How To Install Above Ground Pool Liners

Written by:  Danny Rhodehamel

An above ground pool is useless without its liner. The pool liner is basically a large bag made of vinyl that is designed to hold water within the pool's frame. It is the most important part of above ground pools and has the potential to be the most frustrating. Liners must be handled carefully and installed properly to avoid damage to the vinyl. Our basic guidelines for liner installation will help you do it right, whether you're just setting up a new above ground pool or replacing an existing liner. Click for Above Ground Pools

Tips & Warnings


Things You'll Need

Step by Step

Step 1

If your liner is being installed on a new above ground pool, you should have completed creating the cove at this point. The cove is a wedge of sand or pre-formed foam that keeps the liner from slipping under the pool wall and also provides a protective layer between the liner and the metal frame of the pool. If you are replacing a liner in an existing pool, be sure to inspect your cove and build it back up if necessary. This is an important step that should not be overlooked.

Step 2

Since the liner is the most delicate part of the pool, we recommend inspecting it first. Open the box containing your liner very carefully - do not use a sharp object. Unfold the liner and spread it out, making sure the ground is clear of anything that could puncture it. Check for any holes or tears and examine the seams to make sure they are properly sealed. This is very important as you do not want to discover a defect after you’ve filled the pool.

Step 3

After your liner passes inspection, spread it out in the sun. The sun's heat will warm up the vinyl, making it more pliable and easier to work with. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions regarding preparing the liner. Your owner’s manual should give you details about installing the liner, including punching out the skimmer and return holes. Remember, above ground pool liners are not meant to bear any of the weight of the water so they must rest on the ground in all areas. Properly installed, there should be no air space between the liner and the ground, and no downward pressure on the liner. How you hang the liner on the pool wall will depend on the style of liner (overlap, beaded, or j-hook) so refer to the instructions provided with your above ground pool and/or liner.

Step 4

Since there is extra material to compensate for any shrinkage of the liner, wrinkles in the liner material is normal and unavoidable. To smooth out the floor of the liner, gently push it toward the wall. To avoid damage, do not pull, drag or stretch the liner.

Step 5

Air between the liner and the above ground pool wall can contribute to wrinkles. To decrease this, you can use a vacuum hose, inserting it through the skimmer hole in the pool wall behind the liner. Use masking tape and cardboard to seal any gaps around the skimmer hole and vacuum hose. Turn on the vacuum and gently adjust the liner while the vacuum is running. You can turn the vacuum off periodically if you reach any areas where the liner becomes difficult to adjust.

Step 6

The vacuum can continue to run as you fill the pool but be sure to keep the hose above water level at all times. You can fill above ground pools with a common garden hose, or hire a water truck which is much faster. When the water is no more than 1 inch deep, check for levelness. If water runs to one side, pull back the liner and make the ground level. When level, continue to fill and adjust the liner.

Comments (1 to 40 of 77)

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User: Inyopools

shrunk liner - It is unlikely that your liner has shrunk. You will have to detach the top of the liner from the top edge of your pool and start over working the bottom edge of the liner into the bottom corner of the pool. Then reattach the top of the liner to the top edge of the pool.


I drained my pool in order to fix the pits in the sand under the liner now it seams as though the liner is to small or has shrunk. The bottom seam looks to be about 4-6" away from the pool wall all the way a round. Now when I get about a foot of water in it the wall is starting to buckle. Do I need to add more sand or make more of a cove?

User: Inyopools

Leaking - Sounds like you have a hole in your liner that will have to be replaced or repaired. If your pool water has drained out, you should support the wall until you can refill it. The pool wall needs pressure from the water to stay up over time. You can go into the pool now to remove the ice and try to repair the liner but you will have to use a ladder to get over the wall. Don't put any weight on the wall. And wait for a warm day if you have to install a patch.

User: Leaking

Came home from work to see that my pool has a small river coming from the bottom. During the winter the cover fell in, bought the house in Dec, still have large pieces of ice in it. Do I need to support the sides till the ice melts or I can get in there?? What else should I be concerned about. Never owned a pool before. Is this the beginning of a nightmare?

User: Inyopools

illinois22 - Sometimes you are shipped the wrong product or it is mislabeled. Check the height of your liner from the seam at the bottom [that goes into the bottom corner] to the top of the liner. If you have an overlapping liner, you should have 54" plus at least another 6" to overlap the top of the wall. Very often you have to trim off some the excess liner on the outside of the wall. See our other guide on "How To Assemble an Above Ground Pool - Part 4 - Liner Install" for further information.

User: illiniois22

We bought a replacement liner for our 15' x 54" pool overlap style and the bottom of the liner touches all the way around but the top seems to be to short. The walls are level but as we got the liner on finally we got about 6 inches of water in and the liner pulled out of the top. What do i need to do here?

