Jun 22

How long should a pool liner last?

Have you noticed in recent years the trend here in Australia and New Zealand toward an increased life span of (locally made) inground and above ground pool liners?

Does it make you also wonder, “How long should they last”?

In the past few years, large numbers of medium and large sized above ground liners have been imported from China and sold into our local market. And, it shouldn’t be too long now till we see how well they really perform in our harsh climate! As an educated guess, it’s likely they won’t last anywhere near as long as the Australian made liners.

I’m sure consumers are happy with many, many years of use from a locally made liner, but does this limit the opportunity for pool owners to update their pool look because the liner lasts so long? If my car exterior and interior looked as good after 10 years as it did the day I purchased it, I would be less likely to update it every 4 years. But as I drive it each day, the carpet looks a bit worn and the door trims have those scuff marks from the bottom of my shoes. You get the little dents and scratches on the doors from parking at the shopping centre and so you decide its time to upgrade.

This poses the question, “Would a pool owner be happier with a “new look” to their pool more often”?

Would they like to update the look of their pool to match current trends, as often as they change their furniture or paint their house? Or are pool owners deterred from updating their pool because there is plenty of life left in their pool liner and so they opt out because the current one is still doing the job?

My view is that you should expect a pool liner to last around 8-10 years for an Above Ground pool and 12-15 years for an Inground Pool Liner – but I know from experience that many last much longer. What do you think? How long should an Above Ground Liner last? How long should an Inground Pool Liner last?

Message me your thoughts…

Mar 19

Fact #3: Wrinkling of Liners in Indoor Heated Pools

The strangest phenomenon I’ve seen in my thirty-something years in the liner business is “wrinkling liner material caused by indoor heated pools”. If you read my recent blog about chemical levels you would conclude that this problem relates specifically to imbalanced pool chemicals, but this is not the case from my experience.

It first started in the 80’s when a customer contact us to say the pool liner in their 50 metre long pool, had grown about one whole metre in length. I almost didn’t believe them, so I went to see it for myself.

When I inspected the liner, sure enough, there were wrinkles and folds of liner all over the floor of the pool. It looked like the reverse of a dry creek bed, instead of open cracks, these were folds of PVC in a random crazed pattern. After a lot of investigation by the fabric manufacturer, the conclusion was that this phenomenon was a reaction to a pool environment that was made up of the following factors:
· Indoor
· Heated
· Commercial use
 (like a training pool or public pool)

Another case which proved the validity of the study result to me, was a school pool in a cold climate. It was built as an outdoor pool and used for two years without any noticeable liner growth. Then, the school decided the pool would get more use if it was covered, so a new building was built over the top of it. It became an indoor heated pool and within one year, the liner had grown to have large wrinkles all over the floor.

How can this be? What happens is, under these conditions, the PVC absorbs water and therefore expands. The expansion becomes visible as wrinkles and there also appears to be deterioration in the strength and flexibility of the PVC; in severe cases I have seen cracking along the creases.

Different solutions were trialled like, maintaining a level of cyanuric acid (not normally needed for an indoor pool), using a lacquered fabric, using a printed fabric, yet nothing solved the problem and so it was concluded that unsupported PVC was not suitable for pools with these environmental conditions.

The fabric manufacturers’ no longer provide a warranty for their PVC when used for this application and so it used at the risk of the Purchaser.

There are plenty of domestic pools that are heated and located indoors which do not show any problems, but many of the commercial pools under these conditions will exhibit the considerable wrinkling caused by this phenomenon.

Feb 05

Water balance and Vinyl Liners

Recently, one of my colleagues suggested I review an article about water chemistry and testing which focused on the effect of un-balanced pool water on vinyl liners. It concluded that balanced pool water has a major effect on the longevity of a vinyl liner in a swimming pool. I thought it important to pass on a summary of what was learned through the testing process.

We all know that water balance is important to the performance of the sanitising chemicals used in a pool, as well as for water clarity and comfort of the swimmers. However, water balance is equally as important for the life of your pool liner.

Using standard parameters of total alkalinity of 150ppm, calcium hardness at 100ppm and the starting concentration of cyanuric acid at 100ppm, a series of tests were conducted with different types of chlorine and PH levels ranging from 2.0 up to 10.0. Here is what was discovered…….

Samples with free chlorine at 1.5ppm where the PH was maintained between 7.0 and 7.5 (the Aust Std is 7.2 – 7.6) showed no adverse effects. The lower the PH dropped below 7.0, the greater the fading, wrinkling and loss of strength in the vinyl liner, plus it increased in weight (likely from water absorption which is what causes the wrinkling). As PH increased above 7.6 the vinyl lost weight and expanded. Samples with free chlorine at 20ppm where the PH was maintained between 7.0 and 7.5 showed colour change where white turned yellow and blue faded and became dull in colour. This high chlorine concentration caused wrinkling as well.

What this tells us is, it is important to maintain water balance to maximise the life of your pool liner. However, the study also revealed that even though the look of the liner changed with exposure to extremely bad chemical levels, the vinyl still remained functional as a pool liner!

