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 52)

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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?

User: cs

we have a 16X32 doughboy oval pool. We replaced the liner a couple years ago, but have had problems with the liner coming out of the track on each end. Can we replace sections of the bead receiver in sections? Also does the liner lock really work to keep the liner in place?

User: Inyopools

Chris - Not sure how the liner pulls away from the top. Do you have the top rails off? Assuming this is an overlap liner, can you tape the top of the liner on the outside of the wall to hold it in place? Did you push the bottom edge of the liner to the wall before you refilled it?

User: Chris

I drained my above ground pool to clean the liner and wish i hadn't now. When i add water it gets about half way up and the liner oulls away at the top. How can i get the liner to stay up?

User: Inyopools

LT - Yes a large hole under the liner will be a problem. Try filling the hole with sand using a funnel through the liner. This will leave a small hole in your liner that can be easily patched.

User: LT

help. i just noticed all the water in my above-ground pool has spilled out due to a rip in the lining. come to find out there is a large hole underneath where the lining ripped. i noticed the hole was there before it ripped but the pressure must have finally caused it to rip the lining. my pool is very large. is this going to be a bigger problem with the hole that got bigger now from the water that spilled out? thanks.

User: Inyopools

judster - If you haven't put water into the pool yet, you can make the liner more pliable by leaving it in the sun for a couple of hours. If you have less than 2 inches of water in the pool, you may still be able to work the liner further into the corners at stretch out the creases. Otherwise you will have to live with the creases and hope they lessen with time.

User: judster

help i installed my new pool liner all is good but there are creases in the liner from being in box for a year !!!not wrinkles we got them out . What do i doooooo !!!

User: Inyopools

Pool Leak - If you have water pooling out on one side of your pool, you probably have a leak. Take a vial of food dye and squeeze small drops of it inside the pool on the side of the pooling. Try around the seams first. If there is a leak, the dye will be sucked into the hole. If you find nothing on the wall, try the floor on that side. If you find a leak, we recommend EZ Patch 28 - Vinyl Pool Liner Repair Sealant to repair it.


We just installed an above ground pool. Water is pooling around the outside. Could this be coming up from wet ground or do we have a tear or leak? Help

User: Inyopools

Frye - I would try spreading that extra 6" around the circumference of the pool. You will have to reset the bead.

User: Frye

Good afternoon, hoping you could help! We purchased an above ground beaded pool liner for our Pool with the pools measurements and after we went around and locked the liner in there seems to be about 6 inches or so left in one spot. So confused! Are we doing something wrong? Is there anyway other than getting a new liner to help this problem???

User: Inyopools

Dpagoldengirl - Most AG pools are assembled the same. Check out or How to Guide on "How To Assemble an Above Ground Pool - Part 5 - Top Rails". It should give you the information you need to disassemble the top rails.

User: Dpagoldengirl

we are trying to remove the top rail of the pool and cannot get the top plate off. Is there a trick to it? it will not budge and of course it is sitting on the track. I'm seeing some things on the internet about being able to skip this step if you have a beaded liner! looks like something you purchase that goes around the pool to hold this type of liner. But please, how can we get the top plates off?

User: Inyopools

Dave - It sounds like you have a 15' x 27' pool that's a little out of round (oval). To be sure measure the circumference of the wall with a string below the top plates. It should be close to 68 1/2'. You may have to measure the inside wall to avoid the uprights. just tape the string to the wall every foot.

User: Dave

I have a oval pool that needs a new liner. I measured wall to wall and it is 15'4" wide by 26'6" long and 52" deep. Could I use a 15' x 26' liner or a 15' x 27' liner. Would a standard size overlap or beaded work with this odd numbers or do I have to get a custom sized replacement liner. Thanks, Dave

User: Inyopools

shay h - Standard liners are not designed to stretch and you will probably split a seam trying to expand it to your pool. Your other options are to buy an expandable liner or have one custom made.

User: shay h

i have pool Rectangular 12x20 4' death (i made the pool myself)
i bought replacment liner 12x20
When I try to assemble the vinyl

The assembly was a hot day
And was very flexible vinyl

the vinyl is smaller then the pool

i measuring the volume of vinyl and its onle 61.5F
And not 64F
Is there something that a solution?

User: InyoPools

JC - It may be possible to install a new overlap liner over the old one but we wouldn't recommend it. We'd be concerned about mold growing between the two layers.

User: JC

Can a new liner be installed over the old one?? What issues would arise by doing this?? Thanks

User: InyoPools

Jim - Fill the pool until the water level is about 4" from the bottom of the rectangular Skimmer hole at the top of the Wall. If you mount the Skimmer before filling the pool to this level, the weight of the Skimmer will buckle the Wall under the Skimmer hole.

User: jim

when cutting holes for filter and return line how much water should you put in pool befor cutting

User: InyoPools

rkellrn - If the liner is not on a level base, including the sand, the water will be placing unequal pressure on one side of the pool and could cause it to collapse. You should take the liner out and level the sand.

User: rkellrn

My husband and myself are in the process of installing an above ground pool. The pool itself is level within 1/4 inch all the way around. The problem is the sand on the bottom is higher on one side by about 2 inches causing the water to be higher. What kind of problems will we encounter. We have put about 1 foot of water in this 24'x52" pool. What should we do?

User: InyoPools

Iris - The vacuum is one technique some people use to help smooth out the winkels in the floor. If you have already removed these winkles and the liner seam is place in the corner all around the pool, you should be good to go with our using the vacuum.

User: Iris

Hi Guys, I have a couple questions. We just replaced our pool liner, we have a 24 round beaded pool. My question is do we need to use a vacuum? My husband does not want to use one,(well he was told he didn't need to use) he took all the wrinkles out form the bottom, filled the pool a bit and stretched liner up, it looks good but I'm afraid if we don't use vacuum the water will pull the liner. is this possible? Can we continue to fill pool without using a vacuum? Please Help. Thank you in advance for any advice you can provide.

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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.