Best Above Ground Pool Liners of 2018

Every swim season brings about the need to repair or replace parts of your above ground pool. A hose might need to be swapped, some O-rings lubricating, or maybe you’re interested in upgrading equipment. One of the most important pool components to maintain, however, is your above ground pool liner. Whether damaged beyond repair or it’s just seen better days, it’s important to put some research into your next liner purchase!

Above-ground pool liners come in a number of different patterns, thicknesses and styles. This can be confusing and raises a number of questions that we’ve answered in the buying guide section below.

  • Is it worth paying for a 25-gauge liner over a 20-gauge? Are liners with a longer warranty worth it? And which patterns look the best in use?

Best Above Ground Pool Liners 2018 Review

Here are some of the best above ground pool liners of 2018!

badge Best Budget Option BADGE Editor's Pick BADGE If Money Isn't as Issue BADGE
product Swimline Blue Overlap Liner Smartline Waves of Poseidon Overlap Liner Smartline Tuscan 52” UniBead Liner
image Swimline 18-Feet Round Blue Overlap Liner Standard Gauge Smartline Waves of Poseidon Overlap Liner Smartline Waves of Poseidon Overlap Liner
the good
  • Inexpensive
  • One-size fits all
  • Interesting tile patterns
  • One-size fits all
  • Thicker 25 gauge
  • Included universal gasket set
  • UniBead makes for easy install
  • Thicker 25-gauge
  • Includes universal gasket set
  • Visually pleasing
the bad
  • Plain/simple
  • Only standard thickness (20-gauge)
  • Some quality concerns
  • Some may find tile pattern “busy”
  • Difficult to align border due to being overlap
  • UniBead will only fit 52” wall height.
relative price US Dollar coin icon US Dollar coin iconUS Dollar coin iconUS Dollar coin icon US Dollar coin iconUS Dollar coin iconUS Dollar coin iconUS Dollar coin icon
bottom line If you’re on a budget and need a pool liner that gets the job done. Will last longer than your standard liner and looks more interesting. Numerous benefits such as the easy to install UniBead.

Best Budget Option Swimline Blue Overlap Liner

Swimline 18-Feet Round Blue Overlap Liner Standard Gauge

Swimline 18-Feet Round Blue Overlap Liner Standard Gauge

Features:

  • Constructed of standard gauge vinyl
  • Vibrant blue color
  • Will fit either 48-inch or 52-inch sidewall
  • Backed by a 15-year warranty

The Blue Overlap Liner from Swimline is a no-fuss, plain blue liner, but it fulfills its purpose. This is an overlap liner that is available in various sizes at a fair price from Swimline. The liner carries normal for the industry specs including a 15-year warranty, and a standard thickness.

What Buyers Are Saying
Currently, this liner receives 4/5 stars, with a large majority expressing that they were pleased with the look and quality of the liner. However, some reviewers did point out that they had issues with tears or cuts in the liner either before installation, or immediately afterwards. Although this seems like a rare circumstance, make sure to inspect the liner to the best of your ability before installing.  Click here to see the customer reviews for yourself
PROS:
  • Inexpensive
  • One-size fits all

CONS:
  • Plain/simple
  • Only standard thickness or 20-gauge
  • Some quality concerns

Bottom Line

If you’re on a budget and need a pool liner that gets the job done, this might be the liner for you. If you’re not bothered by plain looks or worrying about it lasting more than a few years, this is a valid option to get you out of the heat and into the pool!

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Editor’s Pick Smartline Waves of Poseidon Overlap Liner

Smartline Waves of Poseidon Overlap Liner

Smartline Waves of Poseidon Overlap Liner

Features:

  • Constructed of thicker, 25 gauge vinyl
  • Vibrant border and tile pattern
  • Will fit either 48-inch or 52-inch sidewall
  • Includes universal gasket set

The Smartline Waves of Poseidon Overlap Liner is an aesthetically pleasing overlap liner that steps things up in style and design. The liner features a fun tile border and body that will add an exciting touch to the overall look of your pool. The liner features a 25-gauge thickness that adds value and longevity. The included universal gasket set is an added bonus that may make your new liner installation a little simpler.

