Above Ground Pool Liner Installation – DIY or Hire Someone?

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post on above ground pool installations and mentioned a small part about the liner installation. You can find that post here – DIY Job??? Above Ground Pool Installation.

Due to a recent trip out to a new customers home, I figured I would write one about DIY above ground liner installation. A couple of days ago, my crew and I arrived at a customers’ house and we had no idea what we were about to get into. We are usually well prepared with the correct tools, pumps, materials, etc… but this job was a bit different. I walked into the backyard, I knew this was going to be an all day job…

Our customer, who we will call Mr. H, was preparing to get his above ground pool ready for the upcoming swim season and decided to purchase a liner online. Now, we will tell you right up front that you can find cheaper liners online, but there are a few risk factors that are involved with an online liner purchase.

Here are the biggest issues I have personally ran into with liners that were purchased online.

  1. Some customers do not order the correct size liner. I have been to many homes where they thought they had a 21′ round pool and it turned out to be a 24′ round. The trick here is to measure the bottom, inside of the pool and not the top.
  2. When the liner is shipped, some shipping companies do not handle with care. I have also been out to many homes where we opened up the box and upon inspection, we found multiple holes. Rule of thumb, if you find one hole, you will find may holes.
  3. Sometimes, a company will ship the wrong pattern or the wrong color.

Mr. H experienced two of the issues above – the company shipped the wrong pattern AND we found multiple holes. He told us that the company was very understanding and he received his correct liner….2 weeks later.

After the correct liner was received, he and a buddy were going to attempt to install the liner themselves. Now, Mr H. has a round pool, which is much easier to install compared to an oval pool, but you still have to know a few tips and tricks for a prefect liner installation. One tip being…

The first mistake Mr. H made was that he tried to install the liner on a day that was too cold. Please note that vinyl liners can only be installed in weather that is 65 degrees or warmer. The sun needs to hit it so it can expand. Mr. H and his buddy did manage to get the very tight fitting liner in the pool, but after a foot or so of water accumulated, the seams busted and there went the water and the new liner. The second mistake he made was that he pulled the liner way to tight. There was about 2 feet of overlap on the outside of the pool. I still cannot believe that they even got the liner in the pool and were able to start filling, but I will get to that soon.

So now Mr. H is on round two. This time he contacted AAM and purchased another through us and a week later, I showed up for installation. As you know, this past Houston winter has been crazy. Super cold one week and 80’s the next. Last week, we had some great weather and we were able to knock out 11 above ground liner installation, 8 pools installations and 4 in-ground vinyl liner replacements.

As a good foreman, I walked around the pool looking for any damage that the water may have caused and thankfully I did not find any. I did however notice something very odd at the top of the pool. I found that the shape was off and it looked like someone cut the top seats and rails. Come to find out, Mr. H and his buddy used self tapping screws to secure the top seats and had to cut material to “make it fit.” So, now I know how they got a “cold” liner to fit.

Three hours later and a lot of sweat, blood and tears, we were able start the new liner installation. About 85% of the self tapping screws they used were stripped out which means we had to drill out hundreds of screws. Luckily, we had a few spare parts on the truck and were able to move forward with a safe installation. It did take some time to get the new liner in, but time really does not matter when it comes to liner installation. I have been in the above ground business for almost 20 years now and I always take pride in everyone of my jobs – big or small.

So let’s recap the issues and problems with this certain DIY liner installation:

  • The first liner ordered from the online company was the wrong pattern and damaged. This caused a 2 to 3 week delay in shipping and installation.
  • The customer tried to do a “self install.” This cost roughly an extra $700.00 for a new liner, extra labor and new parts that were damaged.

In the end, Mr. H has the liner he wanted with a perfect, wrinkle free liner installation. Again, there is no shame at all in trying to save some money or save time, but the exact opposite happened here and I see this many times, year after year.

My suggestion – use AAM Company for your next liner replacement. We not only stock popular liner selections but, we can order any specific liner you are looking for and received them just as fast as the online companies. You do not have to worry about damages, the wrong size or the wrong pattern selection. Second, we have installed THOUSANDS of vinyl liners. All of our foreman have years or experience and can get the job done in a timely manner and the correct, safe way.