The Ultimate Guide for Choosing the Perfect Above Ground Pool Liner

If you’re in the market for a new above ground pool liner, it can be difficult to know where to start. From size to color to pattern, there’s a lot that goes into choosing the perfect liner for your pool. When installed and maintained correctly, a quality liner can last you for years, so you want to make sure you’re happy with your decision. We’ve put together our tips and suggestions to help you find the pool liner that’s right for you. 

Measuring Your Above Ground Pool

Before you begin your search for a new pool liner, it is important to take the time to properly measure your pool. Not all pools will measure to exactly the size you think you have or that you previously measured, due to sagging or bowed walls. Don’t rely on the following sources to get your pool measurements: 

  • Receipts or documents from the previous pool or homeowner.
  • The size of your winter pool cover.
  • The original paperwork from your current above ground liner. 
  • What the pool store listed as the pool dimensions. 

Accurate measurements are crucial for a proper liner fit, which increases the longevity of your liner and saves you time and money in the long run. Plus, the last thing you want is to order a design you love, only to find out the liner doesn’t fit your pool. Knowing the dimensions of your above ground pool will help you narrow down your liner search and ultimately end up with the right liner for your pool. 

You’ll want to measure from inside to inside of the pool wall with a tape measure. If you think of your pool as a clock face, measure from 12 to 6 and 9 to 3.  

Measure Your Oval Pool Measure Your Round Pool Measure a Rectangular Pool

To account for bowed walls and other irregularities that may impact liner fit, you should measure each diameter twice — once at the top of the wall and once at the bottom. If something seems off, you may want to try measuring at the center of the pool wall as well. Having a second person will help make the process easier and more accurate, so you should enlist the help of a family member or friend.

Once you know the shape, size, and depth of the pool you’re buying a liner for, you’re able to move on and narrow down your selection.

Please note: The above highlights measuring the most common pool shapes. Pools with unique shapes, extra features, bowed walls, or other irregularities may require a more complex measuring process or even a custom order liner. Contact a pool liner expert to discuss specifics before purchasing. 

Beaded vs. Overlap Liners

The two main types of above ground pool liners are beaded and overlap. Most pool liners come in either variety, but you may be limited on some patterns and sizes. The biggest difference between these two types of liners has to do with how they are installed 


Overlap pool liners wrap over the top of the pool and have plastic strips, called coping, that rest on top. These are the most common for above ground pools. 

Overlap liners are installed by removing the top rail of your swimming pool and draping the liner over the wall. Once it’s in place, the excess liner can be trimmed away with scissors. 

To determine whether or not an overlap liner will work best with your pool, check under the top rail of your pool. You should be able to see some of the liner on the outside of the pool. 


Beaded pool liners hook into a track along the edge of the pool wall called a bead receiver. During installation, the groove on the top of the liner will snap into place along the track. 

To figure out if your pool can accommodate a beaded liner, check under the top rail on the inside of the pool for a bead receiver. 


The most common terms you’ll hear in regards to pool liner thickness are “mil” and “gauge.” While similar, it’s important to note that these two are not equal. 

  • “Mil” is a unit of measurement equal to one-thousandth of an inch. 
  • “Gauge” can be a little trickier. When it comes to pool liners, the higher the gauge, the thicker the liner material. Industries like wire, metal, film, and shotgun barrels are also measured by their gauge.

While thickness is important when it comes to the quality and longevity of your liner, it isn’t the deciding factor. A thinner but well-fitting liner that was properly installed will outlast a thicker liner that doesn’t fit properly every time. Generally somewhere between a 20-25 mil or gauge liner will work just fine for the average pool owner.  


Thermal Black Pool Liner

Thermal Black Granite Pool Liner

After you know what size your pool is, you can now start to have some fun with your personal style when choosing a color! However, keep in mind, the color of your pool liner does have an impact on the aesthetic of your backyard and patio area. One thing you should pay special attention to when choosing a liner color is how dark or light the liner is. 

Dark colors

Dark-colored liners can give your pool a more rich, bold look, which makes them a favorite among pool owners. If you’re looking at darker liners, note that the dark color will:

  • Naturally help keep your pool warmer by absorbing sunlight, much like dark clothing on a hot day. 
  • Help hide dirt and debris more easily than some lighter liners. 
  • Have a more noticeable discoloration from sunlight and chemicals over time. 

Light colors

Crystal Blue Pool Liner

Crystal Blue Pool Liner

Light-colored liners tend to give your pool more of a bright, warm feel, which a lot of pool owners prefer. Also note that the light color will:

  • Attract less sunlight, which means you’ll see less discoloration and fading over time. 
  • Show debris like leaves, twigs, and dirt more noticeably, which may mean you have to clean your pool more regularly. 

Other Factors 

Keep in mind that other factors will also impact the color of your swimming pool. Shade and reflections from trees, shrubs, buildings and fencing surrounding your pool can make the water and liner appear darker, and foliage may add a greenish tint. The sky, clouds, and sunlight will reflect in the water and impact color and brightness, much like it does on oceans, lakes, and rivers. For example, a light-colored liner can help brighten up your pool if you have a shadier backyard, whereas a dark blue liner may appear even darker and richer when it’s shady or cloudy.

Depth also plays a role in color appearance, as shallow pools naturally look slightly lighter colored than deep pools due to how light travels through water.

By determining what color liner you like and which one may be best suited for your above ground pool, narrowing down options becomes much simpler. If you know you prefer dark or lighter colors, you can easily start to skip over potential liners that don’t fit the bill. 


Tahitian Spa Pool Liner

Tahitian Spa Pool Liner

This is usually the last — and most challenging — part of picking out a liner, simply because there are so many options to choose from! From sharks and sea creatures to stone and rocks, there’s an above ground pool liner pattern to suit every style. 

Picking a pattern is all about the look you want your pool and backyard to have. The pattern can be bright, bold, and eye-catching to make your pool stand out. A more natural-looking, subdued pattern can help your pool better blend in with the surroundings. When looking at patterns, keep in mind your deck, patio, landscaping and other backyard decor items that you may be trying to match, and overall aesthetic of your home. 

Note that some liners may have two patterns — the tile border pattern and the bottom/floor pattern. The tile pattern is a border that goes around the top of your pool wall and blends with the surroundings. It is usually most noticeable when nearby the pool and accented against other elements. The bottom/floor pattern takes up the majority of your liner, covering up the floor and most of the pool walls. If you opt for a liner with a tile pattern, be sure you like the way it blends with the floor pattern and the overall look of the two patterns together.  

We recommend discussing patterns and design preferences with your family to find liner designs that everyone will love for years to come. 

Find Your Perfect Above Ground Pool Liner

We hope this guide makes your search for the perfect above ground pool liner a little bit easier. Take your time, research your options, and enjoy the process. Remember, picking a swimming pool liner should be fun! 

Now that you’ve gone through the process, it’s time to start shopping for your new liner. Browse LinerWorld’s selection of bold, beautiful patterns that will make your pool the envy of the neighborhood!

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