What Buyers Are Saying
As of now, this liner has received 4.2/5 stars, with an almost unanimous majority expressing that they were happy with the quality, looks, and fit of this liner. Only one buyer seemed to encounter an issue with overall quality.  Click here to see the customer reviews for yourself
PROS:
  • Interesting tile patterns
  • One-size fits all
  • Thicker 25 gauge
  • Included universal gasket set

CONS:
  • Some may find tile pattern “busy”
  • Difficult to align border due to being overlap

Bottom Line

This liner is a step above the standard blue overlap liner both in style and thickness. The overwhelmingly positive reviews also support a high level of quality from the manufacturer. If you’re interested in something that will last longer than your standard liner and looks more interesting, this is a great option.

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If Money Isn’t an Issue Smartline Tuscan 52” UniBead Liner

Smartline Waves of Poseidon Overlap Liner

Smartline Waves of Poseidon Overlap Liner

Features:

  • Constructed of thicker, 25-gauge vinyl
  • Vibrant tile border and wave pattern
  • UniBead, will fit 52-inch sidewall
  • Universal gasket set included

The Smartline Tuscan Liner is a beautiful UniBead liner that gives a realistic in-ground pool look due to the tile border and wave pattern. The liner features a 25-gauge thickness that adds value and longevity. The included universal gasket set is an added bonus that makes your new liner installation that much simpler. This is a UniBead liner meaning it will be the easiest to install, as it is cut exactly to your pools depth dimensions, so there will be no need adjusting the material to line the border up.

What Buyers Are Saying
As of this writing, this liner has received 4/5 stars, but has not been widely reviewed. One buyer did mention the gasket set was forgotten, so if purchasing this liner, be sure that is included. This does however come from a reputable seller with many other positively reviewed liner products. Click here to see the customer reviews for yourself
PROS:
  • UniBead makes for easy install
  • Thicker 25-gauge
  • Includes universal gasket set
  • Visually pleasing

CONS:
  • UniBead will only fit 52” wall height.

Bottom Line

Although a more expensive option, the liner gives you numerous benefits such as the easy to install UniBead, as well as the thicker 25-gauge vinyl. The smaller amount of reviews shouldn’t scare buyers off as the liner comes from a large seller with a proven track record.

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For the Ocean Enthusiast → Quality Pool Products Great Barrier Reef Liner

Quality Pool Products Great Barrier Reef Liner

Quality Pool Products Great Barrier Reef Liner

Features:

  • Constructed of thicker 25-gauge vinyl
  • Unique ocean wall pattern
  • Will fit either 48-inch or 52-inch sidewall

The Great Barrier Reef Liner by Quality Pool Products is a unique and striking liner option featuring a reef style border design with sea turtles and fish swimming throughout. Unlike other liners, the pattern covers the entire wall of the pool, instead of a thin segment.

What Buyers Are Saying
This liner currently receives 3.7/5 stars, with a majority expressing that they were pleased with the look and quality of the liner. However, one reviewer noted a seam leak, and others commented on the overall darkness of the pattern as a potential downside.  Click here to see the customer reviews for yourself
PROS:
  • One-size fits all
  • Unique pattern

CONS:
  • Darker pattern, potentially warmer
  • Some quality concerns
  • Pattern is repetitive

Bottom Line

The Great Barrier Reef liner is significantly different from other liners on this list in terms of style. If you want something non-traditional and don’t mind paying a little extra for a pattern, this liner is a good option. Make sure to review the product listing, as pictures demonstrating the liner in a pool are shown.

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For the DIYer → Sunlight 60″ Round Expandable Swimming Pool Liner

Sunlight 60" Round Expandable Swimming Pool Liner

Sunlight 60″ Round Expandable Swimming Pool Liner

Features:

  • Constructed of 25-gauge vinyl
  • Solid wave pattern over whole liner
  • Will fit either 48-inch or 52-inch sidewall
  • Backed by a 25-year warranty
  • Expandable, 60” depth

The Sunlight 60″ Round Expandable Swimming Pool Liner is an overlap liner featuring a solid wave pattern. Most importantly, this liner has an expandable center that will conform to deeper than average pool depths, with a max depth of 60”.

