The Owner’s Guide to Protecting a Vinyl Pool Liner

If you have a vinyl-lined pool (or are strongly considering one) it’s important to know a few differences these have in relation to pools made of concrete or gunite. Pools with liners have become pretty popular over the years, but do require a bit of specialized knowledge to protect and maintain.

In this blog post, I will walk through a few things I’ve picked up to help you care for your vinyl liner, and ensure you won’t have to replace it any earlier than you need to. Because no one wants that!

Here are a few things I’ll cover. Click any link to jump to that section πŸ™‚

Caring for vinyl-lined pools vs. concrete or gunite

The most basic difference between a vinyl-lined pool and a concrete or gunite pool is waterproofing. With vinyl pools, the waterproofing of the pool is provided by the liner itself as opposed to an epoxy that is applied to concrete or gunite pools.

As a result, the liner lays over the floor, normally made of sand or cement, and lines the walls, usually made of galvanized steel or thermoplastic. Vinyl liners can fit just about any pool design since vinyl dealers can custom cut these shapes.

Since the vinyl liner provides the main source of waterproofing for the structure, it is of the utmost importance to protect it from tears or punctures that will cause leaks.

How can a vinyl pool liner become damaged?

When it comes to damaging a vinyl-lined pool, there are a couple of common culprits I will break down in this section.

It’s important to know that eventually, you will need to replace your liner, but there are a couple of things you can do to prolong its life.


Any type of debris that settles in the bottom of your pool can cause tears if left unchecked, especially jagged rocks that many pool landscapers use.

While this really isn’t a concern with other pools types, particularly common hazards include river rocks used in landscaping, pinecones, leaves, and other debris that settles to the bottom and can puncture the lining.

If you are considering different rock types or wondering which types are best, check out the post I wrote on this topic here.

Draining a vinyl-lined pool can cause wrinkles and potential damage

Draining a vinyl-lined pool is a big no-no since this can cause wrinkles, especially when exposed to the sun where it can dry out and become brittle.

There are a few ways to handle a small wrinkle yourself. Note that it will be easier to work with the liner if the water temperature is slightly higher.

Thankfully, there are some things that you can try:

  • Spread the wrinkle using your feet (you will want soft-soled or swim shoes to do this). You may be able to move the wrinkle toward the edge of the wall, which might also be effective.
  • Try pulling the liner back into place by gently using a plunger.
  • If you are uncomfortable with the required repair work, contact a pool professional to address persistent wrinkles or tearing.

Not using recommended vinyl-safe pool cleaners

vinyl and tire remover

Having chemicals out of balance or allowing them to come into direct contact with your vinyl pool liner can and will cause damage to it.

One important thing to know about the types of chorine out there is that for vinyl-lined pools. You will want to use a vinyl-safe chlorine, called Dichloro-S- Triazinetrione (or Dichlor).

This is a fast-dissolving chlorine you mix manually that won’t eat away at the vinyl.

It’s best to avoid harsh chlorines like Calcium hypochlorite tablets. These do not dissolve as quickly and can cause damage over time if left in contact with the vinyl.

5 best practices to maintaining a vinyl pool liner

cleaning a vinyl pool

When it comes to protecting and caring for your vinyl pool liner, you need to think about three major areas that these 5 best practices fall into: preinstallation, eliminating risks, and good regular pool maintenance.

Vinyl liners are designed to be durable and can generally last for about eight years when cared for properly.

It is important to note that vinyl-lined pools are a bit more prone to algae growth since they have seams that aren’t smooth.

Vinyl-lined pools cost around $4,000 to replace according to estimates, so following these three steps is important to keep in mind.

1. Ensure your vinyl pool liner is protected before installation

Before you have your pool installed, some options can help your vinyl pool liner last longer. If you have an above-ground pool, one of those options is to have a liner pad added to the base of the pool.

For vinyl-lined pools, a pre-mix vermiculite or sand and concrete mix are common. It’s best to consult with your pool builder to give you advice on what’s best to use in your area, and what will achieve the comfort you are desiring.

2. Check the pool’s waterline and chemical balance

pool chemicals

Make sure your water is properly balanced. If the water in your pool becomes too acidic, it can damage your liner. Also, beware of other chemicals that you use which may damage or discolor the liner.

It’s also good to keep an eye on the waterline. Anything out of the ordinary could signal a leak, and it’s best to catch this problem quickly so you can address it before the damage worsens.

3. Shock your pool instead of draining

Draining your pool can and will put stress on the vinyl pool liner and cause damage to it. If you feel the pool must be drained, contact a pool professional for help with the job to avoid damage.

Always use equipment and pool toys specifically designed for use with a vinyl pool liner. Any other toys or equipment could cause tears or further damage to the vinyl pool liner.

4. Clean regularly to eliminate rocks, dirt, and debris

cleaning pool

When it comes to pool vacs, it’s a good idea to check to see if the vacuum you are considering is rated for vinyl pools.

While your pool’s skimmer should be able to filter some debris, it’s a good idea to use a robotic pool vac in many cases. or at least invest in a vinyl-safe vac.

Choose a vinyl-safe pool vac

Hayward actually makes a pool vac designed for safe using on vinyl and fiberglass surfaces you can check out here.

Outside of vacuuming, you’ll also want to clean the waterline, which I will describe in the last section.

Invest in a pool cover when not in use

Another option is to use a pool cover, especially if you have trees nearby where debris getting in the pool is much more likely.

While a cover can make cleaning your pool a little more difficult or time-consuming, it’s definitely a good idea for protecting your investment when not in use.

5. Repair leaks and tears in your pool liner by patching or replacing

Repairing leaks correctly promptly is considered a part of necessary pool maintenance. If they are allowed to fester and worsen, it will ruin the vinyl pool liner, and the liner will have to be replaced completely.

While you can have a professional do this (which is a good idea if you do not feel comfortable), below is a short video on how this process is done.

How to clean a vinyl pool liner

vinyl pool brush

Since keeping an eye on the waterline of your pool is important, you should also use a soft sponge (do not use anything abrasive that could damage the liner) to clean scum and dirt off of it from time to time.

Keeping the waterline clean will help the overall cleanliness of the pool and help extend the life of your liner.

Use a soft-bristled brush only

If you are noticing staining, they do make vinyl cleaners that you can use for the sides. When it comes to cleaning the bottom, it’s best to use a soft brush and proceed with caution to eliminate any undissolved chemicals, dirt, or other debris from building up on the liner.

To make cleaning the sides easier, the AquaCare Cleaning Mitt on Amazon is a highly rated device for making this a bit easier.

How often your vinyl pool liner will need this type of treatment will depend on the conditions around where it is located and how often it is used, among other things. Try brushing the liner once a week, and then increase the frequency if needed.


Choosing the best options during installation of the liner, eliminating risks to it, and having a plan for maintenance and repairs will give it the best chances for lasting many years.

To get the most out of your vinyl pool liner, you will need to take good care of it.

For this reason, many people opt to go for fiberglass pools, since these tend to have the lowest maintenance costs.

If you’re renovating or building a pool, be sure to check out these 9 privacy options for any pool or hot tub area or creating your own backyard paradise this summer.

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