How To Install Above Ground Pool Liners

WRITTEN BY:  Inyo Pools

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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

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.


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Inyopools  Posted: 06/14/2016 12:59 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

flush liner - I don't know what stage you are at in installing your liner. If you used a vacuum to suck the liner up against the wall, the liner should be fairly flush. The liner will have some play in it. As the pool is filled up with water, the water will push the liner against the wall making the liner fairly tight. You will still have a few minor winkles.

Anonymous  Posted: 06/13/2016 10:17 AM 

I have put up my 27x52 Blue Wave Belize perfectly to the instructions. How come my liner is not flush with the wall? I even have the cove between the liner and the wall. I also set the liner out in the sun to heat up. Is that normal?

Inyopools  Posted: 06/03/2016 16:51 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

JimFromIL - I would think you would be alright without adding support. Like you say, the ground should be fully settled so there wouldn't be any pressure on the pool when it is emptied.

JimFromIL  Posted: 06/02/2016 16:50 PM 

In a few weeks we're having a pool company replace our old 10 year old liner that has a 2 inch gash above the pool line. About a third of the pool is underground as we have partial slope that leans towards the house. I'll have to completely empty the pool (21' round X 52" high), and I'm afraid of potential wall damage on the side that is underground. After 10 years, I would hope the ground is fully settled. Should I provide some type of support when draining the pool on the side that is underground?

Inyopools  Posted: 03/23/2016 18:36 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Dave - The pump is attached to the pool skimmer which is mounted to the pool wall. See out guide on "How To Assemble an Above Ground Pool - Part 6 - Installing the Skimmer", and "How To Assemble an Above Ground Pool - Part 7 - Return Port".

Dave  Posted: 03/23/2016 16:22 PM 

My new liner has no holes for the pump...what do I do???

wes  Posted: 02/15/2016 18:35 PM 

Bought my liner here and used the instructional video All went well I was pleased with my first time liner install and the help from this company I also bought top plates and other parts for my pool from them and always am happy When I have questions about parts or need technical help they are the guys to ask

Inyopools  Posted: 09/22/2015 8:12 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

replacing liner - I would not recommend overlapping an old liner with an new one. You are likely to collect mold between the two liners.

Anonymous  Posted: 09/21/2015 11:38 AM 

Hi I have above ground pool my question can I install a new liner over the old liner by cutting out the bottom of the old liner then overlapping with the new liner.

Inyopools  Posted: 06/29/2015 17:10 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

vchaney - The bead should snap out the same way it snapped in. You'll have to be a little creative to get it stared, maybe lift up an end of one section of the grooves that holds the bead to get up under the bead.

vchaney  Posted: 06/28/2015 23:39 PM 

Is there a way to remove a beaded liner and reinstall after the pool is relocated? The liner is less than a month old.

Inyopools  Posted: 06/26/2015 11:04 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Tammy - Usually you might have been able to kick the seam back to the corner before you have 2-3 " of water but you are beyond that stage. You may have some winkles on the floor now but the coving around the edge should support the liner edge where it is now.

Tammy  Posted: 06/25/2015 0:22 AM 

We just finished installing a new above ground liner. We had the bottom seam positioned about 2-3 inches up the wall above the cove and no wrinkles on floor of pool. We began adding water and everything looked great but then we noticed that the bottom seam is now on the bottom of the pool about 4-6" from wall. It's fairly uniform all the way around but is this normal? It's running about 90-95 degrees here. Will this compromise the pool? We are almost half way full of water!

Inyopools  Posted: 06/18/2015 8:39 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Olivia - The liner should fit but if it was hot when you installed it, it could have stretched that much. I would call the company you bought it from and see what they say. If you bought it from us, call 877-372-6038 and talk to one of our service reps.

Inyopools  Posted: 06/18/2015 8:26 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

tina - You cannot put a 21' liner in a 20 foot pool. But here is a link to a company that says they have 20' liners. I don't know anything about them but you could give them a try:

Olivia  Posted: 06/16/2015 21:03 PM 

I just bought a new liner and we had installed it all the way around then when we got to the very end there was about 3 inches of excess liner. Is this normal or should I return it?

tina  Posted: 06/16/2015 20:37 PM 

Can l put a 21, foot liner on a 20 foot pool can't find a 20 foot loner anywhere

Inyopools  Posted: 06/16/2015 8:29 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Billy - It sounds like your liner may have excess material that may have pulled out from under the coping. You may have to take off the top rail and coping to pull some of that material back so you don't have large winkles when you fill it up.

Billy  Posted: 06/15/2015 12:30 PM 

my liner had pulled away from my walls while filling it up, it had about 2 ft of water in it at the time. it has large pockets of air tward the top of the liner all the way around. will using the vacume method prevent this from happining again?

Inyopools  Posted: 06/14/2015 14:32 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Manitoba - I would recheck the measurement of the liner to make sure you didn't receive something smaller than you ordered. Then I would take most of the water out of the pool before I dismantled the upper braces [toprails, stabilizers] that support the pool wall. The water exerts a lot of pressure on the wall.

Manitoba  Posted: 06/11/2015 19:24 PM 

I've installed a 15x30 overlap replacement
liner on my above ground pool. The first
attempt to fill resulted in the liner
pulling out of the coping/wall on the
skimmer end. Unknowingly we did not
vacuum the huge pockets of air from behind
the liner and we installed the output
gasket device and the skimmer frame
but did not cut the skimmer hole. There
are minimal wrinkles on the pool floor.
I am in the process of draining the 2ft of
water from the pool with plans to rehang
the liner on the side it slipped from.
I had than planned to use the vacuum to
remove the liner air before and during
pool fill. Does this sound correct or
will it slip again? We only have about
2inches of overhang showing below the
pool shelf when it's all installed and

Inyopools  Posted: 06/09/2015 15:07 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Mike - Probably not. I'm afraid that if you pulled off one of the Top Rails and Stabilizers to pull the liner up, you would create a temporary weak point in the wall that might fail with that much water on it.

Mike  Posted: 06/09/2015 9:40 AM 

I bought a ued above groud pool, ad intalled the liner and filled it to the skimmer. Until it was a litte over half full, the liner looked pretty that it is up to the skimmer, it has a 6ft long area right by the top rail and 3 inches down that is a little baggy and looks crappy....any way to fix this without draing the pool?

Inyopools  Posted: 05/21/2015 23:12 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

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.

Anonymous  Posted: 05/19/2015 20:37 PM 

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?

Inyopools  Posted: 03/15/2015 11:11 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

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.

Leaking  Posted: 03/14/2015 9:28 AM 

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?

Inyopools  Posted: 08/05/2014 10:10 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

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.

illiniois22  Posted: 08/04/2014 20:30 PM 

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?

Inyopools  Posted: 07/28/2014 12:24 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

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.

Poolbroke  Posted: 07/26/2014 12:54 PM 

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?



Inyopools  Posted: 07/14/2014 10:40 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

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

Daina  Posted: 07/14/2014 8:51 AM 

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.

Inyopools  Posted: 06/30/2014 9:12 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

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

sca41118  Posted: 06/30/2014 8:25 AM 

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

pool installer  Posted: 06/28/2014 10:42 AM 

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.

Inyopools  Posted: 06/18/2014 11:13 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

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".

Inyopools  Posted: 06/18/2014 10:51 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

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".

She  Posted: 06/18/2014 6:28 AM 

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?

nobowtie88  Posted: 06/17/2014 19:20 PM 

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!!!!