User: Inyopools

Poolbroke - Not sure what's going on here. The weight of the water against the angle of the cove should keep the cove down into the corner. You might look in the HW store to see if they have water resistant tape.

User: Poolbroke

Hi. We are attempting to fill our pool for the 3rd time. The cove is floating to the top of the liner as we add water. I assume it didn't stick well since the area was moist and the pool not round. There is no track at the bottom. is there any other way to secure the cove?



User: Inyopools

Daina - I would keep fill the pool to about half to add stability to the wall and keep the wind from blowing it in.

User: Daina

We just installed an above ground pool and began filling it last night. We had some trouble (the wind picked up) and some of our top rail pieces broke. We need to replace them. My question is, how low can the water level stay until we can get the replacement parts in? I would think it would be more risky if the pool was full of water but maybe I'm wrong.

User: Inyopools

sca41118 - Glad we could help. You have a great day too and hope your installation goes well.

User: sca41118

Thank you for the number you provided us in May. :) Had some issues getting the liner so we begin today!.... Have a great day!

User: pool installer

One of our responders had the following piece of advice - As an installer for 16 years, Ive noticed some liners are made with too much liner material, either circumference wise or height wise. If your beaded liner is hitting the wall all the way around and there are still wrinkles in the floor or wall, its probably a manufacturing defect. A liner should be able to be hung from the outside and a vac used as you hit the liner at the base with a pool brush. The liner will be stretched like a drum across the floor. Ive went through 5 liners on one install and finally got one that fit that was from a different batch number, same manufacturer. A professional job will have no wrinkles, and I make sure my jobs are 100% wrinkle free.

User: Inyopools

She - If you have an overlap liner, you will be able to pull some of this excess up. If you have a beaded liner, you should not have a lot of excess. Measure the distance from the bead of the liner and its seam at the bottom of the wall. Then measure the distance from the bead receiving groove to the floor of the pool. These measurements have to be the same. For the skimmer hole, see our guide on "How To Assemble an Above Ground Pool - Part 6 - Installing the Skimmer".

User: Inyopools

nobowtie88 - I'm not sure what liner you have that you are calling a J-hook. See Step 2 in this guide "How To Install a Beaded Pool Liner for an Oval Pool". Most J-hook liners are now sold as dual purpose uni-bead liners that are either fitted into a bead receiver track or can be hung like an overlap liner. If you use the bead, you first strip off the J-hook portion that's above the bead. If your liner is a j-hook only, it will not fit into the bead track. You would have to pull off the bead track and secure the over-the-top j-hook with liner clips. See also this picture of "Above pool liner options".

User: She

We have our pool up side vertical stabilizers too wall rail and have began to fill the pool the liner seems a little loose on the sides is this normal will it tighten up as water begins to fill or is tere something we need to do to help it ? Also very nervous about cutting the liner for the skimmer hole any tips?

User: nobowtie88

much like feeling frustrated, we replaced the liner in our pool for the first time (it appears to be a j-hook). Once the water reached 10" the liner fell in. We used bead lock and even spring clamps to hold in place. The original liner had a "rigid" bead, the replacement did not. I have not seen anything similar. I am now understanding that the original liner was an inground liner. Looking for a similar size inground liner (18x33), but don't see any that size. Help!!!!

User: Inyopools

pool liner - There are two popular pool liners: the beaded pool liner and the overlap pool liner. It sounds like you have the beaded liner. See our guide on "How To Install a Beaded Pool Liner for an Oval Pool" for more information. If you have an overlap pool liner, see our guide on "How To Assemble an Above Ground Pool - Part 4 - Liner Install".


We have a used pool that was given to us and we have the outside wall installed but we are trying to figure out how the liner goes. It has white strips with a hook kinda side then there are metal strips too. We can not figure out how it goes. Someone told us the liner just sits on that hook part on the white strips but i don't see how it can hold like that. Please help!

User: Inyopools

Install Liner - The liners that we sell are designed to attach to the top edge of the wall and secured with coping strips. We do not have a way to secure the liners on a 2" round rail.

User: Install Above Ground Pool Liner

Video was fine but there is no need for the back ground music. It makes it hard to listen to. If the music has to be there turn down the volume please.
I have a 20 x 48 soft sided pool, about 7yrs old. Can I attach a liner to this pool? It has a 2inch round top rail.

User: Inyopools

sca4118 - I have not seen anything on cutting a bottom drain into an expandable liner. I suggest calling the manufacturer, GLI Pool Products, to see what they say. Their number is 800-448-2343.