What Buyers Are Saying
Right now this liner receives 5/5 stars, with all reviewers expressing that it was an easy to install liner without any quality issues. One user who has owned the product for 2 years returned to review the product, noting it had not deteriorated or experienced any issues. Click here to see the customer reviews for yourself
PROS:
  • Allows for 60” depth
  • One-size fits all
  • 25-guage

CONS:
  • Lack of border may show waterline

Bottom Line

Take note that this is an expandable liner, and if your pool does not already have a deep end, it would be necessary for you to add this to utilize this liner. If you’re a DIYer and willing to do some work to enhance your above-ground pool with a deep end, this liner will allow you to do so.

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For Kayak Pool Owners → Findlay Vinyl Riptide Liner For Use With Kayak Pools

Findlay Vinyl Riptide Liner For Use With Kayak Pools

Findlay Vinyl Riptide Liner For Use With Kayak Pools

Features:

  • Rectangular, Kayak-specific sizing
  • Unique tile/water fade pattern
  • 48” Wall height
  • 38-gauge thickness

Kayak is manufacturer of large, rectangular pools with customizable decks. The Findlay Vinyl Riptide Liner is a Kayak-specific liner that corresponds with Kayak pool rectangular sizing and 48” wall heights. This liner also features an above average 38-gauge thickness.

What Buyers Are Saying
This liner currently receives 5/5 stars. Buyers unanimously agree that the liner was easy to install and of high quality. One user also expressed that the added thickness of the liner was reassuring.  Click here to see the customer reviews for yourself
PROS:
  • Fits Kayak specific sizes
  • 38-gauge thickness
  • Easier to install due to shape

CONS:
  • Most expensive liner style reviewed for base size
  • Kayak specific

Bottom Line

If you own a Kayak pool you’ll need to use a rectangular sized liner. Although more expensive than other options reviewed previously, this liner comes substantially thicker at 38-gauge. The rectangular shape also has an added benefit of making the liner easier to install, as lining up corners is simpler than rounded edges on a traditional oval.

Check price on Amazon
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Above Ground Pool Liner Buying Guide

The Basics

If this is your first time replacing your pool liner, or you are installing your first above-ground pool, it’s helpful to get an understanding of what your liner actually does. Beyond the obvious function of holding water, a liner is integral to the overall structure of a pool. The weight of water held by the liner is evenly distributed to the walls and keeps the structure intact. Without the liner, the steel or aluminum wall does not provide much stability and can easily be toppled over.

What’s It Made of

Pool liners consist of cut vinyl sheets welded together to match the shape of your pool depending on size. Removing the top caps and rails of your pool grants access to the liner. Depending on the manufacturer, your caps may come in multiple pieces and be attached by multiple screws. Removing these will make the attachments for the brackets and rails visible. Liners should always be installed on level and smooth surfaces to ensure the vinyl isn’t pulled unevenly, or at risk for punctures or tears.

It’s a little hard to visualize some of these concepts, so below we’ve linked a video that illustrates the complete installation of an above ground pool. For simplicity’s sake we’ve skipped ahead to the installation of the liner itself.

Liner Type: Beaded Vs. Overlap

Pool liners come in a range of different styles by which they are hung on the wall of a pool.

  • Overlap liners are amongst the most commonly used, and the material is simply hung over the wall of the pool and locked in place with a piece of plastic coping. This leaves spare vinyl material hanging on the outside of the pool than can be rolled up underneath the top rails after installation. It can be more difficult to properly install overlap liners with colored borders, as there is no tracking piece to ensure you’re installing the border line straight. Overlap liners are generally a less expensive option.
  • UniBead liners come with a universal bead system installed. The liner has two clips, a J-hook style that comes with a lip on the edge that slips over the wall of the pool, as well as a standard clip that can fit into an existing bead track. This can make installation simpler as there is no excess material to account for, making alignment of the border of the liner significantly easier. Below we’ve included a video explaining how a beaded liner is installed for those unfamiliar.

