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Vinyl Pool Liners: A Brief History of Vinyl Liner Pools

Vinyl pool liners have been around since the early 1950s. Today, vinyl liner pools represent about 33% of all inground swimming pools in the United States (according to Encyclopedia.com). The processes of creating the actual liner have steadily improved over the years. Still, there is a lot of misconception about how long a vinyl pool liner will last. The short answer is, it depends. Typically, the vinyl liner of an in-ground pool will outlast that of an above ground swimming pool. In-ground pools last for 5 to 12 years. Above ground pools last about 6 to 10 years.

Vinyl Pool Liners Are Durable

There are factors that can change longevity of vinyl pool liners, such as alkalinity and pH level of the water, in other words, water chemistry. The less acidic the pool water, the better. Although most people don’t think of it in terms of the liner, the proper chemical balance is important. Low water levels can cause a vinyl pool liner to shrink and deteriorate more quickly. Contact between the vinyl pool liner and sharp or abrasive objects should be avoided. This includes cleaning equipment not specifically designed for vinyl pool liners. Proper pool cleaning and having a well-maintained pool filter system can add longevity to the liner.

Vinyl Pool Liners Are Affordable

Swimming pool manufactures started producing more affordable alternatives back in the 1940s. Easy-to-install wall systems for vinyl liner pools started becoming popular. These wall systems were simpler and less labor intensive than contemporary methods. One of the first materials used was salt-impregnated wood. The wood panels were covered with the vinyl liner. The pool was then filled with water to press the liner against the walls.
vinyl pool liners
Wood is still a viable and inexpensive option for a vinyl liner swimming pool. It is also environmentally friendly. Steel walls, and soon after, aluminum, replaced wood because of their relative durability and longevity. No one would be surprised that steel and plastic will outlive wood. But there is more to the story. The switch from steel to lighter polymers occurred in the late 1970s and allowed a greater design variety. The shift to lighter walls brought the costs of the pool down. Reduced shipping costs and more streamlined manufacturing processes were a big part of the cost reduction. Polymer wall systems are made of non-corrosive materials and will extend the life of a vinyl pool liner, due to wall abrasion. The polymer systems also react less to fluctuating temperatures than steel.

Vinyl Pool Liners Are Economical

Vinyl pool liners come in a staggering array of options, from design to thickness, the choices are near limitless. The standard thickness of a pool liner can be 20 to 30 mils. A mill being 1/1000000th (one millionth) of an inch. Some vinyl pool liner experts claim that there is really no difference. No benefit from having a thicker rather than a thinner liner. They say that there are 2 main reasons for replacing a swimming pool liner. They are “The ink fades” and “The material dry rots above the waterline”.
Thicker liners alleviate neither of these problems. Others will tell you that a thicker liner is more puncture resistant. It is more tolerant of harsh water conditions and UV exposure. It also allows for more stretching, therefore, offers a better value due to its long lifetime. The jury is out on which expert is to be believed. Some liners are thinner on the bottom than on the sides.

Vinyl Pool Liners Are Relatively Low Maintenance

Typically, sand, cement, or Vermiculite are used for the bottom of vinyl liner pools. A Pre-Mix Vermiculite pool floor is the most common. Also the most expensive. It is pre-mixed, just add water. The Pre-Mix is sold under the name of Pool Base or Pool Mix. It is firm but has a soft texture. The second most common is straight Vermiculite. This needs to be mixed with Portland cement. Cheaper but is more work. The third type is a sand and cement mix. Least expensive, but more abrasive on the liner.

Vinyl Pool Liners Are Beautiful and Stylish

Bacteria, mold or fungus can sometimes permeate up through the bottom of your pool. These will appear as black or dark gray splotches. These organisms are often found where the groundwater float contaminants up to the bottom of the pool. The contaminants are left when the groundwater recedes. Sand bottomed pools are particularly susceptible. But even vermiculite can be hit by the stains. Biocides are often incorporated in vinyl pool liners.
The bottom of the liner must be peeled back to directly attack the invaders. Sometimes the liner can be saved from the staining. More often it must be replaced. It depends on how badly it has been stained. After removing the liner, the floor and lower walls must be treated to destroy the bacteria. A water/bleach solution often is the only option with sand. There is a product for vermiculite floors that rolls on like paint. It provides a barrier between the liner and the ground.
Warranties for vinyl pool liners usually begin on the date of the pool liner installation. They typically are only extended to the original owner. In the vast majority of cases, a pool liner warranty only covers defective material and workmanship of the welding of seams and edges. It doesn’t cover damages incurred during shipping or faulty installation. It normally does not cover charges for removal of a defective liner. Nor shipping, installation or service calls. Fading, irregularities, imperfections or microbiological staining are usually not covered.
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