User: sca4118

We are thinking about installing an 21 x 41 oval above ground expandable pool liner with bottom drain ourselves. We have never done this before and have watched several videos on replacements but did not see any with expandable liners and bottom drains. Although we are pretty handy, Im wondering if you think this would be to much to take on for first timers? Im thinking the most to happen would be having to call someone in after we have most of the work done. LOL. Thank you

User: Inyopools

feeling upset - The wedge should be 6" but I don't think that is your problem. It sounds like are your required support pieces may not be installed. Look at our expanded guide on "How To Install an Above Ground Oval Pool - Overview". In this guide look at Parts 6 and 7 for liner prep and installation.

User: feeling upset

we just set up a used pool and installed a new beaded liner. as we start filling it when the water reached approximately 12" the sides gave way. we used sand to wedge the sides, but are now questioning is it is high enough? it is up the wall approximately 2-3 in. What causes this? this is the second time. any suggestions?

User: Inyopools

Roots – I haven’t heard of this being done, but don’t see why you couldn't try removing part of the liner as long as you are careful.


Do I need to replace the pool liner in order to clean out some ground issues (roots) if I am careful not to disturb the area around the skimmer?

User: Inyopools

Don - The seam is supposed to be near the bottom of the cove. The liner is not designed to stretch. If the liner seam is too far up, the liner will try to stretch to the floor and may break a seam. Is your pool 52 inches high and you're trying to use a 48" liner? Can you drop the liner by reducing the overlap at the top? Or can you add 5" of sand to support the bottom of the liner? Or some combination of the above?

User: Don

I am installing a 21' round liner. The seam around the pool floor does not fall on the cove but rises to the wall of the pool. (cove is about 5" high by 9" wide) Is there a problem that this will present as I fill the pool with water? As I understand it the purpose of the cove is to prevent the liner from "oozing out" under the lower wall rails.

User: Inyopools

Liner install - When you install the liner, the shiny side goes down, rough side up.


Just had a liner installed (all blue) but I think it was installed inside-out since it is extremely slippery. Please advise. The rough side is on the pool wall & the shiney side is in the water.

User: Inyopools

Julie - No, you will not be able to use an 18' liner in a 15' pool. There is a seam in the liner at the bottom of the pool wall that has to match the diameter of the pool.

User: Inyopools

Jeff- You could buy the next higher size, like a 52" instead of a 48" to give you more overlap. Don't buy a larger diameter liner. That won't work. Another option might be to build up the sand base 2-3" higher inside the wall.

User: Inyopools

Amanda - I don't see why you couldn't build the sand base up 2" more to compensate for the 2" loss in liner length. Place the coving on top of the sand. I'm assuming that you have the top connectors that accommodate the liner bead.

User: Inyopools

Lepardmama - Hard to tell if it is mold just from the description below, either way Mold can be easily and cheaply treated by spraying warm water with bleach on the affected area and then wiping off. This will kill it. You should also treat the area that the pool is installed in to prevent it from coming back. You can contact a local landscape company or weed control company for advice on treating the area.

User: Julie

When ordering a new liner we thought the pool was 18feet it's not its 15 feet can this work?

User: Jeff Sloan

We replaced our liner several years ago and need to replace it again. When we replaced it we had a terrible time getting enough overlap in the right places. The correct size was ordered. Would it be beneficial to order up a size and have more overlap to work with? Thanks

User: Amanda

We have a 30' x 54" round pool. I fell in love with a certain liner pattern I saw online that has been discontinued, so I wasn't able to find a 54" available anymore. I read online that a 52" unibead liner would work in a 54", if you build the cove up higher than what is normally suggested. I was just wondering if anyone has ever done this before? Or, if anyone has any suggestions on the best way to go about doing this?! And, if it makes a difference, we plan on using sand, a foam cove and a gorilla pad.

User: Inyopools

cs - Unfortunately we do not sell Doughboy pools and are not familiar with their products. We would recommend calling Doughboy direct.

User: Lepardmama

We are replacing our pool liner which was originally installed by Pool Shoppe. The entire bottom is styrofoam as well as the coved siding, unfortunately, we are seeing black staining on the cove, is this mold and how do we clean it prior to replacing liner?

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Tips & Warnings

Protect your liner by using padding underneath such as <a href="">Gorilla Floor Pad.</a>

If you don't want to bother forming a pool cove out of sand, use pre-fab foam cove such as <a href="">Peel & Stick Pool Cove or Clip & Stick Pool Cove.</a>

Add <a href="">Wall Foam</a> as a barrier between the liner and the pool wall. If the wall rusts or has any rough spots, wall foam will help protect the liner from being ripped or punctured.

Please Note:

Inyo Pool Products is not responsible for any injury or damaged equipment
while using our guides. Using our guides is doing so at your own risk.
These guides are suggested use of your pool or spa equipment and may vary
depending on which product you are using.