through our portfolio, they are unable to tell the vinyl liners from the fiberglass or concrete pools. We have the ability to design and build these popular features into the structure of the pool so that they do not look like an afterthought. We can design custom steel steps and benches that are covered with the liner to blend visually with the rest of the pool. There are plenty of deck and coping options that look great, from cantilevered concrete to stone to pavers, coping treatments can actually look good and fit the style of the home. Automatic cover parts can be nicely tucked under the deck and coping to be kept out of sight.