Importance of measurement

No matter what liner you’re purchasing, make sure you have correctly measured the dimensions of your pool. Always measure from inside wall to inside wall, and not from the top rails or caps. Also make sure to take note of whether or not your pool has a 48”, 52”, or in some cases a 54” wall height. This is especially important when selecting a beaded liner, as they are cut exactly to height unlike overlap liners.

The Truth About Warranties

The average above ground pool liner lasts 7-10 years, so what does a 15-25 year warranty cover? Ultimately, a vinyl liner is a product than can be punctured. There is generally no difference between a 15 or 25 year warranty. Pool liner warranties mainly exist to cover manufacturer defects, namely vinyl seam separation. In cases of a puncture, it is extremely unlikely that a manufacturer would replace the liner unless you could prove it was punctured before installation, which is difficult to do. This boils down to the idea that warranty is not the determining value factor, but rather thickness, as the thicker the liner, the harder to puncture and damage.

Differences in Thickness

Liner sizes are generally classed in two different thicknesses, 20 and 25 “gauge”. If a manufacturer labels their liner as “standard” it is usually 20-gauge. The difference between the two thicknesses may not seem significant, but it could bridge the gap between having a liner last around 7 years, or closer to 10. The necessity of a thicker liner depends on a number of important questions.

  • How are you going to be installing the liner; will you install it directly on dirt/sand, or will you have a protective plastic layer on top of your level surface?
  • Do you have children; especially younger children that might bring potentially sharp toys into the pool?
  • How long do you plan on keeping the pool; do you plan on moving in a few years and leaving the pool behind?

The Color Question

Pool liners come in a wide range of colors and patterns, and largely the style of a liner doesn’t make an impact on its function. However, it is important to be aware of some facts regarding pool liner patterns.

  • Plain blue liners show dirt, waterlines, and wrinkles more easily as there isn’t a detailed pattern to obscure them.
  • Liners with very small patterns, such as tile, that are repeated across the entire surface (not just the waterline) can be slightly dizzying or busy to look at.
  • Liners that are very dark will naturally make the pool water warmer due to heat retention. This difference will be small however, only a couple of degrees at most.
  • Liners with images of fish or sharks may be fun initially, but the novelty might wear off.
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The Installation

After choosing the best liner for your family, make sure to consider the logistics of installation. If this is a DIY project there are several items you may be unfamiliar with that are necessary to an overlap or beaded liner installation.

Coping

Coping Strips for Above Ground Pool Liners

Coping Strips for Above Ground Pool Liners

The plastic strips that will hold the liner in place once the top rails are reinstalled. (Note that the linked product has enough pieces to complete a 24’ pool, larger pools will require more coping pieces.)


Cove

Blue Wave 48 in. Peel and Stick Above Ground Pool Cove

Blue Wave 48 in. Peel and Stick Above Ground Pool Cove

The triangular foam pieces that are installed in the bottom corners of a pool before liner installation. This gives a nice cushioned slope to the inside edges of the pool.


Gaskets

When replacing your liner it may be necessary to replace the gaskets of your skimmer and return jets. These vary by model of skimmer and return jet, but we’ve linked a fairly universal style.

3-Piece Pool Return Gasket Set

3-Piece Pool Return Gasket Set

Return Gasket


Replacement Wide Mouth Above Ground Pool Skimmer Gasket Set

Replacement Wide Mouth Above Ground Pool Skimmer Gasket Set

Skimmer Gasket Set

 


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Conclusion

Whether you’re interested in a plain and simple liner, or something with a little more excitement, make sure to weigh the added value of thickness and ease of install. Also consider any accessory components besides the liner itself that may need to be replaced when you commit to the job, as it’s far less stressful to have those things on hand when it comes time to actually replace the liner.

Most importantly, get ready to throw the hose in and have fun swimming in your pool!


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