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Common Problems With Vinyl Liner Pools And Their Solutions

Common Problems With Vinyl Liner Pools And Their Solutions

Purchasing a pool is a huge investment that you likely hope to have for many years in the future. But with every investment comes possible problems that you must deal with. And what better way to begin dealing with them than being prepared and informed before they even arise?

Just as with fiberglass pools and concrete pools, vinyl liner pools have their disadvantages that can create specific problems—problems that you need to be prepared to solve.

So, we’ve taken the time to provide you with an in-depth look at some of the most common problems that arise in vinyl liner pools and how to solve them.

1. Steps and Benches

The Problem

Odds are that if you’re in the market for a pool, you want the finished product to look luxurious. And many of them do. But, with vinyl liner pools, the aesthetic can be thrown off by steps and benches.

A popular remark from prospective pool owners is that polymer steps and benches in vinyl liner pools look cheap, and honestly, they technically are cheaper compared to vinyl over steel steps and benches.


The standard white plastic steps and benches in vinyl liner pools are made of looks cheap and do not match the typical blue liner that surrounds the pool walls. And for this reason, steps and benches stand out—and not necessarily in a good way.

The Solution

The “vinyl over steel step” method has become more popular in recent years, meaning the steps and benches are integrated into the structure of the pool.

Vinyl Over steel Step

This allows builders to cover steps and benches with the liner, making the structure appear as one whole piece instead of having the steps and benches stand out with white plastic.

This method does increase the cost of the pool, but it makes the pool seem more complete and uniform, therefore making the overall aesthetic more luxurious.

2. Coping

The Problem

Coping is the barrier between the pool itself and the patio/surface surrounding the pool.

The most common type of coping used in vinyl liner pools is aluminum C-track coping. It is easy to install and easy to pour concrete around. However, it does create a white rim around the edge of the pool that stands out.


In the case that a colored or stamped patio is chosen to surround the pool, this type of coping can be highly noticeable (in a bad way).

The Solution

There are two alternatives to aluminum coping that can make a world of a difference when designing your pool project.

  • Cantilever concrete edge—The surrounding area of the pool will consist of concrete and won’t clash with the color combinations of the pool and patio.
    concrete pool coping
  • Brick or paver coping—More expensive option but also creates a more pleasing aesthetic that doesn’t clash with other portions of the project.
    brick pool coping

3. Metal and Polymer Walls

The Problem

Galvanized steel walls became a popular alternative to wooden walls in vinyl liner pools since the average lifespan of wood is 10-15 years. By galvanizing steel, the layer of zinc that covers the panel prevents rust and corrosion for a longer period.

However, even though it has a longer life span, steel can oxidize (begin to rust) over time.

This occurs because the pool water makes contact with the wall panels. And once this occurs enough over time, a leak will form behind the liner in areas where it has been cut.

Furthermore, although galvanized steel is designed to last far longer than wood, this problem is inevitable. And, to make things worse, steel panels can oxidize completely, which calls for extensive repair.

The Solution

Just as manufacturers had to find an alternative to wooden panels, they had to find an alternative to galvanized steel panels. And this alternative has come in the form of polymer wall panels.

The great thing about polymer wall panels is that they do not oxidize over time.

They also are not affected by salt, which is a major benefit since saltwater pools have become more popular in recent years.

4. Liner Lifespan

The Problem

If you’ve read our other articles about the pros and cons of vinyl liner pools and their comparisons to fiberglass and concrete pools, you likely know that the liner itself needs to be replaced every 4-9 years.

And you also probably know that a replacement liner usually costs between $6,000-$6,500.

Now, it is important to keep in mind that significant damage can occur in less than 4 years or the liner could be in great shape for more than 9 years. The fact of the matter is that vinyl liners pretty much come down to luck.

You could take great care of your vinyl liner pool and have to replace the liner within the first 5 years because of one incident where the liner was significantly damaged. Or you could take great care of your pool and not have to replace the liner for 10 years. It’s just the way the cookie crumbles.


The Solution

We always encourage pool owners to go through the proper procedures to keep their liners intact for the longest possible period of time. Some of which include:

  • Maintain water chemistry—Regularly check the pH level and alkalinity of pool water; add chemicals as needed
  • Water sanitizer—Salt systems and non-chlorine systems don’t take as much of a toll on the liner as high chlorine levels
  • Proper installation of liner—Elimination of wrinkles and proper installation of the liner where it is fused together are essential to its lifespan

5. Floating Liner

The Problem

Floating liners occur in cases where the earth has a high water table.

The water table is the level underneath the pool itself where water completely saturates soil and gravel. So, in areas where there is a high water table, the water pressure is also high, which can cause the liner to float.

When this happens, the liner is separated from the wall panels and looks inflated.

While this normally does not damage the liner, wrinkles can form after ground water recedes and the liner recedes to its original position.

The Solution

In cases of a high water table, a dewatering system can be installed around the pool that will pump out ground water and aid in preventing the saturation of soil and gravel.

For a more detailed explanation of the system, please check out the video below.



In the event that wrinkles form in the liner, the pool will have to be drained and the liner will have to be reset. Yep, a pretty big mess especially if groundwater is still present.

So, in cases of a high water table, we do recommend that you install a dewatering system to battleground water and instances of floating liners.


So to recap, here are the 5 most common problems that may arise with vinyl liner pools:

  1. Steps and benches that stand out
  2. Coping that creates a noticeable barrier between the pool and the surrounding area
  3. Metal walls that oxidize and need major repairs
  4. Replacement liners
  5. Floating liners

Now, by no means is it our goal to deter you from choosing a vinyl liner pool.

Actually, it’s quite the opposite. We want to educate you on vinyl liner pools so you can move forward in your decision-making process.

In the end, you need to be comfortable with the decision you make and the only way you will be able to achieve this is by being informed about all of the problems you may face and how you can solve them.

And, if you’d like, you can read about some of these problems with fiberglass and concrete pools to continue your decision-making process. There’s always something new you can learn!

Get a free swimming pool service quote today!