Jan 16

Laser Measuring for Vinyl Liners

As a pioneer of Laser Measuring of Pools for Vinyl Liners, I thought I would share some guidelines on the type of measuring equipment available and where it is used. Firstly, assess what type of pool you want to measure to determine which device is required. Most pools are measured using a fibreglass tape measure which is okay for basic pools, but other devices are better when you have a lot of measurements or need to measure with more accuracy.

If you just want to use a laser device to measure A-B points and write them down, you can probably get a laser measuring device with +/- 2mm accuracy for around $200 from a trade tool outlet. This is a basic handheld device which will display the distance between two points but, in my view, is not all that useful when working with a lot of measurements. It doesn’t really save you any time because you still have to manually record each measurement, either on paper or on a computer.If you want to measure 2D style lined pools, capture the measurements on a device then download them to a PC or to liner order software. You can start with either a Leica brand “Disto” device which stores 1000 measurements to +/- 1mm accuracy, or a Hilti brand device. These handheld devices store the measurements on board so you can capture one or more pools of data and download them later onto your PC. These are a definite time-saver when working with a lot of measurements, but there are some limitations.

Let me explain…. One of the limitations of a handheld device is, exactly that, you hold it in your hand. This means your hand can move around and the laser point can easily stray off the desired target point in the pool. Ideally, you need a steady hand, or you may prefer to use a professional measuring instrument like a Total Workstation, as used by surveyors. These devices can be hired, but I recommend that you have sufficient training and experience before measuring a complex shaped pool for a vinyl liner.

For complex “3D” style pools, I suggest you engage an experienced surveyor to do the pool measuring for you. There are plenty of surveying companies around, but the key to a well-fitting liner is to ensure that the measured data points are located in the right place. This is something which requires the input from someone experienced in measuring pools for liners and cannot be left to the surveyor to decide by themselves. I recommend that you accompany the surveyor to site for at least the first ten pool measures to make sure they understand where you want the measurements taken. I suggest you mark the pool for the surveyor the first few times to help them understand where the seams on the pool liner will be located and therefore where the data points need to be. The pool liner seams are linked to the location of the data points so it is important the points are measured in the right spot, for smooth flowing lines through the pool.

You can download a 3D laser markout sheet from ABGAL’s web site which has more detailed information on what is required to measure these types of pools. ABGAL can also put you in contact with an experienced surveyor you can contract to measure complex 3D pools.

For information on handheld measuring devices please click here

Jan 08

Vinyl Liner Tile look

The largest pool liner market for Inground Swimming Pools is North America. The majority of the liners are manufactured with a “tile border” print wall giving a pool the look of a ceramic tile at the water line. The same style is quite common in Europe as well but not here in Australia. When I ponder this difference and having been involved in the Inground liner industry for over 30 years, I believe it has a lot to do with tradition and what patterns have been available in the market place.


In the past the Australia pool industry has had limited access to tile border PVC liners and therefore they are not common. The tile border patterns that were available in Australia looked “fake” and were quite boring as well, so not many pool owners chose them. In fact, for a while there were none available here due to a total lack of interest by pool owners.


Improvements in graphics with the use of computer technology has meant more design options and therefore much more realistic looking patterns. You now have a fabulous 3D effect in the design and so the opportunity for growth in this product is here in Australia with the availability of the patternReflections Tile from ABGAL. If you are looking for a traditional tile look in your pool with the low maintenance benefits of a vinyl liner, then try the Reflections Tile pattern from ABGAL. Whether for a new pool, or updating an old pool, this is great new look available now.


Nov 06

Vinyl for Inground Pools

I often get a puzzled look when I talk to someone about a vinyl liner for an Inground Swimming Pool. Most people know that vinyl liners are used in Above Ground Pools but many have never heard of using a vinyl liner as the finish of an Inground Pool.

A vinyl pool finish, is one of the most popular types in the world for Inground Swimming Pools. Why is that I hear you ask? Well there are a few good reasons, but the most important being that vinyl is low maintenance and it is flexible. From a structural point, vinyl is popular because it will accommodate ground movement as it does not crack. This means in cold climates where the ground freezes in winter, vinyl is the ideal finish as it will cope with the movement in the ground caused by the freeze/thaw process. That’s one of the reasons why vinyl is not as common in Australia as our capital cities do not get cold enough in winter for the ground to freeze. But, we do have plenty of areas where ground movement is a problem, which makes vinyl a great solution.

Now, there are plenty of vinyl lined Inground pools in Australia. Most of these pools are a pre-engineered style, where a substantial amount of the structure of the pool has been built in a factory and is then taken to site and assembled and installed. Pre-engineered vinyl pools offer much quicker installation times than concrete as they are not required to remain empty for a number of weeks to allow for the curing process. They have the advantage they can be built any size or shape, many Olympic size competition pools are vinyl lined. The pre-engineered system means they are very accurate in size (which is very important in competition) and they can be built much faster as a large percentage of the construction is already done in the factory before the panel modules arrive on site.

So, when looking to build a new pool or when you need to fix a cracked and leaking concrete or Fibreglass pool, think vinyl. It is the ideal pool finish that is thicker than 15 layers of paint, smooth to touch so it is child friendly and best of all is low maintenance, so you can have more time to enjoy your pool rather than scrubbing.

See how fabulous an Inground vinyl liner can look……..